The Davis Enterprise: Apr. 24, 2009
Davis Bicycles! column #15
Title: May is the time for bike love
Author: Joe Krovoza
May is Bike Month. In the new home of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, well be having one pretty good time. Spring has sprung, so sign on mentally and literally to hone your velo world.
First, go to www.mayisbikemonth.com to digest what the Sacramento Region is doing. Davis Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor is co-chairing all of this. Sign up at Log Your Miles on the right. Students and school staff should do the Schools Program competition. Set a goal; track the cohort you join; nudge your friends. This is good stuff.
Here in Davis, its going to be non-stop events. Watch The Enterprise and the city Focus for events all month, including the UC Davis bike auction (2nd), shop to bike downtown (2nd), Twilight Criteriums (4th & 18th), Cyclebration @ the Farmers Market (9th), Full Moon Bike Loop Ride (9th), Celebrate Davis! (14th), Double Century (16th), and maybe some special bike films at The Varsity too and much, much more.
But why? Good health? Lower congestion? Lower carbon? Clean air? Hearing the world as we move? Forcing teens to shed their chauffer? We all know the basics. If we are taking steps to reduce carbon, know that the current estimate is 53 percent for the carbon from our fair city attributable to transportation! Thats higher than the state average of 40 percent. Thus many bikers think twice before using fossil fuel to move the weight of a car for any short trip.
Still, why bike? Is there a unifying, overarching idea? Portland Oregonian reporter Jeff Mapes spoke at the Avid Reader last Saturday. His new book Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities got me thinking. Mapes observes that so much of what Davisites love about their town is attributable to the bicycle. I started to really think on that point. Is it true? And is it true whether one is a cyclist or not?
Some folks really dont like cyclists in Davis. I have read some arguably hostile Internet chatter. We are less predictable at stops and anytime we talk about car-replacing trips its almost impossible not to sound smug, and thats not good. Yet when someone gripes about another city, ask yourself whether cycling in Davis mitigates the issue here.
If we drop our kids off at school, and the traffic is only annoying, give love to the biking kids who reduced the jam. Parking hassles downtown? View every two-wheeler you see as space gifted to others. Obesity in other towns? Not so much in Davis. Thank school P.E. and athletics, Little League, AYSO, Aquadarts and the ease of biking. Smaller shopping trips by bike might even indirectly encourage us to eat fresher foods! Richards Boulevard underpass clogged? Every bike in the Putah Creek tunnel under I-80 is one less car in the mess.
I know I can extend this idea. My main point is this: Participate in May is Bike Month as a gift to Davis. Biking increases the quality of life for all. When you get on your bike, you make Davis nicer for others; when you do drive (and thats okay, ah, sometimes), feel some love for those bicyclists!
Lets also reflect a bit in May. Is biking half full or half empty here? On any Saturday in the fall, just 20 percent of soccer players bike to their game? For UC Davis students, staff, faculty living in Davis, 50 percent bike to campus and 18 percent drive, with bus, ped and skate rounding out the modes. Maybe thats pretty good?
Driving to campus is documented to be on a downward trend. Of all commuters who live in Davis, 17 percent bike to work according to the 2000 census, down from 23% in 1990. Good bike and ped to school numbers are being complied for Davis. In 1969, 41 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. biked or walked to school. By 2001 that number was down to 13 percent. Will Davis even be where the country was 40 years ago?
If you arent on the side of one of these stats that you want to be on, use Bike Month to hop to the other side. Give your bike some love.
Joe Krovoza has lived in Davis since 1991 with wife Janet and daughters Charlotte (since 1991) and Lillian (since 1993). He recommends Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities (2009) to anyone who needs some fresh inspiration.