Wednesday October 10, 2018
Today was a beautiful evening at the Davis Farmer’s Market with a very pleasant 76 degrees (24 Celsius) and what a great day to launch my first blog posting. Sanne Fettinger invited me to attend the screening of Bicycle Revolution hosted by Bike Davis at the US Bicycling Hall of Fame. The documentary is really insightful to what it takes to make a city or a chain of cities bicycle friendly. A professor in the Claremont College system taught a class with15 students where the instruction occurred on the bicycle, instead of in the classroom, in an effort to get 12 cities in Southern California to embrace bicycling and update infrastructure to include bicycle lanes. It was amazing to watch this documentary in a city that had a similar dilemma half a century ago. Davis was a much much smaller city back in the sixties and it was easier to build the infrastructure to allow for a bicycle friendly mode of transportation. This type of bike system makes people feel safe which helps promote and encourage people to make bicycling a main mode of transportation. Professor Susan Handy, with the UCD’s Institute of Transportation Studies and former major Rob Davis talk on a panel about surveys that have been done to instill the mentality “I like to bike” that will lead to people becoming more inclined to bike. The new Jump Bike program is a great way to get people who are new to Davis and haven’t ridden a bike on a regular basis before to get the feel of riding an electric bicycle and to discover the pleasures of enjoying nature while getting to where you need to go. The Jump Bike program has been so successful that most bikes are in use and Jump Bike will be adding more bikes to the program in Davis.
In the documentary, the Claremont students would go to the various city council meetings to raise awareness of bicycling safety and encouraging the cities to update their infrastructure of include bike paths, and they would get many comments “well this isn’t from Copenhagen”. The big take away from this documentary is that these changes have become necessary as the traffic congestion keeps getting worse and public transportation are not real viable options. I feel really grateful to be living in Davis where engineers did go to Copenhagen back in the 1960’s to study the bicycle systems. Today, Davis City Council members were not at this event because they are in Amsterdam to see how the bicycle system works there. When I came to Davis in the 70’s directly from the Copenhagen suburbs, I took this kind of culture for granted and it wasn’t until I moved to New York state that I realized that safe bicycling wasn’t a norm in the U.S. Suddenly the independence of getting to extracurricular activities was gone and became a dependence on someone who was old enough to drive a car and who also had the time to drive all over the place. The love for Davis grew even stronger.
Attending this event tonight made me aware that it takes a constant force to keep this gem going. Bike lanes and bike paths need to be maintained and we can’t passively sit back and say, “well it has been achieved, so the job is done”. The current bike path maintenance is a topic for another day. Today was a beautiful day and a nice bike ride home.