Thursday, January 11, 2007

Watch out Davis, your monopoly on platinum may end

Image of ARC at the University of California, DavisAs many are aware, I am an enthusiast for bicyclist-friendly Davis, California, where I lived for five years (and may again). Davis is the first and only city in the U.S. to have earned a platinum-level award from the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Communities program.

However, according to a January 11 article in the Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, Davis may soon have a strong challenge from fellow college-town, Madison, Wisconsin. And Madison, near the global HQ of Trek Bicycles, has some major bike industry support:

Pacific Cycle Supports Mayor's Platinum Bicycle City Charge

JANUARY 11, 2007 -- MADISON, WI (BRAIN)--Pacific Cycle, owner and distributor of the Schwinn, Mongoose and GT Bicycles brands, is supporting Madison's charge to become a platinum-rated "Bicycle Friendly Community."

Pacific Cycle has provided funds to help the Madison’s Platinum Biking Committee create a bicycle plan that, once implemented, will take Madison to a new level in biking. (Read more.)
In the 1960s, Davis was a pioneer in facilities such as bike lanes and bike paths, at a time when bicycling was largely in retreat as a transportation mode. Today, these innovative, proactive measures to encourage bicycling have resulted in Davis having the highest mode share for bicycling of any city in North America.

However, many believe Davis has been resting on its laurels. The city has changed considerably in the past 40 years, spreading greatly in a low-density fashion that discourages walking and bicycling. Davis has also become less of a classic college town, and more of a bedroom community for nearby Sacramento and even the Bay Area. The new residents have been less inclined to bike. The result has been a decline in the mode share for bicycling in Davis, from more than 20 percent of all trips in 1990 to about 15 percent of all trips in 2000.

And the city's political leadership also hasn't demonstrated much creativity in bicycling promotion. Davis' latest "effort" to reduce traffic danger wasn't innovative street design or infrastructure, but a prepackaged "Street Smarts" feel-good PR campaign.

According to the city website: "Street Smarts addresses traffic problems at their source: in the minds of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists." Uggghhh. Traffic problems don't start in the "minds of drivers." Traffic problems begin with bad street engineering that encourages speeding or reckless driving.

I've always believed that infrastructure is a better method of regulating motorist behavior than "laws" or PR appeals. This latest "Street Smarts" nonsense from Davis is truly disappointing. Maybe Madison has a chance.

Image: Web capture. The ARC at UC Davis.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

1 comment:

Fritz said...

I've only seen Davis from the window of an Amtrak train, but I see typical suburban wide streets there.