May is National Bike Month, a celebration of the benefits of cycling that started in 1956. Most of us can remember the first time we learned to move on two wheels. We’ve enjoyed the feeling of freedom it brings and the excitement of going as fast as we can with the wind blowing through our hair. Some of us bike to work, school, or our favorite local coffee shop. Others ride for the exercise, for the adrenaline rush in competition, or because it’s good for the environment. It may even be to avoid our astronomical gas prices.
No matter the reason we ride, the result is the same, individual and community wellness. Two things the Davis community supports wholly. What started as a seemingly innocuous venture to attract students to campus has turned into a way of life and celebration of bicycling all year long for both the residents of Davis and anyone who is lucky enough to visit.
History of Biking In Davis
Davis has long held a standing of being bike-friendly and even incorporated the nation’s first true bike lane in July of 1967, meant to protect cyclists on the road. 1967 marked a historic achievement for Davis, but even before then, the city was developing plans for bike paths and tunnels throughout the early 1960s as a way to avoid an increase of cars while promoting a growth period of students for UC Davis. It was the sudden student body growth that led to increased biking along the streets of Davis, which often led to car-bike struggles on the roadways, prompting action by the city’s leaders.
Four bike lanes were constructed starting in 1967: Sycamore Lane, 3rd Street, 8th Street, and J Street, and all four bike lanes are still in operation today!
The progressive nature of the community leaders in Davis helped pioneer the topic of bike lanes to the forefront at a time when no other community had done so. Nearby San Francisco didn’t get its first protected bike lane until 2010, some 40+ years after Davis. The early 1990s saw Davis institute bike-signal lights, again serving as one of the first cities in the country to adopt such safety measures. It is no wonder that Davis is named the Bicycle Capital of America.
Bike Tours In Davis
Bike tours in Davis are a popular way for locals and visitors alike to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the history and culture of Davis along the way. Even if you’re in town visiting, many of our local hotels offer bike rentals for use throughout your stay.
The bike tour of historic Davis is just under a 10-mile ride (90% paved) through some of Davis’ most notable landmarks. Included on the trek are the Hattie Weber Museum (Old Davis Library), the Lincoln Highway Marker, the Varsity Theatre, and Sycamore Lane (the first dedicated bike lane in the US). Almost 40 different sites dot the route on the historic bike tour.
If you complete the historical bike tour of Davis, you still have plenty of biking to do. Davis has more than 55 miles of bike paths, more than 100 miles of bike lanes, 4 miles of buffered bike lanes, and more than 4,000 bike racks! All Davis city buses are equipped with bike racks, so if you decide you just can’t pedal any further, you can always catch a ride back.
Hall of Fame and Bike Museum In Davis
The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame and Museum is in Downtown Davis. The museum educates visitors on the history of American cycling and encourages them to participate in cycling at all levels. Originally founded in 1986, in Somerville, NJ, the Hall of Fame sought a new location in 2008, and Davis, due to its rich history in cycling and recognition as a Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, was chosen as the destination when a nationwide competition was held.
The Hall of Fame and Museum sits in an 8,000-square-foot building in Central Park, in Downtown Davis, with an astounding assortment of bicycles, photographs, periodicals, posters, awards, and racing paraphernalia dating back to the 19th century. With its ideal location, the museum is also a great start or end to your ride.
Photo Credit: US Bicycling Hall of Fame
Some of Davis’ best dining options are all around downtown near the Central Park location and the museum is situated very close to the Davis Farmers Market. So if you happen to be at the Hall of Fame and Museum on a Saturday or Wednesday, you can be sure to check out the Farmers Market too!
The Hall of Fame recognizes both competitors and contributors to cycling. Be it through innovation, coaching, or participation in road racing, track, cyclocross, BMX, and mountain biking. General Admission is $5.00, and $3.00 for Seniors and Students. Plan your visit here.
Bike Shops In Davis
With so many active cyclists in Davis, it just makes sense that there would be some great bike shops in town. It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for kids’ bikes, mountain bikes, electric bikes, helmets, locks, tires, apparel, shoes, or even lights, there is a shop in Davis that is sure to have what you’re looking for!
Ken’s Bike-Ski-Board has been a Davis staple since the 1980s in some version of the name or another and has been voted Yolo County’s #1 bike shop for 16 straight years! Ken’s boasts a full selection of gear and bikes, carefully chosen to give you maximum quality, value, and fun. With certified and trained mechanics and bike fitters, you will have advice from experts as you decide on purchase and repair options. Ken’s Bike-Ski-Board truly believes that by helping the people of Davis and its visitors, they are contributing to Healthier People, a Healthier Community, and a Healthier Planet and they are!
Freewheeler Bicycle Center is a family-run bicycle store that has been in Davis since 1975. Three generations of the family can be found in the shop every day of the week, and every once in a while you’ll even get four! Proud members of the Davis community, Freewheeler stands behind its products and services and believes that biking has made the Davis community stronger, healthier, and happier. Offering a full assortment of gear, apparel, safety equipment, and of course, bikes, Freewheeler’s Service Center also offers free consultations and estimates by their experienced bike technicians 7 days a week.
Davis Bike Collective is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit community bicycle organization. This do-it-yourself shop allows people to share tools, skills, and knowledge about bicycle maintenance and repair. The Davis Bike Collective supports many community bicycle-related programs, including repair workshops and bike share and lending. The cooperative shop does accept donations of used bicycles and parts, which they then make available to the community to build or repair their bikes. Volunteers are always on hand to answer any questions that you might have and demonstrate techniques for maintenance or building, as well as Ministers, that oversee the operations of the collective and coordinate the efforts of the volunteers. Find out more info about this and other Davis Co-Ops here!
Whether you ride your bike for fun, transport, passion, or anything in between, know that you are contributing to a better world! You are helping our planet and improving your wellness. Davis has an abundance of biking opportunities for all ages and abilities. Enjoy special discounts with the Davis Savings Pass as you explore the city. Bike safety is a top priority for us so be sure to always wear a helmet and share the road. Be sure to share the benefits and joys of cycling with younger generations to keep the future of biking in Davis and beyond just as prevalent as the history of biking in Davis. Get out and ride!