In what can only be seen as an abuse of local governmental power, Mayor Joe Krovoza unilaterally announced last week that it is mandatory in Davis for residents to participate in May is Bike Month activities.
While the mayor is obviously kidding about that sort of despotic display, Krovoza — who for the second year running was named co-chair of the six-county regional event that encourages residents to bike everywhere they can and then log their miles — is very serious about promoting the month and the various benefits of bicycling.
“Bike Month should be about getting existing riders to ride more and new riders on the road, and everybody should use (this time) as an opportunity to do that,” Krovoza said more seriously last week.
“(It’s also) to show the value of cycling beyond just to the environment. I think we think of cycling in Davis often as an environmental action, but I don’t,” he continued. “I actually think of bicycling as something that is most important because it makes us more social, it makes us talk to each other more, (we stop) more frequently, make more eye contact and communicate better. I love that about cycling.”
Residents will have plenty of opportunities this month to improve on those social skills with the calendar-full of events that local stakeholders have scheduled, including Loopalooza, which happened Sunday; National Bike to School Day on Wednesday; Bike to Work Week next week; the Tour de Cluck Chicken Coop Crawl on Saturday, May 25; and several other ways to participate in between.
The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, 303 Third St., also will stay open later on Wednesdays, from 4 to 8 p.m., to commemorate the month and will continue to operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
A full calendar of events in Davis, which has been participating in the national bicycle month for about 20 years, can be found at www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=davisbicycles%40gmail.com. For more information on the regional May is Bike Month event, and to register to participate, visit www.mayisbikemonth.com.
The bike month website also allows riders to log and track the miles they’ve pedaled so far this May, setting the stage for several interesting intercity competitions over who or which city or bike team is the most bike-crazy.
There are several competitions, such as the employer challenge, the team/bike club challenge, the schools challenge and the city challenge.
Within the city challenge, as of Monday, Davis had racked up 12,257 miles and sits in fourth place behind the city of Sacramento — which, of course, sports a population of 470,000 compared to 65,000 in Davis, according to 2010 census data (50,244 miles) — unincorporated Sacramento County (41,286 miles) and the city of Folsom (16,198).
The website also asks participants to log recreational miles, commuting miles, multi-purpose miles, errand miles, work miles and the average miles per rider.
Davis is second in work miles, third in commuter miles and a close third in errand miles.
In the schools challenge, six of Davis’ nine elementary schools rank in the top 10, including North Davis (first), Birch Lane (second), Willett (fifth), Chávez (sixth), Korematsu (eighth) and Patwin (10th).
UC Davis faculty and staff come in as the top local “large business,” logging 2,111 miles for 10th place so far. The Davis Bike Club ranks 18th in the team challenge, with 1,335 miles.
“I want to encourage everyone to participate,” Krovoza said of the challenges. “It is a fantastic event to show our colors for biking.
“I hope that in any city-to-city comparisons, that we really take time to account for the incredible quantity of biking that goes on in Davis. I hope that we don’t get complacent that because we bike so much all the time we don’t then document that for the region.”
In addition to the challenges, Dave Kemp, the city’s active transportation coordinator, says Bike Month also should be used to recognize just who and what goes into making Davis the bicycling community that it has become.
“It’s a part of life,” said Kemp, who has the city on track to achieving a city bicycle classification from the League of American Bicyclists that’s “Beyond Platinum” through his bicycle action plan that he hopes will one day culminate in Davis hosting a Bicycle World’s Fair.
“It’s a part of the fabric of this society for sure,” Kemp added.”Bike Month is that celebratory time when we have that local, regional and national spotlight to really demonstrate what each community does for cycling and to recognize and acknowledge the individuals and the organizations and the collaborations. People come together for this; biking brings people together.”
Davis was the first city in the United States to be named a platinum-level bicycle community in 2005. According to census data, Davis boasts the highest bicycle mode share — or percentage of residents who commute on their bicycles — in the country at about 22 percent, or 40 times the national average.
May is Bike Month in Davis is co-sponsored by the city’s Street Smarts program, Cool Davis and Davis Downtown.
— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash