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Meet DK and his big bike ideas

Dave “DK” Kemp, the city’s new active transportation coordinator (formerly called the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator), pedals through downtown Davis near the historic train station. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

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From page A1 | May 25, 2012 | Leave Comment

When the Davis City Council awarded its May Bike Month proclamation on May 1 to a who’s who of bicycle personalities in Davis, there was a new face among those to accept the honor.

It was the city’s recently hired bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, Dave “DK” Kemp.

Three weeks later, however, Kemp is no longer the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the city. But don’t fret, he hasn’t lost his job. He’s simply changed his title.

“As we talked more and more with DK and went through the interview process, it became apparent that while cycling is clearly a foundation element of our active transportation system, it’s not the only element,” said Ken Hiatt, director of community development and sustainability, about Kemp’s responsibilities with the city.

“We really want to be sure that we’re using cycling as a link to more sustainable transportation choices and healthier transportation choices that people can make.”

With that idea in mind, Kemp has retitled himself the city’s active transportation coordinator, a moniker he believes better fits not only his new position with the city, but also the new program he will implement this summer.

The endeavor is called “Ride Walk Davis” and its vision is simple, Kemp said: ”(To) increase the number of children, adults and visitors using transit, walking and bicycling as a safe and attractive method of transportation.”

As concise as its mission may be, there are many moving parts to the program.

According to Kemp, “active transportation” means using human-powered transportation to move around. But it also describes the necessary infrastructure, such as bike lanes and sidewalks, that communities need to allow citizens to safely commute to and from work, school, businesses, playgrounds and green spaces.

Using various education campaigns, while applying for grant money to help pay for infrastructure, Kemp hopes Ride Walk Davis will improve on all of those aspects in the city.

To Kemp, however, perhaps the most important aspect is safety.

“One of my big focuses for Davis is developing a safety plan for this community that really focuses in on all the different types of cyclists in the community,” he said. “That’s my priority, to inspire a culture of safety.

“And part of this inspiring the culture of safety is coming up with a traffic safety education campaign, a public education campaign that appeals to all these different types of cyclists.”

Within Ride Walk Davis, Kemp also has planned to start an ambassador program in the city, paving the way for bike enthusiasts to visit various groups to teach the importance of bike safety and the use of active transportation.

But the crown jewel of program, somewhat of a secret Kemp would like to keep, won’t be revealed until later this year. It’s big, he says.

“The conceptual vision of the five-year action plan includes hosting a national bike event, or series of events, in Davis, that showcases the completion of the five-year action plan in 2017,” was all Kemp would say.

The event he has alluded to could coincide with the city’s 100th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Davis’ first bike lanes.

“Keep your bicycles tuned,” Kemp teased.

But if it seems Kemp is all too good at this coordinating thing, it’s because this isn’t his first rodeo.

He comes to Davis sporting a wealth of experience in bicycle and pedestrian coordination. Along with that experience, Kemp has brought many ideas with him to help Davis become an even more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly community.

According to Hiatt, it’s for that type of thinking that the city decided to hire Kemp.

“In addition to finding somebody that had a strong foundation in technical expertise and a practical experience and best practices for cycling facilities and programs, I think what we were looking for in a candidate that stood out was an ability to be a good communicator and community collaborator,” Hiatt said.

“(And) to find someone who could really … help capture and take advantage of the community enthusiasm and interest in cycling in the community, … I think it’s fair to say that we absolutely found that in DK.”

Kemp began his career in bicycle coordination at the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colo., where he created the “Tour de Fat” event, a nationwide tour celebrating cycling and Fat Tire beer.

Then, after spending several months in Europe, cycling and camping from west to east and tasting the flavor of cultures that embrace cycling, Kemp returned to the States hoping to recreate something similar.

“Immediately when I got back I said that I needed to share this,” Kemp said. “I want to create the next Dutch bike town.”

Eventually, the city of Fort Collins gave Kemp a shot as its own bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, and in his six years of service there he turned the community into one that valued bicycles.

John Berg, who chairs Davis’ Bicycle Advisory Commission, sees the experience Kemp brings to the city and is impressed with his enthusiasm.

“He’s not just here for bikes and pedestrians, but for all forms of active transportation, which is anything other than cars, but also to integrate with the transportation system,” Berg said.

“At the (commission) meetings he has been very helpful. It’s kind of cliché, but he has really hit the ground running … and his goals track very well with the priorities of the (commission).”

— Reach Tom Sakash at tsakash@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at tsakash@davisenterprise.net, (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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