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America’s 1st platinum bicycle city (Davis, CA)

In Davis, California 17% of residents commute to work by bike, more than any other American community. To put that in perspective, the national average is 0.05%.

Davis became the country’s first platinum bicycle city in 2005, four decades after city planners decided they needed to actively protect biking or lose the fight to cars. Some say they created America’s first bike lanes when they installed them in the mid-sixties (in any case, they were some of the first).

When the state finally paid attention to cyclists’ needs in the seventies, Davis became their model. In 1972, researchers wrote, “‘Davis’ and ‘bicycle’ are virtually synonymous”.

Today, the city has over 100 miles of bike lanes and bike paths; 95% of all major roads offer this option. They also have a handful of bike signals (modeled after those in Europe), traffic slowing devices, bike roundabouts, bike underpasses (under freeways and railroad crossings), a bike museum (US Bicycling Hall of Fame) and two bicycle advisory committees (one for the campus and one of the city).

Davis invests about $200 per person per year in bike infrastructure; this is for a city where most people bike (there are more bikes than people here). It seems the investment has paid off; Forbes Magazine named Davis one of the country’s top 20 places to live well.

For this video, we spent a day in Davis watching people spin by.