The Best Bike Cities in North America: Davis, California

You don’t have to give up the amenities of a large urban environment just because you prefer traveling on two wheels over four

Davis, California.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Davis is the smallest city to make our top 10 list, but it's hard not to include a place that has more bikes than it does people when talking about cycling-friendly locales.

The first city in the United States to implement bike lanes, Davis is often called Bike City, USA, and the Bike Capital of America. Here you can take a ride along the Davis Bike Loop, a winding path that will lead you on a tour around much of the city. Or stop by the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame for a look the history of the bicycle—the city symbol of Davis.

Bicycle repair stations and tire pumps pepper the streets. The greenway network that was initiated in the 1970s sets the stage for an idyllic cruise. Plus, the mild winters, hot summers and flatness you’ll find in Davis enhances the appeal of self-propelled transportation in this city.

Davis first received platinum status from the League of American Bicyclists for being a top-notch bicycle-friendly community in 2005. Today, approximately 17 percent of residents commute by bike, although it should be noted that this university town has plenty of students looking for cheaper modes of transportation to get around.

Residents are fitter than those you’ll find in most American cities, and the success of the bike culture here has resulted in a population influx that has been both a boon and a capacity headache.

To make biking safe and accessible for kids and adults alike, the Davis City Council has expanded cycling infrastructure since 1967 to the point where 95 percent of the roads in the city now have bike paths (more than 100 miles). They have also appointed two full-time bike coordinators, and two bike advisory committees keep the biking system in Davis rolling smoothly.

Each year, Davis earmarks around $100,000 to manage bicycle path maintenance. In the past 10 years alone, the amount of money spent by the city on bike-related projects has topped $14 million, which equals around $200 per resident.

School buses are non-existent, so kids are encouraged to bike or walk to school. Bike underpasses, plenty of parking, bike roundabouts, bike traffic lights, and traffic-slowing devices add to the convenience and safety of choosing to ride rather than drive in this small city with big potential.

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