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Natural and Man-Made Factors Encouraging Bicycling in Davis

"A number of factors appear to contribute in enabling the cycle to play this major transportation role. Among these are mild climate, level terrain and wide streets. Presence of the University of California campus assures a high percentage of the population will be comprised of young adults and the dispersed layout of the campus itself encourages use of the cycle.

Also important is the fact that Davis heretofore has been a closely defined and relatively self sustained community. All activity centers in the city are within easy cycling range of the most remote households and with relatively little external travel, the bicycle is a viable form for almost all trips. But probably the most significant element has been the attitude of Davis residents and city officials and the provisions they have made to insure cycles are not crowded off city streets by growing automobile traffic."*

Bicycling has prospered in Davis because the community was blessed with attributes that contributed to the popular use of bicycles for transportation long before city and university officials and other key players set about to consciously improve the physical and social environment to promote "pedal power".

Mild climate and flat topography are, of course, physical "givens" over which the most ardent bicycle advocate has no control. The fact that Davis was a classic example of a "company town", the company in this case being the burgeoning campus of the University of California system, was the single most significant "man-made" factor, assuring a large population of healthy, young and cash-poor students for whom the bicycle was a natural transportation choice.

Davis is a ten square mile urban "island" set in an agricultural "sea" and is separated from surrounding cities and towns by at least a dozen miles of sparsely populated farmland. As a result, nearly every student and many staff and faculty members lived within one to three miles of the University-distances well within reach of just about anyone who could balance on a bicycle. Students, staff and faculty were further motivated to bicycle on campus to reach destinations too far to get to on foot during short breaks between classes.


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