2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Davis’s installation of bicycle lanes. Davis was the first city in the United States to install bicycle lanes, and serves as a prototype for other communities. The League of American Bicyclists awarded Davis its highest ranking, the Platinum-Rated Bicycle Friendly certification, with UC Davis receiving the Platinum-Rated Bicycle Friendly University certification.
Davis has a sister city interested in developing its bicycling culture – Sangju, South Korea. Davis’s Sister City program matched the two cities because of size and other similarities that revolve around bicycling. In late June, Maria Contreras Tebbutt, the founder and director of The Bike Campaign, a Yolo County nonprofit, received an email from Lanka Park, a South Korean delegate who lives in Davis with his wife via the Sister City program. Would Tebbutt be willing to give him and three visiting government managers from Sangju a bike tour? She decided to give them a “Platinum-Rated Bicycle Friendly Welcome” to Davis bike culture with a fun and information-packed tour of Davis and the university campus.
Tebbutt knew that she couldn’t assume that any of the men knew how to ride in traffic; she also needed to furnish them with bicycles and helmets. She borrowed the bicycles and helmets, and planned the tour carefully.
When the four men arrived at Tebbutt’s house on the day of the tour, they were nervous about getting on bicycles. In Sangju, the women ride their bicycles with their children to school, but the men rarely ride. Helmets were completely foreign to them.
Tebbutt said that they rode along Davis’s “out of sight bicycling infrastructure,” covering eight miles in two hours. Bike lanes, bike traffic lights, roundabouts, and road share, were all new concepts to them. They stopped often to consider nature.
The delegation explained that, in Sangju, the one-person-per-car commute is common. Tebbutt asked them, “Environmentally, who pays for all those cars?” She said that this initiated a conversation about the environment, as none of the four had ever given it much thought. She said, “As we rode, we examined the choices people make and their impact. We talked about the economics of driving, too. Pavement is expensive and parking spaces cost a fortune.”
After the bicycle tour, Tebbutt asked the group, “What good memory of today will you take home?” Their English was limited, but each expressed that it was wonderful to be outside in nature.
What can you do to make your immediate environment cleaner? Drive less. Ride your bicycle. Every effort we make to reduce car trips makes a difference. These were the seeds Tebbutt was planting throughout the tour. Beforehand, the men hadn’t contemplated that pollution was connected to their families’ quality of life.
Sangju or Bust
On October 12, Tebbutt will travel to Sangju with a few other members of the Davis Bike Club to understand their bicycle infrastructure and build progressive and productive relationships to promote cycling. She said, “They have no public transportation and no bus system. Their bicycle paths resemble a flower, with the center being the high density area of the city and the petals being cycling paths which loop around the center.”
When Sangju invited the Davis Bike Club to visit them, it seemed only fitting to collaborate and share the cycling love.