By Twanda Thirkill
I’ve been a regular bicyclist for as long as I’ve lived in Davis. It’s a hobby, mode of travel, and way of life for me and many of my friends. If my bike had a bumper sticker, it might say, “I bike, and I vote.”
Transit policy is a major interest of mine. It determines my ease of access and my safety. I also happen to think that multi-modal transit oriented development creates healthier and more sustainable cities.
I’ve looked into the arguments for and against Measure A. I believe the people on both sides of this campaign believe in what they’re doing and want what’s best for Davis. But when I look at this campaign from the perspective of someone whose lifestyle is heavily centered on bicycling, there’s no comparison. Measure A goes above and beyond for bikers, whether they live or work at the Nishi Gateway or not, and that’s why I will be voting for Measure A.
The upgrades to Richards and Olive are probably the most immediately important to all Davis bikers. Measure A creates a separated bike path on Richards that will protect bikers from heavy congestion and even isolate us from the dangerous Interstate 80 off ramp.
I’ve read a lot about Nishi and not enough attention has been brought to this separated bike lane. Multiple studies have shown that separated bike lanes reduce crashes, and one study even indicated that they can increase bike ridership by up to 20%. There are multiple types of bikers divided by comfort level and skill. Some of us, confident in our abilities and aware of our right to share the road, will ride our bikes on almost any road we’re legally allowed to.
Others will stay off the busiest streets but feel very confident on roads with sharrows. Others will only use side streets and for long distances down busy roads, opt for the car instead. A separated bike lane, even on the busiest street, helps make the experience feel much safer because it is much safer. This is even more true at Richards, because it immediately feeds into sparsely driven campus routes, the Davis Bike Loop, the Arboretum, and the downtown grid where bikers are the kings and queens of the road.
I’m really worried about what would happen if Measure A fails. For a city our size, $16 million tax-free to improve Richards and Olive is a lot. We’ve known Richards is a problem for as long as I’ve lived here, and this knowledge hasn’t been enough to make inroads (or should I say out bike paths).
There are people who mistakenly think defeating Measure A will keep things the way they are. They’re wrong. Defeating Measure A would make things worse, preventing the upgrades we need on Richards and leaving us unprepared for the growing demands on the university from commuters.
The other ways Measure A helps bicyclists go beyond safety to provide convenience . Nishi puts a cap on peak hour driving, making biking attractive for financial as well as lifestyle reasons. The property includes hundreds of bicycle parking spots, and many of them will be shaded. It builds into the bike loop and its position next to downtown, the Arboretum, and the broader campus makes car travel unnecessary for most residents’ daily needs. If anything, I wish Nishi had fewer parking spots, but I recognize a good compromise when I see it.
To my fellow bicyclists, think about what you’ll be getting if Measure A passes and think about what will be denied to our city if Measure A fails. As I said, I bike and I’m voting for Measure A.