Bike Campaign Swings into Gear to Reduce Traffic and Congestion

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Bike share programs have popped up like the Jump bike

With L Street under construction for the foreseeable future, Fifth Street has taken on much more congestion than normal.  The downtown remains impacted by parking shortages during peak hours.

Is there a way for the city to reduce congestion?  Maria Tebbut thinks she has the answer – and it’s already in the city’s arsenal.

“Many of the horrific, contentious traffic & parking congestion problems and accompanying air pollution that Davis (and most other cities) are experiencing could be significantly reduced in a very short time by enlisting the efforts of business that attracts large numbers of drivers and major employers and employer associations,” Maria Tebbutt, director of the local non-profit The Bike Campaign, told the Vanguard this week.

One answer – encourage businesses to apply to become Bicycle Friendly Businesses.

“This is something important for businesses to take a look at, because it’s something they can do immediately,” Ms. Tebbut explained.

She called the congestion “a crisis.”

“It’s a transportation crisis,” she said.  “It’s not limited to Davis, it’s everywhere, anywhere you go, any time of day, any day of the week.”

The application is 20 pages long.  It looks daunting she said, but most of it is just a check list.  “Companies can make their place of business more bike friendly, more welcoming.”

The criteria: “Your company makes an effort to reach out to their own staff and second to their customers, to make their place of business welcoming to bicycles.”

She noted, “The main reason to do it is to save money.”

Some of the questions include: “Which of the following bicycle-related incentives or benefits does your business offer?”

Answers range from free bicycles to each employee, cash incentives, reimbursement for commuting expenses, and other incentives for employees or customers to arrive by bike.

They also ask about bike share: “Does the business provide any bike share related benefits or services?”

Answers could include providing shared bikes to employees or guests, providing free or subsidized access to public share system, or, of course, none of these.

Ms. Tebbut met with the sustainable manager for Nugget Markets and mentioned that one of the least sustainable things they are doing is maintaining the huge parking lot in front of their store.

“The parking lot is overflowing with customers who need to buy groceries,” she said.  She said that if the customers need those spots, “one of the things you can do is encourage your employees to not drive their cars to the business place – because they would essentially be taking a parking space needed by customers.

“So you use incentives,” she said.  Part of that means “secure bike parking,” and by that she said, “I don’t mean some rickety thing down by the dumpsters.  Maybe even covered.”

The application also wants to know participation in various celebrations like Bike to Work Day or National Bike Month, and whether it promotes and/or supports bicycling in the broader community.

“That would be wonderful,” Ms. Tebbut said.  “Be aware of what the big biking plan is for Davis and how that affects your place of business.”

Another feature is a place for people to change their clothes once they get to work.  Or possibly a locker to store the sweaty clothes you use to ride in from wherever you are coming from.  Some places may even have an arrangement with a gym or something close by to allow people to use showers.

So far only three places of business in Davis have applied for certification – Nugget Market, the Food Co-Op and UC Davis.

“Nugget actually applied for certification at four of their locations,” she said.  “Parking and traffic are huge issues to them.”

Maria Tebbut explained, “UC Davis has a GO Program.”  That program allows people who ride their bikes to work every day to get 12-24 free parking passes.  “UC Davis employees have to buy their parking permits.  They’re expensive.”

Someone who rides their bike can get passes from TAPS (Transportation and Parking Services) for when they need to take a car.  “They get awarded with free parking,” she said.

She said, “This traffic and parking situation is getting to be really awful.”  She said, “I think we at least could investigate this other possible alternative to help do something about it right now.”

She told the Vanguard we could start with people getting to food.  As people drive and idle, that’s a lot of carbon emitted by the vehicle.

She pointed out: “Most grocery store parking lots are not a place you enjoy parking.”

Another such place: “Large apartment complexes.”  She pointed out that one company owns like 13 or 14 complexes.  She went to them and pushed the idea.

One problem that apartments are facing is that, because of the increasing cost and lack of supply of housing, more people are crowding into the same number of units and the same number of parking spaces.

“As a result, apartment complexes are charging for car parking,” she said, “which they should.

“Real estate is expensive,” she said, and paving over it to park cars on it “is really expensive.”

Increasingly, she said, in areas like Sacramento they are building apartments with limited or even no spaces.  This encourages people to use bicycles and Jump bikes and to work close to where they live.

“They’re making it attractive for people to work and live in close proximity,” she said, and to use the transportation system that is available.  “That sends a very different message than putting in a three-story high parking unit.”

So one avenue for improvement would be to expand the number of businesses applying for Bike Friendly status from three to far more.

Ms. Tebbut explained, “The city of Davis received grant funding to move this program ahead.”  But the city got this funding at the same time they lost DK Kemp as the bicycling coordinator.  In the meantime, “they lost that money.  No one was able to implement the program.”

But that might be changing with a new bicycle coordinator – and demands on parking and congestion driving possible demands for changing the way we get to work or even shop for our food.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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20 thoughts on “Bike Campaign Swings into Gear to Reduce Traffic and Congestion”

  1. Ron Glick

    Equating the traffic jams created by road construction with parking congestion is a little disingenuous. I easily found a parking spot at 2nd and E yesterday at 5:30 PM. Lucky or good? I don’t know but it sure seems to me that the difficulty in finding parking downtown is overstated. I almost never need to go around a block more than once to find a spot and usually can find a spot within a block of my destination immediately upon arrival.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “Equating the traffic jams created by road construction with parking congestion is a little disingenuous.”

      Disingenuous means “not candid” or “sincere” – you may disagree with her, but I don’t think that’s the word you want to use here.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Disingenuous means “not candid” or “sincere” – you may disagree with HER, but I don’t think that’s the word you want to use here.

        So, you now opine/attempt to correct posters’ choice of words… fascinating… particularly in the apparent fact that she was not the author of the piece, you apparently are…

        With L Street under construction for the foreseeable future, Fifth Street has taken on much more congestion than normal.  The downtown remains impacted by parking shortages during peak hours.

        Apparently, your words/thoughts, not hers… not once, in the quotes attributed to her, did the word ‘construction’ emerge.

        Ron Glick’s comment sure appears to be related to your ‘spin’, rather than any thing Ms Tebbut said.  You appear to be disingenuous to “correct” his use of the term, where it more apparently is related to what you wrote, not what Ms Tebbut said.

        Have met Maria… she took a refurbished bike off our hands, as a donation… I had acquired it, had it refurbished, but had misjudged the in-seam length of the homeless guy I intended it for.  You are correct, she is fervent, but I see no guile within her.  She’s ‘aces’…

         

        1. Jim Hoch

          My wife says my communication is bad. Looks like she is correct.

           

          “The application is 20 pages long.  It looks daunting she said, but most of it is just a check list.  “Companies can make their place of business more bike friendly, more welcoming.””

           

          Are you policies inclusive of this checklist?

  2. John Hobbs

    ““Many of the horrific, contentious traffic…”

    Hyperbole much?

    Why not allow the ‘merchants” to operate a fleet of free shuttles, like they do on Maui? Does Nugget deliver? Do they have an E basket program?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “Why not”

      Well indeed but now let’s review this – Maria’s passion is bicycling, she sees a problem in the community and is proposing a solution within her passion. So making a suggestion outside of that is probably not going to be acted on – at least by her.

      1. John Hobbs

        I was just making topical suggestions
        to Reduce Traffic and Congestion
        that are practical and low hanging fruit. I didn’t realize that those were now proscribed by the Vanguard.

  3. Eric Gelber

    Kind of surprising/disappointing that only two businesses (and UCD) have chosen to participate in this program so far.  DavisWiki and Yelp list over two dozen fitness-related businesses in Davis. You’d think a few of those would want to set an example and step up.

  4. David Takemoto-Weerts

    This article seems to leave out some key information. I presume the “Bicycle Friendly Business” certification mentioned here is the program run by the League of American Bicyclists. UC Davis has the top level of recognition, Platinum, as both a Bicycle Friendly Business and a Bicycle Friendly University. The business Platinum was originally awarded in 2013 and has been renewed since then.

    The only other two Davis businesses that have been awarded BFB status, both at the bronze level, are Blue Oak Energy and the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District. If Nugget Markets and the Davis Food Co-op have applied, they haven’t been awarded any status yet.

    I believe the city of Davis had achieved silver status several years ago, but they must not have been renewed, as they are no longer on the list: https://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/BFB_Full_List_through_Fall_2018.pdf

    The last two paragraphs are confusing to me: “Ms. Tebbut explained, “The city of Davis received grant funding to move this program ahead.”  But the city got this funding at the same time they lost DK Kemp as the bicycling coordinator.  In the meantime, “they lost that money.  No one was able to implement the program.”
    But that might be changing with a new bicycle coordinator – and demands on parking and congestion driving possible demands for changing the way we get to work or even shop for our food.
    Is Ms. Tebbut saying that the grant funding “to move this program ahead” was to work on developing more Bike Friendly Businesses? Why did they lose the funding when Dave Kemp left to take another position in Boulder? His replacement, Jennifer Donofrio, has been the city bike and pedestrian coordinator for several years. I’d call her “current”, not “new”. As one who successfully led the campus application effort for its two Platinum awards, I can say that the application process, though many pages long, is relatively straightforward and doesn’t require any significant outlay of funds to complete. However, to achieve recognition by the League can require a community or business to develop programs and infrastructure that certainly may be costly.

      1. Todd Edelman

        I spend a lot of time on media that focuses on cycling (for transportation) and all things sustainable transport, and my sense is that no one cares too much about the Bike League’s ratings. It’s as relevant to the current state of cycling here – potholes, car driving narcissists from El Macero and Neo-Liberal ageist data-gathering bike share alike – as the Cycling Hall of Fame*.

        And the City has at least informally – but definitely quietly – backed down from its “Beyond Platinum” pledge, and the eponymous cycling plan.

        Despite all the crap thrown at them, kids still make Davis one of the best bike-to-school cities in the country. Yes, they can’t drive themselves – that’s why cycling to high school is half as popular as cycling to junior high – and they have well more than one full-time job position – taking into account the Safe Routes to School coordinator, others at City Hall, the volunteer parents and bike repair folk at profit and non-profit entities – assigned to enabling their transcendance beyond the suburban garbage mentality of many folks around here, but for me it all comes back to that pound of butter…

        * CHOF is great, I go there often for bike-related events, but I am not sure what is so “Davis” about it. It is not directly involved in furthering transportation cycling in Davis, aside from being a venue as mentioned. I’d love for the City to collaborate with UC Davis ITS or NCST to showcase various areas of study and success, both locally and beyond, involving the public, using the facility… I am listening to a wonderful jazz guitarist right now.

      2. David Takemoto-Weerts

        Davis was the first Platinum level bicycle friendly community designated by the League of American Bicyclists. That status has been regularly renewed. I’m relatively certain it was, at one time, designated as a Silver level bicycle friendly business, but apparently has chosen not to submit a renewal application.

  5. Todd Edelman

    UC Davis has the right approach with multiple programs that do an excellent job in encouraging cycling / discouraging driving to campus, but also gripe-able things like supporting a reduction of the assistance speed for electric-assist bike share bikes below what state allows, and which only one other of about ten systems also run by Jump regulate in the same way — so this means that all their bikes in Davis are not as competitive with cars. Further, it’s clear to me that the 20 mph assistance speed for this type of e-bike – called Type 1 – is meant to be a balance of safety and speed. The speed is slowed to match the campus limit but then limits maneuvers such as vehicular left hand turns. I tried to get the BTSSC to ask Council to look into changing this, but my motion did not get a second.

    The Co-op has plenty of bike parking, mostly closer to entrances that the car parking, but more should be covered. Of course lots of customers are the more bike-friendly type. But many employees arrive by car, probably since they live out of town or are too tired to bike home late at night.

    Covell Nugget has good bicycle parking — it’s not in the front of the store but actually it’s better that it’s on the east side as this connects directly to neighborhoods to the south on local streets — but cycling there from across Covell and Pole Line is only good if it’s direct to use the paths north of E. Covell and the frontage road on E. Covell, but then one still has to cross Pole Line. It should be fine and safe anywhere in Davis – esp. so close to a supermarket – to send an eight-year old to pick up a pound of butter. On the other hand their car parking situation is completely generic suburban narcissistic insanity, and they scoffed at a suggestion for e-bikes for staff working at their newly-approved HQ.

    East Nugget has absolutely terrible bike parking.

  6. Alan Miller

    “It’s a transportation crisis,” she said.  “It’s not limited to Davis, it’s everywhere, anywhere you go, any time of day, any day of the week.”

    Many of the horrific, contentious traffic & parking congestion problems and accompanying air pollution that Davis . . .

    Horrific?  Crisis?  Is this even for reals?

    I’ve lived in Davis going on 40 years and I’m a huge bicycle advocate.  Davis is a piece of cake to bike or drive in.  There are other cities, including parts of the Bay Area, and Sacramento on my daily bicycle commute from the train station to work, that are so dangerous that not getting hit is a challenge — those could be considered a crisis.  There are some really stupid designs that could be changed, true.  There is a lack of infrastructure that could be improved.  Is there no realization that when everything is a crisis, then nothing is a crisis?  Can’t one advocate for bicycles, quite righteously, without using this all-too-overused hyperbole of “CRISIS” ???

  7. Alan Miller

    the local non-profit The Bike Campaign, told the Vanguard this week.

    OK, but what is it?  Funded by whom?  How many employees?  What is their actual purpose?  There needs to be a nix on this idea that “non-profit” automatically means “angelic”, “holy”, “beyond scrutiny”.  In fact, many non-profits are simply shells for evil politicians and corporations (not that all are, but some are).  Also, there are noble non-profits (often only in their early years when they are starving . . . less so when they realize after awhile they need money and a living wage to continue).  Without some background, I don’t know what this is.

     

    One answer – encourage businesses to apply to become Bicycle Friendly Businesses.

    I assumed this would be explained.  It wasn’t. Ok, so there is an application.  But certified by whom?  For what purpose?  Is this some standard this particular non-profit does?  Is this a state or national standard?  And other than “feel good”, what does it “do”?  A company can just choose to do good stuff, there could be suggestions passed out — but really ‘certification’ — are there ‘inspectors’ going out and making sure they keep their standards high?

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