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Tips for riding your bike around UC Davis

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

This first week of all the students being back in Davis is an exciting time but, also a hazardous time. The main danger being, riding your bike in a sea of inexperienced freshmen who are unfamiliar with the rules of the road and the responsibilities of riding a bike in Davis. Here are some tips to help avoid an embarrassing, costly and potentially harmful situation on your bike.

First tip: Get familiar with the laws/rules for riding a bike. Cops in Davis will pull you over and ticket you on your bike for: running a stop sign or red light, not using your hand to signal, riding with both headphones in (one is alright), riding inebriated (can lead to losing your drivers license) or otherwise irresponsibly/dangerously, and I think most importantly – for not having a bike light at night. A strong front light, back light, and ideally white or reflective clothing are strongly recommended while biking at night. Also, be familiar with the signs and be careful not to ride your bike in certain areas where it is forbidden (the MU and in certain sections of the Arboretum).

Second Tip: Pay attention while entering/exiting rotaries on campus! Most sensible people are familiar with the rotaries, but unfortunately most freshman are not very sensible. Technically the riders in the rotary have the right of way. Bikes entering the rotary must yield to bikes already in the rotary however, do not count on other riders to adhere to this rule. Many people will just bike right into a rotary without looking, so just be aware of this. When exiting the rotary it is never a bad idea to signal, and check over your shoulder that you will not hit another rider as you turn out of the rotary. Also be wary of actual traffic in the rotaries, buses, trucks, and cops can cause mass confusion when a high volume of bike traffic is present. Rotaries mishaps account for the majority of collisions and injuries on campus, so just be careful!

Third tip: Don’t be afraid to speak up! While riding around campus, especially around lunch of in between classes you will run into groups of slow moving bikes or people walking in the bike lane. Occasionally you can easily pass them by, but it is often necessary to alert those blocking the way of your presence. Just a quick “On your left/right” can save you from getting nailed by a swerving bike or errant pedestrian. Also very helpful with riders who are unable to ride in a straight line or are completely unaware of their surroundings (be especially aware of Cruiser bikes as they tend to be harder to control).

Davis is a great place to ride a bike, just make sure you do it safely and responsibly. If anyone has any other recommendations or stories please feel free to chime in!

Updates: When walking in a bike lane, remember to walk on the left side so you can see oncoming traffic. It is also a good idea to buy a U-lock, almost any other kind of lock can be easily cut (and there is nothing worse than finishing a long day in lab, and finding out that your bike has been stolen). Also a good idea to register your bike with the campus police for a variety of reasons.

Pro tip: As we transition from Summer/Fall into winter remember that the weather changes dramatically. Equipping yourself with splash guards on your front and rear bike tires can save you from getting an impromtu mud facial next time it rains. Riding your bike in the rain is not that bad, as long as you have the right equipment. Getting a solid rain jacket, rain pants, and a pair of water resistant gloves will make you much happier when you arrive at your destination.

Happy Riding!


  1. September 19, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    For those not familiar with rotaries. They are roundabouts, or a circular roads. Once you are on their, you have the right of way. Signal timely when you want to exit, so others can anticipate your actions. If you want to enter, wait for space. Bikes are narrow, so space is abundant (assuming you can ride your bike).

    As I am Dutch, I have cycled more than the average person in the US. 1) know how to control your bike under various conditions. If you can’t ride your bike, nothing will stand in your way of looking stupid. I have seen people literally fall of their bikes alone and for no reason at all. 2) Assume cars do not see you and thus they will cut you off. A 1000+ kg piece of metal always wins over a bicycle. By law you are equal to a car, but in reality you are much slower. Stay right, this allows for cars to pass you easily. Also, when I make a right turn in a car, I will limit the space between the curb and the road, preventing bicycles from squeezing through. I do this to prevent hitting a cyclist as I make a right turn. This is an uncommon practice in the US, but from experience, it does work. 3) Assume that pedestrians don’t look and are erratic in their behaviour. Drive defensively, as you should in your car. 4) This rule/advice counts for any time you are part of traffic: be aware of your surrounding at all times. You can only anticipate to the environment you know is there. If you are listening to NPR podcast while cycling to lab, you are missing large chunks of traffic around you and you won’t be aware that you are missing them. Be smart and focus on what you are doing.

    Above all, cycling is fun. Your head is in the wind and you are exercising as you go somewhere.

  2. September 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Reblogged this on The Polite One and commented:
    Wonderful article for newbies to Davis and a great reminder for the rest of us!

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