Up with pedal power!

The mayor of Davis and a Sacramento County Supervisor

Let’s go back in time. If your last experience on a bike was right before you received your driver’s license, how did that work out for you? Were your trips more social? Did you have more fun? Get more exercise? Did you pay for parking?

Bike Month is an opportunity to ask, “Do I really have to drive?” “Could a basket transform my bike into an errand-running machine?” “Add an evening ride to dinner?” “Could an electric bike help me commute comfortably, quicker and a bit further?” “Could a folding bike get me the last mile after you commute by transit?”

We bet the answer is yes.

After your pedal-powered youth, you likely crept toward the virtual mono-culture of driving alone. Owning, fueling, insuring, repairing and parking the average car approaches $9,000 annually. If you get rid of a car, that’s thousands more in disposable income and savings.

Our region is known nationally for bicycling. Our terrain is (mostly) flat, the weather is great, and there are bike trails, lanes and routes everywhere. For recreation, head to the American River Parkway, or our surrounding foothill communities. May is Bike Month (www.mayisbikemonth.com) has the most bike-friendly routes, info on bike safety and events that promote cycling.

The costs we all pay for roads are huge, so the more pressure we take off our existing infrastructure, the less we’ll have to spend on road expansion and repair. Elected officials from across the region just adopted a transportation plan that prioritizes taking care of what we have and investing greater amounts in cycling, walking and transit, all in a deliberate effort to ease congestion—a 7-percent decrease in daily congestion for the average person by 2035.

Bicycling means different things to everyone. Kids like it because it gives them a sense of freedom and adventure. Parents like it when their kids have safe routes to school and around their neighborhoods, because it means less time chauffeuring.

So answer the question, “Do I really have to drive?” It’s easy, inexpensive and healthy. And who knows, it just may inspire an otherwise long-lost youthful outlook.