Davis, California leads the nation in bicycling as a mode of transportation with a higher share of workers commuting by bicycle than any other city in the United States. Bikes are a common and normal part of life in Davis, and both the city and the University of California, Davis have implemented numerous programs and policies that encourage and celebrate bicycling. Davis is thus a living laboratory for research on bicycling as a mode of transportation.

UC Davis Bicycle Research

Bicycling Behavior

Whether or not an individual chooses to bicycle depends on circumstances such as the quality of bicycle infrastructure and characteristics of the surrounding environment, as well as their own comfort with and preferences for bicycling. People around the world have adopted or rejected bicycling based on factors such as how much they like bicycling, how stressful they find car traffic, who else in the community bicycles, and their need to transport children or carry groceries. In these papers, researchers explore how and why people bicycle in Davis and beyond as they analyze the circumstances that influence bicycling behavior.

Bicycling and Bicycle Dynamics

The action exerted on a bicycle by a rider is a machine-like system through which movement and travel is achieved. The dynamic between a bicycle and a bicyclist depends on movement, the architecture of the bike, the structure of the environment such as pavement, and the physiological structure of the body. In these papers, researchers study the mechanisms of the bicycle-to-rider interaction to examine aspects of bicycling such as velocity, acceleration, levels of bicycle control, limb positions, bicycle frame, tire and road quality as they affect movement, and more.

Bicycle Infrastructure

Infrastructure has a major role in encouraging bicycling for transportation. Bike lanes, streetlights, pavement quality and more influence how often and in what ways people use bicycles. Studies of the effectiveness of infrastructure investments provide important guidance to cities as they seek to increase bicycling. In these papers, researchers examine how infrastructure encourages or discourages bicycling.

Planning Tools

Cities throughout the U.S. are aiming to increase bicycling as a mode of transportation. In these papers, researchers provide planners with tools that are helpful in their efforts to increase bicycling. These tools include summaries of the evidence on different strategies for increasing bicycling, estimates of the amount of bicycling (and walking) based on available survey data, and methods for measuring and modeling bicycling.

Bicycle Policy

In these papers, researchers analyze past, present, and future bicycle policy, and explore how these policies have affected or could potentially affect bicycling. Policy shapes investments in bicycle infrastructure and promotional programs, thus influencing who uses bicycles, how often, how safely, for what purpose, and with what outcomes. Understanding the factors that lead to bicycling-supportive policies is essential to efforts to increase the prevalence and safety of bicycling.

Research Needs

Bicycling is an important aspect of everyday life for a growing number of people. As bicycling increases, researchers are addressing new questions and discovering new challenges. Key challenges researchers face include obtaining accurate measurements of bicycling, recruiting representative samples of bicyclists, and acquiring data at multiple points in time to enable more rigorous research designs. In these papers, researchers discuss the issues and challenges surrounding the study of bicycling as a mode of transportation.