Living in California, it is impossible to ignore the impact that wildfires have had on our state in recent years. As this blog is being written on 8/18/21, more than 6,500 wildfires have destroyed more than 1.3 million acres across the state so far in 2021, which is a pace that is set to exceed any other year in recorded history. While wildfires are a natural part of California’s landscape, the most prominent “fire season” (not only in California, but across the entire West coast) is starting earlier and ending later every year. Many point to climate change and drought to be the key driver of this trend. The warmer temperatures lead to reduced snowpack and earlier spring snowmelt which create longer and more intense dry seasons. This pattern leads to a drying out of the state’s vegetation and makes forests more susceptible to massive wildfires. While this is an important driving factor to consider, there are other factors at play as well.
When early explorers (or more accurately named, colonizers) began to arrive in California, they noticed smoke from what appeared to be intentionally set fires. The first records of this date as far back as 1542 when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo of Spain found that “Native Americans set fires in the canyons around the Los Angeles basin to prevent too much buildup of undergrowth and to drive out the game.” As more Europeans like Cabrillo came to the region, these practices would continue to be observed, but never respected. Instead, they brought agricultural practices from their home continent and a concerted effort to erase Indigenous culture.
Prior to European intervention, the Indigenous people of the West were experts in keeping the land in balance. The landscape was a perfect blend of meadows, grasslands, forests and brushland and prescribed burns at calculated intervals made it so that the megafires we see now would not be possible. Additionally, burns with plants such as trees and grasses actually helped them improve their yield on essential crops that provided food and materials for basket weaving. Fire was not only a tangible tool for agriculture and the ecosystem, but also served spiritual purposes as well. However, after centuries of European exploitation and terror towards the Indigenous people of California, the practice of prescribed burns was all but eradicated until recently.
By the late 19th century, the US Forest Service at the time cited an oncoming “Timber Famine” as grounds for becoming even more diligent in the suppression of fires. While scientists and Indigenous tribes at the time had made pleas for them to reconsider, the first head of the USFS, Gifford Pinchot, continued for the pushed demonization of fires. In 1910, the USFS was aided in its campaign by a giant fire that burned through Idaho, Washington, and Montana and engulfed entire towns. And while much of this fire burned through dead and down slash left over from over logging and deforestation, the USFS used this incident to push for full suppression of fire, and they eventually succeeded. In 1911 the Weeks Act was passed, which in part allowed for the Federal Government to issue fines and other penalties to local governments who allowed for unauthorized fire suppression tactics. By 1935, The 10 AM Policy was enacted, which deemed that all wildfires must be extinguished by 10 AM following their day of discovery.
Many trees throughout the West have serotinous cones which means that they only seed with fire. Many native grasses in California depend on fire as well. Fire is regenerative and healthy for many ecosystems and suppressing it for so long knocked everything out of balance. Until the 1970s when small prescribed burns began to be issued again, fires in the west were totally suppressed leaving forests to grow unchecked. And while you may see remnants of prescribed burns in parts of the state today, many fire-dependent ecosystems have not been properly tended and we are still in a mentality of suppression being more important than prevention.
A good example of this in California is a Sequoia grove, which is largely dependent on fire. Usually, these groves burn regularly with ground fire which is why Sequoias don’t have lower branches. But when fire was suppressed, less fire-resistant trees like Douglas Fir and Incense Cedar started occupying the forest grounds. Those same trees, along with other unchecked brush, not only act as tinder for a fire, but also become “ladder fuel,” carrying fire to the upper branches of Sequoias and creating a totally different ecological system. This is one example of how mismanagement of forest lands has led to the perfect conditions for these large-scale fires.
As mentioned, the past 50 years have seen more prescribed burns and preventative measures but the bulk of our efforts have still gone towards fire suppression. When we look at funding, we can see that fire suppression gets the haul of funding, while fire management, or land management, doesn’t. Most fire personnel do not work in our forests outside of May through October, and off-season burning often gets sidelined for lack of personnel. Unless we begin to focus more energy on preventative measures by utilizing more resources for prevention, and also allow for Indigenous tribes to perform the same fire control practices of their ancestors, it is entirely possible that we will continue to see these devastating fires.
Cool down your body
Focus on cooling your body rather than cooling the house. Wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a clean kitchen towel. You can also wet a washcloth, wring it out, and stick it in the fridge. Applying the ice pack or washcloth to a your pulse points will cool your body down fast! Apply the ice pack or washcloth to your:
- behind the knees
- elbow bends
Eat something spicy
This may not be for everyone, but eating spicy foods will increase your circulation, which will get you extra sweaty. Sweating may be unpleasant, but it is a very efficient way of cooling down!
Be sure to drink plenty of water on hot days. Your body needs moisture to sweat in order to maintain homeostasis. You can boost your hydration by eating foods with a high water content. Try snacking on watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, oranges, cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, grapefruit, and coconut water.
Keep out the sunlight
According to the Department of Energy, about 76% of sunlight that hits standard double-pane windows turns into heat and raises the temperature of your home. Single-pane windows allow even more heat into your home. East and west facing windows allow in the most heat, so focus efforts on these windows.
Close your curtains and blinds. Light or medium colored fabric is ideal for reflecting sunlight. If you have dark curtains, you can line them with light fabric. Old bed sheets or thrifted curtains/fabric would totally do the trick.
Exterior shutters, shades, and awnings are even more effective. If you have those, definitely keep them shut.
Eat a popsicle
According to a researcher in New Zealand, runners were able to extend their endurance by 10 minutes on a hot summer day if they ate a popsicle before exercising. You don’t have to go running any marathons, but eating a popsicle before running errands or doing household chores will make the experience much more pleasant.
Turn off electronics before bed
If you have a house or room full of tech, turn everything off before bed to keep the room cool. All of that soft electric buzzing generates heat. Unplug your TV, computer, wifi, etc.
Hang a wet sheet by an open window
If you don’t have AC or have a room that just gets so much hotter than the house, open up a window (or two to create a cross breeze) and hang a wet bedsheet in front of it. As the breeze rolls in, the wet sheet will cool the air flowing through it.
Put your hair up for bed
If you have long hair, tying it up (with a scrunchie to prevent breakage) will expose your neck and temples, which will help keep you cool.
Close the doors
Keep the doors to unused or little used rooms closed to keep the cool air where the action is.
Open the windows at night
You can pre-cool your house or apartment by opening the windows at night (after 10 pm). It gets pretty cool overnight in Davis, so this is an effective way to cool the house down. When temperatures begin to rise again, close up the house, curtains and all.
Use the information in this blog to remove the plastic from your personal care routine! You can find these products in our Wellness Department as of the time this blog was written. You can also opt to save some money and make your own plastic-free personal care products*! All of the recipes feature ingredients available from our Bulk Department or ingredients packaged in glass.
Hand soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, laundry detergent, dishwasher concentrate, shower gel, and Dr. Bronner’s all-one soap are also available in bulk from the Wellness Department. Bring your own jars from home to fill up! You can also reuse old plastic lotion and shampoo bottles.
At the Co-op: Araceli Farms Lavender Scrub
This local scrub is made with Dead Sea salt, sugar, shea butter, coconut oil, and essential oils. The glass and metal packaging is reusable (great for shopping bulk!) and recyclable. Araceli farms is woman- and Latinx-owned.
DIY: Lavender Scrub
- 1 cup organic granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp softened coconut oil
- 5-10 drops lavender essential oil
- Optional: ½ tsp dried lavender flowers
Place sugar in a small container with a good-fitting lid. Add the coconut oil 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring in between. The consistency should be similar to wet sand, so if you achieve that before 3 tablespoons are added, stop there.
Use scrub after showering or soaking in the tub to remove dead skin. Pat skin dry and gently rub in scrub in a circular motion all over your body. Rinse well. Store in a glass container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: Booda Butter Naked Coconut Cream Deodorant
This is a fragrance-free deodorant made with baking soda, coconut oil, shea butter, tapioca flour, and cocoa butter. It is handmade with organic ingredients. Some folks with sensitive skin can experience irritation from baking soda. If this is you, you can try our baking soda-free DIY version below!
DIY: Tea Tree Oil Deodorant
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup arrowroot powder
- 10-20 drops tea tree essential oil
- 10-20 drops lavender essential oil
Soften coconut oil with low heat. In the summer, ambient room temperatures are usually high enough for coconut oil to be soft. In a small bowl or glass jar, mix together coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and essential oils. Apply to dry underarms as needed. Store in a glass container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: Auromere Ayurvedic Mint Toothpaste
This toothpaste uses a blend of ayurvedic herbs like neem, licorice, peppermint, and spearmint. Fine clay acts as a gentle cleanser in this toothpaste. It’s formula is also highly concentrated so each jar lasts longer than conventional toothpaste because you use less each time you brush.
Bonus! You can also find plastic free floss (Senza Bamboo 100% Plastic Free Silk Floss, MamaP Vegan Dental Floss) and toothbrush (Green Panda Bamboo Toothbrush) options in the Wellness Department.
DIY: Minty Toothpaste
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 4 tbsp baking soda
- 10 drops spearmint essential oil
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
Soften, but do not melt, coconut oil with low heat. In the summer, ambient room temperatures are usually high enough for coconut oil to be soft. Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly until completely combined and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a glass jar with a good-fitting lid. Store at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: Booda Organics Suds of Love All-in-One Soap Bar
This soap bar works as a body wash, shave cream, and shampoo! It’s made with olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and sodium hydroxide and is formulated to soothe dry, itchy skin and scalp.
You can find dozens of plastic free bar soap options at the Co-op! Many come from local vendors as well.
DIY: Honey Citrus Body Wash
- ⅔ cup liquid castile soap such as Dr. Bronner’s
- ¼ cup raw liquid honey
- 3 teaspoons sweet almond oil
- 30 drops sweet orange essential oil*
- 20 drops lemon essential oil
Combine ingredients in an old body wash bottle or glass jar. Mix or shake to combine. Gently shake before each use. This recipe has a shelf life of up to one year!
*Sweet orange and lemon essential oils are energizing. For a calming blend try lavender and chamomile.
At the Co-op: HiBar Solid Shampoos, Camamu Shampoo Bars, Moon Valley Herbal Shampoo Bars, Acure Shampoo Bar
With such a variety to choose from, look for a shampoo that best suits your needs.
DIY: Basic Shampoo
- ¼ cup distilled water
- ¼ cup liquid castile soap such as Dr. Bronner’s
- ½ tsp sweet almond or grapeseed oil
- Optional: 20-30 drops essential oils*
*Some winning combos include eucalyptus and tea tree, peppermint and tea tree, & sweet almond and lemon, but you can go with your favorite!
Combine ingredients in an old shampoo bottle or glass jar. Mix or shake to combine. Gently shake before each use. Use within 1 month.
DIY: Dry Shampoo
- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- For red hair: 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- For brown hair: 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- For black hair: 2 tbsp activated charcoal powder (this is not available plastic free at the Co-op)
- For blonde, silver, or white hair: 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- Optional: 6 drops essential oil of choice
Combine ingredients in a small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Apply to roots in between washes. Use a makeup brush or your fingers. Work through strands with a comb. Store at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: HiBar Solid Conditioners
HiBar Solid Conditioners come in three formulations: moisturize, volumize, and maintain. These bars are safe for treated or colored hair and are free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and silicone.
DIY: Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioning Rinse
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 16 oz water
- 16 oz spray bottle
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and gently shake. To use: spray shampooed hair with conditioner until hair is thoroughly saturated. If you have long hair you can pour about ¼ cup directly onto strands, avoiding your scalp. Rinsing is optional. If your hair is dry, rinse out and apply coconut oil to ends every 7-10 days.
*It’s always a good idea to test a small amount of any new product on your forearm to see how your skin reacts. Rub a small amount of product on skin and wait a few hours before using more.
It’s Plastic Free July and we’re taking the opportunity to talk about environmental racism and the disproportionate effects of plastic pollution on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. While environmental racism refers to the disproportionate effects of environmental hazards on people of color in general, this blog will focus on plastic consumption and pollution in relation to communities of color in the United States.
Greenaction, a grassroots environmental justice organization, defines environmental racism as, “the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race.” Environmental racism is caused by intentional neglect, a lack of institutional power, and low land values among low income communities of color.
As we discussed in our blog about the intersection of environmental, social, and economic sustainability, individuals and communities with privilege and power cannot afford to ignore social and economic sustainability in favor of environmental stewardship. It is through environmental, social, and economic justice that our communities will become safe and promote the wellbeing of everyone and especially Black, Indigenous, and people of color, women, folks with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ people, poor people, incarcerated populations, migrant workers, and individuals experiencing homelessness.
Every part of a plastic’s journey from production to consumption to disposal negatively impacts communities of color. Plastics start underground, approximately 1-2 miles below the surface, as fossil fuels like natural gas and oil. In order to get natural gas to the surface, companies drill into the ground and inject a mix of water and chemicals into the rock. This forces the natural gas upward in a process known as fracking.
Fracking sites pose a serious health risk to neighboring communities. In addition to drilling through or near groundwater reserves and improper wastewater disposal, fracking releases dangerous chemicals into the air. A 2016 study from the American Journal of Public Health found a correlation between the proximity of fracking wastewater disposal sites and the proportion of people of color living in that area of Texas. A study from 2018 found that Pennsylvania power plants (coal, oil, and natural gas) are disproportionately located near marginalized communities with lower incomes, lower education levels, higher economic stress, and/or more people of color. In Pennsylvania, the asthma hospitalization rate for Black children is 5 times higher than white children. Latinx children were hospitalized at rates 3 times higher than white children. In fact, Black people across the country are exposed to more air pollution than white folks. According to research from 2019, Black people bear a “pollution burden” of 56% (excess exposure compared to consumption).
Formosa Plastics is currently lobbying to build a refining center on the banks of the Mississippi in St. James Parish in Louisiana where 87% of residents are Black. You can donate to RISE St. James to help the community protect itself.
Oil and natural gas pipelines similarly impact BIPOC communities. Indigenous activists are calling for an end to pipeline projects which threaten water safety and sovereignty. Pipelines can leak slowly over time or rupture, polluting land, air, and water with highly volatile compounds. While the number of these kinds of incidents has decreased since 1996, the number of major incidents has increased. Major incidents involve serious injury, death, fires, and explosions. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and childhood leukemia are serious health concerns for communities near pipelines. You can read more about pipelines here.
Once raw materials are turned into plastics, they are aggressively marketed to low income communities of color and sold at disproportionately low prices. This is possible because plastic refining corporations receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies (in fact, plastic production is subsidized every step of the way). Low prices keep demand for plastics high. Non-BIPOC consumption of plastic harms communities of color as well. In addition to endangering communities living near production facilities, buying plastics gives more political power to the fossil fuel industries and does nothing to combat how the industry treats its BIPOC workers or communities that host production facilities.
An April 2021 survey of energy sector employees from across the country found that Latinx and Black folks are underrepresented in the fossil fuels and that 8 out of 10 white employees surveyed described themselves as supervisors or having leadership roles. White energy sector workers also reported higher overall career satisfaction than any other racial or ethnic group. Black employees noted prejudice and racial bias as the biggest challenge in the workplace.
BIPOC communities are also chosen as landfill and incineration sites for plastic disposal, both of which endanger the health of those living nearby. According to Denise Patel, U.S. Program Director at the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, 79% of municipal solid waste incinerator facilities are located near BIPOC communities. These sites release heavy metals like lead and mercury directly into the air. Water contaminated by landfills leaches into groundwater and runoff can harm local waterways, water sources, and recreation spaces. The Arrowhead Landfill in Uniontown, AL accepts waste from 33 states including toxic coal ash. The neighboring town is 90% Black and residents have reported increases in cancer, respiratory diseases, and mental health issues. Residents filed a Title VI Civil Rights complaint with the EPA, which was dismissed in 2018. State courts, federal agencies, and the company that owns the landfill have repeatedly failed the residents of Uniontown, whose median household income is about $15,000.
When asked how we can improve our waste management systems to mitigate the disproportionate burden BIPOC communities bear, Denise Patel answered, “From a solutions perspective, I think there is an incredible opportunity to allow EJ (environmental justice) and BIPOC communities to lead and inform policy.” Supporting the work of environmental justice organizations with monetary donations is one way to ensure BIPOC voices are leading this conversation. You can also use less plastic! Small changes make a big difference. Thanks to our community’s participation in Plastic Free July, the Co-op sold 7,000 more plastic-free products in July 2020 than July 2019. Here are tips about going plastic free on a budget, plastic free recipes, and tips on shopping plastic free at the Co-op.
Find the full list of organization you can donate to here.
Good news: Plastic Free July isn’t about being perfect, it’s about trying your best to make small changes that will benefit all of us! Whether you’ve decided to go plastic free for the rest of the month, or just for tomorrow, take the Plastic Free July pledge and join millions of people trying their best too.
Between social media and targeted ads it can feel like going plastic free requires purchasing a bunch of fancy glass jars and reusable silicone kitchen gear. Good news again: this is definitely not the case! This blog will spell out how to go plastic free on a budget.
Many companies are making the switch to sustainable packaging, including using glass or compostable material. While this is important and necessary, these items can come at a higher price. Avoid packaging altogether and shop the Bulk Department! Because these items come free from packaging (and for a few other reasons), bulk food is cheaper than packaged food. You can find our current Bulk Department offerings here.
Use Glass Jars (but not new ones!)
You definitely do not need to go spend $100 on brand new mason jars. If you look in your fridge, you probably have glass jars of all shapes and sizes (I’m looking at you, jar full of olives from 5 months ago). These just need a quick rinse before they’re ready to use. Soak in hot water with soap and distilled vinegar for 5-20 minutes to get any labels and residual adhesive off. And then they’re ready to use! Glass jars are great for stocking up on bulk items, taking leftovers to work, taking leftovers home from restaurants, and using at cafes.
You can also buy glass jars secondhand, sometimes for cents! Head to your favorite thrift store to see what’s in stock and feel free to experiment with sizes and shapes. A huge mason jar for $.50 is totally worth it if you buy 4 pounds of lentils at a time.
Use Cutlery You Already Have
Those travel cutlery kits are cute, but not necessary if you have forks, spoons, and knives at home already! Wrapping them in a cloth napkin or kitchen towel from home means you have something to store them in after you’ve used them. You can even make your own kitchen towels, napkins, and rags from material you already have.
Put Your Plastic To Use
A plastic zip-top bag can be used multiple times before heading to the landfill. If you already have single-use plastic bags at home, it’s silly to toss them before using. Zip-top bags can be rinsed, washed, and dried by hand many times before they no longer function (e.g. they’ve torn). Use these to shop the bulk department or as food storage at home before buying something new.
DIY Cleaning Products
Along with the assumption that “going zero waste” is expensive, many folks think it’s more time consuming too. While this is somewhat true (e.g. you need to spend more time sorting your waste properly), you’re probably here because you care about the health of our community and planet and understand that we all need to create new habits to be more sustainable. DIYing can take more time, but in this case, you’ll also save some money! Read our Natural Home Cleaning blog with 15+ DIY cleaning recipes.
Buy Second Hand, Then New
A lot of this blog focuses on using what you already have, which is a good mindset to have when considering how you can reduce your waste. Always use what you have first. Whether it’s cheap, fast fashion, a case of plastic water bottles in the garage, or glass tomato sauce jars, use these items before buying something new. If you are looking to buy something, look for it second hand at the thrift store or online. When it is time to buy something new, invest in quality items that will last a long time and put people and planet before profit.
The Importance of Inclusivity
Along with diversity and equity, inclusivity is a topic that all communities should be aware of and actively work to implement. Even if it is a topic that you feel you are familiar with, it is important to continuously examine and understand any blind spots you may have that prohibit your ability to be more inclusive. As a cooperatively owned business, the idea of inclusivity is of paramount importance as concern for the community is a guiding principle in everything that we do. This blog is not only a call to action for its readers, but a reflection and reminder of the things that we need to be doing as an organization to be as inclusive as possible.
So, what is inclusivity anyways?
For those that like textbook definitions, inclusivity can be defined as:
“the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those having physical or mental disabilities or belonging to other minority groups.”
That means that you are taking all people, especially historically marginalized groups – whether it be based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, body features, etc. – into consideration within all facets of daily life. The fact of the matter is that implicit bias is universal amongst us all. While implicit bias is something that is important for everyone to be aware of so that they can avoid making altered decisions, it is especially important for people in leadership roles as their actions and opinions can often shape a culture that makes people feel excluded.
The difference between inclusivity and diversity
While there are parallels between diversity and inclusivity, it is important to distinguish the two as separate. Whereas diversity is by most accounts a measurable characteristic, inclusivity is defined by the actual work you are doing to shape your mindset and actions to ensure that diverse groups feel represented and included. Any organization or activity can claim to be diverse by having a variety of different people that participate. And while this is important, it is all for nothing if that same organization or activity is not making every person that makes up that diverse group feel as if they truly have a seat at the table.
What can I do to be more inclusive?
There are many things that you can do to approach inclusivity in your daily life. One thing you can do immediately is to be more mindful in general; this is always a great first step. This means evaluating your biases and privileges, staying open to education and feedback and taking a second to think about the language you use. This blog does a great job of taking a more in-depth look at some of the tangible steps you can take to be more inclusive.
How can we be inclusive at the Co-op?
As a Co-op, inclusivity means that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that our policies, staffing, management, communications, accessibility and attitudes are all aligned and accommodating to our entire community. It means that our recently formed Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Taskforce will continue seeking out trainings and educational materials for our Board and management team so that we can successfully implement necessary policy changes, confront implicit bias and lead the rest of the team to do the same. It means that we will be more cognizant of the language we use in our hiring posts, blogs, social media posts, newsletters and in-store signage. And it also means that we will need to constantly evaluate the products that we carry to ensure that everyone feels that they can find what they need at the Co-op. Because at the end of the day, the Co-op belongs to everyone in our community and it is our responsibility to make sure we truly abide by that.
My Grandmother’s Hands
by Resmaa Menakem
This book guides the reader to process their own racial trauma. There is a beginning section for all readers and a second section for readers based on if they are in a White Body, Black Body, or Police Body.
by Robin Diangelo
This #1 New York Times Bestseller has become an essential read for anyone wanting to expand their understanding of racial trauma and bias. White fragility embodies itself in the anger, fear, guilt, and silence of white people. This book explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequity, and how we can engage more constructively.
A terrible thing to Waste
by Harriet A. Washington
The Davis Food Co-op wrote blog on environmental sustainability and how this disproportionately affects BIPOC, women, and impoverished people. This book takes deeper dive into environmental racism and what can be done to remedy this inequity.
by Tim Wise
This book deconstructs the misguided ideas behind choosing to be “colorblind” to racial differences. Colorblind encourages us to both recognize differences and to transcend them with practical solutions and new ways of thinking.
Have suggestions? Email Madison Suoja, email@example.com
Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist.
Book recommendations by LaDonna Richmond Sanders, Columinate Coop Consultant and Madison Suoja, DFC Education and Outreach Specialist.
Davis, known as Bike City USA, is not surprisingly one of the foremost biking communities in the country. We’re home to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, 61 miles of bike paths, and 55 miles of bike lanes including the country’s first bike lane, not to mention the Davis city logo is a bicycle. In 1980, after two decades of city and university efforts to make Davis a pedaling paradise, 30% of trips were made by bike. In recent decades, this number has fallen to 20%, which is still considerably higher than the U.S. average of 2% for most communities. Since May is National Bike Month, we’re taking this opportunity to explore Davis’ biking history and encourage the community to get back on the bike.
Even before the town was covered in bike paths, early biking advocates saw that Davis was well situated to become a biking community. The Patwin land which Davis sits on is flat as a pancake with mild weather year round. We’re small, surrounded almost entirely by agricultural land so, if you live and work in Davis, your commute is probably pretty short.
In 1959, UCD Chancellor Emil Mrak envisioned a campus travelled by students on bike. Most campuses have one location for bike parking. Mrak decided that bike parking should be available at every lecture hall and closed the campus to car traffic in 1967. That same year, city leadership approved plans for the country’s first bike lanes. The first official bike lane in the United States was created on 8th Street between A and Sycamore. More bike lanes followed.
With passionate support from the community, the city, and the university, biking took over the town in these decades. In 1966, Ansel Adams photographed bike racks cram-jam-packed with student bikes on wide tree-lined roads free of the cars which were taking the rest of the country by storm.
Today, 98% of streets in Davis offer some form of bicycle protection. In 2015, Davis built its first “Dutch-style” traffic intersection (it’s also one of the first to be built in North America). The Covell/L St. intersection was designed by the Dutch Cycling Embassy (Dutch cities boast a large share of modal trips, 34-47% by bike). Despite this, fewer Davis residents are biking these days.
This month, we’re encouraging our staff, owners, shoppers, and community to opt for more biking trips. Riding your bike to work, school, and in town errands is fun, sustainable, and a great way to boost mental health, which has suffered for so many of us during the Covid-19 Pandemic. It’s also a great way to incorporate movement into your daily routine, especially if you don’t have time to add it in elsewhere. Biking reduces traffic and noise and air pollution from cars as well.
In April, we teamed up with the Bike Campaign to offer our staff a free tune up and bike skills clinic. During Bike Month, we’re giving our biking staff free helmets and raffling off a $100 dollar gift card to Ken’s.
Our Green Team is currently exploring projects which will make the Co-op more bike friendly for staff and shoppers.