The Orion

Celebrating cycle-friendly Chico streets

Kevin Crittenden

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Kevin Crittenden


Whether darting between pedestrians and cars in downtown or dodging boulders and trees in rugged upper Bidwell Park, there’s no substitute for the feeling of biking.

There are few cities in the United States as well-suited for biking as Chico. A majority of students live within a mile of campus — there’s no reason not to bike.

Biking to class saves time. The nearest place to park will always be farther than the bike rack in front of a building.

Chico is small, so it accommodates bikes better than cars. A bike doesn’t need a permit to park either. A rack, post or the right tree will do.

Flat geography lends itself well to the efficiency of biking. Level ground, bike paths and plenty of stop signs are advantageous to cyclists.

However, biking in any town presents some obstacles and awkwardness.

For example: although bikers are expected to follow the same laws as cars, drivers will go out of their way to give bikers the right of way, even at the expense of jeopardizing other drivers.

Last week, I was riding along Nord Avenue and I signaled that I wanted to turn left. An oncoming car slammed on the brakes, causing problems for the person behind them. This was supposed to be a favor but such a move can cause more than a fender bender.

Part of the reason why some drivers are overly considerate is because riding takes effort. Drivers who understand the pleasure of riding sometimes try to do small favors out of respect for the fact that it takes human sweat, not fossil fuels, to power a bike rider to their destination.

Because riders earn their motion through their own energy, most don’t make a complete stop unless there is a visible need to do so.

Stopping at every stop sign makes a smooth trip halting.

Here we go. Stop. Okay, this is a nicely paved stretch. Stop.

This sort of chicken-hearted caution hardly opens the door for the flow of bike riding that makes it a worthy hobby, so nobody really rides like this.

It’s natural to want to keep inertia and glide along the asphalt. Knowing which streets and avenues are busiest helps keep skulls intact and wheels moving.

I’m not advocating egging on drivers. Cars are bigger machines and their operators are encased in metal cages. Bike riders swap bumpers for flesh.

The community has shown it’s willingness to embrace safe bicycle riding in the wake of several bike-related fatalities last semester. Police now give vouchers to people who don’t have bike lights on at night.

Chico is a great place to be a cyclist. The more Chicoans bike, the safer it will become to bike here.

Kevin Crittenden can be reached at [email protected] or @kevlodius on Twitter.

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Celebrating cycle-friendly Chico streets