While teaching at UC Davis, I've enjoyed walking the streets of that quaint university town. I like Davis: the energy of the young reaching for knowledge, the weekly family picnic at the farmers' market adorned with colorful veggies from local fields, the train whistling into the station, and myriad shops that display a bustling village life.
I find it remarkable to discover how many folks ride bikes. Not just students. Everyone. Everywhere. Davis is a bicycling enclave. Stoplights even have an additional signal reserved for cyclists. There are bike paths galore, racks at street corners and storefronts, and a busy bike barn on campus.
Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians nod to each other with a knowing glance that they are working together to sustain this collaborative flow of transportation. Name-calling, horn honking, and angry gestures are rare. Kindly giving others the right-of-way at intersections is the norm.
Similarly, Laguna is a unique village where locals enjoy the camaraderie of greeting friends on the street, at the beach, in art galleries, along Forest Avenue, or at our farmers' market. Granted, tourist season makes it hard to hang on to the communal vibe, but we manage to carry on even when our population swells by more than 70,000 visitors.
Unfortunately, unlike Davis, what we have yet to discover is the harmony and shared vision evident in bike-friendly cities. Laguna's lack of an official bike path is bound up in political, structural and legal hindrances.
Moreover, the crush of cars, pedestrians, skaters and cyclists along Coast Highway, a major state highway that just happens to run right through the middle of our sweet village, is a chaotic mix through which to navigate.
Undaunted by this tangled web of transport, La Vida Laguna's Billy Fried went off the map by publishing one of his own. This unofficial bike map artfully details a seamless path along the back roads through Laguna's diverse neighborhoods and points of interest from the coastal hills to the sea.
Spring is my green light to get the bike out and the winter pounds off. Pick up a map and join me, along with other active families and members of Laguna Streets as we explore new byways. I look forward to extending a nod of solidarity to each cyclist I pass knowing that together we are becoming a more vital, healthy and bike-welcoming community.
MICHELE MCCORMICK is a Laguna Beach resident.