Travel Like an Aggie: A Student Transportation Guide

On the first day of classes, students ride their bikes through the bike circle on Hutchison Drive on September 25, 2019.
UC Davis/Gregory Urquiaga

Now that you’ve gotten into UC Davis, you may be wondering how you’re going to get around UC Davis. We may be the biggest UC campus, but don’t let that scare you. We have some tips to figure out what mode of transportation will be the best fit for you.

Bikes Galore

UC Davis is one of the biggest bike schools in the country. Not to ring our own bike bell, but in 2022, we ranked #2 on the League of American Bicyclists’s list of Bicycle Friendly Universities and in 2005, we were awarded with the first ever Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community. The 2021-2022 UC Davis Campus Travel Survey found that 37% of surveyors reported biking to campus as their primary mode of transportation on an average weekday. Basically, what we’re trying to say is that we take our bikes very seriously here.

If you have a bike, bring it to campus. From biking to class or downtown, your bike will be your best friend. All of your classes and favorite spots are probably a five-minute ride away, and you’ll be able to get around with ease. There are also over 27,000 places to park on campus, at the dorms, or around the city.

If you don’t already have a bike, don’t worry. You can buy one at the Bike Barn, a student-run spot on campus that sells and fixes bikes. While you’re there, sign the Helmet Hair Don’t Care Pledge and get a free helmet too. 

Here are some tips to keep you and your bike safe:

Because UC Davis is a bike-dominated school, make sure that you feel confident in your skills before you get here. Things move pretty fast, and you want to make sure that you can stay safe on campus.

Busses All Around

If you live off-campus, the Unitrans bus system is an incredible resource. This bus system costs nothing for students, just present your Aggie Card when you board. We have 20 bus lines with terminals in the Memorial Union and Silo. 

Casey Anno, a three-year Unitrans-rider says, “I love riding the bus because it’s a convenient way to commute to campus every day. I save on gas money and don’t have to stress about finding parking or paying for it either.” Students living at the Green can ride directly to Trader Joe’s (an Aggie’s haven) on the weekends, and the Memorial Union terminal has a line that goes straight to Target, so shopping is easier than ever.

The Yolobus, a county bus system, services Davis, Woodland and Sacramento. This bus is also free for UC Davis students with a flash of your Aggie Card. With a stop in the Memorial Union, trips to the Sacramento International Airport and downtown Sacramento are convenient even if you don’t have a car. 

Sidewalks Aplenty

Around campus, you are likely to see a lot of students walking or wheeling around on the sidewalks. Many of us do this to enjoy the nature around us (and to catch a glimpse of some adorable campus animals) or to simply avoid bike traffic.

While we’re a very large campus, don’t fret. Walking from one end to the other only takes about 30 minutes. When you don’t have back-to-back classes from Hoagland Hall to the Mondavi Center, walking between passing periods will do you just fine. You’d be surprised how far you can get in 10 minutes when you really put your mind to it.

Electric Centric 

Making their way around town are electric scooters, skateboards and bikes. Cheaper than a car and quicker than their non-electric counterparts, they are becoming popular in Davis. Regular scooters and skateboards are still used around campus, so if you don’t want to spend the money on an electric version, you won’t stick out.

Zippy Cars

If you want to get around Davis in a different way, driving is a quick and convenient form of transportation. However, you will have to pay for parking on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

If you’re over 18 and have a valid driver’s license from any country, Zipcar is also a great option for those without cars. These cars are available to rent for a quick trip to Lake Tahoe or down to Trader Joe’s. For UC Davis students, there’s a student discount and special rates, so definitely check out this option if you need quick access to a car.

Safe Rides

The UC Davis Police Department manages the Safe Rides program, which allows students who don’t feel comfortable walking or traveling alone at night to get a ride home from a student-operated van. Safe Rides are free and calling a ride is easy using the TransLoc app. This service also offers VIP wheelchair transportation. 

Jordan Pickett, a fourth-year student, shares, “I used Safe Rides as a freshman when I needed to get from one place to another at night. It was a great resource to have when I didn’t feel comfortable riding my bike or walking in the dark.”

Of course, you can always combine these modes of transportation to get around town and you might notice that the longer you’re in Davis, your preferred modes of transportation may change. When I was a freshman and carless, I rode my bike everywhere. When I was able to bring my car up from home, I would drive around and park on campus. Now, instead of driving, I take the Unitrans bus to school so I don’t have to pay for parking. Once you find what works for you, you’ll know how to navigate this big school and small college town like the back of your hand.

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