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  1. #1
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    No traffic or low traffic bay area routes

    I own an Internet-based software company, with remote employees, so I can live virtually anywhere. I've been living near Napa for the past several years, but the area doesn't meet my needs. Here's what I'm looking for -- if you can think of specific bay area cities or neighborhoods that fit, suggestions would be much appreciated!

    -Warm to hot climate, low rain

    -Safe road cycling: I grew up in Dallas, where I rode daily around a 10 mile lake called white rock park -- it was safe, low car traffic and 25mph speed limits, and partially bike-path only. I'm looking for something similar in the bay area. Someplace I can ride every day and not fear cars, but straight out and back bike paths are boring for me and I like routes with other (fast) cyclists too so it's not so boring. So, someplace where I can do like a 10-20 mile loop right from my door without having to put my bike in the car, either on very low traffic roads or nice bike paths (that don't have stop signs every block like the walnut creek trail).

    Most Saturdays, I drive to Los Altos and do the Alto Velo B ride (foothill, alpine, portola, OLH, canada, whiskey hill, sandhill -- that area), and it's a great group ride, but I want to live in an area where I can ride daily and not worry about cars. There have been far too many car vs. bike accidents along those routes (especially sandhill/280/woodside) for me to feel comfortable riding there every day.

    So, any specific routes, daily group rides, bike paths, that come to mind?

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    I would say anywhere on the Peninsula from San Mateo southward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by uspspro View Post
    I would say anywhere on the Peninsula from San Mateo southward.
    Any specific routes that are no traffic (paths) or low traffic? I'm very familiar with all the roads on the peninsula (skyline/foothill/woodside/canada/etc) and they all (that I know about) have a lot of car traffic and frequent car-bike crashes.

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    Pepperoni Power ROJA's Avatar
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    Have you checked out the North Oakland/Berkeley area? Lots of nice and varied riding that I can do right from my house. The problem with SF is that you have to ride over the GGB for every single ride. Here is the usual morning loop that I can do from my house: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/7031710 It has very little traffic and amazing scenery. There are lots of clubs and group rides in this area as well. This area is also good for bike commuting and utility- you can easily ride to the store, restaurants, Blockbuster, etc. It is very livable. If you like to cook, you will love Berkeley Bowl and the local farmers' markets. But you can also be in paradise high in the hills in just a few minutes on your bike!

    Easy BART access to SF (much better than the Peninsula). Housing costs are also cheaper than the Peninsula. The Peninsula is probably safer crime-wise and I'll bet it has better schools (if you have kids). I would say that the scenery is also nicer on the Peninsula. The East Bay has easier access to wine country and Tahoe.

    Good luck!

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    Pepperoni Power ROJA's Avatar
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    BTW, if you are looking for bike paths that are off the road, there just aren't that many and most of them are out-and-back routes. Contra Costa County is probably the best equipped here, and maybe Georges, Lance Oldstrong, Beaker, etc. can give you more info about these.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottW View Post
    Any specific routes that are no traffic (paths) or low traffic? I'm very familiar with all the roads on the peninsula (skyline/foothill/woodside/canada/etc) and they all (that I know about) have a lot of car traffic and frequent car-bike crashes.
    It's just a climb over the ridge to all the stuff west of Skyline. You have Tunitas, All the stuff around Pescadero (Stage, Cloverdale, Gazos Creek), Bear Gluch West, Lobidos Creek (off Tunitas), West OLH, West Alpine, etc.

    I personally have no problem with roads like Canada/Foothill. Those are really low traffic relative to their roadway capacities, and have good shoulders.

    Basically, the lower population density you have, the less traffic there will be there. I say that in general, becasue very high density urban areas would actually have less traffic than some suburbs... but we aren't talking about that end of the spectrum. Thus I would say the relationship of population density and traffic is like I said (more people = more traffic). So basically, you move way out, then you have low traffic. However it comes with a few costs:
    - You might not be conveniently located to retail/food/groceries and other necessities. Forcing a great deal of travel for basic life activities.
    - The roads may be poorly maintained, and have no shoulders, etc...
    Last edited by uspspro; 01-12-09 at 03:05 PM.

  7. #7
    Direct Hit Not Required BlastRadius's Avatar
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    Coastside, south of Half Moon Bay. Our own MsIncredible just bought a place down that way.

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    Pepperoni Power ROJA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlastRadius View Post
    Coastside, south of Half Moon Bay. Our own MsIncredible just bought a place down that way.
    Housewarming party/ride???

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottW View Post
    Any specific routes that are no traffic (paths) or low traffic? I'm very familiar with all the roads on the peninsula (skyline/foothill/woodside/canada/etc) and they all (that I know about) have a lot of car traffic and frequent car-bike crashes.
    Are there really "frequent car-bike crashes" on any of the roads that you mentioned? I live right in the middle of that area and I think I would have heard about those problems.

    If you are really concerned about car traffic, just move to someplace on the west side of I-280. There are lots of great cycling routes there (Montebello Road, Page Mill Road, etc.) and traffic is much lighter than east of I-280. Rain is not bad until you get west of Skyline, though this year even the coast has not been getting much rain.

  10. #10
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlastRadius View Post
    Coastside, south of Half Moon Bay. Our own MsIncredible just bought a place down that way.
    Another vote for Half Moon Bay area. I live there now. I can ride for 3 or 4 hours and see 3 or 4 cars the entire ride. I am wary of cars too, since I broke my neck in a biking accident two years ago. I am very pleased with the choices here.

    If you want to come over, I'll give you some introductory rides .

  11. #11
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Diablo Valley. Lots of riding diversity, and most of the roads are either low traffic or have wide bike lanes.
    "Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, itís the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

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    Thanks for the tips -- will check out the suggestions so far..

    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    Are there really "frequent car-bike crashes" on any of the roads that you mentioned? I live right in the middle of that area and I think I would have heard about those problems.

    If you are really concerned about car traffic, just move to someplace on the west side of I-280. There are lots of great cycling routes there (Montebello Road, Page Mill Road, etc.) and traffic is much lighter than east of I-280. Rain is not bad until you get west of Skyline, though this year even the coast has not been getting much rain.
    The media doesn't report every car->bike crash, and definitely none of the non-fatal ones that can still be life changing all the same. I'm a member of Alto Velo so I hear about crashes involving Alto Velo members but there are lots of accidents that you'll never hear about. Here's a list of peninsula fatal and non fatal crashes and it's only a percentage of the total incidents. You should be aware of the risks of riding in the area -- yes there are a lot of cyclists, but there are far too many incidents happening still:

    You probably didn't hear about these...

    nov 2008 crash (non fatal) at 84 and skyline:
    http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group.../message/19553

    nov 2008 crash (non fatal) on skyline at whiskey hill:
    http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group.../message/19497

    you might have heard about these...

    May 2007 fatal crash portola valley:
    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/s...ry.php?id=5125

    Feb 2008 Los Gatos minivan kills cyclist:
    http://groups.google.com/group/ba.bi...06f476962c5632

    Oct 2006 Drunk driver kills John Peckham on Old Page Mill:
    http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/in.../t-235507.html

    July 2006 on skyline, car kills portola valley cyclist:
    http://www.almanacnews.com/story.php?story_id=2221

    July 2006, skyline (oakland), Ed Weiss killed by motorcycle:
    http://www.businessimagegroup.com/skyline/mva.html

    Oct 2008 Uvas in Gilroy cyclist killed by Honda:
    http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group.../message/19152

    I'm not trying to be an alarmist.. I love cycling and have been road riding for 15 years. I got hit by a car in 1997 and broke my hand in 3 places, but the worst crash I had was just on a slick corner not even involving a car. I don't want to quit cycling, nor will I quit doing group road rides, but for my daily ride routes to stay fit, I just want a safer option so I can reduce my total risk.
    Last edited by ScottW; 01-12-09 at 04:38 PM.

  13. #13
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    Are there really "frequent car-bike crashes" on any of the roads that you mentioned? I live right in the middle of that area and I think I would have heard about those problems.
    .
    When I was in the Emergency Room when I had my neck problem, 3 different people in the ER told me that they saw many more road bikers in the ER as compared to mountain bikers. Principal reason - cars. Cyclists can be careful themselves, but they can't avoid inattentive drivers. That was enough for me to start being a lot more careful in choosing where I ride.

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    Scotw, yes crashes do happen. However, I think only one of those fatalities occurred on the streets you originally listed and that was 3 years ago.

    "I'm very familiar with all the roads on the peninsula (skyline/foothill/woodside/canada/etc) and they all (that I know about) have a lot of car traffic and frequent car-bike crashes."

    The fact is that low traffic does not increase safety. Most low-traffic rural roads are also narrow with some number of cars driving much to fast for conditions.

  15. #15
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    So I guess, cyclist shouldn't commute in the city areas either. Too many cars....

    For as many cyclist that frequent the whole Los Altos/Woodside/Portola area, a handful a accidents per year doesn't seem so crazy to me.

    Actually, riding on roads with so little traffic might be more dangerous, since drivers aren't expecting anyone, and are being inattentive.

    You can get hit anywhere.

    But everyone has their own idea of what is risky and which risks they are willing to take. I understand that.

    So my answer to your question (Where are there roads with no/low traffic?) I would have to still say anything west of Skyline. HMB is good because it still has amenities. Highway 1 has a ton of traffic, but once you get off of it, there are many roads where you seldom see a car. I love riding out there for sure.

    Then again, you had climate preferences. HMB is not that warm. It doesn't really rain any more than the Bay side, but many more cool, foggy/cloudy days than on the other side of the hills.

  16. #16
    Senior Member gpelpel's Avatar
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    I would recommend the East Bay. BBM mentioned the Diablo Valley, I would add the tri-city area of Orinda-Moraga-Lafayette. We have plenty of ride local options with low traffic (usually slow as well) in rural setting. Mt. Diablo is within 10 miles.
    The weather is a bit colder than in the Diablo Valley (we have a bit more fog) which is appreciated in the heat of the Summer. Rain wise, it not Dallas but no Napa or Marin either.

    From my home in lafayette I usually do the following rides:
    - 10 miles Lafayette Loop (Mt. Diablo Blvd-Upper Happy Valley-Happy Valley-Deer Hill-Mt. Diablo).
    - 20 miles flat (Olympic Blvd-Tice Valley-Danville Blvd to Danville and back). That's the one that has the most traffic. I have the option of using the Iron Horse Trail but I prefer the main road. I can make this ride a 30+ miler if I push to San Ramon.
    - 20 miles hilly (St. Marys Rd-Rheem-Moraga Rd-Moraga Way-Glorietta-Rheem-Moraga Rd-St-Marys).
    - 24 miles (Happy Valley-Bear Creek-Alhambra Valley-Reliez Valley-Pleseant Hill Rd-Mt. Diablo Blvd).
    - 30 miles (St. Marys-Moraga Rd-Canyon-Pinehurst-Skyline-Grizzly Peak and back).

    For longer rides:
    - 30 to 60 miles (Happy Valley-The Bears-Pinole-Crocket-Martinez-Alhambra Valley-Orinda-Glorieta).
    - 50 Miles (same as Lafayette-Danville ride but up to the top of Mt. Diablo).

    The Grizzly Peak Century starts 5 miles from my home for a 109 miles in low to no traffic areas.

    I am sure other locals can add dozen more nice rides around.

  17. #17
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ROJA View Post
    Housewarming party/ride???
    I'm not planning any parties until the deal is closed.
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  18. #18
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    i've lived in the area for less than 2 years, so i'm not that as familiar with all the roads around here or the dangerous spots. but i think los gatos is a nice and reasonably safe place to ride (with the exception of a few of the busier streets like lg blvd & blossom hill.) and it's usually a few degrees warmer than the surrounding area.

    i'm also not too sure about loops and low traffic. i often do out and back rides for the simple reason that dead ends are less traversed.

    kennedy/shannon/hicks is pretty low traffic but i dont know that i'd go as far as calling it "safe." it's just low traffic.. however, the pain i've experienced on this road is a direct result of the grade on the north side of hicks. not its drivers.

    off of hicks there are several almost unused roads to explore. like reynolds which turns into a dirt road at the top. from the top of hicks you can continue down the south side to make a loop around the almaden reservoir. but i've heard from more than one person that the southern end of hicks and area around the res is a bit sketchy in regards to motor traffic. at the top of hicks you can also take a right onto umunhum, which past the gate has 0 traffic

    if you don't mind getting dirty you can take your mountain or cross bike up kennedy trail (i've taken my road bike up there numerous times) and connect to woods trail/rd. both kennedy and woods have 0 traffic. unless you consider the occasional ranger patrol. woods will dump you out at the top of hicks by the seirra azul open space preserve or to alma bridge road if you take a left or right respectively. there's also a trail that takes you from hicks/seirra azul down to quicksilver park (very cool cluster of cacti on the way)

    soda springs rd, off of alma bridge, is a nice climb with very little auto or bike traffic and imo the mt thayer area provides one of the best coastal views around. you can also get to alma bridge road via the los gatos creek trail which is very much passable by road bike. from alma bridge you can continue on and take the old santa cruz hwy to skyline. and from there you have easy access to places like santa cruz or boulder creek.

  19. #19
    Family, Health, Cycling Lanceoldstrong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ROJA View Post
    BTW, if you are looking for bike paths that are off the road, there just aren't that many and most of them are out-and-back routes. Contra Costa County is probably the best equipped here, and maybe Georges, Lance Oldstrong, Beaker, etc. can give you more info about these.

    Central Contra Costa County does have a nice network of bike paths. The Iron Horse Trail and the Contra Costa Canal Trail offer lots of connectivity to safe roads with wide, wide bike lanes.

    The Iron Horse Trail is 25 miles long, yes it is an out and back but it intersects the 18 mile Contra Costa Canal Trail (which is a near full loop around Central County) to create lots of possibilities.

    Walnut Creek and Concord would be good towns to look at. BART lines help with transit too.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by msincredible View Post
    I'm not planning any parties until the deal is closed.
    No worries, we're taking care of all the planning for parties that will be held at your new house .

  21. #21
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    My vote goes for Berkeley. If you can afford it, the north part of San Francisco would be a great place. You could go to Marin AND East Bay fairly easy. Even though SF is always cold, Marin and East Bay have a different climate.

    Marin has Fairfax/Bolinas road, which to me is the absolute BEST road to ever ride on. Great climbs, great descents, no cars, and very pretty. If there's someone here that hasn't done that road yet, please do.
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    Berkeley is great, but be prepared to climb (not an issue if you are doing Alto Velo rides of course). A lot. I live on Grizzly Peak and probably 80% of my rides were rolling out the front door. In 4,750 miles last year I climbed over 400,000 feet. I have to put the bike in the car and drive to Marin to get anything approaching sort of flat. But the really cool thing is being able to go 20, 30 even 40 mile rides with 1 or 2 stoplights and maybe a couple of stop signs. I think the 55 mile McEwen loop has only two lights where you aren't making a right turn and might have to stop. I love that.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpelpel View Post
    I would recommend the East Bay. BBM mentioned the Diablo Valley, I would add the tri-city area of Orinda-Moraga-Lafayette. We have plenty of ride local options with low traffic (usually slow as well) in rural setting. Mt. Diablo is within 10 miles.
    The weather is a bit colder than in the Diablo Valley (we have a bit more fog) which is appreciated in the heat of the Summer. Rain wise, it not Dallas but no Napa or Marin either.

    From my home in lafayette I usually do the following rides:
    - 10 miles Lafayette Loop (Mt. Diablo Blvd-Upper Happy Valley-Happy Valley-Deer Hill-Mt. Diablo).
    - 20 miles flat (Olympic Blvd-Tice Valley-Danville Blvd to Danville and back). That's the one that has the most traffic. I have the option of using the Iron Horse Trail but I prefer the main road. I can make this ride a 30+ miler if I push to San Ramon.
    - 20 miles hilly (St. Marys Rd-Rheem-Moraga Rd-Moraga Way-Glorietta-Rheem-Moraga Rd-St-Marys).
    - 24 miles (Happy Valley-Bear Creek-Alhambra Valley-Reliez Valley-Pleseant Hill Rd-Mt. Diablo Blvd).
    - 30 miles (St. Marys-Moraga Rd-Canyon-Pinehurst-Skyline-Grizzly Peak and back).

    For longer rides:
    - 30 to 60 miles (Happy Valley-The Bears-Pinole-Crocket-Martinez-Alhambra Valley-Orinda-Glorieta).
    - 50 Miles (same as Lafayette-Danville ride but up to the top of Mt. Diablo).

    The Grizzly Peak Century starts 5 miles from my home for a 109 miles in low to no traffic areas.

    I am sure other locals can add dozen more nice rides around.
    +1, I'm gpelpel's neighbour in the Lamorinda region. For 10-20milers, the Canyon-Pinehurst-Redwood-Pinehurst loop is a peach, which rarely has much traffic, fantastic views, nice climbs, descents and reasonable flat sections - a bit of everything. 3 bears is also a nice loop and there are a ton of options around Grizzly Peak/Tilden as others have noted. Whether you live in Oakland/Berkeley or Lamorinda you have ready access to the same rides over the ridge. You'll find you have lots of company on two wheels around here.

    A better question might be what other aspects of your town would be important to you? Orinda/Moraga are very family oriented - I have kids and it's great, the schools are superb as good as Palo Alto, San Ramon etc. Lafayette is a bigger town, also has very good schools, and has more of a downtown to enjoy. If you want to be closer to more restaurants, nightlife etc then the other side of the hills where ROJA, 8Lives and Tapeworm live is probably a better bet for you.
    Last edited by Beaker; 01-12-09 at 10:39 PM.

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    Thanks for all the input on this.

    What about living in or near Orinda and accessing the san pablo dam road or a route like this? Many cars?
    http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path...Arlington-Loop

    Are there low traffic routes through tilden park or wildcat canyon park or are the roads not long enough there?

    I imagine I'll drive some of these routes to get a feel for the roads, traffic etc.

    And yeah I'm used to climbing 3,000 feet or more in a ride but flat rides are nice too .

    The cool thing about the place I used to ride in dallas, besides being a low-traffic park road, is that it's a 10 mile loop so cyclists pack in there almost like a velodrome so there are often groups to ride with and it's flat, so the speeds are high. I liked it because I could just go down from my apt, get on my bike, get a quick 10-30 mile ride in with other fast cyclists, not worry about many cars and be done with my ride for the day without wasting a bunch of time driving to and from a ride. but.. I like living in the bay area and I like the hills out here.
    Last edited by ScottW; 01-12-09 at 11:04 PM.

  25. #25
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    I live by the North Berkeley BART and it's great for riding. I used to live in Sunnyvale and was hit three times in one year of commuting (I'm car free, which ups my statistics over many on this list, but it was a good 30,000 miles since the time I was hit before that, and that was as a courier). In Berkeley, it's much safer; not so much because drivers are better, but that the roads encourage more attentiveness. I do miss the Santa Cruz Mountains, though, which once I was out of the more urban areas, were never a problem traffic-wise.

    The main drawback to Berkeley is that it is hard to get in long rides without going through some terrible, terrible towns for traffic -- Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Fremont, San Pablo. I actually find these towns worse than the S. Bay with very mean and purposefully malicious drivers (I've never had the feeling that someone was trying to run me off the road in the S. Bay but feel it often in San Pablo and Walnut Creek). Luckily, you don't have to be on these awful roads long to get to better riding, but they are unavoidable. The best thing about Berkeley, aside from the fact that all errands can be done on foot or bike, is that I can have the equivalent to a 30 mile workout in just 10, since it's straight up out my door. Since I work mostly from home, this makes for a great lunchtime ride.

    All this said, my wife and are probably moving to SF in the spring. We love Berkeley but want easier access to the rest of the Bay Area and what the city has to offer (the BART is great, but it's getting rundown real fast and adds too much time to the days we work away from home). So Taxi, if you are reading this, soon I'll be around for a lot more rides out of the city!

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