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  1. #1
    Senior Member MrCjolsen's Avatar
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    Martinez CA - Any thoughts?

    My wife wants to look for a job in the Bay Area and be closer to her family. I'm a teacher with 21 years in West Sacramento. If I take a job in most Bay Area districts, I'd take a huge pay cut and a subsequent hit to my retirement.

    So we figured that if we moved to Martinez, it might work for both of us, provided we can live short biking distance from the Amtrak station. Then I could take the train back to work every day.

    Besides, in Martinez if we downsize a little bit, we could actually be free of a mortgage.

    I've spent very little time in Martinez. So I have a few questions for anyone who lives there or has actually spent time there.

    Good and bad areas - where are they?
    How bike-friendly it is for an experienced cyclist?
    How long would it take me to get from, say, just north of Highway 4 to downtown at around six in the morning?

    Anything else I might need to know about Martinez would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I'd try to avoid being too close or downwind of the refinery area just in case, but otherwise it seems like a nice town to me. My only experience is as a visitor - both on club rides that have gone through the town and on kayak outings from the Waterfront Park marina. Great location on the Carquinez Strait for bike rides now that the paved trail has been reopened. I'll be leading a club ride tomorrow from Alamo up to Martinez and then doing a loop around the strait using the bike paths on the two bridges at Vallejo and Benicia. The train connection to Sacramento is excellent and bike-friendly (just roll the bike aboard and hang from hooks at the ends of the train cars).

  3. #3
    Family, Health, Cycling Lanceoldstrong's Avatar
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    Hi MrCjolson,

    I live in Concord and I ride 5,000 - 6,000 miles a year.
    This takes me to, and through Martinez a lot.
    Martinez is a wonderful town for cycling. It is very bike friendly.
    There are really good bike lanes on all the major and secondary roads.
    The Contra Costa Canal Trail and The George Miller Trail, both paved, also have some very nice sections in Martinez.
    There is great road bike riding out in the countryside to the west of town in Franklin Canyon and on Bear Creek Road.
    Most areas are about 12 miles from the entrance to Mt. Diablo, a good warm up for a world class climb.

    If you are looking to live "just north of highway 4" , there is a nice area east of Howe Road and West of Pacheco Blvd.
    See The Starflower, Midway, Milano, Bridgeport area on this map/route to Amtrak, 4 miles easy bike ride.
    Amtrak Example - A bike ride in Martinez, CA


    I have lived in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek or Concord for over 40 Years.
    In that time I have observed this about Martinez neighborhoods:
    The neighborhood where my map/route (above) starts is nice, but I would not suggest living north or west of that neighborhood.
    Also very nice is the Hidden Lakes neighborhood, south of highway 4. Center Avenue runs right through, well... the center, of this neighborhood.
    The Virginia Hills neighborhood is also very nice. See the area around Virginia Hills Drive and Alhambra Avenue.
    The commutes to Amtrak are a couple miles longer from Virginia Hills and Hidden Lakes, but very nice rides.

    The downtown is, as the saying goes, a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.
    Downtown pluses: a good cafe, live music and diverse restaurant scene.
    Downtown minuses: County Jail, County Hospital, Single Occupancy Residence Hotels, a bit rif-raffy in parts due to these.

    Overall Martinez is far and away, a fantastic town.
    As a cyclist you will love it.
    I almost bought a house there 2 years ago, really had my eye on one in a neighborhood off of Alhambra Ave, just south of highway 4.
    We ended up buying in Concord, closer to De La Salle (boys) and Carondelet (girls) high schools, where my kids go.

    If you move to Martinez, look me up. You have a ride buddy here, me!
    In Ascensu Est Verum

  4. #4
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    Interesting this should come up right now. My wife and I went to Martinez to hear some music then had a very nice meal following the show and ended up talking about living there.

    It has great weather, cooler than you are used to I'm sure. You can get some great riding in very close. Diablo, the Bears, Berkeley Hills, Scenic byway along the river. And the bridges. On a hot day just riding down to the water is nice. I think it's a great place to live if you love to ride.

    The downtown is trying. They have little parklets in front of some charming restaurants, and they are starting to have a music scene.

    I'm in Antioch and feel I'm a zillion miles from civilization. Martinez is much closer to culture events in Berkeley or even Walnut Creek.

    Downtown is sketchy, but not frightening. And away from downtown are a lot of nice suburban homes, from rural rustic to regular ol burbs. Lot's of price range as well.

    I think your bike commute could be 15 20 minutes, and a rather nice 15-20 at that.

    If there is a downside it's the refineries. They just aren't beautiful. But they are mostly in one area, and north of 4 won't dominate your experience.

    I'd sure look at it. Hard.

    Good luck.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrCjolsen View Post
    My wife wants to look for a job in the Bay Area and be closer to her family. I'm a teacher with 21 years in West Sacramento. If I take a job in most Bay Area districts, I'd take a huge pay cut and a subsequent hit to my retirement.

    So we figured that if we moved to Martinez, it might work for both of us, provided we can live short biking distance from the Amtrak station. Then I could take the train back to work every day.

    Besides, in Martinez if we downsize a little bit, we could actually be free of a mortgage.

    I've spent very little time in Martinez. So I have a few questions for anyone who lives there or has actually spent time there.

    Good and bad areas - where are they?
    How bike-friendly it is for an experienced cyclist?
    How long would it take me to get from, say, just north of Highway 4 to downtown at around six in the morning?

    Anything else I might need to know about Martinez would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    WANTED: Not a darn thing. I've got it all. Life is good.
    Website at curtis.corlew.com Bicycle blog at ccorlew.blogspot.com

  5. #5
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    The thing about Martinez is - it's really easy to tell the good neighborhoods from the bad ones... no middle ground.
    http://diabloscott.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    Oh, and if you buy a house in the hills with a vineyard, please remember how helpful I've been here.

    Oh, by "and north of 4 won't dominate your experience. " I should have said south.

    WANTED: Not a darn thing. I've got it all. Life is good.
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  7. #7
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    Second for the Hidden Lakes area. Much more of a neighborhood feel, though it is typical suburb life. The problem with downtown is that you don't get that real "downtown" urban feel of some cities, if that's what you are interested in. As others have stated, downtown has a lot of bars, which brings its own problems. Bottom line is most of the nicer Martinez neighborhoods are south of Highway 4, but are further from the Amtrak station. So if some extra mileage is not a big deal, I'd probably try to buy in a better neighborhood and deal with a longer commute.

  8. #8
    Senior Member budkid's Avatar
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    I think I can only comment on the cycling aspect of the area as I live nearby cross the bridge. Martinez is pretty centralized area from cycling from great riding in the east bay in the Briones area and Berkeley hills. You also have Mt. Diablo which us not far away. The main street of Alhambra has a bike lane that takes you all the way to Walnut Creek. You could go north into the Napa hills on Mt. George. There is a nice bridge to bridge loop that takes you on the Carquinez and Benicia bridge. If you are into mountain biking, you have Briones park or the newly updated Crockett hills. There are bike clubs such as Benicia bike club or Hercules cycling club that you could join weekend rides with. Theres just a lot of good places to ride.
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  9. #9
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    CJ,
    Others' comments accurately describe Martinez and local riding to some degree. Living in Martinez almost 60 years, and riding local roads for over 35 years, I know every street & neighborhood in Martinez. We also have a local cycling club(Old Farts Cycling) that have over 20 members that live in Martinez alone! I would be more than happy to meet up with you whenever your schedule permits, and we can discuss further. OK to PM me!

    Bergie

  10. #10
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    Some folks have described Martinez in suburban terms. I think it really is more accurate to talk about it in small town terms. Not because it is all that small (although it isn't all that large, either), but because much of it still has a very small-town feel to it, downtown very much included.

    Very bike friendly - riding to the train station would work very well, and the Capitol Corridor trains have ample bike carrying capacity. For an experienced rider, no problem at all. As others have mentioned, there are some very nice rides (road and MTB) in the area.

    A thought - would Fairfield or (even better) Suisun City work? It's one Amtrak station closer to Sacramento, making your commute that much shorter (and the daily fare that much cheaper). The downside for your wife would be traffic - it sucks pretty much every day on I-80 and I-680. I have no clue how the housing prioces compare between Martinez and Fairfield/Suisun City, but I though I'd mention it.
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

  11. #11
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
    Some folks have described Martinez in suburban terms. I think it really is more accurate to talk about it in small town terms. Not because it is all that small (although it isn't all that large, either), but because much of it still has a very small-town feel to it, downtown very much included.

    Very bike friendly - riding to the train station would work very well, and the Capitol Corridor trains have ample bike carrying capacity. For an experienced rider, no problem at all. As others have mentioned, there are some very nice rides (road and MTB) in the area.

    A thought - would Fairfield or (even better) Suisun City work? It's one Amtrak station closer to Sacramento, making your commute that much shorter (and the daily fare that much cheaper). The downside for your wife would be traffic - it sucks pretty much every day on I-80 and I-680. I have no clue how the housing prioces compare between Martinez and Fairfield/Suisun City, but I though I'd mention it.
    The housing prices are very different, much more bang for your buck, in Solano County, especially Suisun & Fairfield. I've been a Realtor in this county for 11 years, and I'd be glad to discuss real estate and bikes with you anytime.
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