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  1. #1
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    California Rt 1 safety?

    Hi Everyone.

    I was telling someone that I wanted to ride Route 1 this summer from SF to Santa Barbara/LA, and she jumped out of her seat regarding safety and lack of driver care around there. Does anyone have any stats or have personal experience on this section? Seems like it's very popular to bike there, but my friend is usually pretty calm, and the level of alarm she brought up rattled me a bit.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Bike touring webrarian
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    The main problem going south will be in Big Sur (Carmel to Ragged Point--20 miles north of San Simeon). There are no to very narrow shoulders on that stretch of 2-lane road (approximate length 90 miles). There is a guard rail but once over the rail, it would be a long way down a very steep slope. The rest of Highway 1 is no problem. The main danger is RVs. Worse, would be RVs coming in both directions meeting where you are riding. Since a vehicle driver will rarely slow down in such a situation, you might get squeezed off the road.

    First, let me say that this has never happened to me. I have ridden this stretch twice (both times in late April). I ride with a rearview mirror and am always aware of who is coming up behind me. In an extreme case, I come to a stop before they pass me. I've maybe done this once.

    Highway 1 in this area is lumpy and curvy. An RV can't go very fast and you can hear them from a long distance. If you chose to ride this road on July 4th weekend, you would have a real bad time and it would be more dangerous. If you choose, instead, a weekday, you should have little problem.

    This page is from my first ride down Highway 1 that will show you some pictures of the roadway: http://www.myfacilitate.net/ray/sf2labiketrip/day3.html

    Frankly, Highway 1 through Laguna Beach is far more dangerous.

    This ride has to be in the all-time great ride list. I live in California, ride up and down the coast all the time and I still long to ride on that road. Don't let someone else's fear stop you!

    Ray

  3. #3
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I can understand her concern.No stats. But, my personal experiences. Since, I did it.
    The road is narrow, usually no shoulders. traffic heavy and downhills extreme. It's only a 1000 foot fall to the Pacific. I had a flat on a downhill. Never will be the same again. I sorta freaked out afterwards.
    Think I'd prefer to head north where all climbs are on the side opposite the ocean drops, even if the winds are headwinds.
    I did the tour in October, when traffic is far less. Plus, do it on a weekday, when traffic is scarce.
    Even tho the ride scared the hell out of me; I am so glad I did it. The scenery is incredible. Even if I have a slight phobia in regards to height. Glad, I did it once. Doubt , I could ever do it again. Heck, thousands and thousands of cyclists successfully complete this ride each year.

  4. #4
    eternalvoyage
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    Thinking of a route as safe or unsafe can be misleading. 90% or more of the contribution to safety or danger comes from the individual rider.

    It seems genuinely important to keep this perspective in mind.

    The vast majority of accidents and injuries are preventable by the rider.

    ***
    There are some exceptions.

    The road in itself and the route in itself are not overly dangerous.[later correction: this needs to be more fully expressed, in a follow-up posting]

    There are some dangers and precautions to be aware of, and it is your own responses to these, and your own decisions, judgments, awareness and actions that will largely determine the safety level of the trip.

    ***
    An inexperienced rider on a first tour, riding alone on a crowded weekend, with minimal riding skills and little knowledge of the safety issues and little experience riding in traffic, who is assuming that drivers and everyone else will do the right thing -- yes, that is a rather dangerous combination.

    Human factors, especially your own, come into play.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 04-17-07 at 05:49 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Niles the road can be somewhat dangerous. I feel at least. Is there a page on the Calif DMV website that assess' road conditions?

  6. #6
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    Bike riding in general is a calculated risk, right? IMHO, SF to SB is worth the taking the risk.

    I agree with raybo and cyclezealot that it's best done during the off-season.

    The Devil's Slide area between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay freaks me out more than anywhere else. Please ride that area during non-rush hour!

    I was waiting at a stoplight a few miles before Devil's Slide starts. A macho guy in a monster truck rolled down his window and I was expecting a snide remark. Instead, he warned me that a bicyclist was killed a week before and to take extra care.

    I would say the overall route is not any more dangerous than riding in L.A. traffic. So, the best training would be to get used to mixing with traffic in your hometown. I don't remember any close calls along this stretch. It was my wife's first tour and she did fine. There's your occasional ahole drivers, but most local drivers and tourists alike will give you plenty of room.

    PS.--I wear a flourescent vest on tour and wouldn't ride without it...especially not in the Big Sur area.

  7. #7
    eternalvoyage
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    Safety would be enhanced for many people if they would take their own responsibility and contributions more seriously.

    The number one factor in all of this is one's own psyche (its perceptions, knowledge, understanding, awareness, responses, actions, insights, decisions, anticipations, evaluations, choices, etc.).

    ***
    Thinking in terms of 'the route as a whole' may be less useful than thinking in terms of specific segments and specific actual conditions along the route -- and evaluating and responding to those.

    If it is a crowded day and you're on a bad segment and you haven't slept well, or you are distracted or in certain moods or states of mind, it is probably a wise choice to stop and not endanger yourself....

    There are so many varying circumstances and factors (psychological as well as physical) and situations -- it helps to evaluate them on a case-by-case basis, and to have the judgment to evaluate and act soundly.

  8. #8
    Bike touring webrarian
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    Quote Originally Posted by rnagaoka
    The Devil's Slide area between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay freaks me out more than anywhere else. Please ride that area during non-rush hour!
    I didn't mention Devil's Slide because I have never ridden it. It is dangerous to drive, let alone ride on a bike. When I ride south (I live in San Francisco), I have my wife drive me to Montera, the city just south of Devil's Slide and start from there.

    My recommendation would be to ride to Pacifica, the city just north of Devil's Slide, and to order a cab and get a ride past Devil's Slide, a very short distance.

    Ray

  9. #9
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    thanks

    Thanks for all the thoughtful advice. The tour will be my 2nd (previously did a week-long one in New England), and I presently ride in Manhattan. I'll keep on investigating and will certainly post a report of my experience on crazyguy.

  10. #10
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    one thing about my expereinces. I do have this sort of irrational , mild phobia against height. That colors everything that I might have to say. Being I hate fast downhills w/o rail guards adjacent steep drop offs; it's nice that the terrain causes a cyclist prefer climbing over downhills.

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