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Where to live in SF bay area for safest, best cycling?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Where to live in SF bay area for safest, best cycling?

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Old 01-12-09, 02:32 PM
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ScottW
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Where to live in SF bay area for safest, best cycling?

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, plus I'd prefer to be a bit closer to napa since I do have some friends and family here (so east bay somewhere? might be better).
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Old 01-12-09, 02:49 PM
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Marin - Sausalito, Mill Valley, etc.
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Old 01-12-09, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by LorenzoNF View Post
Marin - Sausalito, Mill Valley, etc.
I lived in Sausalito. Too cold. Specific routes that are low or no car traffic? Other than the one short path that runs north out of sausalito, I don't know of any low or no traffic marin routes.
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Old 01-12-09, 03:01 PM
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Try the NorCal forum.

Berkeley works for me. East Bay hills are great. More bikes than cars usually.
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Old 01-12-09, 03:03 PM
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http://fermentation.typepad.com/ferm...n_reasons.html

#9 is awesome on a bike, or supermotard.
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Old 01-12-09, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by sfcrossrider View Post
http://fermentation.typepad.com/ferm...n_reasons.html

#9 is awesome on a bike, or supermotard.
I know that road -- drops down the oakville grade into oakville? Whenever I've ridden it or driven it, there's always a good amount of car traffic. To ride there daily, I'd need to continue living where I'm living, and I don't like the ride options in this area.
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Old 01-12-09, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottW View Post
I know that road -- drops down the oakville grade into oakville? Whenever I've ridden it or driven it, there's always a good amount of car traffic. To ride there daily, I'd need to continue living where I'm living, and I don't like the ride options in this area.

I see maybe two cars each way every time I climb it. I also ride it on weekends, so I could be missing a lot of work traffic from Napa to Glen Ellen/Sonoma area.
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Old 01-12-09, 04:19 PM
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Los Altos area is about the best riding around, imo.

I wouldn't mind living in Fairfax either.

I think traffic is about the same in both areas in my experience. Not that I can afford to live either place...
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Old 01-12-09, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottW View Post
I lived in Sausalito. Too cold. Specific routes that are low or no car traffic? Other than the one short path that runs north out of sausalito, I don't know of any low or no traffic marin routes.
Does. Not. Compute.

Come to Nebraska for real cold. The high Thursday is going to be 4 (F).
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Old 01-12-09, 04:31 PM
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I don't think such a place exists in Bay Area. There are TONS of great riding there, but you have to be able to deal with cars. You want warm weather, with little rain, and bike paths try Orange County.
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Old 01-12-09, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by UmneyDurak View Post
I don't think such a place exists
Fixed
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Old 01-12-09, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottW View Post
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, plus I'd prefer to be a bit closer to napa since I do have some friends and family here (so east bay somewhere? might be better).
I live in that area and have never had any problems with cars on the routes you've mentioned. Then again, I usually ride alone. Watch out for BMW-driving yuppies in Palo Alto proper, however! Judging by their driving, I'd gather the city exempts them from using turn signals, obeying stop signs, and driving the speed limit...
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Old 01-12-09, 04:58 PM
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I know that some serious bicyclists live in the Presidio in San Francisco because it's got some great rides, many of which are very hilly. From there, you can shoot across the Golden Gate Bridge and ride that path as far as you like.

Lake Merced is fun for doing laps. IIRC, it's about 4.5 miles. Fairly flat, except for one section with a bit of a hill.

But it does rain here. And it gets down to 40F or so sometimes. It doesn't sound exactly like what you want, but I figured that you might want to know anyway.
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Old 01-12-09, 05:21 PM
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Id suggest somewhere between Mt View and San Jose. There are plenty of bike routes and lanes in the area. The weather is less wet and cold then Napa. Traffic is all over the Bay Area.
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Old 01-12-09, 05:31 PM
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Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga. Aka Lamorinda. The area features some of the best climbs and longest descends without a lot of traffic. I have been riding here for the past couple of years. You can ride 80 miles here without stopping. The roads have very little traffic and very little pot holes.
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Old 01-12-09, 06:10 PM
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Are there bike paths anywhere with fast cyclist? It seems to me that would be pretty dangerous in itself, mixing folks out for training rides with kids with training wheels and others walking their dogs.

But if you are willing to slow for the other users, from Los Altos there is the Hetch/Hetchy bike path that goes from Los Altos to Stanford. There is the Steven's Creek trail that right now goes from El Camino to Shoreline. And there are various and sundry other routes that wind you through cul-d-sacs that cut through into other cul-d-sacs. However, even 15 mph is extremely fast for the non-auto traffic on these routes.

Though I too enjoy the Portola loop, in the Los Altos Hills there are quite a few less traveled roads that will get you up to Altamont and higher. From downtown Los Altos, going up Robleda to Elena and cutting up Natoma or Taafe to Altamont and back down Page Mill is about 10 to 12 miles. Though I have to say, I've done many more miles on the Portola loop and have never been hit, but I was recently hit on one of those less traveled 25 mph roads in the hills.
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Old 01-12-09, 10:55 PM
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Marin County is one of the best places to live and ride in Northern California (well that is my opinion). I am not talking about Sausalito either because of the fog and how crowded the streets are. San Rafael is really nice, like riding out Lucas Valley road. Not much traffic, good little hill up to big rock and then beyond to Nicasio. From there there are many places to ride with little to no cars, even riding out to the cost or going north toward Petaluma or Santa Rosa. There are many cyclists that ride out there and some challenging rides. The only down side as with any roads out of the way are the cars seem to drive faster.
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Old 01-12-09, 11:28 PM
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Marin. I need to go back and do the Paradise loop again.
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Old 01-12-09, 11:56 PM
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Los Gatos or Saratoga. Straight up Route 9 to Skyline...there are endless combinations of gradients and descents that you can go searching for. Get a map and have a blast!
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Old 01-13-09, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by yuanja View Post
Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga. Aka Lamorinda. The area features some of the best climbs and longest descends without a lot of traffic. I have been riding here for the past couple of years. You can ride 80 miles here without stopping. The roads have very little traffic and very little pot holes.
Are there specific routes in that area that stand out? Many people to ride with?
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Old 01-13-09, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by nogearCX View Post
Los Gatos or Saratoga. Straight up Route 9 to Skyline...there are endless combinations of gradients and descents that you can go searching for. Get a map and have a blast!
Not sure what time of day you're riding up 9, but every time I've been up it on saturday early am's, there have been at least 40 motorcycles usually in long strands, combined with car after car whizzing by. Nice riding, but not low traffic IMO.
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Old 01-13-09, 12:16 AM
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I second east side of the Berkley hills. You can do a century on the ironhorse trail and it's connectors. Riding in the Danville/San Ramon/Pleasanton area has good bike lanes, and Lots of cyclist, so cars seem to be used to seeing you. For rides, Mt. Diablo, 4000+ winding feet in 10 miles, low car usage (it is in a park, so cars have to pay to get in) other notable rides.. the 3 Bears, Calaveras reservoir, Palomares climb (used in the Tour of California) Mines Road in Livermore, connects to Mt. Hamilton (also used in the ToC) Plus, it is hot on the east side of the hills. You can also access the Moraga area and then over to the Berkley hills.

Lots of good bike shops, from mega shops to boutique, lots of race teams and clubs.
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Old 01-13-09, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by nogearCX View Post
Los Gatos or Saratoga. Straight up Route 9 to Skyline...there are endless combinations of gradients and descents that you can go searching for. Get a map and have a blast!
i also live in the South bay. tons of great places to ride. not alot of flat straight roads, but certinaly tons of challenges, intervals, hill repeats, and climbing. i like my mt. eden loop, montobello, foothill expressway, open reserves, shoreline, lexention resivor(not the best place to ride, no water), skyline, apline loop, mt hamaltian(i'm not there yet), you can take a train to ride up mt. diabilo. soo many roads i have yet to travel. i love just going out to get lost. yeah theres traffic, but motorist are pretty good. so far its been great places to ride a road bike or a mtb.
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Old 01-13-09, 01:20 AM
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this is why they hate us...we are such whinners! it too cold, there are too many cars for me to ride my bike...who is this anyway greg lemond? suck it up and go ride!
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Old 01-13-09, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by fogrider View Post
this is why they hate us...we are such whinners! it too cold, there are too many cars for me to ride my bike...who is this anyway greg lemond? suck it up and go ride!
I have. For 15 years. You're free to ride where you like, but I choose not to take the risk of riding every single day on roads with drivers who hate cyclists while they eat hamburgers, text on their phones, talk on their phones, and do everything else but drive. There are options out there that are fun, good workouts, and lower risk rides, and since I can buy a house literally anywhere in the U.S., I'm seeking the best location for myself. I like warm weather. I like low traffic roads. If you like miserable cold and riding on 280 then go do that to prove that you're a tough guy.
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