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Where are the "cycle friendly" areas?(31 posts)

Where are the "cycle friendly" areas?Slipstream
Mar 28, 2002 8:32 AM
DINOSOAR's post about living in Sacramento because because it is a "cycle friendly" area got me to thinking, "What other areas are friendly to cyclists?" If you were to live anywhere and wanted to ride, what place would you pick and why?
Get thee to Los Gatos...mr_spin
Mar 28, 2002 9:19 AM
To me, a "cycle-friendly" area is one where the residents have become accustomed to bikes on their roads, and drive accordingly. In general, the towns in the foothills of the Santa Clara valley (Silicon Valley) are bike-friendly.

My favorite is a town where I used to live called Los Gatos. It's the last outpost before leaving the valley and climbing over the mountains and ending up in Santa Cruz. It's a great place to be a cyclist because most of the north-south road routes pass through. Plus, there is great mountain biking from town. It is so nice not to have to drive to a trail head. And there's the Los Gatos Creek Trail, a traffic free multi-use trail that goes six miles out of town, almost to downtown San Jose. It stops in Willow Glen, where I live now, but they are extending it all the way downtown.

More so than any other town or city that I ride in, I feel safe in Los Gatos. On a summer weekend, there are literally hundreds of cyclists around, half road, half MTB. With so many around, drivers cannot ignore them and come to expect them. Not all, but most.

It's a wonderful town. Basically crime-free, excellent schools, full of great restaurants, nice parks, etc. The problem with Los Gatos is that it is very expensive to live there. I finally got priced out last year, but when I win the lottery, I'm moving back!
forgot about Cat's Hillmr_spin
Mar 28, 2002 1:10 PM
If you race, Los Gatos also has one of the best and hardest crits around, the Cat's Hill Criterium. Bad pavement and a block long 23% grade every lap make this a real trial. Previous winners include Greg Lemond!
Los Gatos?grzy
Mar 28, 2002 6:07 PM
What are you going to do once ou get there? LG is just a little Gucci corner of Silicon Valley. It's not like you can do a 40 mile ride and still be in LG. You have to head up into the mountains or out into the valley where people do just three things: eat, breed, and drive. The Santa Cruz Mountains are great, but from LG your only choices up are the dirt road to the resevior and Old SJ, heavily travelled Bear Creek, or hitch over to Saratoga and go up Hwy 9. Oh yeah you can legally ride on a segment of Hwy 17, but you should have your head examined first. You can head south via Kennedy and Hicks, but not everyone is up for that level of punishment. Once you get away from LG you can actually start riding. LG is primarily a destination for the cafe crowd riding their Kleins and parading their Ferraris.

When you say the towns in the foothills are bike friendly I hope you're not including Woodside.
Mar 28, 2002 7:40 PM
I lived in the Willow Glen area of San Jose from 73-90. I started road biking around '74. I'd go up Hicks Rd, the Guadalupe side, riding an old Motobecane touring bike with a 32 gear. I don't know what the grade was, (20%?) but it was one heck of a climb. Or I would go up the other side from New Almaden. Back then you would never see any cars up there on weekday mornings. Or sometimes I'd ride out to Calero and watch the boats and the babes.

Once I was riding on Almaden Expressway and I had this weird sensation and I veered to the right. A biker babe riding on the back of a Harley was just getting ready to squeeze my butt and if I hadn't of manuvered she most likely would have scared the cra* out of me and I would have gone down. No one wants to squeeze my butt anymore, (sigh)...

I imagine it's all changed now, can't think of what Mckean Rd looks like. Yep those were the day, hail youth...

They do have a road up here that resembles Hicks Rd, about the same grade, although it's a 17 mile climb (Iowa Hill Rd, Foresthill). Once I get my new bike, I'm going to tackle it this summer.

Sorry for the rambling, that's what happens when you get old....
Los Gatos?mr_spin
Mar 29, 2002 8:20 AM
Did someone from Los Gatos shoot your dog?

As a resident, Los Gatos was my starting and ending point for rides. True, you probably couldn't do a 40 mile ride in Los Gatos, but name one other town of the similar size where you could! And who would want to? That's boring. The discussion was about bike-friendly towns, and I think Los Gatos ranks pretty high on the list.

Woodside? No way. It's full of cyclists, but the residents and the cops hate them. I'd rank other foothill towns high: Saratoga, Cupertino, Los Altos, Palo Alto.

I don't know how much time you've spent in Los Gatos, but there are plenty of backroads in Los Gatos that you probably don't know about. The area "behind" downtown: Pennsylvania, Overlook, Ridgecrest. The Kennedy/Shannon area. The nasty slopes of Hicks. The area around Quito, Sobey and Pollard. Los Gatos-Almaden Road out to Harwood. Maybe I can't get you 40 miles, but I can get you close to 30, and it will be a pretty good workout.

A few years ago, for training purposes, I used to do three laps of a 7-mile loop Kennedy-Shannon-Los Gatos Blvd. Try that sometime. It will kick your ass.
Good grief...DINOSAUR
Mar 29, 2002 3:53 PM
I really hate to say this, but if you want to climb real hills, come up the the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains if you really want your ass kicked. Speaking from experience, I've done both. There are some steep grades down there granted, but up here you can't get away from them. It's not like you wake up and think, "gee maybe I'll do some hill training today" it would be like living on SR-9 and rolling out of your driveway everyday. And I'm not a good climber, I get my ass kicked daily, it's a humbling experience....
Los Gucci?grzy
Mar 29, 2002 6:10 PM
Heh, heh, I've riden all of those roads - I used to live in Mt. View, Cupertino and then the Blossom Hill area while working in Silli Villi - now it's Santa Cruz. I did mention Hicks as being a tough climb, but Bohlman/OnOrbit out of Sartoga is much tougher. Kennedy/Shannon is nice but it's got zero shoulder and really isn't much of a climb. Mt. Eden, Pierce Rd., and Redwood Gulch are better for riding, but they're in Saratoga/Cupertino You want real hills you need to go a bit deeper into the Santa Cruz Mts.: Mt. Charlie, Zayantee, Felton-Empire, Alba, Jamison, China Grade, Eureka Canyon, Empire Grade, Bonny Doon Rd., 236, Hwy 9, etc....

I guess I don't see where you can get off saying that LG is such a bike friendly town while it's totally in love with the automobile with the car dealerships and traffic to prove it, a freeway running through the middle, and no real place that you can get out and really stretch your legs. It's suburbia for the upper middle class with more money than brains. Certainly riding a paceline anywhere in LG would be a fairly dangerous idea unless you were headed *out* of town on Blossom Hill Rd. or Los Gatos/Saratoga Rd. and that happens pretty quickly. Hell, Palo Alto is more bike friendly - Bryant is the bicycle boulevard that gets you through town easily and you can trip the lights with a bike and Foothill is a decent road to ride with a group. The Hwy 17 bus that comes over from Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz doesn't even stop in LG. So if you wanted to bike commute you'd have to start and end you journey in San Jose and ride the bus through LG. In fact there isn't even a bike lane down the main drag in LG. The few bike shops in LG are absurdly over priced - just like the other shops. Not many of the lights in LG can be tripped by a bike. Having a bunch of blue haired old ladies in an old Plymouth Valiant letting you go first isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.

I think you're confusing your fondness with living in Los Gucci and an objective view of what a bicycle friendly town is really like - people don't flock there for the riding. Try some place like Chico, Davis, or Santa Rosa if you want to see bike friendly. I'd even say Santa Cruz is a whole lot better except the accident rate is high and the roads with bike lanes are limited. Does LG have any signs urging motorists to share the road as they do in places like Cupertino or traffic lights that can be tripped by a bicycle? Ultimately if it's in Silicon Valley it can't be considered a very "bike friendly town" - of course that's all changing with the recession.

My beef is that I think you've vastly misrepresented what Los Gatos is actually like, on a bike, with respect to other places. You haven't identified anything unique about Los Gatos that isn't available in a slew of other towns up and down the peninsula and are often done better. LG has the Cat's Hill crit, but Santa Cruz has one also.
Los Gucci?mr_spin
Apr 1, 2002 7:35 AM
Okay, whatever. Having lived in Los Gatos for six years, I think I know a little more about it than you do, especially regarding cycling. It is a very bike friendly town.
re: Where are the "cycle friendly" areas?DINOSAUR
Mar 28, 2002 9:40 AM
Don't live in Sacramento. I don't think you would consider Sacramento a cycling friendly area. I live in the foothills above Auburn about 50 miles east of Sac-of-tomatoes. Auburn is considered part of the Sacramento Valley region. Can't stand Sacramento or anything that has congested traffic.

Probably the key is a place where there is not much traffic and you don't see that many cyclists on the road. I seldom see any during the work week. I do have to ride some main artery roads to get to the back country roads and I've noticed people are driving a lot faster then before. My biggest concern are working stiffs driving pick-up trucks and soccer mom, driving suv's, although my closest call was with with a group of outlaw motorcycle riders.

Sacramento does have the American River Bike Trail. Never have rode on it, but you do have to contend with joggers, and rollerbladers.

My ideal ride is a place where you can't hear anything accept the sound of the wind rustling through the tree tops and the occasional train that takes you awhile to figure out what it is. I ride that road almost everyday. Biggest problem up here are the roads and potholes that the county seems to repair about every ten years or so. Broken beer bottle glass is another problem. Deer also, almost hit a 200 lb buck once. Placer county has some lousy roads, but I guess that could describe anywhere.

Go out on Foresthill Rd 17 miles e/of Auburn and you can ride about 35 miles until the pavement ends and see very few cars. Not safe to ride alone though, a long place from anywhere and a cell-phone won't get you out.

I think most motorist that are discourteous is because they have had a unpleasant experience with a cyclist, usually guys who ride in groups side by side and hog the whole lane. Not cool as some on the lanes up here are 8-9 ft wide, and a lot have no center line.

I think the ideal place is in my head. I was riding yesterday and I had this sensation of something whizzing by me and I felt a blast of wind. It could have been from the freeway above me or??? Maybe the ghost of Fausto Coppi??
re: Where are the "cycle friendly" areas?SnowBlind
Mar 28, 2002 3:04 PM
I ride the American River Bike Trail every few days, including my commute (15 miles each way). The rollerbladers are not bad, because they go with the flow. Joggers on the other hand, just run any damn place they feel like it. Not entirely their fault, they are told to run against the bike traffic. What are they worried about? That I am going to risk my neck and my $3500 bike to hit them?!?!

Worse than either is the "mom with baby stroller" baby starts fussing and they just whip that sucker sideways, blocking the trail. Not so much as a glance.
I just stay away from the trail from 11 to 6 on weekends. To many pedestrians on and off bikes.

No Joke about the broken glass. I swear the local sport is "Roadside Bottle Smashing". Tires last less than 1500 miles down here in the valley.

The smog is not too bad up in Auburn, but down here in the valley, you can taste it.

Oh well, if I lived in paradise, I'd complain about the slow Saturday nights...
North (San Francisco) BayMe Dot Org
Mar 28, 2002 10:58 AM
Similar to Los Gatos, the corridor from Larkspur to Fairfax is very friendly to cyclists.
re: Where are the "cycle friendly" areas?smudge02
Mar 28, 2002 12:09 PM
Tucson, AZ, Mountains nearby, perfect weather and wide open roads. Plus MTB trails galore, if your into that.
Santa Rosa, Calif.Elefantino
Mar 28, 2002 1:23 PM
In the wine country (not Napa, that's the other valley) north of S.F. Lived there for seven years, during my all-too-short racer days. I've lived in a number of places, but Sonoma County is to cycling what Eugene, Ore., (where I went to school) is to running. Everybody does it, and no one looks askance at you if you wear your bike shorts into the grocery store.

The ride from Santa Rosa to Bodega Bay (where Hitchcock filmed "The Birds" a lifetime ago) is one of the best I've ever been on (and happens the site of the one and only time I was stopped for speeding, 51 in a 40).

Other roads, particularly north of the city toward Healdsburg and Geyserville and west toward Monte Rio and Guerneville along the Russian River, are wonderful rides, with flats, hills, scenery and cars that know what a right-of-way is. No wonder so many pro teams, including Motorola, PDM, Coors Light and others, used to train there in the late '80s and early '90s, when i lived there. The Santa Rosa Cycling Club is a great resource.

But I would only ride there. I've lived there and it's too darn expensive. We may have a few more Stars-and-Bars bubbatruckers who turn homophobic at the sight of spandex here in Northeast Florida, but at least here I can afford a big house with a pool ... and a Serotta.

Are all the "cycle friendly" areas out west?Slipstream
Mar 28, 2002 1:36 PM
I really like the area north of SF around Bodega Bay even though Hitchcock thought it was for the birds.

What about other areas in the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Asia?
Are all the "cycle friendly" areas out west?TJeanloz
Mar 28, 2002 1:46 PM
No, those of us in the east are just smart enough to keep our mouths shut so nobody comes here to ruin it for us.
ok, I'll bitekenyee
Mar 28, 2002 5:47 PM
Are there any cycle friendly areas around Boston?
There's a bike club in Boston that does evening rides down Comm. Ave (for folks outside the area, it's a two lane road each way w/ lots of parked cars and traffic) into Weston and back in the middle of rush hour (wouldn't exactly call that "safe" ;-P
There's the Minuteman Trail which is a MUT which ok on weekdays during the day. The Esplanade is way too busy a MUT on weekends and weekdays when the weather is nice.
Drivers are nuts around here so the roads don't feel safe.

If you take a weekend drive up to NH or VT, you'd probably get some nice riding in, but that's the only thing I can think of.
ok, I'll biteTJeanloz
Mar 29, 2002 5:18 AM
If you want to see what too many cyclists will do to an area, go to Boulder, Colorado- once the cycling capital of the US, and currently a place where cyclists and locals are severely and constantly at odds. The locals were cool when the group rides had 15 people, but now that they have 200 and block the whole road, they are not so cool.

So, I am going to selfishly keep my specific riding areas a secret. However, if you were to hypothetically drive 1 hour west of Boston, there is plenty of good (no, perfect) riding to be had.
I thought Boulder solved the "too many cyclists problem"Slipstream
Mar 29, 2002 6:57 AM
by importing mountain lions into the greenbelt. You better have a rear view mirror if you ride solo. Of course, maybe that is why the cyclist ride in packs now. So, I guess the plan backfired.
My goodness, shoulda thotta that...Me Dot Org
Mar 28, 2002 8:43 PM
Everyone knows that a post on this bulletin board can instantly transform the demographics of your community ;-)
Yes. That's why the prices are so high.Elefantino
Mar 28, 2002 1:51 PM
Actually, I rate Boone, N.C., Stone Mountain, Ga., the Texas hill country (except when the farmers are using the roads) and the Savannah, Ga. to Hilton Head, S.C. areas as cycle friendly. At least they always have been to me.

Ditto on Boone and ....McAndrus
Mar 28, 2002 3:32 PM
Around the Asheville, NC; Clemson, SC areas as well. In general South Carolina is a pretty good cycling area with a warm climate and good roads (that could use better shoulders).

Boone, though, is pretty cool and the Blue Ridge Parkway is something every biker should ride at least once.
Minneapolis/St. PaulScot_Gore
Mar 28, 2002 6:01 PM
The twin cities are trying hard to incorporate the bike into it's total transportation strategy. Minneapolis has a 5 year bike plan. Is actively promoting safe biking and safe driving in the presense of bikes. The state is a leader in rail to trail conversion including 2 downtown commuter routes.

Check it out yourself:

I can safely promote Minnesota as a great place to bike. The winter will keep all but the hardiest away.

The WinterAhimsa
Mar 28, 2002 7:45 PM
Damn, in that part of the country I think you should capitalize Winter like a proper name so as to accurately describe it as an entity as opposed to a season!

I've read some chat from messengers in your neck of the woods and those cats are hands down loco. With the frostbite they must have hands that look like a junior high shop teacher. Hard to grip the hoods with a total of six digits.

I got plenty o' winter here thanks, but I have heard great things about the Twins.


Michelin Axial "Spikes" ... great on roads, hell on frames. nmElefantino
Mar 28, 2002 8:04 PM do they compare to my Nokians? [nm]Ahimsa
Mar 28, 2002 8:14 PM
Central California Coastmickey-mac
Mar 28, 2002 10:56 PM
The coastal regions of Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties are nice for riding: mild temperatures, rolling hills, and nice roads.
Madison, WI is the best I've ever seen.Alex-in-Evanston
Mar 29, 2002 5:58 AM
Very active cycling community coupled with a very supportive local government. Great bike paths, lots of racks, cool events (bike to work days, etc.) and beautiful, beautiful pavement outside of town. Apparently the dairy industry demands smooth pavement to get their perishables to market without any jostling.

You've never seen so many bike commuters - even in the winter.

Mar 29, 2002 9:25 AM
Where else can you ride a bona fide worldcup circuit in the middle of the night? (There's a small mountain in the middle of the city, crossed with lit roads, used for worldcup races)
Or get some speedy spinning mileage on a closed flat formula One race track? (Ile-Notre-Dame Gilles Villeneuve circuit, next to the casino)
Or get out of the busy city (which is really on an island) through bike paths bridges to elope within half an hour warm up to beautiful country roads? (Old Port, pont de l'Estacade to Côte-Ste-Catherine, or Jacques-Cartier bridge's new widened bike lane to be completed this summer, all the way to the south shore Monteregienne Hills)

Stop by the ice cream counter or cafe terrace and look at the nice peculiar architecture (old Montreal and Plateau Mont-Royal) and plan the evening at the Jazz festival.

Or just cycle the West Island for a quiet scenic century.

Any day of the summer, you can't beat Montreal...
...but only if you speak French ;>) nmSlipstream
Mar 29, 2002 9:31 AM
similar to SacramentoRideLots
Mar 29, 2002 9:30 AM
Fresno and the foothills/mountains near here are great places to ride; bike lanes on almost all public roads; weather to ride about 350 days a year; hills or level ground; lots of events. What more do you want?

See some photos and routes: