Author Topic: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route  (Read 2950 times)

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Offline pzyduck

Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 17, 2013, 01:22:24 pm »
Hey all,

In June of this year, my wife and I are leaving from Portland, Or to head south along the Pacific Coast Route to San Fran. I bought the book "Bicycling the Pacific Coast Route" and it is a wealth of info. However, in reading the sections on Northern California, there are SEVERAL mentions about how busy the road is, the logging trucks, heavy traffic, big campers, etc... Is it really that bad? Can anyone shed more light on this for me? My wife is not a big fan of busy roads unless the shoulder is wide, but the book says that in a lot of places, the shoulder doesn't exist. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2013, 02:20:01 pm »
I have no first-hand experience, but I did talk last week with a guy who did the PC in July of last year. He didn't have much trouble with traffic until south of Santa Barbara, which wouldn't affect your plans. Another trick for avoiding traffic is to start after Labor Day. I plan to do the full PC in 2014, starting in mid-August and thus putting Southern California after Labor Day.

Offline jamawani

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2013, 02:33:11 pm »
Caltrans has traffic figures posted -
http://traffic-counts.dot.ca.gov/2011all/index.html

Click on the route number in the upper right hand corner box.
Hwy is listed south to north - with county references.
Look for AADT - Average Annual Daily Traffic
Often higher in summer - esp. on popular tourist routes like the PCH.

From the north -
Light traffic n. of Ft. Bragg, very busy thru Ft. Bragg, pretty busy all the way to Hw 128,
Moderate traffic between Hwy 128 and Hwy 116, increasing traffic all the way into SFO.

Offline MrBent

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2013, 03:36:19 pm »
Yeah, parts are pretty darn busy but probably no worse than the Oregon coast.  However, many sections won't have the consistent shoulders that Oregon seems too have.  My favorite part of the Cali coast is from Sonoma County to Santa Barbara.  Big Sur is great.  Too bad you have to end in San Fran.  If you want truly quiet roads, you'll have to skip the coast.  The early part of the day is best.

Scott

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2013, 06:42:35 pm »
I have no first-hand experience, but I did talk last week with a guy who did the PC in July of last year. He didn't have much trouble with traffic until south of Santa Barbara, which wouldn't affect your plans.

I would agree on that one. Summer 2000 (now 13 years ago) I biked the Northern Tier + Pacific Coast in one stretch. The entire West coast was quite calm until you reach Santa Barbara - then things start to heat up. At the same time Santa Barbara was another turning point:

While riding across the continent it was a very pleasant ride climate-wise, however I was shocked by the fog, mist and cold on the West coast (even in July). It wasn't until Santa Barbara that you started to feel true californian weather as everybody worldwide supposes it to be :-)

Lucas

Offline tsteven4

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2013, 07:43:30 pm »
I have done variations on the PC twice, both times we did the Northern California part in early July.  It was remarkably less busy than I expected.  I would recommend high visibility clothing, specifically a visibility vest.  In 30 years of cycle touring the PC was the first time I wanted one.  The fog can really limit visibility.  We did have some issues with weekend traffic.  If you are touring on a three day weekend you might want to park it until it is over.  The Sunday of the fourth of July weekend was a particularly bad time to take 199 (off route) to Crescent City.  The ride across the Golden Gate Bridge into S.F. is about the best finish one could ask for.  You will be on a sidewalk protected from motor vehicles, but there are a lot of oblivious pedestrians and bike rental clients.  Overall it is a fantastic route, enjoy.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2013, 07:20:30 am »
I didn't find it bad at all, but everyone's traffic tolerance is different.

Offline Patco

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2013, 12:59:24 pm »
I have biked from Seattle to SF using that route seven times, but generally in August and September (once in October).I like the roads in Oregon. Nice shoulders. Traffic is as expected but again, nice shoulders. Be sure to use the bicyclist in tunnel warning lights on the two tunnels on the coast, then pedal quickly. Those tunnels, along with the Astoria Bridge, are not my favorite sections of this route. Once you enter California, it becomes (for me), decidedly less biker friendly. Take the alternate routes whenever possible. From Crescent City to Eureka to the turnoff to 1 - the shoulders can be nonexistent (again, where possible, take the alternatives offered). U.S. 1 can be narrow, and there are minimal shoulders. While I enjoy the ride, I find myself being less comfortable when biking this section. Stay alert. Use your rearview mirror.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 02:31:28 pm by Patco »

Offline cgarch

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2013, 04:26:07 pm »
We traversed this route in 2009. As others have noted most of Oregon is a no brainer. South of Crescent City is another matter. 101 south is your only choice and the climb of about 3 miles is pretty hairy - there is no shoulder and the descent on the other side is very rough. Traffic depends on the time of day. An early start is a really good idea. After that it isn't too bad except for a short narrow stretch south of Orick. There is no alternative other than Newton B. Drury Parkway (following the ACA route). Once you reach Trinidad, there are numerous side roads and trails to keep you off the freeway.

South of Eureka, I had few problems with the route. Pay attention to the side roads on the ACA route and you will do fine. There's a narrow stretch at Richardson Grove. The so-called dreaded climb at Leggett isn't that bad. The one after that though is (not for traffic though). Start early. Logging traffic has diminished substantially in CA and CA 1 is much better south to Ft. Bragg. I would agree with other comments about that area. There's no getting around the fact that a lot of CA 1 is narrow with limited shoulders. By the time you reach this area, your confidence will be up and you won't be thinking about this. Thinking about it is much worse than the actual experience. And remember too that "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" is a little long in the tooth and things have changed.

Craig

P.S. consider having your blinker taillight on in the Humboldt Redwoods - even though the traffic speed is slow, the darkness of the area and the distraction of the tall trees makes for inattentive drivers. Be seen.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 04:33:15 pm by cgarch »

Offline e46rick

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2013, 06:25:14 pm »
I just did some riding on highway 1, in the Ft. Bragg area last week.  Granted, it's February, so the traffic is definitely lighter than Summer.  But it wasn't too bad.  The problem I found was there are some narrow sections without any shoulder.  And the logging trucks do drive pretty aggressively IMO.  They are accustomed to cyclists on the roads there as there are always bike tourists passing through.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2013, 12:51:28 am »
I rode it from Olympia WA to Santa Monica and was never really worried.  I used a mirror and kept an eye on it like I always do.  It helps if you have lots of experience riding highways. Our ride was from June 21 to July 10.  It's a great ride.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline dkoloko

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2013, 02:35:20 pm »
It depends somewhat on your speed uphills. If slow, traffic can pile up when there is no shoulder to get off road. I rode the section in the fall.

Offline pzyduck

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 10:48:46 am »
Great information everybody. This has been a HUGE help to us. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I have no issue with traffic, but my wife does. Based on past experience though, the more she does it, the more comfortable she becomes with it. After 6 weeks of it, she'll be a pro!

Thanks again everyone!

Safe travels,
Pat

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2013, 11:01:18 am »
Traffic seems to pick up quite a bit south of San Francisco. Some of the people I met along the way seemed to have hostile attitudes. The ride was fantastic. The people sucked in general, but some were fine.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Traffic on the California section of the Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2013, 12:02:31 pm »
Traffic seems to pick up quite a bit south of San Francisco. Some of the people I met along the way seemed to have hostile attitudes. The ride was fantastic. The people sucked in general, but some were fine.

On our ride the traffic was bad on the northern half of Oregon and then for about 100 miles north of SF to about 50 miles south of it. 

Again, get a mirror and take a lot of rides getting used to its use.  It allows you to not only know what's coming but to take control of the situation, i.e., know when to "take the lane" and when you can give it up oe even when to dive off the road.  Much of Calif has little or no shoulder so skill and experience with a mirror is, to me, essential.
May the wind be at your back!