thoughts about the parkway

I recently did a backpack trip from home to the Sierra Foothills, which I’ll post about soon, but first wanted to provide some thoughts about my experience on the American River Parkway.

I went upriver on Tuesday, which was the first nice weather day after several days of rain. There were an incredible number of people out on the parkway, more than I’ve experienced on nice weather weekend days. It was crowded! This is understandable, as I want to be outside and moving as well, but it was really hard to maintain physical distancing. I mostly stuck to the parallel Pioneer Express Trail, not to the paved ‘bike’ trail, except in some sections where the dirt trail does not exist and the paved trail is the only option. In some places, particularly further east, the Pioneer Express Trail is well signed and obvious, but in other places it is not, and I have a hard time figuring it out. This is not new, I’ve hiked this section many times before, but never managed to follow exactly the same route more than once.

On the dirt trail, I did run into other hikers, but it was easy for one of us or the other to step off the trail and give space to pass. What was not easy is the mountain bikers riding on the trail. Almost the entire trail is closed to bicycles, and clearly posted as closed, except in a few places where people, presumably mountain bikers, have peeled off the ‘no bikes’ stickers or covered them with other stickers. These mountain bikers, who are here illegally, nevertheless expect hikers to step off the trail and let them pass. I grew increasingly angry with them. When I asked them why they were riding on closed trails, they ignored me. I noticed a number of fathers out with their children, teaching their children that it is OK to ride on closed trails.

Walking along, fuming, I came up with an analogy that might influence a few mountain bikers to consider their behavior:

Imagine your favorite mountain biking trail, and everything you love about it. Now imagine that it has been invaded by dirt bikers, tearing up the trail, disturbing the peace and quiet, and expecting you to get out of their way. How would you feel? Well, that is the way hikers feel when you invade trails closed to bikes. People walking have few enough peaceful places in the world to walk, especially close to cities. Mountain bikers are being bullies by taking away these places from walkers.

The second issue is that almost all the walkers I saw on the ‘bike’ trail (officially the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail) were either in family groups or single. But about half the cyclists were in groups of people not families and not living together. I have criticized other people for shaming groups of people when they don’t really know whether that group is a family, or lives with each other, and therefore don’t need to maintain physical distance (whatever transmission might occur has already occurred), so let me say why I think these are groups of friends and not otherwise. I listened to the conversations they were having. In most cases it quickly becomes obvious whether they are family or living together, and for at least half, they were friends. The most common conversations were about work. I don’t know why they think it is OK to be clustering, when everyone else, including solo bicyclists, is doing their part in physical distancing. It particularly grates when cyclists ride by (often exceeding the speed limit), maintaining distance from each other but not from the other bicyclists and from the people walking on the shoulder of the pavement, the dirt verge. Dropping into single file when passing just does not occur to them.

Now, onto the rest of the Pioneer Express Trail that I walked, above the end of the parkway at Beals Point. On Wednesday afternoon, there were mountain bikers all over the closed trails. There are some short sections where bikes are not prohibited, in order to connect pieces of open trail where there are no other routes, but on the whole, the trail is closed to bikes. All of these people expected me to move off the trail, and when I would not, just pushed on past me. I saw one group of 12 mountain bikers, all riding in very close proximity, whooping and hollering, not on the closed trail, but nevertheless being clueless.

Thankfully Wednesday and Thursday morning were very cloudy and cool, which keeps most mountain bikers inside, and I did not see anyone riding on the closed trails that they had been riding on earlier. I did see some hikers, and we respectfully moved out of the way for each other.

The more I interact with mountain bikers, the more my opinion of them drops.

Ridge Trail: Coyote Creek bicycle 2019-07

Tuesday I completed a little more of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the Coyote Creek south and north sections, plus the part of Penitencia Creek that I’d not done on the previous trip. I had set aside all day for this trip, thinking of it like it were a hike and considering the distances, but of course bicycling was much quicker and more efficient. When I’ve been hiking a lot and not bicycling as much, I start thinking of distances solely in terms of walking, and forget that bicycling is the most efficient form of travel ever invented.

Coyote Creek

I took Capitol Corridor to San Jose Diridon, VTA light rail to Santa Teresa, and VTA bus 68 to Morgan Hill, then rode the 3 km to the trailhead of Coyote Creek Parkway in Anderson Lake County Park.

The Coyote Creek Parkway is paved all the way, and mostly in good condition. Sometimes it has a walking verge off the pavement, and sometimes not. The path sometimes follows the creek closely, within the riparian area, but often veers away into drier areas. The south section, to Metcalf Park, is lightly used and mostly feels very natural except for a few places where is comes close to Highway 101. The north section is much more heavily used, by bicyclists and walkers and unhoused people, and feels much more urban with proximity to the freeway and more road crossings, though it passes through some nice city parks.

The official trail ends at Tully Road in San Jose. From this point I followed streets and a few short sections of trail to the Penitencia Creek trailhead. The creek corridor is much more constrained in this section, and a creekside trail may not be possible along the length, though I’m sure that some can be.

The Berryessa BART station, when it opens, will be the end of this Coyote Creek route and the start of the Penitencia Creek Parkway, an urban trailhead. But the station is not due to open until fall (of some year – it has been delayed multiple times) so I don’t know what the trailhead will look like.

I rode the Penitencia Creek Parkway path, some of which is paved and some dirt, to the point I’d left off on the previous trip, very close to the VTA Penitencia light rail station. Light rail to catch the Capitol Corridor at Santa Clara Great America, and then off on a side trip to San Francisco, because I had so much time left over.

My trail totals are now 434 km of 683 km, 64%, and 56 km of gaps and side trails.

I checked trail conditions for the Granite Chief Wilderness, the area of the Sierra Nevada where I usually spend most of my summers, and it looks like the snow is still deep in several areas, so I’m going to do one or two more trips on the Ridge Trail, in Napa and Sonoma counties, and then head to the mountains mid-month. As much as I’m enjoying the Ridge Trail, I want to be in the high, cooler country.

Photos on Flickr:

Category search for Bay Area Ridge Trail

ADT6: Sacramento to Antioch 2013-06

Continuing my gradual completion of the California portion of the American Discovery Trail (ADT), I rode my bike from Sacramento to Antioch. The route largely follows the Sacramento River into the delta. Though I’ve walked all the portions to the east, including the Western States Trail (which largely though not entirely overlaps with the ADT), this section is entirely along roads and I figured it would be more efficient to ride it. This is section six of the California portion of the ADT. I’ve done sections one through five already (and I’ll do them again). Previous posts include closing my gap in the Western States TrailWestern States Trail, and another trip from Auburn to Sacramento that I apparently forgot to write about.

Grape Vines as far as the eye can see, near Clarksburg
Grape Vines as far as the eye can see, near Clarksburg

Starting from mile zero of the American River Parkway in Discovery Park, the route follows the river south, then through neighborhoods of south Sacramento including Land Park, crosses the river at Freeport, and then follows the levee-top River Road through Clarksburg, the center of a recent wine growing region, back across the river near Courtland, and then on to Locke and Walnut Grove. It is interesting to see the crops changing, with grapes, walnut, fruit trees, and row crops. The land to east of the river seems to be almost exclusively large agribusiness, with very few actual farmers remaining, the west of the river there are some family farms remaining.

Continue reading “ADT6: Sacramento to Antioch 2013-06”

Does the House hate bicyclists and pedestrians?

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has introduced a draft national transportation bill that would eliminate everything that I care about. It would create a car-centric world, it would eliminate any consideration of or funding for pedestrians and bicyclists, and it would kill the program I work for and love, Safe Routes to School. I believe this is part of the tea party backed effort to get rid of everyone who doesn’t hold their values, and among their values are that car drivers should have all the rights and all the money, and users of other transportation modes (walking, biking, transit, trains) should have none of the rights and none of the money.

In what must surely be intended as irony, the bill is called the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.” Motor vehicles waste energy, while biking, walking and transit save energy. Bicycling and pedestrian project generate about 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, while highway projects generate only about 7. About 12% of all trips are by bicycle and walking, yet already these two modes received only 1.5% of funding. This bill would essentially zero this out by allowing states to spend money if they felt like it. They won’t. The states are largely in the business of building new highways, and they have only rarely been in the business of maintaining these highways, and providing for multi-modal transportation.

If you walk, and who doesn’t, if you bike or want to, if you use public transit, now is the time to kill or heavily modify this bill, before it even reaches the House floor.

For more info, see the League of American Bicyclists blog. There are other organizations which focus more on the pedestrian impacts, which are even greater, but it will give you the idea. This bill is bad for everything I care about, and probably you as well.

Tweed Ride Sacramento

So much fun with so many interesting people on a variety of bikes. Starting with breakfast at One Speed, we rode across the Sac State bridge, along the American River Parkway, back across the railroad bridge to Bows & Arrows (beer), then to Revolution Wines, though I had tea at Temple adjacent, then to Pangaea (more beer). Tweed, tweed and more tweed. Thank you Rick, and all the other tweeders – tweedies (?). See the blog for more info. Next one in the spring!

Five Bromptons – more than I’ve even seen in Sac. A sixth joined later.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Sacramento,United States

Ride to Locke


Saturday I rode to Locke/Walnut Grove, about 30 miles down the Sacramento River from Sacramento. I started along the east side from Tower Bridge, staying as close to the river as possible, which is close in places with a paved path on the levee, but quite far away in others. At Freeport I crossed to the west side, past Clarksburg, back to the east side at Courtland bridge, and on into Walnut Grove where I ate lunch at Maya’s. After a little time in Locke, I headed back upriver along the levee roads. I cut off the last part by taking light rail back from Meadowview.

Courtland Draw Bridge
Courtland Draw Bridge

Though I ride every day, commuting, this was longest ride I’ve done in a while, and I was tired! I’m gradually working my way down the river, and eventually will ride all the way to the Golden Gate. The bridges are markers: Tower, Freeport, Courtland, Walnut Grove. So far.

I really enjoy riding the levee roads with the river to one side and farmland to the other. Though the roads are narrow and have more traffic than I’d like, it is beautiful.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

The Brompton

Dan's beautiful new Brompton

After thinking about it for more than a year, I finally bought a folding bike. It is a Brompton, probably the best made folding bike in existence, though Bike Fridays seemed pretty good too. I love it, love it, love it.

I’ve only taken one trip with it so far, from Reno to Sacramento and back on Amtrak, and it was a real pleasure. It tucked into the baggage shelf just fine. It folds down to the size of a medium suitcase, so works well for train, bus or plane (at least on Southwest, which is all I fly anyway). I’m going to fly with it for the first time in January, part of a trip to San Luis Obispo for Contra Carnivale. The rest of the trip is on train.

It was great to have a bike while in Sacramento. I rode the American River Parkway one afternoon, got to the conference I was attending (Safe Routes) on light rail and riding, and rode to dinner twice and the grocery store once. I’ve taken my road bike to Sacramento and even San Francisco before, but always had to use the bus to Sacramento because the only way to take full bikes on the Amtrak California Zephyr is to box them.

I’ve ridden a lot around Carson City, and everywhere I go I get compliments or at least comments, which was rarely true on my road bike. Kids especially think the bike is cool, and many ask me if they can ride it.

Though I test drove the bike for a couple of hours last summer, I was unsure about how different it would feel and handle from my road bike. My road bike is a 1971 Motobecane Grand Touring (made in France, 10 speeds, classic steel frame). The weight is not much different, and it doesn’t really handle much different. I lose a little power due to the small 16 inch wheels, and a little to a more upright riding position, but not much. Handling is a bit looser. not a bike to ride hands-free, but it tracks well. And it has fenders and wider tires, so it was no problem to ride it in a few inches of snow this morning.

I bought the bike from Channell Wasson in Palo Alto, who used to be the only US dealer, and the bike is made by Brompton in London, England. Channell spent about four hours with me talking about Bromptons and bikes in general, and I’d recommend him to anyone.