Car-Free Roads – Photo Essay (Pt. 1)
Over the past two months, people of all ages and skill levels have seized the unique, seemingly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride some of Marin’s most iconic roads–including Ridgecrest Boulevard, Bolinas-Fairfax Road, and Conzelman Road–all without the danger and threat of car traffic. We asked you to share your experiences riding on closed roads in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Mt. Tamalpais State Park, Mt. Tamalpais Watershed, and Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Over the next few weeks, we will highlight your rides on car-free roads.
we want to hear from you!
If you’ve ridden any of Marin’s car-free roads, we still want to hear from you! Please take a few minutes tocomplete our short survey and upload photos from your rides. Your testimonials will help us thank park agencies for keeping these roads open to people on bikes and advocate for permanent or periodic closures to cars after the Shelter in Place Order is lifted.
Car-Free Roads Make for CareFree Rides – Pt. 1
The SIP got me out on my bike and doing roads that I would have hesitated to ride. I am a confident rider but knowing no cars would be on the road in the Marin Headlands, etc, gave me the boost I need to try it. It has been heaven. The attached photo is the ride down from Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands. We call it the “roller coaster route” and I would never have gone down if there were cars there. Sorry I am not on it but it was a ride of a lifetime. – Julie M.
I commute to work at least 4 of 5 days by bicycle from Marinwood through San Rafael and had a much safer ride each time. With less vehicle traffic I seem to have become more visible and occurrences of being passed too closely (less than 3 feet) by cars has dropped significantly; drivers seem to pay better attention and are more “caring”. My wife has started riding a bicycle to visit friends in neighboring San Anselmo, primarily because the lack of traffic on the roads gave her the courage to travel on them! Her joy of cycling (lost when we moved here from Germany) has been rekindled! – Mark I.
Riding a bicycle on Ridgecrest Boulevard is a special experience. It’s a world-class road: Up and down rolling hills, with majestic views of the Pacific Ocean whenever you want to glance over. But there’s the issue: As a cyclist on a narrow road that is shared with cars, a quick glance at the ocean could be your last. Lose your line while not looking at the road, and a slight weave into traffic could end it all. That’s why my ride on Ridgecrest during the Covid shutdown was so revelatory: The only vehicle that passed was a ranger’s truck, everyone else up there was a cyclist with a huge grin on their face, like me, stopping to soak in the view whenever the mood struck, unconcerned about becoming a traffic statistic. It was a glimpse into a possible world, where incredible roads like Ridgecrest (not to mention BoFax and Pantoll, which were also part of my ride that day) become safe havens for recreation, instead of a calculated risk. – Scott M.
I am a 69-year old lifelong cyclist. I no longer enjoy riding in cities, so I was happy to move to Marin County from San Francisco after retiring– even though I had commuted by bicycle for 30 years. While I can comfortably ride with cars, there was an increased joy riding in the Marin Headlands and in the Mount Tam area without them. The Fairfax-Bolinas Road can get quite tight in places, so I pick the days that I will ride there. During the pandemic, I never felt fatigued from navigating cautiously with cars alongside. It was wonderful! My actual favorite new ride during the pandemic is the Tiburon Loop, as it is easy for me to access, so I ride it often–but never on weekends due to the crowds on the roads in cars. – Jana Z.
I am a confident recreational cyclist and bike commuter. Mt. Tam is my favorite place in the world. However, the heavy weekend traffic makes me very uncomfortable (mostly the cars speeding up and down to Stinson Beach), so I rarely ride there on the weekends. As an alternative, I often drive to Mt. Diablo to bike there. Although the roads are open to traffic, there is a lot less of it due to the fee that you must pay to enter the park. The downside of this is that I’m spending up to 4hr round-trip in the car and emitting pollution that I wouldn’t be if I could just safely ride up Mt. Tam from my doorstep. – Kristina W.
While my weekend rides have been so much nicer with fewer cars, the SIP has me riding to work more often. I have to go through San Rafael to get to the Lincoln bike path on my way to Terra Linda three days a week. It’s been much easier making the left onto Lincoln from Mission in the mornings on my bike. And less stressful riding home after work. – Lori C.
I would consider myself somewhere between “strong and fearless’ and ‘enthused and confident’. I took my dad on a ride and it was a little dicey getting to Fairfax-Bolinas Road through the various towns, but once we made it to the car-free portion, we were in heaven! My dad commented that he would much less interested in biking those roads if they were not car free, so please take your time opening these roads back up to cars!! Also, the less cars, the less wear-and-tear on the roads, the less maintenance Marin County has to do 😉 – Lauren D.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ROAD CLOSURES
Effective June 1, parks are allowed to reopen to vehicle access. HOWEVER, high visitation parks (including Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Mt. Tamalpais State Park, Mt. Tamalpais Watershed, and Pt. Reyes National Seashore) will remain closed to cars until they decide it’s safe to allow vehicle access. Keep an eye on this map and the parks’ websites for the most up-to-date information.
For the latest news on the County’s Shelter in Place Order and what it means for bicycling in Marin, please visit our Covid-19 Resource Page.
WHAT ABOUT SLOW STREETS IN OUR CITIES/TOWNS?
MCBC staff continues to encourage agency officials to bring “slow streets” to our cities and towns. For more information on our slow streets efforts, click here.
Your voice needed! We have been fortunate in Marin to enjoy continued bike access to popular park roads that have been closed to cars during the Shelter in Place Order. Help us thank the agencies and make the case for permanent or periodic road closures by sharing your experiences riding Marin’s car-free roads during Shelter in Place.