By Will Reisman, @WillReisman
SamTrans isn’t just a great way for getting to school and work on the Peninsula, it’s also a good alternative for reaching some of the most scenic spots in San Mateo County offering, biking and hiking trails and beautiful vistas.
Just last month, we demonstrated how easy it is to combine bikes and Caltrain and even secured a swift and complete victory in our Bike to Work Day bike-plus-train versus automobile race. But some two-wheeled enthusiasts are just looking for a nice place to enjoy a weekend ride. SamTrans is a great way to get out and see the beautiful vistas San Mateo County offers and we make it easy to bring your bike too. On Friday, I took out my bike once again to demonstrate how SamTrans can be an ideal transit partner for a nice coastal ride.
I planned out the trip to showcase both the newly-opened bike trail at the Devil’s Slide tunnel and the recently-installed SamTrans bus stop at the south side of the underground pass. On Friday afternoon, I journeyed out to Half Moon Bay with Christine Dunn, our public information officer, to take a trip on to Route 17, which travels up and down the California coast.
At the Strawflower Shopping Center in Half Moon Bay, I caught the 17 bus, easily loading my bike to the rack that is affixed to every one of SamTrans’ vehicles. There is a handle at the top of each bike rack that, when gripped, will release the metal structure so that it drops down to become horizontal. There is room for two bikes on the rack, and each slot has a hook-shaped extension that helps lock in the front wheel.
After securely latching my bike to the device, I boarded the 17 at about 1:20 p.m. and sat down to relax for a 30-minute bus ride. The 17 serves neighborhoods in Half Moon Bay and Montara before making its way north along Highway 1, providing beautiful views of California’s famous coastline.
At 1:50 p.m., I arrived at the SamTrans bus stop at the mouth of the Tom Lantos tunnel, named in memory of late Congressman Tom Lantos, whose tireless advocacy for the project helped bring it into being. The bus stop has a crosswalk with a push button to signify a pedestrian crossing, which immediately turns the traffic light red, allowing for safe and easy access over the road. I was able to swiftly cross to the west side of the street, where I hopped on my bike to begin the 1.3-mile bike ride along the new trail.
While the weather was a little foggy on Friday afternoon, the California coast never fails to provide dramatic scenery. Mountainous crags jutted out of the ocean floor and the California coast slid precipitously to the sea. The idyllic vistas were a nice distraction too, as the opening ascent of the trail makes for a fairly challenging bike ride. However, the payoff was awesome once I crested the hill and coasted back down to connect with Highway 1, now north of the tunnels. After crossing back to the east side of the road, I cruised on over to Pacifica, where I planned on meeting up with SamTrans’ Route 112 at the Linda Mar Park N Ride for a bus trip to the Colma BART Station.
After noshing on my sandwich for a quick lunch break, I strapped my bike into the rack on front of the 112, and left promptly for Colma at 2:25 p.m. Like the 17, the 112 was filled to near-capacity, and the bus operator had a nice, friendly rapport with his passengers. I travelled on the line for the full 40-minute duration of its northbound trip, which weaved through Daly City before making its final stop at the Colma BART Station at 3:05 p.m. After saying goodbye to the SamTrans’ operator, I easily unloaded my bike and transferred over to BART, which I took back home to San Francisco.
In one afternoon, I was able to take a ride through one of the most picturesque locations in the state and get in a nice little workout on my bike, all without any hassle. It’s tough to beat SamTrans for an outing like that one.