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Old 07-30-2020, 01:43 PM   #16
Mithril_Maiden
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Speaking of Highway 9, I managed to snag the last campsite at Big Basin for a weekend in October, so in a few months I will be riding on that road for some motocamping.

I'm not really in a big hurry the day I go to Santa Cruz. If Highway 9 is a bit safer, I can do that and add time to my trip. I'll look into the option of Soquel San Jose Road. That one isn't immediately familiar.
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Old 08-02-2020, 01:04 AM   #17
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Yea I would strongly suggest finding an alternative route between San Jose and Santa Cruz. Much easier to go your pace on HW9.

Big +1 on doing things in steps. Get comfortable with riding on a twisty road, get comfortable riding in traffic, get comfortable with stupid cagers. Just don't try to do those all at the same time.

HW17 and the Bay Bridge during commute hours are 2 places I would avoid as a new rider. Just too much going on, can cause sensory overload.

Even as a experienced rider, HW17 at night in the wet is a wild ride.
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:43 AM   #18
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My suggestion is hit it Sun. at 6:00AM, traffic will be very few cars, stay in the right lane, and take a speed you are comfortable with. That way you get a feeling for the road, it is not really difficult, it is only congested many times. Sat 6:00AM is probably also OK. And if you are not comfortable riding in general then I would definitely take the bus.
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Old 08-03-2020, 12:18 AM   #19
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If you want my opinion, no road is ever dangerous for a very cautious driver/rider. Unless of course you are hit by another doofus on the road, then at least, it's not your fault.
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Old 08-03-2020, 05:55 AM   #20
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There's got to be folks here who remember the nickname for sections of Hwy 17 was blood alley.

That was before they put in the center dividers.
lots of head on collisions before then.
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Old 08-03-2020, 06:15 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by m0t0_ryder View Post
There's got to be folks here who remember the nickname for sections of Hwy 17 was blood alley.

That was before they put in the center dividers.
lots of head on collisions before then.
See, based on the descriptions folks are sharing with this road, no-one should ride it, much less a novice. Apparently riding this road throws the rider in to the arms of fate, since you never know when you'll be coming around a corner and see a pair of semi trucks drag racing across the center line, or something.

From the satellite, Angeles Crest looks worse than this road. Ortega Highway looks worse than this road. Back side of Palomar looks worse than this road. Highway 33 looks worse than this road.

And those are all fine roads, and none of those are 4 lane roads.

But, I'm not on the ground. I don't ride this road. I don't know the environment. As a road, it looks fine, and better than most of the stuff I used to ride.
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Old 08-03-2020, 07:47 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by berth View Post
See, based on the descriptions folks are sharing with this road, no-one should ride it, much less a novice. Apparently riding this road throws the rider in to the arms of fate, since you never know when you'll be coming around a corner and see a pair of semi trucks drag racing across the center line, or something.

From the satellite, Angeles Crest looks worse than this road. Ortega Highway looks worse than this road. Back side of Palomar looks worse than this road. Highway 33 looks worse than this road.

And those are all fine roads, and none of those are 4 lane roads.

But, I'm not on the ground. I don't ride this road. I don't know the environment. As a road, it looks fine, and better than most of the stuff I used to ride.
Different thangs. Ortega is the deadliest motorcycle road in California, Angeles Crest isn't far behind. That's not because the roads are dangerous, but because motorcyclists go there to ride fast.

17 is a commute route, with freeway speeds and density but without the space to build a proper freeway.

From 2014 to 2018 (latest data I have from CHP), on 17 between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz...
  • there were 120 reported motorcycle crashes
  • 60% were multiple vehicle
  • half of the MV were the other driver's fault, usually a cut-off
  • of the MV crashes that were the rider's fault, nearly half were rear-enders,
  • most of the rest of the MV resulted from motorcycle loss of control
  • in half of the single-vehicle crashes--20% of the total--the motorcycle overturned while going straight (crash under braking?)

OP: Any update?
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Old 08-03-2020, 08:12 AM   #23
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I would not recommend taking highway 17 to Santa Cruz as a new rider. All the reasons have clearly been stated above multiple times.

I suggest that you find a large parking lot and practice SPAT As you were taught in class. I used to live near the Santa Teresa and VTA station and that lot works very well for this using one of the islands that separates the two rows of parking as the center of an oval and then ride ovals practicing spat.

My suggestion for road practice is to practice on the road in the time you have and practice getting on the freeways during low traffic periods so you used to riding at freeway speeds.

I also suggest taking rides like Uvas road south of San Jose toward Gilroy. And when you're riding Uvas, keep your speeds moderate and your eyes well ahead of you out 15 seconds or more. If you can't see 15 seconds ahead slow down.

This will give you more experience looking ahead through turns along the road with relatively mild traffic unless you try to do this during commute hours.
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Old 08-03-2020, 09:00 AM   #24
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Different thangs. Ortega is the deadliest motorcycle road in California, Angeles Crest isn't far behind. That's not because the roads are dangerous, but because motorcyclists go there to ride fast.
Right.

"Rider: Doc, I die when I ride too fast on Ortega." "Doctor: Don't do that."

Make no mistake, if any of these roads are dangerous for their own sake, OH is at the top of the list with its narrow shoulders, and tight, blind curves.

Quote:
17 is a commute route, with freeway speeds and density but without the space to build a proper freeway.

From 2014 to 2018 (latest data I have from CHP), on 17 between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz...
  • there were 120 reported motorcycle crashes
  • 60% were multiple vehicle
  • half of the MV were the other driver's fault, usually a cut-off
  • of the MV crashes that were the rider's fault, nearly half were rear-enders, (i.e. riding too fast)
  • most of the rest of the MV resulted from motorcycle loss of control (i.e. perhaps riding too fast, could also be a road condition issue)
  • in half of the single-vehicle crashes--20% of the total--the motorcycle overturned while going straight (crash under braking?) (i.e. probably riding too fast)
(italics mine)

I appreciate that riders speed, and how "going fast" is a key component to riding for some. But if there's anything in the gross dynamic that's within the riders control, "going fast (or not)" is at the top of the list.

Are the speed limits too high for this road? Is it simply artificially dangerous due to poor engineering, enforcement, and signage? Does it have a lot of blind intersections and dangerous cross traffic? Nefarious road conditions?

What makes AC and OH dangerous is not the road (modulo some rocks in the corners), it's the riders themselves. And MOST of the time, they only hurt themselves (there's always exceptions). But those are 2 lane undivided roads where someone crossing the double yellow is a real possibility and can affect others. That does not seem to be an issue with 17 as far as I can tell.

Can you be in the slow lane and some yahoo in the fast lane overheats a corner and goes bowling for others? Sure, I guess, but that's not a hazard to a novice rider -- that's hazard to anyone. Novice or expert. If that threat is bad enough for a novice, it's bad enough for others as well. Maybe the experts expect to be leading traffic the entire time (and "good enough" to not go bowling themselves) so they're under less threat of being hit from behind. That's almost reasonable, incurring the risk of riding faster over the risk of being struck from behind by someone else who's chosen the risk of riding faster. Twisted logic there, to be sure, but there's a glimmer.

Out here in the IE, I do 70 on the freeway and I'm like a rock in the river sometimes. Aggressive driving all around me. And that's just on 4-5 lanes of interstate. Cars feel entitled to just roar down this stretch of road, in and out and around other cars. 75 is often not fast enough. I've seen my share of cars doing just that and rushing in to density, only to not, quite, make it. Dangerous to everyone.

Finally, 120 crashes over 4 years, 50% another vehicles fault. So, in theory, 60 are in direct control of the rider. 15 per year. 1 every 24 days. How many vehicles travel this road every day? How much better are the other roads?

I don't want anyone to get hurt, naturally. I don't want to pressure someone to do something they're not comfortable with, of course. Heck, I don't recommend motorcycle riding to anyone. But it seems to me that this road is mostly unsafe to folks making it unsafe, and mostly to themselves, and much of the control appears to be in the hands of the rider.
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Old 08-03-2020, 09:08 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by berth View Post
[...]
I don't want anyone to get hurt, naturally. I don't want to pressure someone to do something they're not comfortable with, of course. Heck, I don't recommend motorcycle riding to anyone. But it seems to me that this road is mostly unsafe to folks making it unsafe, and mostly to themselves, and much of the control appears to be in the hands of the rider.
You can say that about motorcycles in general regardless of the road
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Old 08-03-2020, 08:21 PM   #26
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I passed my basic skills course and got a bike right before the lockdown hit, then my dad died, and I ended up with a huge gap in riding. I'm back on the road now after some one on one training at the safety school, but I'm overall just pretty inexperienced. I have to go to Santa Cruz in three weeks, and I live in San Jose. I'm wondering if it would be stupid to take my bike. The bike is a Kawisaki Vulcan S 650 with ABS. The thing is, I've never owned a car, so I've never driven on Highway 17. So, I don't know that road. My mom says it can be pretty twisty, but I don't know to what degree, and my mom isn't a biker and hasn't driven that road in over a decade. Meaning I have no idea how difficult and dangerous a ride we're talking about, here. Thus, I submit this to you experienced local riders who know that road. I can take the bus to Santa Cruz if I need to, so be honest about whether this is something a new rider should be attempting. While I'd love to take the bike and get some riding experience in, I also don't want to do something way above my skill level and wipe out in a corner.
Ah, to be young and inexperienced in the great hobby and sport of motorcycle riding! Don't let the naysayers get to you, Highway 17 is a great, wide stretch of scenic cruising on your Vulcan S. When I had my own cruiser 4 years ago, I used to hit up HWY 17 rain or shine just to relax.


youtu.be//C1cktQHRvkI

Sounds like you're not comfortable tackling this all by yourself just quite yet. If you can somehow schedule your trip on a weekend (morning is best to avoid traffic and having to lane split) - for a bag of my favorite coffee beans, I can meet you at Alum Rock to lead the ride. It would be a lot easier if you are following someone, we'll take it real easy and you should be there in no time...it will be fun times ~ I guarantee it.
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Old 08-04-2020, 06:35 AM   #27
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If you want my opinion, no road is ever dangerous for a very cautious driver/rider. Unless of course you are hit by another doofus on the road, then at least, it's not your fault.
I tend to disagree. I feel being too cautious on a bike is a great way to end up in an accident. We are already vulnerable, going extra slow puts us in even more danger. A bit of aggression, at least in attitude, is safer. Just my opinion.

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Old 08-07-2020, 09:32 AM   #28
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Another alternative would be Soquel San Jose Rd and add a few miles to your trip.
this is my suggestion as well. or go even farther south and take hecker pass into watsonville. technically soquel san jose and hecker pass are more difficult roads, but with far less traffic on them.

the volume of traffic, and the type of driver likely to be in those cars, is the real danger of 17

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Originally Posted by berth View Post
See, based on the descriptions folks are sharing with this road, no-one should ride it, much less a novice. Apparently riding this road throws the rider in to the arms of fate, since you never know when you'll be coming around a corner and see a pair of semi trucks drag racing across the center line, or something.

From the satellite, Angeles Crest looks worse than this road. Ortega Highway looks worse than this road. Back side of Palomar looks worse than this road. Highway 33 looks worse than this road.

And those are all fine roads, and none of those are 4 lane roads.

But, I'm not on the ground. I don't ride this road. I don't know the environment. As a road, it looks fine, and better than most of the stuff I used to ride.
i've driven angles crest, ridden 33 from ojai all the way into the hot armpit it turns into and back, but not ortega or palomar.

on a map, i agree 33 or angles crest are more challenging roads than 17. neither of them has the volume of traffic 17 has which as i stated above is the real danger. on a light traffic day, 17 is somewhat enjoyable. it has fast sweepers and large elevation changes and the pavement is decent.

i am not a regular on 17 but i have been on it at all times of day over the years and you really never know when you'll be doing 60mph one second only to be greeted around the next curve by stopped cars. any time of day, any day of the week. weekends can be especially bad. 17 is the primary artery from the greater silicon valley to the coast. when the weather warms, the san jose area decides they want to go to the beach for the day so a few hundred thousand people try to leave early to beat the traffic all at the same time, and fail miserably resulting in a miles long traffic jam inching over the hll.

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Originally Posted by m0t0_ryder View Post
There's got to be folks here who remember the nickname for sections of Hwy 17 was blood alley.

That was before they put in the center dividers.
lots of head on collisions before then.
the dividers reduced head-on but i wonder if they made same-direction crashes worse.... at least they keep the mess on one side. i get an inescapable claustrophobic feeling on some of the southbound stretches where there is the center divide on my left, and the mountain on the right with cars all around doing 50+mph. reminds me of a nascar race, if the racetrack was a pipe.
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Old 08-07-2020, 11:01 AM   #29
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I have to disagree with what is being said about old san jose. That has become a major commute route for teh locals and it is more of a speedway than 17. You really want to piss people off, take that road 10 miles an hour under the speed limit like the rest of the weekend warriors. I liive on that side of the hill and work in San Jose and use OSJ daily. If I'm not on 2 wheels I'm in a company vehicle and driving the speed limit. I end up pulling over to let the rest of the local cagers pass multiple times on every drive home.

17 has gotten even better in the last few months with all of the re-paving they have done but same thing, there's a large group of locals that drive that road like complete assholes both during commute and non commute hours. Early weekend mornings there is less traffic but always a chance the road will be wet until the fog burns off. Especially towards the summit.

My only advice. Stay in the slow lane and go with the flow of traffic. Watch out for big rigs or slower vehicles in the fast lane. People do crazy shit to get around them and will pass in the slow lane and cut back over at the last minute making everyone else lock up their brakes.
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Old 08-07-2020, 08:48 PM   #30
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I would not recommend any of these other roads - Soquel/San Jose, Hwy 9, Bear Creek, etc. You need to really be on your toes on those roads because of people crossing the center line, cyclists, garbage cans, pedestrians, they are just as narrow, and more potential for debris in the roadway. Sure, the speeds are slightly slower, but there are so many other variables.

With regards to accidents on 17, the one thing to watch out for is suddenly stopped traffic. If riding too fast or not looking far enough ahead, you come around a corner and can rear-end a vehicle. But that can happen on any road with blind corners.
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