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CA SR 68, the Monterey-Salinas Highway

In this post, learn about our beautiful but traffic-congested Monterey-Salinas Corridor / CA SR 68, and see some scenes of people who bike it.

The first portion of this post was previously published April 7, 2013 and earlier dates, with some subsequent partial updates. For info about proposed traffic solutions, added through August 2, 2017, scroll down.

Biking between

Salinas and the Monterey Peninsula:

Monterey-Salinas Hwy 68, and Other Tips

Lupines in bloom on Monterey-Salinas Highway 68 are just one more reason Keith smiles about his commute.

Keith - lupines - 4-7-13 Hwy 68

Along with Keith, you’ll see other experienced bike commuters, recreational riders, and racers in training along this route.

Visitors/newcomers, see the “Monterey-Salinas Highway/Highway 68 Corridor” heading in the Serious Cyclists section so you don’t end up on the freeway. On 4/15/13, I saw yet another person on a bicycle in that predicament.

Make use of Monterey County’s bike map.

This route is not recommended for novice riders. If you want to bike it, be sure you’re savvy about CA Bike Laws and Safety Tips. You may also want to take advantage of the companionship of other bike commuters on your first trip/s; more on that below.

High-visibility apparel/accessories are a good idea here. For instance, a person on a bike can, at times, become nearly invisible when passing under the shade of trees.

The rumble strips added on Highway 68 are appreciated by many people who bike. Click here then refer to page 19 for a 1/22/13 letter of appreciation to the Transportation Agency for Monterey County. Thanks to David Caneer of Pebble Beach for taking time to express appreciation for infrastructure improvements.

Below, before the rumble strips were installed on Hwy 68. Notice how close that white SUV appears to be to the line, which is now a rumble strip that serves to remind.

Also see “Three Foot Passing, California!”

Best way to bike from Monterey Peninsula to Salinas, and vice versa

For Monterey-Salinas bike commute help, check in with those who pedal these routes regularly, including both Hwy 68 and Blanco Road. Such bike commuters who are glad to help others with tips include Jan Valencia, Answer Man for Velo Club Monterey; Frank Henderson, League of American Bicyclists certified instructor; and Phil Yenovikian, among others.

Find related tips in the Serious Cyclists section as well.

Biking Spreckles Boulevard – Photo courtesy of Frank Henderson.

Farmers not only feed us, they also feed Monterey County’s economy in a big way! It’s challenging when common farming practices and roadway rights of bicyclists and others sometimes conflict, such as with mud and detritus from farming operations in the Blanco Road lanes. (See “Blanco lanes must be clean and safe for cyclists” on the VCMonterey.org website.)

Perhaps you have ideas that can help farmers get their work done in a timely way while still taking what extra time may be needed to avoid leaving debris in the bike lanes. And bicyclists can help farmers with their concerns too; click here for an example.

Let’s team up with one another and find solutions that will mean both happier farmers and happier people on bikes.

Biking Blanco Road – Photo courtesy of Frank Henderson.

One of Frank Henderson’s co-instructors for the Monterey County Youth Center bike repair and safety class is Luciano Rodriguez, a bike commuter from North Salinas. Below, Luciano on arrival at HER Helmet Thursdays spot Red Brick Pizza at Stone Creek Village, Highway 68 and Canyon del Rey. Salinas to Monterey? No sweat.


And this rider in a Velo Club Monterey jersey agrees. While the Monterey-Salinas Highway requires an added measure of caution, it is a beautiful road for the travel of experienced riders.

Spotted at Highway 68 at Canyon del Rey/Highway 218.

And that fresh paint for bike lane at the

Hwy68-Cyn del Rey intersection is appreciated.

hwy68atCynDelReybikepaint

Phil and Frank are willing to bike with any interested person from the Monterey Peninsula to their destination in any part of Salinas.  “Just let us know where you want to meet and the date/time, and one of us will be there.  We even do test rides on the weekends for the truly interested,” said Phil.
Photo below, courtesy of Frank Henderson and Phil Yenovkian, shows
Phil Yenovikian and Laura Murphy on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.

If your experience, stamina, or schedule aren’t conducive to biking all the way between Salinas and the Monterey Peninsula–at least, today!–consider bike-and-ride options–e.g., Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST/”The Bus”) or your personal vehicle’s bike rack.

lupines4-7-2013hwy68

* * *

Some proposed traffic solutions, and related information follow.
The Transportation Agency for Monterey County is seeking public input about the Monterey-Salinas Highway (California’s SR 68), to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety.

Future of Highway 68 — Landwatch Monterey County and the Transportation Agency for Monterey County co-hosted a public forum on The Future of Highway 68: Safety & Traffic Relief on 8/3/17.

Among possible solutions being considered: roundabouts. In a 6/10/17 commentary in the Monterey Herald, “Roundabouts are needed on Monterey-Salinas Highway,”* Matthew Sundt urged visiting the TAMC website and “voting for” (making your #1 choice) Concept 1. As of 6/11/17, it can be challenging to find the survey from the TAMC website. Here it is—go to the following link, then scroll down to survey: http://www.sr68sceniccorridorstudy.com/virtual-workshop-2.html

(To reach that survey from the TAMC website as of 6/11/17, go to “Programs” then “Highways Projects” then “SR 68 Scenic Highway Plan”: http://www.tamcmonterey.org/programs/highway-projects/sr-68-scenic-highway-plan/ From that TAMC page, you can access http://www.sr68sceniccorridorstudy.com and related pages, including the survey page linked above.)

As of 6/11/17, the links on the survey page include more than one with images of roundabouts, which may be confusing to some. It may also be confusing to know how to express your preferred priorities. If you have questions or comments about completing the survey, you may contact:

  • Kendall Flint, Outreach Task Manager, (650) 455-1201 or email kflint@rgs.ca.gov
  • Or, at Transportation Agency for Monterey County http://www.tamcmonterey.org/contact/staff/ contact Grant Leonard (831) 775-4402 – grant@tamcmonterey.org

Matthew Sundt is a Salinas resident who serves on the board of LandWatch Monterey County, which shares his opinion about this issue; refer to related LandWatch page. Sundt’s professional experience includes working as a city planner and environmental consultant. He is a former board president of Velo Club Monterey and is pictured below in a volunteer role at one of the annual VCM winter holiday gatherings.

__________

*Note this correction to Matthew’s commentary: traffic travels counterclockwise on a roundabout in a country with right-side-of-the-road driving, not clockwise.

Roundabouts? On July 6, 2010, I was a panelist at a Sustainable Pacific Grove meeting on “Bikes, Electric Vehicles, Roundabouts, and Cows: Surprising allies in reducing carbon emissions.” There I learned from Sean Houck about the multiple benefits of roundabouts. Since then, I’ve biked and driven roundabouts in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties and appreciate them.
Here are some resources on roundabouts shared with Bicycling Monterey by Seaside resident and a consulting traffic engineer, Bob Shanteau:

Background: http://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/info-2014/livability-factsheet-modern-roundabouts.html
Fact sheet: http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/livable-communities/documents-2014/Livability%20Fact%20Sheets/AARPLivabilityFactSheet-Modern-Roundabouts-33116.pdf

* * *

May 2017 update: The Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) is seeking public input on the SR-68 corridor between Monterey and Salinas. Go to http://www.sr68sceniccorridorstudy.com/virtual-workshop-2.html to learn more and give your input.

The first workshop for the California SR 68 Corridor Study was 4/21/16. You may also give input via the virtual workshop option at http://www.sr68sceniccorridorstudy.com. Questions? Contact Kendall Flint, Outreach Task Manager, (650) 455-1201; via email, click here. Or contact project manager Grant Leonard, Transportation Planner, Transportation Agency for Monterey County, (831) 775-4402 – grant@tamcmonterey.org.

* * *

The first portion of this post was previously published April 7, 2013 and earlier dates, with some subsequent partial updates. Some info on proposed traffic solutions were added through August 2, 2017.

  1. David Nakai says:

    Hello Mari,

    This is a wonderful site.

    I will be a tourist through this area and would like a route from Carmel to Salinas with the least amount of climbing. Also I would prefer it to be safe while riding at night.

    I would appreciate your advice. Thank you.

    David

  2. marilynch says:

    Hi, David. Glad you find the site helpful. You’ve found one route between the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas, via Hwy 68/Monterey-Salinas Hwy; the Blanco Road route is also a popular option. Rather than try to address all you asked about in a comment, including the stretch from Carmel (e.g., Carmel hill, or out Carmel Valley Road and over Laureles Grade–quite steep),I refer you to Jan Valencia, Velo Club Answer Man. He’s in section 9(a)on the main bike community page. Best wishes, and welcome to Monterey County. If you have other questions, feel free to give me a call. Mari

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