16. Bike Salinas: What to Do in the Monterey County Seat
Biking in Monterey County is much more than just the coastal trail.
Experience the beautiful Salinas Valley,
Salad Bowl of America–and then some!
This Salinas section of Tips for Bicycling Monterey County was originally written for tourists. It now has plenty of tips for locals as well!
Looking for John Steinbeck and think you’ll learn a lot on Cannery Row? Look in Salinas, the heart of Steinbeck Country. Have a gourmet lunch of Salinas Valley produce or a lovely teatime in Steinbeck’s birthplace and boyhood home, the Steinbeck House. Explore the Exhibition Hall of the National Steinbeck Center. Both Steinbeck House and Steinbeck Center are in the HER Helmet Thursdays project too–among Salinas bike-friendly leaders on the list below.
There’s lots more to experiencing Salinas than Steinbeck, and you’ll find a wide range of ideas below. First, hear a two-minute audio from KUSP, Central Coast Public Radio. And for the latest about that “fresh urban scene” referred to, click here.
Think Monterey Peninsula is paradise? East of Eden is amazing, too!
No wonder “Salinas” and “Pastures of Heaven” are often uttered in the same sentence, even by those unfamiliar with native son John Steinbeck’s book. The Salinas Valley is beautiful. And in spring, if you travel the Monterey-Salinas Highway 68 or other routes, you’ll likely see cattle grazing on lupine-covered meadows–pastures of heaven, indeed! (Click here for tips if biking Monterey-Salinas corridor/Highway 68.)
Marcus Mumford is among those who has discovered the pleasures of Steinbeck Country. When Mumford & Sons chose four United States locations for his Gentlemen of the Road tour for summer 2012, Monterey County was named one, because of Mumford’s love for Salinas and all of Steinbeck Country.
What Mumford may not yet know: Salinas is even better by bike.
Salinas bike map
The Salinas bike map offers a basic intro regarding bike laws and safety. Here are related resources:
- Click here to read “Bicycling on sidewalks: misconceptions and advisories,” so you’ll know what’s legal–and safe–regarding biking on sidewalks.
- Here are summaries of California bike laws: Be Cool Be Safe – Bike Law Summary. Here’s another, in Spanish too: Leyes de ciclismo de CA – Laws for bicyclists in CA (Spanish, English) – Summary.
- For detailed info on “Riding skills, safety, and CA bike laws–for children, teens, and adults,” click here.
Salinas has provided 95 miles of connected bikeways for travel throughout the City and continues its work to complete the City bicycle network. Reference: News Release 05 07 2012 Salinas Council Pedal Power.)
As part of the Transportation Agency for Monterey County’s Complete Streets assessment, meetings were held with City of Salinas transportation leaders to plan more improvements for biking, walking, and transit users, as well as drivers. See what’s ahead: Scroll to pages 66-69 in this TAMC document http://www.tamcmonterey.org/committees/bpc/meetings/2013/May/PACKET.pdf
Got kids, or just prefer Class I/car-free bike paths? You’ll learn about those below. And we’re not talking about just…
The award-winning fun of Ciclovía Salinas is one of the many great ways to experience the Monterey County seat. For photos of the inaugural Ciclovia Salinas, taken by Jay Dunn of the Salinas Californian, click here. For photos by Vern Fisher of the Monterey County Herald, click here. As photos show, as a new event, it makes sense people are still learning the Ciclovia Salinas etiquette (for example, only service dogs are invited, and keep one ear uncovered).
Look over the etiquette in advance of the next Ciclovia Salinas dates. Review etiquette here:
- English: Ciclovia Salinas Etiquette (v6)
- español: Ciclovía Salinas – Reglas de comportamiento y la Ley (v2).
Refer to Bicycling Monterey’s Ciclovia Salinas page for the next dates and to grab some mini-fliers about Ciclovia Salinas to share with others.
Many more bicycling Salinas tips below
Share these to help others find general Salinas biking tips:
- Bicycling Salinas and HER Helmet Thursdays
- Bicycling Salinas and HHT – 4-to-pg mini – B and W Oct 2013
Cruising Salinas on a Sunday afternoon
A dozen good reasons…
See how Ciclovia Salinas youth and city officials partner up to help more people discover the joys of Salinas; it includes names of just a dozen of the many, many places I enjoy in Salinas. Then scroll this “Bike Salinas” section to find dozens and dozens more!
Experience Oldtown Salinas, perhaps on Oldtown Marketplace days, or for First Friday Art Walk (5-8 p.m.) (bike-and-walk). (And mark your calendars for the annual Salinas Valley Food & Wine Festival–a free, family-friendly event in Oldtown.)
Something new: If you like biking to history spots–or just enjoy a group social ride–check out the Rolling Historical Tour. Details on the first, 10/12/14, on Bicycling Monterey’s calendar; contact the organizer to learn about future dates.
Savor the flavor of authentic local cuisine in the Alisal/East Salinas, where you’ll have opportunities galore to converse in Spanish as well as English. You’ll not only find a bustling Monterey County business district with a majority of locally owned businesses, you’ll also discover unique neighborhood attractions, such as the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts. Roberto M. Robledo offers more insights into the Alisal in the Salinas Californian; click here.
Salinas visitor centers
Stop in at the Salinas Welcome Center (which opened June 30, 2011). Or talk with Trish Sullivan at the Oldtown Salinas visitor center, known as Salinas 411/Destination Salinas. More about both centers follow on this page.
Salinas Social Cycling
You may have experienced bike parties of all sorts in other cities. Here, check in with Salinas Social Cycling to connect with people who want to “get on a bike, have fun,” and roll in a way that is safe and positive for the entire community. Salinas Social Cycling sprung from the former Salinas Bike Party, which launched August 3, 2012 and organized rides in 2012-2013. Check the former Salinas Bike Party’s rules for an idea of local social ride etiquette.
Among Salinas social ride groups are Psycho Cyclers and MenstrualxCycles.
This boy turned his head to show his People for Bikes buhttp://marilynch.com/blog/wp-admin/post.php?post=5061&action=edittton. “People for Bikes? You bet, I’m for bikes! And I’m looking for more fun bike things to do.”
Keep tabs on the Salinas bike scene, which has something for everyone–and some weekends, like this one, there are more bike-related activities than one person can do!
You won’t want to miss the fun–like the boy above (and Bicycling Monterey and lots of others) have–at the Burrito Bike Rides hosted by Deadend Magazine. Rides were held twice a year in 2013 and 2014; stay tuned for future rides. Click here for details.
Did you know Salinas is home of Monterey County’s first public high school mountain bike race team? Details on that–and more you may not know about Salinas–below.
Above photo courtesy of Salinas High Cowboys Racing
Discounts because you ride a bike in Salinas
Salinas businesses and organizations are among the hundreds countywide participating in the HER Helmet Thursdays project. It’s an ecology-economy sustainability project offering discounts to males and females on Thursdays year-round, to encourage more biking in Monterey County. See the front-page story about the project from the 2/1/10 Salinas Californian.
Below is a list of the first Salinas HER Helmet Thursdays participants.
Salinas Californian multimedia journalist Scott MacDonald, who took the photo for that HER Helmet Thursdays story, mounts his camera to his bike to get many of his best shots in Salinas!
Discounts for bicyclists on Thursdays!
Below is a list of some Salinas participants in HER Helmet Thursdays. For a complete list of hundreds of these extra bike-friendly places in Monterey County, including any new Salinas participants, click here.
Each of the names on this list is a clickable link. Click any name to go to their HER Helmet Thursdays listing.
Want to tell your friends? Here’s a poster you can print and share:
- Aquablue Skin & Body Spa
- Angelina’s Pizzeria
- Bahama Grille
- The Bakery Station
- Courtyard by Marriott
- Elli’s Great American Dinner House
- First Awakenings
- Fox California Theater
- Gino’s Fine Italian
- Golden Fish
- Grower’s Pub
- Guadalajara Grill
- La Plaza Bakery & Cafe, East Salinas-Bardin Rd
- La Plaza Bakery & Cafe, East Salinas-N. Sanborn Rd
- La Plaza Bakery & Cafe, West Salinas
- LALLA Lounge
- Michael’s Grill and Taqueria
- Mountain Mike’s Pizza, 931 W. Alisal
- MYO Pure Frozen Yogurt
- National Steinbeck Center
- Noodle House
- Perfectly Pressed
- Portobello’s Rotisserie Cafe
- Red’s Burger Joint
- Residence Inn by Marriott
- Rollick’s Specialty Coffee and Internet
- Rosita’s Armory Cafe
- Steinbeck House
- Tacos El Jalisciense, 505 E. Alisal (Alisal at Madeira)
- Taqueria la Arrolladora
- Yangtse’s Taste of Thai
- Zeph’s One-Stop
Tacos El Jalisciense, Alisal at Madeira in East Salinas was a popular stop for Ciclovistas at Monterey County’s first Open Streets.
“When I shopped for my bike at a local bike shop, I told them: I’m not a mountain biker or anything, I simply enjoy biking around!” The Salinas resident below learned there are now even more reasons to love biking around Salinas and all of Monterey County–discounts at HER Helmet Thursdays spots! From beach cruisers to bike commuters to roadies, fixie riders, and MTBers, people riding any type of bike can get discounts on Thursdays for biking in Monterey County.
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Steve Nichols at the Salinas Valley Fish House.
Rancho Cielo – A unique dining experience
While not a HER Helmet Thursdays spot–because their dining room only serves on Fridays–here’s a shout-out to another great place to dine in Salinas, Rancho Cielo’s Drummond Culinary Academy. You’ll enjoy delicious cuisine and beautiful views of the Salinas Valley. At the same time, you’ll be part of the education of Monterey County’s under-served youth. And while they may have been under-served, you won’t be! The service at Rancho Cielo is cheerful and eager-to-please. Some of Monterey County’s finest chefs and restaurant managers are among those who have taught them some of their growing skills.
I’ll be on the coast, hadn’t thought about Salinas…
Ciclovía Salinas is one way to begin discovering, as John Steinbeck did, the pleasures found in the diverse neighborhoods of Salinas. Many people don’t realize there are 95 miles of connected bikeways throughout Salinas, from the Alisal to Creekbridge to Oldtown to Santa Rita, and more. (See Salinas bike maps below.) As usual, be familiar with bike laws and safety tips before riding.
Biking Salinas is growing in popularity because of its many flat, wide streets, often in low-traffic areas. Besides bike lanes and signed routes, you’ll find some bike paths too (best for children and other less experienced riders), including through Natividad Creek Park.
To explore by bicycle, bring your bike or arrange an all-day rental on the Monterey Peninsula (20 miles away). At this time, there are no bike rental locations in Salinas.
Salinas is generally warmer than the coast. You’ll have added special memories of Monterey County by visiting our county seat and largest city–memories less-savvy visitors miss out on.
As Patrick Brady/Red Kite Prayer reported after riding the Sea Otter Classic Gran Fondo in 2011: “The single most important thing I can say about the Gran Fondo [Carmel Valley Route, which includes Salinas Valley] is that it boasts one of the prettiest Gran Fondo courses I’ve ridden….. The opening 40 miles [primarily Salinas Valley] were countertop flat…all the beauty with only 1/3 the suffering.”
Are you a serious cyclist like Patrick Brady–or like Jan Valencia, who bikes daily from his Seaside home to his Salinas business? Jan finds that ride a breeze and can give you tips; find him in this site’s Serious Cyclists section. There you’ll also find Frank Henderson and Phil Yenovikian, who love to help others bike commute between Salinas and the Monterey Peninsula.
Young Alex (pictured at the top of this Salinas section) uses the Blanco Road route between Salinas and the coast. Coast? Sure, it’s not just the Salinas River that heads to the Monterey Bay. That’s why Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge has a bike rack!
Go ahead, bike from Salinas to the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail like Alex. On your first trip(s), consider riding companionship, or advance tips, from Jan, Frank, or Phil.
Below: Frank Henderson on Alisal at Blanco Road, Salinas
Frank had just come from teaching bike safety at the Monterey County Youth Center. There’s plenty of room in Salinas and all of Monterey County for volunteers to teach bike safety and bike tech skills to youth. Many youth love to bike–or once did–and need our support.
Remembering the late Salinas 16-year-old Kyle Bradshear and others who lose their life in tragic accidents, Frank and others stay motivated to help bicyclists be safe on the roads. Their efforts range from teaching safety skills to cyclists to advocating for improved bike infrastructure.
All or no cycling? Bike-and-ride!
Maybe you’re not like Jan. Perhaps you think there’s no way you have the time, or energy, to include Salinas in a cycle outing? Okay, no worries. See this site’s bike-and-ride section!
The Monterey-Salinas Transit System (MST) makes it easier for you to include both Salinas and the Monterey Peninsula in your Monterey County bike outings. Other cyclists travel by train to Salinas, e.g., from the San Francisco Bay area. You’ll find detailed, specific tips for both in the bike-and-ride section.
Here’s just one example of an easy bike outing: Take public transportation, such as MST bus or Amtrak train, to Oldtown Salinas. Enjoy the National Steinbeck Center, which is very near the transit center and train depot, along with other Oldtown spots. Then bike out of Oldtown via Pajaro (through residential streets that have a bike lane) to Gino’s or Elli’s/LALLA Lounge at the outskirts of Salinas, just off Highway 68/Monterey-Salinas Highway. This is a flat, easy ride, and you will come away with a closer experience of the local community.
And by the way, if you bike-and-ride (or just ride) on MST bus from Salinas to South County, you’ll appreciate what MST installed in 2014: five solar-powered signs in South County cities that will provide the actual real-time bus arrivals for Lines 23 Salinas – King City and 82 Fort Hunter Liggett – Salinas Express. The bus stops with this new technology include Soledad Mission Shopping Center (both directions) in Soledad; Santa Lucia Shopping Center in Greenfield; and Mee Memorial Hospital and Division & Canal in King City. Solar NEXT BUS Signs in South County – Feb 2014
You’re in Steinbeck Country!
Salinas is the home of literary great John Steinbeck, author of East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, Travels with Charlie, and more.
Visitors from all over the world come to the National Steinbeck Center. The Steinbeck Exhibition Hall is a literary lovers delight. The Center typically features a variety of programs throughout the year, for all ages and backgrounds; visit their website for the latest news.
With all that Steinbeck literary vibe in the air, Salinas youth who bike may find that being out pedaling gets them into a poetry-writing mode! Click here to learn about the Salinas Youth Poet Laureate competition.
Want a first-hand experience of farm crops?
After biking, perhaps within sight of the fields of the Salinas Valley, you may be very hungry for fresh local produce. Among the many opportunities in the Salinas Valley are these:
- Weekly Oldtown Marketplace, a farmers market-plus!
- Six days a week (resting on Sundays): The Farm, located off Highway 68. Their demonstration farm is certified organic, and much–although not all–of the produce sold in their produce stand is also. There are fun activities and special events at The Farm too; check out their website.
- In East Salinas, you’ll often find roadside carts bearing fresh, local produce–so convenient for residents, and a fun stop for visitors too.
And did you know? Salinas is the home of the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA), which provides educational and business opportunities for farm workers and aspiring farmers to grow and sell crops grown on organic farms in Monterey County. Find out where to buy their produce; click here. Get an overview of ALBA in a 12/3/12 Bloomberg Business Week story by Gosia Wozniacka; click here.
History buffs will appreciate that Oldtown self-guided tours are available in two formats, both of which can be helpful to bikers out exploring: (1) a paper Historic Oldtown Walking Tour guide; and (2) an accompanying Real Salinas Historic Tour guide in a cell phone format (831/401-9587).
Where to get the paper copies? Contact Trish Triumpho Sullivan at the Oldtown Salinas 411 visitor center/Destination Salinas for details (see below); reach Trish by phone at 831-435-INFO (435-4636). Or try Sarah Smith at the Salinas Welcome Center.
Serving as a Concierge in Oldtown Salinas:
Trish Sullivan of Destination Salinas
On June 30, 2011, a brand new Salinas Welcome Center opened on 1213 N. Davis Rd; phone: (831) 757-8687. It is managed by Sarah Smith.
The Welcome Center includes helpful amenities, like bicycle racks, clean bathrooms, and free WiFi!
There is also an Oldtown Salinas visitor center, Destination Salinas/Salinas 411, which is operated by Trish Triumpho Sullivan at 222 Main Street, Salinas, 93901; phone 831/435-INFO (435-4636) – email@example.com.
Additional Salinas info is available from:
- Salinas Valley Chamber, 831/751-7725; Mon-Fri, 8-5.
- A source of general visitor info that is available 10 a.m to 5 p.m., including weekends too and most public holidays, is the National Steinbeck Center, 831/775-4721.
- And even in this Internet world, you just can’t beat a public library reference librarian for a reliable source of local info! Contact the City of Salinas Public Libraries (there are 3 branches); reach the main branch, John Steinbeck Library at 831/758-7311, where you may ask to be transferred to reference.
Parades and processions
Who doesn’t love such an event! And in many cases, they are appropriate for people to bike in as well as bike to. Check with event organizers for guidelines and any necessary application. For any nighttime events, review tips for biking in the dark.
Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead events include Bailando con la Muerte – Dancing with Death, with the 16th annual taking place in on November 1, 2013 in Oldtown Salinas. Click here to learn more. (The photo above is from a Closter Park commemoration in 2012, click here for more.)
The Holiday Parade of Lights is a winter event celebrating “One City, Many Cultures.” Salinas Holiday Parade of Lights takes place in early December. Salinas social bike riders sometimes bike in this parade, as evidenced by the precious little girls, waiting to watch their papa, in opening scenes of a Californian video clip from 2012, “Holiday Parade of Lights.”
Over a century old and counting, California Rodeo Salinas draws more than 50,000 fans to Monterey County annually. Visit the California Rodeo site, where you’ll find details on the The Kiddie Capers parade and the Colmo del Rodeo parade. (For a gallery of kids and parents biking in the Kiddie Capers parade, click here.) The 2014 rodeo takes place July 17-20; check the CA Rodeo website for parade date (which will be earlier, likely Saturday, July 12, 2014).
Most people find Oldtown Salinas a wonderful place to start biking. Then venture into other parts of town, too! On August 1, 2010, the borders of the bike lanes running alongside farm fields were in full bloom in North Salinas (not far from HER Helmet Thursdays spots La Plaza Bakery & Cafe [1 of 3 in Salinas] and HHT spots the Courtyard and Residence Inn by Marriott). Cosmos and other flowers had been thoughtfully planted at the ends of field rows along Davis Road, a delightful surprise for cyclists and others.
Salinas bike shops
There are terrific bike shops in Salinas. For any updates to this list, check Bicycle Shops, Services, Clubs and Resources in Monterey County.
Þ Bear Bikes (in North Salinas, between Sherwood Gardens and Alvin Square; look for neighboring Kawasaki Suzuki motorcycle dealership) – 1288 North Main, Salinas; 831/444-8460.
Þ Doug Chandler Performance AKA DC-10 (next to the Cycle Stop Honda shop) – 517 Abbott, Salinas; 831/422-3270.
As mentioned above, unfortunately, there are not yet bicycle rentals available in Salinas. Meanwhile, BYOB (bring your own bike) or get an all-day rental from elsewhere in Monterey County.
Special bicycling events and activities
- Monterey County’s Sea Otter Classic, world-renowned bicycle races and festival, takes place just off the Monterey-Salinas Highway 68.
- As of September 2013, Salinas is home of the only public high school cycling team in the county, Salinas High School Cowboys Racing! Check their site for schedule of activities. It is also home of the county’s first private school cycling team, Palma High’s MTB team. In addition, Monterey Composite is open to Salinas and other Monterey County students, grades 9-12, whose own school–be it public, private, or home/unschool–has no bike team.
- Salinas has a significant community of avid fixed-gear/track-bike riders. Watch a Jay Dunn video for the Salinas Californian, accompanied by a story by Becky Bach; click here. To learn more, see “Spinning Spokes and Telling Jokes.”
- Salinas is also home of BMX World Championships competitor Shawn Carden, a Salinas High student. Click here for details.
- Salinas Valley Criterium hosts races, including for youth. See Criterium post on this site.
- Salinas Police Activities League (PAL) puts on bicycle safety rodeos for children and teens. Click here for a report on their 2012 rodeo, and for related links.
- The AIDS LifeCycle ride comes through Salinas annually. Cyclists ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in this fundraiser. East Salinas resident and Salinas public school nurse Jeff Richman has participated and will be happy to answer your questions. Click here to learn more.
Keeping it green
Salinas restaurants are saying no to styrofoam / polystyrene packaging. On August 16, 2011, the Salinas City Council approved a ban on styro. This is another step in Salinas meeting its environmental goals. Mayor Dennis Donohue signed the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords as well as the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.
Help the City of Salinas, along with other Monterey County cities, in enforcing the styro ban. How? The Monterey County Weekly makes it easy to acknowledge restaurants that already use compostable or recyclable containers, and remind those that do not. Alternatively, contact the restaurant manager directly. Restauranteurs are busy people, with a lot to keep track of ! Don’t assume they don’t care if they still use styro; instead, trust that they want to do the right thing and will appreciate a polite reminder.
Art and music in Salinas
Mural locations make a great destination for people out biking. Follow their colorful trail about Salinas!
Maybe you’ve seen the marine murals on Monterey’s Cannery Row, but have you seen the ones in Salinas? Mural locations make a great destination for people out biking.
John Cerney’s large cut-out murals catch the eye of many people, including his farmer and irrigator that greet travelers entering Salinas via Highway 68. Beyond those, there are many more murals in Salinas–Cerney’s and others.
In spring 2014, the Californian began a series highlighting murals. See “Mural, mural on the wall,” 5/29/14; “One Voice,” 6/18/14; the unnamed mural atop the El Sausal Middle School’s gym, 9/10/14; and others on the Californian‘s website.
The mural below appears in Oldtown Salinas, on the exterior wall at Grapes and Grain, 385 Salinas Street. But there are so many more beautiful murals all about town. Back in 1999, a 5/27 Monterey County Weekly story by Richard Pitnick, “Murals tell colorful, informal stories about Latino history,” was a first intro for many visitors in locating these community treasures. The Weekly’s Walter Ryce updated that 6/5/14 in his “Wherefore Art Thou,” which pointed out a variety of “unexpected art” around Salinas and other Monterey County locations.
John Cerney’s murals are a gift to the community, whether in a public spot like this one off Laurel Drive…
or in a setting where it’s viewed only by a smaller part of our population–
this mural was created for the Monterey County Youth Center.
More art, and music, in Salinas
Check out the Old Town Salinas First Fridays Art Walk (831-435-4636) where you’ll be part of scenes like the one below….
Above: Matt and Linda Greenlaw walk their bikes onto the sidewalk to pause with fellow music enthusiasts in front of First Awakenings on Main Street, at the July 2, 2010 First Fridays Art Walk.
The National Steinbeck Center hosts many special events, including Night at the Museum, which sometimes feature concerts, such as, Mike Beck and Ben Sollee. Their changing exhibits range from RTS: Respect through Sacrifice, the graffiti art of Liam Da Leo (learn more in Becky Bach’s story for the Californian) to Weston: Four Generations and much, much more.
Caminos Del Artes is an East Salinas Arts group that provides free art, music, and dance classes in low-income areas of Salinas. They also put on a variety of arts festivals annually, including the 2012 Día De Los Muertos Observance at Closter Park.
The Salinas Music & Arts Summit is in its third year as of 8/1/13. Click here to visit the Salinas Music & Arts website. See Adam Joseph’s story in the Monterey County Weekly about the first summit: “Lofty Summit: Dubwize, Cali Nation, and The Joint Venture headline first Salinas Music and Arts Summit.”
The @risK gallery is located at 19 Soledad St, across the street from Dorothy’s Place. The name isn’t meant to imply that the contributing artists are “at risk,” but that the art itself is at risk of acceptance and appreciation.
Somos Media is an art shop and gallery in Oldtown.
And that’s just the beginning. Check local media, online or in print, for art and music tips.
Here are the main newspapers:
- Gannett publishes the Salinas Californian and the weekly Off 68, along with the Spanish-language newspaper El Sol.
- The Monterey County Weekly is the largest circulation newspaper in the county. It comes out late Wednesday nights and is available free at newsstands, on the Weekly’s website, and in a mobile edition.
- Monterey County Herald is the daily, a MediaNewsgroup paper. The Herald’s weekly GO! magazine is available free on newstands. Monterey Bay Adventures, from the Monterey County Herald, features additional things to do.
Local radio and TV highlight many art and music events and venues too. One independent station popular in the Monterey Bay region is KUSP, Central Coast Public Radio.
Trouble finding parking for a popular film? Not Steve Nichols! Plenty of bike parking in Oldtown Salinas.
East Salinas / Alisal
Don’t just stick with Oldtown though. You’ll find murals all around the city, including in East Salinas, popularly known as the Alisal. The Alisal is home to about 61,000 of the more than 150,000 people who live in Salinas.
Here you’ll find a lively business district. And you’ll get the dynamic flavor of the predominately Hispanic/Latino makeup of Monterey County (in Salinas, that’s 71.7% of the population).
One wonderful part of being in the Alisal is that you find plenty of warm, friendly people who will graciously welcome you to practice Spanish on every street. Not a Spanish speaker? Practice a few phrases, even “Hablo en español muy poco y muy mal.” You’ll find most locals are muy sympatico–very nice–and are happy to help you find the best of the many Latino markets, authentic Mexican restaurants, and trades people with old world skills at moderate prices.
Above: East Salinas HER Helmet Thursdays spot La Plaza Bakery & Cafe on Sanborn. All the La Plazas in Monterey County give discounts to people who bike on Thursdays.
Below: Pedal-powered cart in East Salinas, on Alisal. You’ll find many food trucks and mobile vendors in Salinas. Click here for examples, then bike to their routes.
Wondering about sidewalk riding in Salinas? Click here to read “Bicycling on sidewalks: misconceptions and advisories,” so you’ll know what’s legal–and safe–regarding biking on sidewalks. For additional tips, see “Riding skills, safety, and CA bike laws.”
Prefer highly nutritious food? Pedal over for a refreshing smoothie at Natura-Vida on Alisal in East Salinas. They serve traditional Mexican fare, such as burritos, too.
In the Acosta Plaza neighborhood of East Salinas is EZ Market. Are you a mountain biker? Stop in and say hi to Ezra, a fellow MTB-er!
Exercise appropriate caution
Biking at night, whether for transportation or pleasure, calls for an extra measure of caution. This includes such things as proper lighting and high-visibility apparel as well as using bike-and-ride options if you are not confident of being in a safe, well-lit area.
Sadly, it is necessary to point out it is wise not to wear red or blue (colors that can indicate gang affiliation). Instead, choose colors such as yellow, brown, or bright green. Some professional sports team apparel, such as Oakland Raiders, SF 49ers, Astros, Bucaneers, Colts, Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, and Redskins, may also be interpreted to indicate a gang affiliation. Click here to learn more.
About 25% of the Alisal’s population lives below the U.S. poverty level. Learn more:
- Read “The Alisal/East Salinas: Pleasures, Protests, and Promise” at Bicycling Monterey.
- Read “Faces of Alisal” in the Salinas Californian. The series began 5/16/14 with Robledo’s “Agents of change,” and is planned to include writing by Allison Gatlin, Public Safety; Valentin Mendoza, Assimilation; Jeff Mitchell, Politics and Governance;Dennis Taylor, Business and Economy; Food and Entertainment, Joe Truskot; and more from Roberto Robledo, next time on Youth and Education.
- Read some history snippets about the Alisal in a 6/18/13 Los Angeles Times story.
The avid East Salinas cyclist below knows:
Money not poured into the gas pump means more money for shopping to get the things you really need. It helps reduce carbon emission, keeping the air of the beautiful Salinas Valley cleaner. Besides, biking is fun, and a great pick-me-up after the workday!
Below, the California Springtime Protest Pedal to protest distracted driving, on the East Salinas leg of their California ride. Click here for more info.
“Lots of people don’t even know about the car-free bike path behind Creekbridge shopping, adjacent to Monterey County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. But our parents do. They jog along besides us while we practice our two-wheeler skills!”
Salinas city parks
Many city parks in Salinas can be a good place for children to practice bike skills. Click here for most Salinas community/neighborhood parks. Click here for some additional Salinas parks and related facilities.
Among popular parks is El Dorado Park, 1655 El Dorado, which is in North Salinas and close to Harden Parkway. There are bike lanes nearby.
Central Park is enjoyed by many also, including as a convenient stop for touring cycling groups. Remember to avoid clothing that may indicate gang affiliation.
Teaching children to safely use the 95-mile bike network in Salinas
In Carmel, Monterey, Salinas, and elsewhere in Monterey County, there are children being coached in the ways of bike safety by their parents and teachers. Click here for examples in “Bicycling Children Growing Up Street-wise.”
Some South Salinas kids are among those who are growing up with sound instruction and closely supervised experience, so they can learn how to most safely bike the streets of Salinas (and other places). And out on their bikes, they not only learn bike safety, the are learning to love their community and to love biking! Click here to learn about the Salinas Monterey Park neighborhoods’ bike club, Monterey Park Cycling.
Check out the bike scene at Salinas educational settings, including the dozen listed below–and any additional ones too–in “Kids biking to school.”
- Bardin Elementary
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy
- Dr. Oscar F. Lloya Elementary
- Kammann School
- La Paz Middle School
- Madonna Del Sasso
- Monterey County Youth Center
- Monterey Park Elementary
- Palma School
- Rancho Cielo
- Salinas High
- Santa Rita Elementary
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When posts are long…
such as the Bike Salinas section, the California bike laws and personal safety/skills section, and the Bicycle Advocacy: What you can do page, something glitchy happens in WordPress. My remedy, until that’s resolved someday, is to make the type a stand-out color, such as orange, so the text can still be read.
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South Salinas shopping tip
Maybe you’re a touring cyclist coming into Salinas on Blanco Road or Highway 68. And you need to stock up on groceries, snacks, or other items. You can’t beat Star Market in South Salinas to find the best–from gourmet gluten-free crackers to Schoch Family Farmstead cheese to prepared foods with organically grown ingredients, organic fresh produce. and much, much more. As Star Market says when folks ask them, “How do you compete with the big guys,” they aren’t competing, they’re a fabulous alternative. You’ll find many hard-to-find items here, and you’ll be served by friendly, caring staff.
Bike valet and other bicycle parking in Salinas
Hopefully you won’t find yourself needing medical assistance. But if you do, there are bike-friendly health care providers all up and down Romie Lane, in the vicinity of the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. It’s hard to miss the thoughtful installation of bike racks out front of some medical offices, such as the one pictured below.
And Salinas Valley Memorial itself offers a special amenity for cyclists: If you are bicycling to the hospital to visit a loved one or take care of other business there, the hospital’s valet parking attendants are happy to provide bike valet service on request. This is a new service of the hospital, and it is a lovely demonstration of Salinas Valley Memorial’s level of caring about the health of the community.
Forgot your bike lock? Some Salinas schools, like La Paz Middle School (pictured in “Kids biking to school“) make an extra effort to provide easy, secure bike parking and storage during the school day. Here’s a shout-out to La Paz and other schools throughout Monterey County and elsewhere that make it easier for children and teens to use their bike for transportation.
Hartnell campus photo courtesy of Frank Henderson.
Bike rack on Main Street–one of many in Oldtown Salinas
You probably noticed all the bike racks along Main Street in Old Town Salinas. But did you know that in Salinas, you can even find front-door parking for bicycles at churches? Salinas houses of faith promote biking in other ways too; click here for an example.
First Presbyterian on Main, Salinas
If you are a Salinas resident and know of a need for bicycle racks at specific locations, visit the City of Salinas Bicycle Committee webpage and fill out a Bicycle Protection Program application.
City of Salinas planner James Serrano and his colleagues care very much about making Monterey County’s largest city as bicycling friendly as infrastructure and resources permit!
This young woman biking in East Salinas is savvy about the Salinas bike map and where to get more info on biking in Salinas and all of Monterey County. Bike commuters like her provide valuable input to transportation planners and traffic engineers.
As with other parts of the county, you’ll find signs everywhere indicating that Salinas, too, is an increasingly bike friendly place!
Support Salinas Businesses
When you’re biking Salinas, please support local businesses. They contribute so much to making Salinas a great place to live, work, or play.
- On Thursdays year-round (with some date restrictions), bike or bike-and-ride to a HER Helmet Thursdays spot and get a a discount. See list of the first 30+ Salinas spots highlighted above. For a list including those and any other Salinas HER Helmet Thursdays spots, along with hundreds of others countywide, click here.
- Any day of the week, bike, bike-and-ride, walk, take an MST bus, or even drive to HER Helmet Thursdays spots, just because you appreciate that they are extra-bike-friendly and you want to support them.
- In addition, support other local businesses. You might start with the members and friends of the following three business associations that operate within the City of Salinas:
- Oldtown Salinas Association Just fyi, like many people who bike, OSA appreciates Ciclovia Salinas, Monterey County’s first Open Streets, and shared the news on the OSA website.
- Salinas United Business Association
- Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce
The City of Salinas Police Department is highly dedicated to Salinas as a safe place to live, visit, and bike. And as told in this site’s Constables of the Peace story, you’ll sometimes see Salinas on-duty officers on bikes themselves.
If you have questions for Salinas PD, see their easy-to-use website or contact them.
Salinas PD is much appreciated by the bike community! See “Keeping the Local Bike Scene Cool: It’s a multi-pronged effort” then scroll to “Salinas Police: Dedicated to public safety for bicyclists” for some examples of their enforcement support.
And they also support people who bike, and other users of people-powered transportation, by vocally and actively supporting such things as Ciclovia Salinas. See how they supported barricade volunteers at Monterey County’s first Open Streets.
Salinas Police Department is also the first PD on the West Coast to have 100% of its PD trained in police legitimacy, as announced at David Kennedy’s talk at CSUMB on 3/28/14. We love having such ultra #legitcops in the Monterey County seat and its largest city!
Besides being a Champion of Change in so many ways, Chief of Police Kelly McMillin and many officers in the Salinas Police Department bike regularly themselves. Although their PD responsibilities don’t allow officers to be out on bicycles as much as the Chief and department would like, you’ll definitely see them in uniform on bicycles at times. And in their off-work hours? Oh, yeah!–Ask Kelly’s friend Gregg Brady about that!
If you’re a local resident and might want to join Kelly and others who love to support youth in Salinas who are keen on bicycling, click here.