16. Bike Salinas: What to Do in the Monterey County Seat

 Biking in Monterey County is much more than just the coastal trail.
Look around.
Experience the beautiful Salinas Valley,
Salad Bowl of America–and then some!

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.  Visit the National Steinbeck Center, its exciting changing exhibits and the Agricultural Museum. 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 also lots more to experiencing Salinas than Steinbeck, and you’ll find many ideas here. First, hear a two-minute audio from KUSP, Central Coast Public Radio.

This Salinas section of Tips for Bicycling Monterey County was originally written for tourists.  It now has plenty of tips for locals as well!

lupines4-7-2013hwy68

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

Salinas bike map

Check out the City of Salinas Bicycle Facilities Map, a downloadable pdf, 12.59 MB, in – English and Español.  (For other Spanish biking resources, 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 tamcmonterey.org/committees/bpc

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,  October 6, 2013, 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). Want to learn the etiquette in advance of the next Ciclovia Salinas dates (anticipated to be Summer 2014)? Here you go:

Many more bicycling Salinas tips below

Tell your friends, perhaps by sharing this mini-flier: Bicycling Salinas and HHT – 4-to-pg mini – B and W Oct 2013

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.)

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 his 5/16/14 story for 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.

Cruising Salinas on a Sunday afternoon

Among Salinas ride groups are Psycho Cyclers, founded in 2010, and MenstrualxCycles, founded in 2014.

Find them both on Bicycling Monterey’s main resources page.

Psycho Cyclers hosts races, group rides, and bike polo. Check out their cool statement of philosophy and purpose in the “About” section of their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PC831/info

MenstrualxCycles hosts rides for ladies-only and also co-ed rides.

Boy at Burrito Ride 5-19-13 near 1st Pres Salinas

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) had on 5/19/13 at the Burrito Bike Ride. This first for Salinas was thanks to the work and generosity of hosts Deadend Magazine, Somos Media/Gallery, and friends, and they followed up with rides on October 6, 2013 and March 23, 2014 too.

Burrito Bike Ride - 5-19-13 by Deadend Magazine, Somos Media and Friends

Burrito Ride 5-19-13 Salinas - here boys at the lead

 

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.

Stamina and schedule don’t permit biking all the way to your destinations? No worries. Bike-and-ride! Any mile of biking has more benefits than a mile of driving.

Below is a list of the first Salinas HER Helmet Thursdays participants.

Rosita’s Armory Cafe is among the HER Helmet Thursdays spots in Oldtown Salinas.

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.

  1. Aquablue Skin & Body Spa
  2. Angelina’s Pizzeria
  3. Bahama Grille
  4. The Bakery Station
  5. Courtyard by Marriott
  6. Cozumel
  7. Elli’s Great American Dinner House
  8. First Awakenings
  9. Fox California Theater
  10. Gino’s Fine Italian
  11. Golden Fish
  12. Grower’s Pub
  13. Guadalajara Grill
  14. La Plaza Bakery & Cafe, East Salinas-Bardin Rd
  15. La Plaza Bakery & Cafe, East Salinas-N. Sanborn Rd
  16. La Plaza Bakery & Cafe, West Salinas
  17. LALLA Lounge
  18. Michael’s Grill and Taqueria
  19. Mountain Mike’s Pizza, 931 W. Alisal
  20. MYO Pure Frozen Yogurt 
  21. National Steinbeck Center
  22. Noodle House
  23. Perfectly Pressed
  24. Portobello’s Rotisserie Cafe
  25. Red’s Burger Joint
  26. Residence Inn by Marriott
  27. Rollick’s Specialty Coffee and Internet
  28. Rosita’s Armory Cafe
  29. Steinbeck House
  30. Tacos El Jalisciense, 505 E. Alisal (Alisal at Madeira)
  31. Taqueria la Arrolladora
  32. Yangtse’s Taste of Thai
  33. 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.

Taco El Jaliscience at Madeira and Alisal

“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.

For tips on getting around to the HER Helmet Thursdays locations, check their listingsCharter participants, and many others, have bike-there tips.

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the Bicycling Monterey website valuable…

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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.

Reservations are required. If you’re biking there when days are long, you’ll love those views along Old Stage Road. And if not, see tips for biking in the dark.

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

Linda and Matt Greenlaw watch as fellow Salinas bikers whizz by.

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.  Not only is the Steinbeck Exhibition Hall a literary lovers delight, its permanent exhibition halls include a place to learn about Salinas Valley farming in the Steinbeck Center’s Rabobank Agricultural Museum.

The Steinbeck Center also has changing art and cultural exhibits.  See what’s up for current exhibitions. And there’s much more, including a variety of programs throughout the year, for all ages and backgrounds.

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 visiting the agricultural museum, or just biking along 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 tours

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

Visitor information

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) – salinas411@yahoo.com.

Riders of all ages gathered in Oldtown Salinas to start their 5/19/13 Burrito Bike Ride. They returned there again for burritos, naturally, at Somos Media/Gallery!

Burrito Ride 5-19-13 Salinas - gathering

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.” The 13th annual Salinas Holiday Parade of Lights takes place on December 1, 2013.  Salinas Bike Party riders biked in this parade in 2012, as evidenced by the precious little girls in opening scenes of a Salinas Californian video clip, “Holiday Parade of Lights.”  The girls were waiting to watch their papa, a Salinas Bike Party rider.  If you’d like to ride with Salinas Bike Party,  check in with SBP to see if they are riding in this parade again.

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).

Delightful surprises

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.

On any streets with heavier traffic, of course, it’s wise to use extra caution and to consider high-visibility apparel and other personal bike safety measures, such as lights and flags.

Below, high-visibility tape on my bike trailer adds to night riding safety. Below, pulled over on East Alisal to park and chat with locals about bike safety resources.

Hi vis tape on bike trailer on Alisal St, East Salinas Oct 6 2013

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   Bobcat Bicycles (in Oldtown Salinas, parallel to and one block east of Main; not far from the Amtrak station and downtown Salinas MST bus plaza) – 141 Monterey, Salinas; 831/753-7433.

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.There is also a Salinas Valley Fixed Gear blog.
  • 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.


If you happen to be  sweltering in summer heat, consider a break in Monterey County.  On 4th of July weekend 2011, these local residents donned hats!

 Jim Warwick and his daughters biked that 255-mile trip for some holiday weekend fun.  Jim is a coach of Monterey County’s first public high school mountain bike team, Salinas Cowboys Racing.  Left to right:  Rebecca, 13; Teresa, 23; Justine, 11; and Dad.
Jim is also a teacher at Salinas High School. Not surprisingly, he makes supporting SHS students who bike a priority, whether they are mountain bikers, fixed gear riders, or any sort of bike-to-school commuter.
Thanks to Jim’s leadership, in August 2012, Salinas High created the first (to my knowledge) on-campus bicycle maintenance station of any Monterey County elementary or high school, public or private!

 

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.

First Friday Art Walk, Oldtown Salinas

Art and music in Salinas

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 Arte’s “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.

See “Artists of Hijos del Sol” on the site to learn more about the Salinas arts community.  Click here for a sampling of Hijos del Sol muralists’ work.

Maybe you’ve seen the marine murals on Monterey’s Cannery Row, but have you seen the ones in Salinas?  John Cerney’s large cut-out murals appear here too, including the farmer and irrigator  greeting travelers entering Salinas via Highway 68.  Beyond those, there are many more murals in Salinas–Cerney’s and others.

Where to find them?

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. A 5/27/99  Monterey County Weekly story by Richard Pitnick, “Murals tell colorful, informal stories about Latino history,” gives you a start in locating these community treasures.

A 6/5/14 story by Walter Ryce, “Wherefore Art Thou,” also in the Weekly, points out a variety of “unexpected art” around Salinas and other Monterey County locations. Most make a great destination for people out biking.

Check out the Old Town Salinas First Fridays Art Walk (831-435-4636) where you’ll be part of scenes like the one below….

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.

John Cerney’s murals are a gift to the community, whether in a public spot like this one off Laurel Drive…

Cerney - Steps to a Healthier Salinas

or in a private setting, like this one at the Monterey County Youth Center.

Cerney mural at Monterey County Youth Center

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.

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.
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 East Salinas or other parts of Monterey County? Please take time to read the “Sidewalks” tips in this site’s California bike laws and personal safety section for specific guidelines.

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.

Salinas Bike Party, a Courteous Social Bike Run

You may have experienced bike parties of all sorts in other cities. Here in Monterey County, SBP is a social bike run. If considered a mass, it’s a Courteous Mass. SBP’s goal is to “get on a bike, have fun,” and to roll in a way that is safe and positive for the entire community.

Salinas Bike Party was among the nation’s bike parties highlighted in journalist Ron Cassie’s story, “Bike Party – a fresh new way to take back the streets,” in the 5/3/13 Grist. (To read Bicycling Monterey’s comment on the story, click here, then scroll down.)

Salinas Bike Party launched August 3, 2012, as reported on Bicycling Monterey. SBP welcomes all types of bicycles–anyone willing to follow Salinas Bike Party rules, including observing traffic laws (e.g., red lights).  Click here to see more scenes from SBP at Bicycling Monterey.

As its first year nears a close, SBP is re-envisioning what it may want to do next. One possibility is meeting up with other riders at a variety of biking activities and locations around the county.

For updates, stay tuned to SBP:  Website, SalinasBikeParty.com; on Twitter, @bikesalinas; Facebook, Salinas Bike Party. Email salinasbikeparty@gmail.com and ask to meetup for coffee to learn more about their goals and vision, or to volunteer to help with a ride, social media, or in other ways.

A family at Creekbridge“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.

Closter Park is undergoing improvements and is site of some cool special events, such as the  Día De Los Muertos Observance organized by Caminos Del Arte’s.

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.”

Salinas schools

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.”

  1. Bardin Elementary
  2. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy
  3. Dr. Oscar F. Lloya Elementary
  4. Kammann School
  5. La Paz Middle School
  6. Madonna Del Sasso
  7. Monterey County Youth Center
  8. Monterey Park Elementary
  9. Palma School
  10. Rancho Cielo
  11. Salinas High
  12. Santa Rita Elementary

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My apologies:

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.

The Bicycling Monterey site and projects are provided as a public service. Volunteers and contributions are welcome and appreciated.

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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 College encourages Alternative Transportation, including biking, with many convenient bicycle racks near campus buildings, and at the main parking area as well.

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

There are many bike commuters in Salinas like Mariah Hutchinson, who uses her bike for economical transportation, as well as to benefit personal health and leave a healthier planet for her children.

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!

James Serrano - Salinas planner

Salinas bike plan(Click on image to enlarge)

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.

IMG_3017 (1024x1010)

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:

 

  1. 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.
  2. Salinas United Business Association
  3. Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce

Salinas PD

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.

Stay in touch with award-winning transportation–and fun!–leader Ciclovia Salinas so you won’t miss the next dates.

TAMC Transportation Excellence Award 2013 to Ciclovia Salinas