Cycling in Sacramento, California

by Aaron Charles

"This area breeds cyclists," says the book, "Northern California: An Explorer's Guide," about the Sacramento area. And it breeds a decent variety of cyclists too. Whether it's commuting, racing or riding for fun, anyone with a bicycle and a two-wheeled sense of adventure will find plenty of cycling opportunities in Sacramento.

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Commuting

A national survey published in "American Bicyclist" magazine in 2010 featured Sacramento as the fourth-ranked bicycle commuting city in the U.S., behind Portland, Oregon; Minneapolis; and Seattle. According to the Sacramento Management Association, the city plans to spend 1.4 billion on facilities for those who get around in nontraditional ways, including bicyclists. The area's public transit system also supports commuting bicyclists, with buses and light rail equipped to carry bicycles safely. Sacramento also has bike lockers spread throughout the city if you wish to store your bike while at work or at school, or while exploring the city.

Trails

If you are not content with traveling city streets, Sacramento also has trails that take riders through both town and country. Three popular trails are the American River Bike Trail, the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail and the trail around Lake Natomas. The American River Bike Trail in particular offers plenty of variety. It's a 32-mile paved stretch from Old Town Sacramento to Folsom Lake. While numerous facilities such as bathrooms and picnic areas dot the trail, there are also opportunities to soak in the natural world amid the abundant foliage and bird life. For mountain bikers, there's an off-road trail weaving around the grounds of the historic Folsom Prison. Beyond these, the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA) organization lists additional trails for mountain bikers as well as cyclo-cross riders.

Clubs

The people you'll meet in Sacramento's cycling clubs will propel you even further in your cycling adventures. SABA provides information about the area's various clubs, including groups supporting recumbent, road, cyclo-cross and mountain bike riders. Commuters who would prefer not to ride alone on their commutes can register with the Bike Buddy program. The program teams together riders by region and gives lesser experienced bicyclists a chance to learn the roads by accompanying more experienced riders. Those interested in the Bike Buddy program can dial 511 to get started with registration.

Laws

Places to go on your bike and people to ride with should be complemented by a correct understanding of local cycling laws. For example, while cyclists mostly have free range on the city's streets and trails, no rider may ride a bicycle on any sidewalk within a business district, unless specifically authorized to do so. Riders can also view the Sacramento Bicycle Commute Guide online for free; it covers the rules of the road for the area.

About the Author

Aaron Charles began writing about "pragmatic art" in 2006 for an online arts journal based in Minneapolis, Minn. After working for telecom giant Comcast and traveling to Oregon, he's written business and technology articles for both online and print publications, including Salon.com and "The Portland Upside."

Photo Credits

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