Safe bicycle riding in Stockton and San Joaquin County (Bike Fest is this Saturday, Sept. 27)


Downtown Stockton's waterfront is the destination as these cyclists depart UOP campus at the 2013 Bike Fest.

Riders, young and old, prepare for fun cylcing at UOP last year.
Three women prepare for the 2013 San Joaquin Bike Fest.

An estimated 2/3s of our county residents have one or more bikes stored at home.  Many are dusty and in disuse; why, you might wonder?  The biggest concern in a recent poll of current and potential riders is “where can I safely ride in our city for fun and exercise”?

On September 16, a new state law went into effect requiring vehicles to give bikes in the same lane a three foot buffer when passing, Violators can be fined $35 for an infraction, and, If a cyclist is hit due to a violation, the fine increases to well over $233; court costs can add hundreds more.  This new law does not automatically make the streets safer, but in other states with similar laws and education shared with drivers and law enforcement it has helped avoid close calls and reduced accidents. 

Many already realize that Stockton and San Joaquin County are close to a bicyclist’s dream! Our cities and county offer many cycling benefits; lovely weather almost year-round, few hills, a variety of safe and scenic routes to flex those leg muscles and several clubs that cater to new and veteran cyclists!

Whether it is riding on quiet Lodi-Woodbridge roads through vineyards, biking through quaint tree-lined Stockton streets to the historic downtown waterfront, or cycling along Manteca’s paved biking trail that offers a bridge that crosses the Stanislaus River into our neighboring county – cyclists rate San Joaquin County as a solid biking destination and one with even greater potential for the future.

The north end of the county offers tours of over 80 wineries to the west, east and north of Lodi – and downtown Lodi and Woodbridge offer a host of places to stop for a beverage or for lunch along the way.  Many of Stockton’s rides are anchored by the University of Pacific campus, which is blessed with the Calaveras Bike Trail running east and west through UOP’s north side.  The quaint Miracle Mile is a marvelous place to peddle to on Stockton’s sunny weekends.  Manteca and Tracy also offer special bike trails with a number of options to start, finish and take a biking break, mid-ride.

Some might wonder about safety of cycling on city streets.  A couple of tips: Always anticipate that drivers don’t see you – ride defensively.  Follow the laws, and ride with traffic, not on sidewalks or against traffic.  Wear the brightest colors you can find – day-glo yellow, red or orange.

Invest in a rear-view mirror for about $20 – mine offers me peace-of-mind as I can see drivers approaching from the rear.  And, study city maps to determine the safest routes.  For Stockton, see the city’s web site with a downloadable map profiling current and planned bike trails and routes.

I originally got tips from the Stockton Bike Club as to how to ride north and south in the city; my route to downtown winds through University of Pacific’s lovely campus, goes south on Kensington and Baker to the waterfront.  It’s a pretty ride, on quiet and historic residential streets – typical of rides in other county cities for folks willing to explore safe routes.

The San Joaquin Bike Coalition offers monthly rides that tour both the city and the county; on the first Saturday each month is an LSD (“long, slow distance”) Ride, which offers short and longer tours of varied portions of the county.  The organization also offers a shorter Family Ride on second Saturdays, designed for families with kids and more novice riders – those without group-riding experience.  For details, go to the Bike Coalition’s Facebook page,

A special event is coming soon; the ‘San Joaquin Bike Fest’, on Saturday, September 27, 9 AM to 2 PM at University of Pacific (formerly the ‘Bike and Hike to End Hunger’)!  It’s your opportunity to tour both the Calaveras Bike Trail’s West and East routes and a scenic and historic route to the downtown waterfront.  Bike Coalition members will act as tour guides on these flat, non-competitive rides. 

Kari McNickle, Vice Chair of the SJ Bike Coalition, adds “Join hundreds of families and singles for this fun, family tradition; three scenic bicycle routes begin and end at the University, offering choices of routes from 6.5miles, 7.5 miles and 9.5 miles (link them all for a 25 mile ride).  A Kid’s Safety Village and short “activities course” will make a fun diversion for kids from 2 years and up, as well as novice riders”!

The Bike Fest jazzes up the rides by offering music by ‘Pushers and Thieves’, good food and soft drinks to all participants. A beer garden, offering beer by Stockton’s Abbey Trappist Pub, and classic bikes makes the Bike Fest event a lively, family tradition. 

Registration opens at 7 AM; rides begin at 9 and 9:30 AM and music, food and the beer garden will be ready for fun and lively action at 11 AM; the event concludes at 2:00 PM.  Proceeds support the Emergency Food Bank’s nutrition programs and the educational programs of the San Joaquin Bicycle Coalition; participants help end hunger in Stockton & San Joaquin County, and, educate motorists and cyclists about safe bike travel!

For more information on the Sept. 27 San Joaquin Bike Festival, go to  Register in person on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 25 or 26, Noon to 6 PM at Fleet Feet-Lincoln Center, register on-line at, or call (209) 969.3875. 

For insight into the San Joaquin Bike Coalition and their monthly rides and activities, go to their Facebook page,  For info on the Stockton Bike Club, go to  For Stockton Bike Route maps go to:

Happy and safe peddling!

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