Frontage Roads

The San Diego landscape is pocked with canyons and hollows that stop roads before they can connect more than few miles of a mesa top. That’s one reason why four-laners and freeways, that follow the bottoms of valleys, carry so much traffic. In fact, it can be hard to go any distance without travelling a freeway corridor.

This sucks for me, San Diego’s fearless bike commuter, because even I don’t have the balls to take a bike on Interstate 8. But thankfully I’ve discovered frontage roads.

It’s not much of a discovery because we all know of them. That’s where you end up when you take the Mission Road exit. They’re usually lined with suburban office buildings or stripmalls. Once you end up on one of these roads in a car you try to get off it as quick as possible.

But for a bike, they are a great way to go. Because cars avoid them, you rarely confront heavy dangerous traffic. You can move fast. They’re pretty flat and that reduces the physical stress. It only sucks when you have to cross a freeway to continue on the opposite frontage road, which means wading into roads full of cars that are bound for the freeway onramps.

The other day, I actually rode my bike all the way the Midway District for an appointment. It was about 12 miles. It took an hour and my underestimation of travel time made me 20 minutes late.  But hey… I got there. I traveled the I-8 corridor nearly the entire way and I didn’t feel like I had put myself in the hands of God. Thanks to the frontage road.

Making a place a good place to ride a bike takes time, and in San Diego it’s moving pretty goddamn slow. If gas remains cheap we may never get there. But I’m trying to do my bit. Cars have to see some bikes out there if we want them to think they don’t own the roads.

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