7 Things I Loved about Living & Bicycling in Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, & Redwood City, CA

Big and little bicyclists in Palo Alto

bicyclist caltrain conductor

Following up on my posts about what I loved about living and bicycling in Sarasota, FL and Chapel Hill-Carrboro, NC, here are 7 things I loved about living and bicycling in Northern California. In the middle of graduate school, I lived in Sunnyvale for a summer, worked in Redwood City, and did most of my grocery shopping in Palo Alto. So, despite being 3 different places, they were sort of one place to me and I’m combining them all for this.

  1. The weather: the weather is hard to beat in Northern California. Don’t know if I’ve been in a place with better weather. When I got out there and realized that it could be super sunny (like in Florida) but not insanely humid and hot, I thought, “why in the heck do people move to Florida?”
  2. Commuter trains with bike cars: This was another first for me — awesome commuter trains (CalTrain) with full cars for bikers. Wonderful!
  3. Palo Alto’s awesome bicycle infrastructure: Palo Alto is one of the best cities in the country for bicycling, and especially bicycle infrastructure. It’s got wonderful bike-only roads or paths, plenty of bike lanes and bike parking, and great short-cuts or cut-throughs connecting neighborhoods and streets for bicyclists and not cars. Good stuff.
  4. Palo Alto’s narrow tree-lined streets: In addition to the bicycle infrastructure, like Chapel Hill, Palo Alto has some beautiful streets with large, old tree canopies overhead. A few streets and the trees overhead, in particular, still vividly stick in my mind and make me yearn to bicycle there again.
  5. Other biker’s: Palo Alto, last I checked had a bicycle commute rate of 6%. Not a lot compared to some European cities, but ahead of the pack in the U.S., and it was obvious. There were bikers everywhere. There were also ‘a lot’ of bikers on the commuter trains between San Jose & San Francisco. Wonderful to be around all those other bicyclists.
  6. You can bike from city to city: Unlike sprawling Florida, sprawling Northern California was a little better in that you could actually bike along nice bikeways or bicycle-friendly roads from one city to another if you chose. I don’t remember how much I actually did so, but remember bicycling from one city (i.e. Mountain View) to another (i.e. Sunnyvale) a few times.
  7. Getting off the train and leaving the train station parking lot in Sunnyvale: I loved getting off the train and bicycling out of the parking lot because of all the other bicyclists and pedestrians who were always there doing the same. It was busy, but busy in a good way, with maybe just a few cars and a ton of pedestrians and bicyclists.

Well, those are the 7 things I loved about bicycling in Silicon Valley and a little north of it. Live or lived in this area? More things you love about it? Or dislike about it? (I can’t really think of anything I disliked about bicycling there.)

Related Stories:

  1. Living & Biking in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, NC (10 Things I Loved)
  2. 10 Things I Loved about Living & Bicycling in Sarasota, Florida
  3. #3 Portland, Oregon (USA): Great Bicycle City Photo Tour
  4. #4 Copenhagen, Denmark: Great Bicycle City Photo Tour
  5. #6 Groningen, Netherlands: Great Bicycle City Photo Tour

Photos via richardmasoner