Highway 17

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Saturday, May 16, 2009
By Yokota Fritz


California State Route 17 is the main route connecting Santa Cruz with San Jose. During the week there are something like 38,000 trips across the Santa Cruz Mountains on Highway 17. As I type this on Saturday morning where we have an expected high of 98°F today, I'm sure Highway 17 is bumper to bumper with beach traffic.

I hooked up a GoPro HERO Wide Camera to my bicycle handlebar, put my bike on the Highway 17 commuter express bus and turned the camera on. Partly because of the image stabilization software but mostly because of the wide angle view, the bus's bouncing up and down on the highway isn't too bad. Music by Santa Cruz singer Michael Gaither.



Because SR17 is designated a County Expressway between Los Gatos and Scotts Valley, bicycles are technically permitted on this highway. Except for a short stretch near Lexington Reservoir, I always take an alternate route and I don't recommend biking on Highway 17.


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Comments:
One day I decided to bike down Hwy 17 from Bear Creek Road down into Los Gatos. It was during the early evening and all the traffic was on the other side of the road heading back to Santa Cruz.

As a descent it was pretty fun, but I wouldn't do it again. Several cars were definitely surprised to see a cyclist bombing down at 45+mph on the hill. The scariest part was making sure I made it across the lanes to the left side exit that drops you into Los Gatos.
 
i've only driven on this highway once. my main impression was the amazing high speeds attained by other drivers, coupled with the large number of impact marks on the center divider on every single turn. nutcases. any idea on accident and fatality statistics?
 
Thanks Jessi.

Manley: Yikes! The part I'd be worried about is where you lose the shoulder north of the dam, where the road curves to the right.

Doug: Those impact craters on the center divider are something else, aren't they? The side of the road is covered with car parts also - fenders, broken glass, license plates, etc. Highway 17 once had a reputation as one of the most dangerous highways in California. The safety has improved considerably after the center medians were added and CHP began intense patrols, but you can still count on somebody spinning out several times a week.
 
I hate 17. I will take the extra time a drive on 1. Yuck, yuck and yuck!

Love the song!
 
I wish they would spend some of that Stimulus package to pave the Los Gatos Creek trail below Lexington. That is the only way for walkers nad cyclists to get over the hill.
 
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