Riding a bicycle on California Route 17 over the Santa Cruz Mountains is legal between Los Gatos and Scotts Valley, but in no way do I recommend trying to share the road on this highway. You’re sharing the road with very heavy high speed traffic which is often moving well beyond the 50 mph speed limit. There are significant stretches with no shoulder and sketchy road edges; many of these narrow lanes are around blind curves.
Even the most aggressively hard core of lane taking vehicular cyclists in the Bay Area will tell you to avoid Highway 17 and take alternate routes. I occasionally see cyclists between Bear Creek Road along Lexington Reservoir and Highway 9 in Los Gatos, but even here I strongly recommend the Los Gatos Greek Trail to Alma Bridge Road to the dirt trail to Old Santa Cruz Highway. As I type this on the northbound Hwy 17 bus we just passed a cyclist pulling a trailer by The Cats.
The cyclists I most often see on 17 seem to be loaded for touring. Is there a bike touring map or guide somewhere that says to take 17 to Santa Cruz?
I saw a report of a bicyclist last night during rush hour of a cyclist on southbound 17. Here are the CHP dispatches:
5:33PM BICYCLIST ON RHS, APPEARS SCARED, IN BAD SPOT
5:33PM FSP17 ADV SUBJ IS IN BAD SPOT
6:20PM FSP17 L/L SVPD 10-97 W/FSP SVPD REQ ETA
6:40PM 17B / PROVIDING TFC BREAK TO ASSIST BICYCLIST TO NEXT TURN OUT
6:41PM 17B / REQ FSP RUN BREAK AT VINE HILL
“FSP17″ is the courtesy towing service, SVPD is the Scotts Valley Police Department, Vine Hill Road is on the final downhill into Scotts Valley, where the speed limit is 65 MPH and there’s little to no shoulder. The Scotts Valley PD ended up providing an escort to the cyclist to the Granite Creek Road exit.
Avoid Highway 17 on your bike. Take Old Santa Cruz Highway instead, or ride the Highway 17 bus.