11 Great Tips (+4 more) for Your Sausalito Bike Ride
1. It’s Like Hawaii –All Routes Offer Great Views: Whether you come across the Golden Gate Bridge from the south or take the bayside route from Mill Valley and Tiburon via the Mill Valley-Sausalito Multi-Use Path, mother nature and San Francisco will both be showing off and providing great views all along your Sausalito bike ride.
2. You have the same navigation aids as in Hawaii, where Mauka means “mountain side” and Makai means “ocean side.” In Sausalito, if the Bay is on your right and the steep hills are on your left, you’re heading north. If the Bay is on your left, you’re heading south.
3. You Can Ride the Waves Back to San Francisco: Cross the Golden Gate, and then after your Sausalito bike ride you can take the Sausalito Ferry back to San Francisco. Your bicycle rides with you on the boat. Reserve bike passes on the Ferry ahead of time for commute hour Ferry rides because they do fill up quickly. Bikers with reservation tokens will be given priority over walk-ups to board the Ferry with their bikes.
4. You’ll be Hungry and Sausalito Will be Ready: There are lots of cafes and restaurants that welcome Sausalito bike riders and have sidewalk seating, and where you can sit inside or outside and feel comfortable.
5. Instead of turf and surf you can do ride and row. If you’re looking for a change of pace, you can add a stop to your ride and go kayaking in Sausalito. You can easily rent everything you need.
6. Take the Modern (Safer) Route from the Golden Gate Bridge: In 2014 the GGNRA opened a safer new bike and pedestrian route from the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, allowing you to avoid the narrow road, fast cars and heavy traffic on the Sausalito Lateral that connects Highway 101 to the southern end of town. The rider in the video at the top of the page (at about the 5:45 point) is shown this route for the first time on his ride and is thrilled by the views and the limited traffic.
And… the intersection of Bridgeway and Gate 6 1/2 Road at the north end of town has been redesigned to facilitate bike traffic. There are also bike lanes or medians on much of Bridgeway (though not everywhere), and lots of places to park and lock your bike, especially in downtown Sausalito.
7. You can Keep Going to Mill Valley and Tiburon. Although Sausalito is my favorite spot to hang out, I recognize that not everyone agrees with me despite the fact that my observations are always brilliant. Hence Marin County’s development of the Mill Valley-Sausalito Multi-Use Path. You can read about it on our page on riding north to Mill Valley and Tiburon — at which point you may realize you’d really rather be here in Sausalito and turn back. Or you could take the Tiburon ferry back to San Francisco.
8. There are Places to Stop and Enjoy the View: Apart from some dramatic Sausalito view restaurants, beautiful bay-side benches are positioned in multiple places where you can sit and rest, hydrate or eat during your Sausalito bike ride. Some of the most spectacular are along the Bridgeway Promenade (the location where I took the photo above).
9. We have four different bike shops in town, each with its own specialty and target audience. Two of the three traditional bike shops also do repairs, which is important since so many people ride these streets.
10. There are More Bike Parking Spots Than a Few Years Ago: Downtown bike parking is expanded from March through mid-October (apart from during the pandemic), and there are lots of space to lock your bike in a rack in a spot where crowds of people are around to discourage bike thieves.
11. Sausalito Bike Riders Welcome: Although traffic laws are enforced for both bikes and cars due to the crowds (be sure to yield to pedestrians), Sausalito Police and local event organizers are bike-friendly. Cars making unsafe maneuvers around bike riders can get tickets. The SPD has offered joint training events with the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and the Sausalito Art Festival featured free bike valet parking. You’ll see officers patrolling downtown on their bikes, and as riders in their off-duty hours they understand the issues that affect your ride.
4 More Local Insider Tips
Local Bay Area riders know these basics of life in this region, but for visitors to the area these suggestions will be useful:
1. Dress in layers and stay hydrated. Perceived temperatures can move 20 degrees up or down in minutes on the Golden Gate Bridge and in the portions of the Marin Headlands that face the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, and the fog can arrive or disappear unexpectedly. Add in the wind chill effect from the speed of your bike and it’s easy to feel like a popsicle or a corn dog if you don’t have the right layers of clothing to add or subtract.
2. Allow time. We constantly hear about people who intend to do Sausalito bike rides without stopping here, then wish they had time to take a break in town and enjoy the food, art, views or shops.
3. Lock your bike. All the high-price bikes draw low-life thieves. This is now true almost everywhere in California, so take care to lock your bike, take your front wheel etc. even when you park your bike “someplace safe where lots of people would see it if a thief tried to take it.”
4. Know the dangerous choke points where cars or less experienced riders can veer unexpectedly and accidents happen. We cover most of these in our page on riding the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. Assume that downtown Sausalito bike rides will encounter streets crowded with pedestrians (not to mention cars) and that patience will be required to get through those few blocks. If you’re looking for a consistent-pace route where you can progressively measure and improve your times, the crowding in the core two miles of Sausalito’s only through-route makes the town a poor choice.