ALERT: Car break-ins and thefts have become common in California due to a change in criminal punishments. In “safe neighborhoods” of San Francisco and other major cities any purse, briefcase or backpack left in sight in a parked car on a busy street in broad daylight for even five to ten minutes may be gone when you get back, with the car window shattered. If it’s dark and an isolated area the odds get even worse. Locals have gotten used to always putting everything in their trunks when they park. If you rent a car, be sure it has a trunk or other space where you can hide suitcases etc. It is not as common in Sausalito as in San Francisco and larger cities, but there is nowhere in California where this is not an issue.
Driving in Sausalito
Question: How can you tell the local drivers from the visitors on the streets of Sausalito?
Answer: The locals are the ones obeying the speed limit! — Old Sausalito Proverb
Four local secrets will help you never get lost (or ticketed) in Sausalito
Secret #1: The only way to get anywhere driving in Sausalito is on Bridgeway (pictured above). Almost every restaurant, hotel and other business in town is within two blocks of Bridgeway, the major street that runs all the way from the north end of town to the south. (See Map Below.) Prepare to share the road with bike riders, both locals and the visitors who rent bikes in San Francisco and then ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Sausalito Ferry.
Most of the street’s length is simply labeled “Bridgeway.” At the southern end of town, en route to the Golden Gate Bridge, Bridgeway changes its name several times as it twists at the base of the hill, first to Richardson St. (1/2 block), then 2nd St. (3 blocks), then South St., (2 blocks), then Alexander Ave. (1/4 mile) and finally “The Sausalito Lateral” (2 miles as you approach the Golden Gate Bridge)
Insiders Tip: Don’t worry about the street name changes on Bridgeway as you’re driving in Sausalito. If you just follow the road it will take you the entire length of Sausalito from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Mill Valley border.
Secret #2: If you’re driving in Sausalito and the Bay is on your right, you’re heading North. If the Bay is on your left, you’re heading south. It’s our version of “makai” and “mauka” in Hawaiian!
Secret #3: The speed limits in Sausalito are enforced. In some towns a “25 MPH” sign really means 35 MPH. In Sausalito “25 MPH” means you can get a ticket if you drive much faster than 25 — I’ll leave it up to you to decide how much is too much! If Bridgeway has one lane in each direction and you’re “in town” the speed limit is 25 unless otherwise labeled. If Bridgeway has two lanes it’s 30 close to downtown and 35 farther north. The Sausalito Lateral in Fort Baker has limits as high as 45 mph.
Secret #4: Make sure to yield to pedestrians. The pedestrian right of way laws are enforced aggressively in all of California. On Bridgeway in the downtown area a lot of people step into the street first and look for oncoming cars second, so the local authorities are proactive in trying to prevent a tragedy. Even if a pedestrian has jaywalked foolishly, drivers have to yield to them or get a ticket. The extra enforcement dates back to multiple cases of pedestrians being hit by cars or bikes a few years ago.
Insiders Tip: If you’re riding through town on a bike the guidelines above apply as well. Bikes are routinely ticketed for going through red lights even if no cars are coming, and you have to yield to pedestrians.
Not a Secret: Don’t Drink and Drive. Sausalito Police are very aggressive about drunk driving because we have so many pedestrians and bikes in the streets here and lives are literally at stake. It’s common for Sausalito to be the site of routine CHP traffic stops looking for drunk drivers.