Cycling on the 5 freeway in San Diego

cycling on the freeway

One of the most interesting things about cycling here in San Diego is the fact that it is indeed possible to ride on the I-5 freeway (both northbound and southbound) between UTC and Sorrento Valley. To some this might seem like a really dangerous and stupid thing to do – but for me, it’s a unique experience that I get a kick out of every time I ride it.

To be completely honest, riding a bike on the freeway is not as scary as it sounds. Cyclists know how sketchy (and scary!) riding on the road can be most of the time, but the truth is that this particular stretch of freeway has very wide shoulders and the cars don’t drive by as closely as they do on surface streets. Sure, they are going much faster, but they are much farther away so the sense of danger is highly diminished. Sounds crazy – until you try it!

I recorded a full video of this ride with my GoPro camera mounted to the frame (just behind the handlebars), which you can see here:

5 freeway southbound begins at 14:50, and 5 freeway northbound begins at 43.53. As you can see, the shoulders are generous and the cars whizzing by are far enough away that it’s not any more nerve-racking than riding on a busy surface street around town.

I rode a 20 mile route this morning starting in south UTC, going up Regents and Genessee to I-5 north, then riding up to the Qualcomm campus in Sorrento Valley up Lusk Blvd. (which is a rather nasty climb I might add). On the way back, I rode down Lusk (weeeeeeeeee!), hit I-5 south, then exited on Genessee to Torrey Pines and UCSD. I rode a slight detour around the neighborhood just west of UCSD to look at all the big and fancy houses, then rode back to south UTC via Gilman drive. The freeway portion was (by far) the most fun!

Route map
Route map of this 20 mile ride through San Diego

Unfortunately, riding this stretch of freeway will no longer be possible once they finish all the construction you see in the video. They are adding dedicated bike paths that avoid the freeway altogether, which will be very nice but not as much fun. Ride it while you can!

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