Rules of the Road (or some tips, at least)
- Pedestrians pretty much always have the right-of-way, especially in downtown Santa Cruz/Pacific avenue.
- If you're running late and looking for a shortcut, DON'T. If you're not very familiar with the area you're in, it's better to stay on a path you know than risk being an extra hour late due to getting stuck on several one way streets behind a parade (this has happened to the initial author of this page). Explore unknown areas when you have time to spare.
Things that Go "Bump" in the Night (and day)
- Pedestrians. Jaywalking is common in town. Remember that you're not in SoCal anymore- you are not justified in running over a pedestrian that walks out in front of your car. Just take a deep breath and wait for the person to cross.
- Cyclists and Skateboarders. Unfortunately, the city is lacking suitable bike lanes on many major streets, and there are signs alerting drivers that cyclists may use the entire righthand car lane when there is no sanctioned bike path. There are also bike lanes that simply drop off without notice (like on Bay street when approaching Mission) and bike lanes which are also designated vehicle parking spaces, which tends to defeat the purpose of having a safe place for cyclists to ride in. Skateboarders tend to ride on the sidewalks, but it isn't rare to see skateboarders on the street. The best advice here is just to give cyclists and skateboarders space when you can- get over into the the leftmost lane, slow down when approaching cyclists/boarders on a narrow street, etc. Your driving is much more dangerous for them than it is for you.
- Speed bumps, "humps", tables and the like. Despite the fact that the city roads tend to have many "naturally occurring" road protrusions and undulations, the city feels the need to place them every hundred feet or so in many residential neighborhoods. This will generally prevent cars from going over 25 MPH, thus preventing small children from ending up all over your windshield, which is a good thing. Just be aware that speed bumps are the norm here, and keep an eye out for them so you don't gash the front of your car on the pavement.
- Deer, raccoons and other critters. This is especially relevant on the UCSC campus and in the Santa Cruz mountains, where said critters tend to reside. If a deer runs out in front of your car, you'll have to make the split-second decision of whether to a) swerve off the road or into the other lane, thus possibly causing a whole array of problems, b) brake as hard as you can, possibly causing a driver behind you to rear-end your vehicle, or c) mow the poor thing down (we know you didn't mean to), pull over and call animal services.
Places/Areas to Avoid while Driving (if you can)
- During rush hour, avoid major streets— like Mission, Bay, Water, Soquel, and Ocean— since these tend to be quite congested. The same goes for Highways 1 and 17. Cycling in town during rush hour tends to be faster than driving.
- The streets directly surrounding and parallel to the Boardwalk. This is especially true during the summer, when tourism is at it's peak. If you drive here, be especially careful to look out for children running out in the road.
- The central area of the UCSC campus, especially right before classes are in session (usually about 5 to 10 minutes before the hour) and right after they let out (usually at 9:10, 10:40, 12:10, 1:40, etc on MWF, 9:45, 11:45, 1:45 etc on TTH). You can get stuck at an intersection for far too long due to the steady stream of unyielding students on foot.
- Pacific Avenue. It is very unlikely you will find parking on this street. Plus, some parts of the street are one-way only— and sometimes in opposite directions. You will be stuck on this street forever behind pedestrian traffic, so don't bother.
- There are several public lots where parking is available. Some lots are 3-hour limits (generally no cost), all day parking (generally for a fee) and permit parking (don't park here unless you have a permit). Visit the website for a list of lots and prices.
- Metered parking costs 25 cents for 30 minutes, 2 hour limit.
- Many residential neighborhoods require a special permit in order to park for a long period of time. For the most part, if you don't have a permit, you can park for usually 2 hours or so before having to move your vehicle, but check signs to be certain of what regulations are in effect in any particular area.
Area Around the Base of UCSC
- Most of the parking around the base of campus is 2 hour limit between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm. At the end of High street, the limit is 4 hours, but this area is far enough away to be a substantial hike to campus. The neighborhood behind 7-11 allows no street parking between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm, but after 2, parking is unrestricted. Parking in the lot for the 7-11, Surf City Suds, and Hillel is for CUSTOMERS ONLY and they have been known to tow vehicles that stick around for too long.
- Parking on campus can be a pain, not to mention expensive. Day permits for the remote lots are $3.50. Metered parking is 25 cents for 10 minutes ($1.50 an hour) and has a 2 hour limit. Week, month, and year permits are available from TAPS, but generally year-long permits must be ordered in advance and are only available to returning students.
Visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/road_information.htm for road construction projects by Caltrans.