How can I miss traffic on the 101?
November 14, 2011 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Best time to drive from East Bay to Santa Barbara?

Next Tuesday (the 22nd) I am driving from north Oakland to Santa Barbara, mainly down the 101.

The last couple of times I've driven down there, I've hit pretty bad traffic around San Jose, and later around San Luis Obispo, although that's not as bad as in the Bay Area.

What is the best time in the morning to leave in order to miss the worst of the traffic? Sadly I will be driving by myself, so I can't use the HOV lanes.
posted by number9dream to Travel & Transportation around California (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 7:13 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yup, midnight.
posted by radioamy at 7:23 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

craigslist, get a ridesharer, then you can a) use the HOV lanes b) have gas $ c) let someone else drive when the bad traffic is really annoying.

Obviously you're going to want to select the right person to ride with you, but luckily you are in the ridesharing hub of the known universe so you'll have plenty of candidates.
posted by arnicae at 7:43 PM on November 14, 2011

If you're looking for daytime options, I'd leave around 10-11am to get there before the SB rush hour slash dinner.
posted by rhizome at 8:01 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Getting out of Oakland traffic is really your biggest concern. After that it shouldn't be too bad.

If you don't want to go at midnight I'd leave after morning rush hour and you should be through San Jose and well on your way before things get too bad again. I'm surprised you've hit traffic in SLO, but that should still be relatively minor. Coming into SB from the north shouldn't be too bad traffic wise. Although it depends what side of SB you're going to.
posted by whoaali at 8:44 PM on November 14, 2011

the SB rush hour

It's more like a rush minute ... but I like rhizome's proposed timing. It skips all the bad traffic times (but you know ye olde Nimitz is going to suck at any hour of the day). You really really really want to get to Gilroy before 3PM.

Once you get past Salinas it's smooth sailing. There's always a slowdown in Pismo but that will pass. Drive safe, and check and before leaving!
posted by zomg at 8:47 PM on November 14, 2011

You could get one of these.
posted by bz at 8:56 PM on November 14, 2011

Oh, I'd go Bay Bridge -> 280 -> 85 -> Gilroy 101. Both 880 and Peninsula 101 suck all day every day.
posted by rhizome at 9:08 PM on November 14, 2011

Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of leaving at 2pm. I did this the one time I left from the East Bay, and the traffic is awful, even then. I like the idea of heading out just after morning rush hour, which has always been pleasant for me when leaving from San Francisco.
posted by kdar at 10:30 AM on November 15, 2011

rhizome: I've found the Bay Bridge to be way more sucky than 880 because of its unpredictability. (90 minutes from the toll plaza to Fremont Street at 11 AM!) Plus you have to pay a toll.

And I think if you're leaving from North Oakland then you can start even earlier than 10 and still miss most of the bad backups on 880.
posted by clorox at 1:26 PM on November 15, 2011

Even so, I would take 580 -> Palomares, even -> 680, or 24 -> 680 before taking 880 all the way to San Jose. Horrors!
posted by rhizome at 1:59 PM on November 15, 2011

I would leave just a little earlier than rhizome suggests in order to have early lunch in SLO. Though I disagree about taking 280 to avoid 880- 880 is 25 miles shorter and lacks a toll plaza, saving at least 20 minutes minimum. Use to check traffic before you leave. It shouldn't be too bad once most people have arrived at work. If you really don't want to deal with 880, 24 to 680 is about the same length as the Bay Bridge to 101, and shorter than the BB to 880.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:30 PM on November 15, 2011

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