Newt crossing a sign of the times

Is this a joke? About as funny as those defaced bike signs: “Share the Love”

It was not more than a minute or two after passing a smashed newt — flat as a pancake — while climbing Alpine Road that I came across an oh-so-cute “Newt Xing” sign.

A lot of good it did that poor fellow back there on the road.

Ever since the San Jose Mercury News published a feature about a scientist who is documenting the newt slaughter that takes place annually on Alma Bridge Road (and elsewhere), these signs have been springing up.

I’m told there is now a sign — like this one I presume — on Alma Bridge Road.

I’m not sure who’s behind the effort, but I question its efficacy. It’s well intentioned, but what is a driver supposed to do?

Newts don’t wear reflective vests in the dark. That’s probably when most of them meet their fate. Can’t we think of a better way than posting a silly sign?

It turns out Caltrans is working on it. So give it another 20 years before we have a plan.

Another sign that rankled just about as much is the San Mateo County warning for bikes: “Loose Gravel Bicycles Not Advised”.

I think it’s safe to take down these signs now.

I’m guessing Alpine Road and Stage Road were graveled about a year ago, or longer. There isn’t any gravel to speak of, except small patches on the roadside where wheels never tread.

When there is fresh gravel, watch out. I avoid freshly graveled roads when possible.

Although I used to think that traffic in the Santa Cruz Mountains wasn’t different on a weekday compared to a Sunday, I’m changing my mind. There’s way less traffic on a weekday, but that only applies to the west slope.

Stage Road lovely as always.

I’ve seen my share of drivers hurrying to work coming down Page Mill Road, Moody Road, you name it.

On my way into Pescadero I saw seven enormous tour buses blast by on Pescadero Creek Road, most of them chartered by Sierra Pacific Tours.

I wish they’d find a different road, like Highway 84. Pescadero Creek Road is too narrow for those giant tour buses.

One of these days the new Loma Mar Store will open. Jobst Brandt and friends always stopped there for food and drink on the way to far-off destinations.

It doesn’t have the funky charm of the old store, but new Loma Mar Store opening will be a momentous occasion for the locals.

Loma Mar Store November 1984 during “Bike Pile Ride.” Bob Walmsley, John Woodfill (wearing Bell), Bill Robertson, Dave McLaughlin, Sterling McBride, Tom Ritchey, Tom Holmes, Jim Westby, Jean Higgins, Mike Higgins, Ray Hosler (Jobst Brandt photo)

Meanwhile, sleepy Pescadero has an ATM machine and a new bank. At least I don’t recall seeing one.

Bike pile ride Nov. 4, 1984. Early mountain bikers join Jobst riders. Butano Ridge Trail.

This had to be the best day of the year so far for weather. No that was last weekend. Two weeks in a row. Delightful.

Stage Road overlook after the first climb going north. Breathtaking.

2 Responses to “Newt crossing a sign of the times”

  1. jamesRides Says:

    Make sure to get a photo of the official Caltrans Newt Crossing signs on Alma Bridge road.

    Loose Gravel – Bikes not Advised – I think these can be worthwhile. I’ve seen a lot of riders with excellent downhill skills take Alpine west at very high speeds. For these guys it only takes one or two loose pieces of gravel in the wrong place before they turn into something that looks like a squashed newt.

    Unfortunately, in the case of Alpine west, they put the sign at the intersection of Alpine and Portola State park access road in the direction of riding up. So it doesn’t help the downhill riders in this case. And, if you are riding up Alpine west and you get to this intersection, you see the sign, and think, “Gee should I turn around?” No way!

    For Old La Honda road, west, that road is still fairly gravely, but I haven’t seen the pro-level descenders on that road. The sign is in the right place though!

    For weekend rides in Santa Cruz mountains: Eureka Canyon, Zayante, and Tunitas are still very quiet. Old Santa Cruz, Montebello, Page Mill, aren’t too bad. Maybe a blog post “Best roads (or loops) for weekend rides?

  2. Jon Blum Says:

    I photographed a “NEWT XING” sign in Tilden Park in 2016. It is right under a pedestrian crossing sign, and adjacent to it, on the pavement, is a horse crossing sign. Probably a good spot to be generally careful!

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