Fremont moves to ban trucks from Niles Canyon Road

On Tuesday, the City Council will be asked to approve $30,000 (in money from a regional bond measure) to begin the process of outlawing trucks on Niles Canyon Road.

If you recall, Caltrans, citing safety concerns, wants to widen the road from Fremont to Sunol and build lots of retaining walls. Fremont voiced opposition to the plan and proposed a truck ban, since trucks were involved in38 percent of collisions.

Caltrans hasn’t responded to the city’s letter lambasting the state agency’s plan for Niles Canyon Road. According to a city staff report:

Caltrans has recently communicated to staff that they are exploring alternatives to reduce the visual impacts of the roadway widening by using different retaining wall techniques and treatments, and analyzing other construction options that could reduce the number of retaining walls needed. They have not indicated whether they are considering reducing the amount of roadway widening though the canyon, as the city requested in its letter.

Matt Artz


  1. Absolutely. Trucks don’t belong on a twist canyon road, and widening the road will destroy the canyon’s beauty. Plus, going down the 680 to Mission Blvd. is probably faster for most trucks.

  2. I agree, trucks do not belong on Niles Canyon Rd.
    I also believe that the road needs widening and some of the blind curves eliminated.
    I have seen people killed on this road, not once but twice. Through out the years many people have been killed on the Niles Canyon Road.
    I choose people and safety over a few Oak Trees. I wonder how many of the people opposing this will attend the next funeral over someone being killed on Niles Canyon Road

  3. Some roads should never be “improved” and Niles Canyon is one of them! Ban trucks and drive at safe speeds and enjoy the scenery!!

  4. Now if only we could somehow convince people it is actually more important to look at the road instead of their iPhone…

  5. Hmmm . ..

    Curious choice of datums here –

    Why are we citing the fact that trucks are “involved” in 38% of all accidents – — as opposed to citing the percentage of trucks that are determined to be the “cause” of all accidents ?

    I can readily imagine that trucks in the canyon frustrate drivers – perhaps to the point of encouraging a few morons to attempt a pass.


    I can also imagine that trucks in the oncoming lane, leave me less room to screw up when I take a corner a little too quickly . . .

    SO – trucks end up being “involved” – but, aren’t necessarilly the cause.

    The correct piece of substantiating data here is the percentage of trucks over a certain weight (not pickups) which are the *cause* of accidents in the canyon and how that percentage differs from the percentage that the same definition of trucks comprises of the total Nile vehicle population.

    From the claim as reported above, you dont know whether Trucks are a safety problem in the Niles canyon or not . . .

    Hopefully something is just lost in the translation but, if not, this is another example of good intentions misguided by useless data – and our City Council not paying attention to the details.

  6. Bbox,

    If trucks are in 38% of accidents, they’re definitely a contributing factor when considering that they make up much smaller than 38% of traffic in the canyon. You should change your name to “Contrarian”.

  7. The main reason for accidents in Niles Canyon is the road is to narrow, blind curves, poor visibility at night.
    Cal Trans has accepted the responsibility of fixing some of the problems that now exist.
    Some people are upset that they want to make the road safer, it will cause some oak Trees to be eliminated.
    You tell me what is more important, Peoples lives or a few Oak Trees can be easily replaced. Peoples lives are impossible to replace!!!!

  8. There is a logical inconsistency in the comment made by Californiaguy (comment 8). Both oak trees and humans are biological. Oak trees can be replaced by growing new ones from acorns. Humans can be replaced by birth. Or, if the life of an individual human is impossible to replace, then the life of an individual oak tree is also impossible to replace. That is, all organisms play by the same basic rules, and it is we humans who place different values on different organisms.

  9. No, Jon – if you are interested in eliminating the *causes* of accidents, you start with data about *causes*.

    If you are willing to take action and expend resources based solely on contributing factors you infer MIGHT also be *causes* – you would be correct.

    The latter is bad science amd bad managenment.

    But the greater question now becomes – – – why would YOU (or anyone else) want to argue against getting the CORRECT information ???? It undoubtedly exists – – – but, perhaps (just maybe) – it doesnt support a position you’d really like to grind ????

  10. Let’s see if I have this right:
    Trucks were involved in 38% of the accidents on Niles Canyon.
    1)How many of these accidents did trucks cause ?
    2)What about the 62% of accidents which involved cars and motorcycles ?
    I’m not a truck driver but it seems to me that if cars and motorcycles are involved in 62% of the accidents on Niles Canyon maybe they ought to be banned, then naturally the accidents involving trucks would probably be reduced.
    PS: driving Niles Canyon at night is no problem….if you turn on your headlights !!!!!!!

  11. I agree that trucks should not be allowed to travel on Niles Canyon Road. I think a lot of them take the road to bypass the Truck Scales on 680. But, I also think that bicyclists should not be allowed. For some reason, they refuse to ride single file and instead ride side by side which creates a whole new scenario for an accident to occur.
    They also need to make the traffic flow move a bit easier at the end of the Canyon Road in the Sunol area. Traffic backs up and then people take the one exit that takes them through the town and try to enter at that intersection before the end.
    A new bike path would be a great addition, but the way the economy is right now, they need to correct the immediate safety issues first.

  12. You could remove every curve, every bend, every tree and still the brain-dead operators of moving vehicles would find a way to kill themselves and others. Look at the stats for Hwy. 37 from Vallejo to Novato. Straight as an arrow, not a tree in sight and it’s still a very dangerous road. Leave the Oak trees alone. We have too many people and too few Oak trees.

  13. The main reason for accidents in Niles Canyon is the road is to narrow, blind curves, poor visibility at night.
    Cal Trans has accepted the responsibility of fixing some of the problems that now exist.
    Some people are upset that they want to make the road safer, it will cause some oak Trees to be eliminated.
    You tell me what is more important, Peoples lives or a few Oak Trees
    I omited the last line for Paul #9

  14. I remember a skit by “Galliger”(? spelling) about every driver having a dart gun that would shoot “stupid darts” and when a car had several “stupid darts” on it the police would then pull the driver over and give the driver a ticket for being “stupid”.

    I doubt any “oak trees” would have “stupid darts” stuck to it.

    I have NEVER had a problem driving Niles Canyon (in my car or on my motorcycle). Each lane is probably 12′ wide……and it’s considered narrow ??? For what, a battleship ?

    Blind curves ??? Where ??? If you practice “looking through” the corner while driving, making the turn is a basic driving skill that most drivers perform daily without issues.

    Poor visibility at night ??? That what your headlights are for, and if needed and/or possible use your high beams.

    38% of the accidents “involved” trucks…the remainding 62% involved “cars and motorcycles”

    The supposed reasons for changing Niles Canyon just don’t add up.

  15. Unless you are visually impaired or drunk, Niles Canyon Road is not a difficult road to navigate IF you are driving the speed limit and paying attention.

    That goes for any road. The Highway 37 comparison is a good one. That is long and straight and is well known for being a particularly deadly road. I think Highway 4 (or is it 12?) has quite a few head on crashes and the same goes for that one – very straight.

    I’ve been driving Niles Canyon Road since I had a learner’s permit. It’s not too narrow. It is a mildly windy two lane road. It even has the rumble strip down the middle now. It makes no sense to spend money to widen the road even further.

  16. Jen, The problem is not the drivers that are following speed limit and is paying attention.
    It is the drivers who do not. I have witnessed two head on collisions in Niles Canyon Road. The innocent people had no where to go. The hill went straight up on there side of the road., there was no place to go and avoid the head on. If the road was wide enough then perhaps some head-ons can be eliminated. I have been driving Niles Canyon for 54 years.
    I still remember high school kids killed in the Canyon and having there demolished car put on display at Washington High School

  17. Let’s plant oak trees down the center median, add more curves and calm the traffic. Make it so slow that trucks won’t want to take it and the speedsters using it as a commuter short cut will get frustrated and avoid it. Just a nice country ride.
    Just look at Hwy. 17 over the summit. What a nut ride that can be!

  18. We can solve the problem by putting speed bumps on Niles Canyon all the way from Fremont to Sunol.

  19. I have a better answer to Charlotte Allen (comment 21). Let’s just close Niles Canyon to all vehicles that weigh more than 20 kilograms. That is, make the road into a bicycle and pedestrian pathway between Sunol and Fremont. By lowering the speed and mass of the objects moving along that road, the death and injury rate from accidents will approach zero, the death rate due to accidents for people while using the Alameda Creek Trail.

  20. Let’s just close Niles Canyon to all vehicles that weigh more than 20 kilograms.

    I’m sorry Paul, but that would put more traffic onto 680, which is in the prohibitive zone defined by the FCN as a 2 mile radius surrounding Weibel elementary.

  21. Don’t worry Marty, it’s almost 3 miles from Weibel to the intersection of North Mission and 680, so the Niles Canyon traffic diverted to 238/680 is outside the radius.

  22. I like Pauls Idea about closing Niles Canyon to auto traffic, There would be some small inconviences, but look what we gain, a beautiful walking, hiking and biking trail. This would allow people to see the beautiful scenery without getting into a auto accident.

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