S.F.’s Thanksgiving Traffic and How to Avoid the Worst of It

Making matters worse, a rainstorm is anticipated for this week.

]The crush of holiday travel arrived in a flash again, this time for the peak American tradition of gorging on food to celebrate a whitewashed version of the country’s ugly history — Thanksgiving.

More than 55 million people are expected to travel more than 50 miles in honor of Thursday’s holiday, another increase from the previous year, according to AAA. The 49 million of those that will be in automobile trips can expect to see trip times be 4 times as long as usual during peak times.

In the Bay Area, being on the road from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday will get you a 3.2x longer trip. That falls in line with Google Maps’ advice to avoid being on the road on Wednesday at 4 p.m., while aiming for Wednesday at 3 a.m. to avoid traffic.

Plus, a rainstorm is expected to last from Tuesday to Thursday, on top of a strong wind event. Make sure tires, oil, brake functions, seatbelts, and batteries are in tip-top shape while jotting down 800-427-7623 as the CalTrans road conditions number.

Heading back home after the holiday is best on Friday at 4 a.m. and the worst on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Google Maps

Past traffic hotspots that AAA says took the cake and are still ideal to avoid are: Interstate 680 from 1 to 3 p.m. between the Milpitas up to the Livermore and Sunol area; Interstation 80 east at Pinole Valley Road, sandwiched between Richmond and Vallejo; and airport traffic on Monday from 5 to 7 p.m., between downtown San Francisco and San Francisco International Airport on US-101.

Being on the road for the holidays is as good as time as ever to remember that you’re never just “stuck in traffic,” you’re part of the traffic. That makes traveling via train or bus worth considering, as it would reduce those highway chokeholds and spare the stress of driving. Even putting a little effort into asking around for who wants to carpool means one less car to be bumper-to-bumper with. BART will run a Sunday schedule for Thanksgiving and offer free parking at all stations.

Folks in the Bay Area can also avoid the headache of leaving and respectfully attend the Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz Island for an Unthanksgiving Day — well-timed for the 50th anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz. On a related note, here’s how to be an indigenous ally for Thanksgiving and beyond.

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