Where to Practice Driving
Berkeley Parents Network >
Places to Go >
Where to Practice Driving
Can anyone recommend big parking lots or very sparsely used areas
for beginning driver's lessons in & around Berkeley? Actually, come
to think of it, any recommendations on giving driving
lessons--getting started, lessening nervousness, breaking down the
lessons, driving a stick--would be most welcome! Thanks.
I think every kid in Berkeley for the last 40years who learned
how to drive a stick shift, did it in the parking lot behind
the Golden Gate Fields race track. Take Gilman all the way to
the end, past the main parking lot and back down to the water.
Turn into the lower parking lot.
As for technique, have them start off in first gear and use
just the clutch, no gas. When they can do that in first gear,
try it in second, then third. This will give the sense of how
to gently release the clutch. After that, let them add a
little gas. Whey they are comfortable on the flat, move to
the hill next to the water and practice there.
In response to the question about where to learn to drive:
for first steps, the parking lot at His Lordship's restaurant
at the Berkeley Marina, then moving to the entire marina area.
Next, I would recommend the quiet streets of El Cerrito just
near the border of Albany.
I think learning to drive a stick should follow getting
comfortable in a standard transmission. And driving early
Sunday morning is good -- before traffic gets started. Good
My dad taught me how to drive at the Golden Gate Fields
parking lot and that still seems like a great place. We did
some at the Hilltop Mall parking lot too, while that was
closed. One thing he did at GGF that was helpful was to take
some of their sawhorses and make pretend parallel-parking
places for me. He started out making them big, and then
slowly made them smaller and smaller. Good luck!
Hi, I'm going through this right now with my daughter who has
her permit. It is hard because there is so much traffic in the
We used the DVC parking lot in Pleasant Hill to start out, but
I'm hoping someone else has another suggestion closer to you.
In general, early on weekend mornings is a good time to
practice on the streets cause they are more empty (of course
that may not be a favorite time to get up!).
We're about ready to try the freeway and I scouted out a
couple of onramps near my house where there is no merge--the
entry lane turns into its own freeway lane or else just exits
again. I think these are going to be good places to start.
Also, I just wanted to let you know that she did her first in
car lesson with driversed.com and I do not recommend them.
They use mini-coopers and while these are cool cars, I learned
after the fact that they are hard to drive. Also they aren't
marked ''student driver'' and again, that may be more cool,
but less safe. Anyway my daughter was a little freaked out
after her first lesson and we had to coax her back into
driving again. Now she is fine.
From my own experience learning to drive, I would encourage
you to try to use a calm voice and be specific--''move over to
your left'' is better than ''look out!'' If you feel like it's
not clicking with you, ask another adult to take your teen out
for a few times and then try again.
We're looking for wide open spaces to practice driving
(general maneuvers and stick shift). We've been down to
Golden Gate Fields parking lot (south end), but security
was on to us in a minute and though they let us stay, we
don't want to overstay our welcome. It's kind of a bad
time of year to find empty BART or mall parking lots - any
Try the north side of Golden Gate Fields. To get there,
drive up over the hill past the main entrance and main
parking of the track and down the hill on the other side;
stay on the left side of the main parking while driving
through. This is where my son practiced driving. There
is a large parking lot that belongs to the track on that
side which is usually not accessible but there is also a
park right next to the water with a large parking lot. This
is the lot that we used. If I remember correctly you have
to go past a parking booth; just tell them you're passing
through to go to the other side.
The Alameda Naval Air Station is practically deserted on
weekends, especially now that soccer season is over. It has
empty parking lots, and streets for practicing straight
driving, turns, etc. Also, we drove in the industrial area
of Oakland, near Mandela Parkway and West Grand. Industrial
parts of Berkeley are probably quite empty on weekends, too.
The former Alameda Naval Air Station has acres upon
acres of unused parking lots. Some are large enough
to let a learner get up to 2nd or 3rd gear. Traffic on the
roads through the station is sparce. Getting there is a
short ride through the Broadway Tube and then right a
couple of miles at the first major intersection just past
the Alameda College campus (I don't remember the
name of the street). When practicing there with my
daughter a couple of years ago, security patrols looked
at us in curiosity, but didn't interfere.
in response to where to practice driving....
you can try the old naval air station in alameda
this page was last updated: Mar 19, 2011
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Berkeley Parents Network