How To Bike Through Camp Pendleton After July 22, 2018

Camp Pendleton Route

How To Bike Through Camp Pendleton After July 22, 2018

It was brought to my attention that the Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base is requiring a more stringent security check through their Department of Defense Biometric Identification System (DBIDS) in order to enter their base. Previously, you were able to simply register online (see link below) and present your current driver’s license at the gate, and that gained you entry. There was even a time when they would just wave you through. Before I dive into my thoughts about this change, here’s what the email said.

The Email

From Walton Maj Chad David:

To cyclists who transit Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton,

Beginning October 1, 2018, all cyclists who wish to access the cycling route

at Camp Pendleton will be required to register with the new Department of

Defense Biometric Identification System before they enter the base.

Camp Pendleton is currently transitioning from one base access system to

another. The old system will be used through September to give base visitors

time to register to DBIDS.  Cyclists who are currently accessing the base

via the old system will be able to continue to do so until September 30th.

New cyclists, or cyclists whose old registration expires will be required to

register for DBIDS.

To register for a DBIDS bicycle pass, individuals will need to go to the

Main/Vandegrift Boulevard visitors center and are required to show an

acceptable identity source document such as a valid government issued photo

ID (I.E. Real ID ACT compliant driver’s license, state identification card,

or passport) to establish their identity and submit to a criminal background

check as well as having their photograph and fingerprint taken.

The visitor’s center hours are Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Bicycle passes will be valid for one year and will be restricted to bicycle

access; any attempt to enter the base in a motor vehicle with a bike pass

will be turned around.  Recreational cyclists may not sponsor another adult

cyclist.  Adult cyclists may be accompanied by minors for whom they are

directly responsible.  

The cycling route through Camp Pendleton has not changed [North/South from

the Las Pulgas gate to the Main gate (Stuart Mesa Rd to Vandergrift Blvd)

and South/North from the Main gate to the Las Pulgas gate (Vandergrift Blvd

to Stuart Mesa Rd)] and access via the DBIDS bicycle pass is limited to the

Main and Las Pulgas gates.  

MCB Camp Pendleton will continue to foster positive relationships with our

neighbors by allowing access to cyclists and we appreciate that most

cyclists have been good visitors during their time on the base.  We

encourage cyclists who wish to enjoy uninterrupted access to the base to

come in as soon as possible to obtain their DBIDS ID.  We anticipate that

the volume of passes issued in late September and early October will require

long waits, so don’t procrastinate.  

The new system will increase installation security and communications by

receiving frequent database updates on changes to personnel/credential

status, law enforcement warrants, lost/stolen cards, and force protection

conditions. The system provides a continuous vetting anytime the DBIDS card

is scanned at an installation entry point.

On-line registration of recreational cyclists will end 22 July, 2018.  No

matter when you registered under the old system, that form of access to the

base will end on September 30.  After that date only a DBIDS bicycle pass

holder will be allowed aboard the base.  

For questions regarding base access, please call 760-763-8435.

What Does This Mean For Bicycle Tourists?

As you can see, this puts the burden on those who are traveling up and down the Pacific Coast Route to actually come into their visitor’s center, provide proof of identification and submit to a background check along with being photographed and fingerprint.

It sounds to me like this will take some time for any interested cyclist to purposely travel to the visitor’s office and then spend at least an hour or so to be registered appropriately. Of course, the visitor center is located conveniently for people who are traveling northbound from San Diego at Vandergrift Blvd, but for folks who are traveling southbound (which is the majority), it sounds like you are not going to be able to register over at the Las Pulgas Road entrance on the day of arrival.

In my opinion, this was inevitable. To have a prominent military base like Camp Pendleton allow cyclists to travel through with just a simple registration form was just too easy and risky. No other active military base, that I am aware of, has even considered doing this.

What I Would Do

The question now is, if I was traveling through this area on a once-in-a-lifetime bike tour, would I go through the trouble of coming in to register? Probably not. I’d turn to the alternate route and brave it with the hundreds of cars on interstate 5 for about an hour (depending on how fast you ride). This is not ideal, but as a traveler, this makes the most sense.

For reference, here was the registration page that we used.

What do you think about the change? Do you agree with Camp Pendleton’s decision? Do you think it’s a good idea to go in and register, or would you rather just hop on I-5?

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 08:10h, 24 July

    It’s only 7 miles of freeway if you take I-5 instead. Less than 30 mins. Less BS

    • Johnny Lam
      Posted at 08:29h, 24 July

      Yup! It’s not bad considering other highways you’re required to ride on in some parts of the country.

  • Jacques Stern
    Posted at 09:03h, 03 December

    I won’t make a special trip down from LA to the South Gate for this unless I have a better reason to drive down to San Diego and return. So I’ll Just ride that stretch on the shoulder of the freeway thanks!

    • Johnny Lam
      Posted at 09:59h, 03 December

      I came back from a ride from LA to SD a week ago and riding on I-5 wasn’t too bad. Just remember to exit at the rest stop and reenter the interstate again from there. Other than that, the shoulder is rather clean and wide.

  • Tim Valentine
    Posted at 09:28h, 14 December

    This policy will most certainly get someone killed, plain and simple. The border patrol can run thousands of car license plates in seconds at the border. Why can’t the military gate run a persons drivers license in a similar fashion. All of the law enforcement and federal agencies are connected to the networked Arjis database that keeps track of bad guys. It could be done at the gate.

  • JJ
    Posted at 15:01h, 31 January

    What’s the big deal? Register and you get a pass that is good for a year. You don’t have to go inside and register everytime you ride through the gate.

    • Johnny Lam
      Posted at 23:15h, 31 January

      The big deal is primarily for those who don’t live near the area and traveling down the coast. It’s not worthwhile for those folks to register as that process can take a few hours for the background check and is available at one gate. Riding on Highway 5 can be pretty crappy compared to the quieter roads in the base.

  • Shane Frazier
    Posted at 17:59h, 18 June

    Could anyone tell me exactly where I would need to enter and exit the 5 freeway to get around Camp Pendleton? I’ll be heading southbound, coming from LA.

    • Johnny Lam
      Posted at 22:59h, 01 October

      @Shane Frazier – You’ll jump onto the interstate from Las Pulgas Road and get back on route on Harbor Drive. It’s actually not too bad.

  • Mark Johnson
    Posted at 17:33h, 07 July

    Riding through the base was / is a privilege NOT A RIGHT. I am actually surprised this requirement was not put in place years ago.
    We have always had the option of riding the freeway. I will gladly go and get the pass if it will help keep security in place.