Fortunately, nobody was badly injured in the accident, the scratches and dents along the passenger side of our van can be fixed, and insurance will help for the repairs. But the incident scared the tar out of all of us… even though, for decades, I’d been dreading something like that at that same location.
The collision provides a cautionary tale for downhill riders and any drivers in their path.
My fear of the steep Cambria intersection where Pineridge and Ardath drives meet started way back when my sons were young bucks with jeans frayed up to their knees because they were always riding their skateboards.
Then, as now, we lived in the small town’s hilly Top-of-the-World neighborhood. Then, however, there were only a quarter as many residents in town and many of our neighborhood’s roads weren’t paved, which severely limited the boys’ potential skateboarding locales.
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Sorry, fellas. Skateboards don’t have brakes.
They were absolutely not to get any closer than a couple of blocks to the dangerous intersection, because Ardath was and is one of Lodge Hill’s two main arterial roadways from its residential neighborhoods to Highway 1.
I was a helicopter mom about the Ardath ban. Rules are rules, guys.
Absolutely no skateboarding, skating, biking or go-carting near Ardath. (Grumble, grouse, gripe, whine. “You are so mean, Mom!”)
Did they follow that rule? Most of the time.
Fast forward to our current Top-of-the-World home. There are many more homes up here now, and most roads in the area have been paved.
None of us skateboards any more. Thank heavens.
However, we’ve had enough mighty close calls for me to be really wary whenever I drive along Ardath near the intersections with Pineridge and other steeply downhill streets, such as Spencer Street and Richard Avenue. The sightline there for a driver on Ardath is very brief, especially if the incoming vehicle is going downhill fast.
More than one skateboarder has swooped down the hill, speeding across Ardath mere feet in front of us.
Did I mention standing on the brake pedal?
Then, shortly before noon on Nov. 2, we were on our way to SLO. I drove down Richard Avenue, stopped at Ardath to let traffic pass, turned right and headed for the highway.
One block later, a 20-year-old bicyclist soaring down the Pineridge hill couldn’t stop and slammed hard into the side of our van.
She said later that her speed going down the precipitous hill had overwhelmed the brakes’ ability to stop her bike.
I stopped and rushed to her side, as did a shocked witness who said, “I thought her brakes had failed!”
The cyclist got to her feet as I grabbed some tissues to give her, so she could stanch the flow of blood from her scraped chin and bonked nose.
Her cheek was abraded, and a knot was forming on her forehead.
She had the potential for a beaut of a black eye, but insisted repeatedly that she didn’t have any hidden injuries — amazing, considering the force with which she’d hit the van.
I called 911 anyway. Moments later, paramedics were checking her out. Her vital signs seemed remarkably OK for someone who’d just collided with a moving vehicle.
The Cambria Community Healthcare District ambulance crew offered to take her to the hospital, but she declined, protesting that she had to get to work!!! We all tried to convince her that she should go home and rest, but she insisted. So, because we didn’t have enough room in the van, the Cambria Fire Department firefighters delivered her and her crunched bicycle downtown. (I checked later, and the stalwart young lady worked most of her shift before bowing out and taking her aching head home.)
It could have been so much worse. What if…. no, I’m not going to go there.
I know I’ll never approach that intersection the same way again … even though I’ve suspected for all these years that something like that was going to happen, someday, to somebody.
I just didn’t know it would be me. And her. Equally, I suspect our cyclist may not want to push her luck. She just might want to consider taking a different route to work from now on.
Editor’s note: We’re not identifying the cyclist or the witness. We figure they’ve been through enough already.