One day last week, I was stopped at El Camino Real and Morro Road. That is Atascadero’s busiest intersection, with six lanes of traffic in all four directions.
It was that moment when nobody is moving as the traffic light makes its shift from one direction to another combined with the delay in motorists actually starting to move out.
All of a sudden, a bicycle rider came sailing right through the intersection against a red light. He never even slowed down. I caught up to him moments later as he switched from one side of the roadway across four lanes to leap up on the sidewalk, now going against traffic.
This wasn’t a child.
Younger bike riders, who are at risk on almost all of Atascadero’s streets outside the main arteries of El Camino and Morro Road where there are designated bike paths, are especially in danger of mixing it up with an automobile.
As drivers, we need to be extra careful, especially around the schools.
But bike riders of all ages need to remember that they, too, must follow the rules of the road, which includes stopping at all stop signs, giving hand signals prior to turning and keeping off the sidewalks.
We have a long hill that goes right by our driveway, and I encounter a number of skateboarders who love that long decline. Because there are no sidewalks in the majority of the single-family neighborhood, the skateboarders just go down the middle of the traffic lane.
I guess they think they’re OK because they can see us (the motorists), but I have almost pulled out in front of a bike rider or skateboarder because they have a smaller visual presence.
I encourage parents to remind their children about paying attention to where they are riding. And for those adults who ride bikes, you must be equally responsible to set a good example for bike safety.
Atascadero is not a bike-friendly town because of its hills and curvy roads. Most of our roads don’t even have a shoulder outside the driving lane.
Go across the Salinas River and you have wonderful places for a long bike ride.
But if you aren’t out for the long ride and your two wheels are getting you around a town on streets that are already crowded, be more careful.
As a child, I loved the freedom my bicycle provided me.
I’ve even enjoyed biking as an adult, although I haven’t ridden for several years now.
I caution everyone to be more careful and follow the rules of the road, for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly four decades. His column appears on the Local page every Tuesday. He can be reached at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.