I approached the intersection of Selby Lane and El Camino Real cautiously, like many times before. The intersection has a marked crosswalk, but no stop light. I dismounted my bike and waited for the continuous stream of cars to break. The cars in the first two lanes were slowing down for me. I made eye contact with them and started to walk across the six lane road. There were no cars in the third lane. I continued.
Another pedestrian was crossing El Camino from the other side where cars in all three lanes had already stopped. Screeching tires snapped my attention back to the third lane. A big white truck had swerved from the second lane into the third lane and was skidding straight at me.
My muscles tensed as I sprang towards the median while dragging my bike. The truck continued to skid as I made it to the median. Finally, half way into the crosswalk, the truck came to rest. The driver looked down at me from his lifted white truck, shook his head at me, and drove off.
My heart was racing as I stood on the little safe median. One person shouted from their car, “you should call the police!” What would a phone call even do? I’m not sure. I wasn’t in the right state of mind to grab the license plate number and I wasn’t physically injured. Could the driver be charged with unsafe or reckless driving?
Did he swerved out of the second lane to avoid a collision with the stopped cars? Or maybe he switched lanes to avoid stopping without knowing there were us pedestrians crossing a marked crosswalk.
The Bay Area peninsula is supposedly home to some incredible road cycling. The two rides I have been on thus far have not disappointed. My first ride was up King’s Mountain Road up to Skyline Boulevard and back down to Woodside. My second ride was along Canada Road with a short steep stint up Crestview Drive.
Both rides were punishing because I have not spent much time in the saddle recently. They were also beautiful, void of aggressive, angry drivers, and full of happy cyclists willing to share directions and suggestions.
Half way through the ride today, I learned it is Bicycle Sunday. I fell in love immediately as my friend described it and pointed out one of the signs. From the San Mateo Parks Department: “On Sundays, a 3.8-mile segment of Cañada Road … is closed … allowing for non-motorized activities including jogging, bicycling, hiking, roller-skating, and walking.” This is wonderful.
There were more cyclists than I could count along Canada Road today. They were not just your typical group from the local bike shop, they were of all ages and abilities. There were parents jogging while their 5 year old kids cycled. There were rollerbladers. And, yes, a few turbo triathletes in their aerobars. This type of road closure should exist every where so we can all enjoy long stretches of non-motorized fun.
It takes more than beautiful terrain and nice pavement to create a destination for cyclists. The attitude of the local community adds more than most of us realize. I have seen the differences first hand by living in varied cities like Aspen, CO and Madison, WI where the communities build up the cycling experience. And other cities like Colorado Springs where you sometimes fear for you life on the road.
I realized today how much the San Mateo community loves its cycling and outdoor time. Thank you to the Parks Department and everyone else on the road today for a great ride.