Commuters in Temecula Wednesday morning will see pedaling her way to school with a gaggle of kids in tow.
The cycling sensation earned two silver medals during the 2012 London Olympic Games and now she’s putting her celebrity to work for a good cause by leading a “Bike Train” through her hometown.
Beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Hammer will lead the Bike Train with elementary schoolchildren pedaling behind her. Their ride starts at the corner of Santiago Road and Amarita Way, and from there they will pedal to Paloma Elementary School at 42490 Via Rami.
Hammer, who attended Temecula’s Chaparral High School, was recently named the honorary chair of Temecula’s new cycling initiative. The city, in partnership with the Temecula Bicycle Coalition, has started a massive effort to improve cycling lanes and trails, healthy activities for young people and school safety programs, according to Rick Peoples, who founded the Coalition and serves as a public information officer for the Office of the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools.
“The Bike Train encourages students to ride their bicycles to school as a group, led by parents and other adults. In the past year, hundreds of students and parents have participated in the once-a-week activity, aimed at encouraging healthy activities by young people and teaching them to cycle safely,” Peoples said.
Peoples has long-advocated for local cyclists. He is the organizer behind the annual Ride of Silence that takes place in Southwest Riverside County. The ride coincides with a national event that raises awareness of cyclists and honors riders who have been injured or killed by motorists.
Additionally, Peoples works with local cities to plan safe bike routes. He has worked extensively with Temecula and said Wednesday’s Bike Train is expected to feature the city’s mayor and cyclist, Chuck Washington.
Washington, who said he sometimes rides with fellow cyclist Temecula Mayor Pro Tem Mike Naggar, envisions a network of bike paths through and around his city.
“We want to keep cyclists in mind with every project we do,” Washington said.
Temecula California Highway Patrol Captain Ernie Sanchez is also a local cycling enthusiast. He said he is working to bring awareness to both riders and drivers about the rules of the road.
“It goes both ways,” he said of motorists and cyclists, who, under state law, are required to share the road. Cyclists must ride on the streets – it’s illegal for them to pedal on sidewalks, Sanchez said.
“In cases where there is evidence the law has been broken, we want to see those prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.