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Olympic Superstar Pedals Through Temecula As City Ramps To Become Cycling Leader

The Olympic medalist leads a "Bike Train" Wednesday as Temecula leaders set their sights on making the city the most bicycle-friendly around.

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.

BK September 12, 2012 at 03:41 PM
You go Sarah! Congratulations too, on your most recent successes! I wish I was in the area. I would love to see these elementary school kids riding with you. As they get older, they will understand the magnitude of their actions. Awesome!
Don W September 12, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Good to see this in the news! Hopefully along with improved road conditions, we can educate rogue cyclists to ride responsibly. Good Job Rick!
tuleshed September 12, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Awesome! I really hope Temecula becomes more bicycle friendly. We have a gorgeous city and weather to ride in. Thanks Sarah!
Pat S. September 12, 2012 at 05:15 PM
We need bike lanes in wine country! Roads are to narrow and much to dangerous for cars and bikes to share the road, especially given the amount of possibly buzzed drivers out there.
R Barrett September 12, 2012 at 06:50 PM
I totally agree. Coming over those hills to find a bike in your lane is scary. We always try to slow down just in case there is someone on the other side of the hill in our lane but sometimes we have people right behind us and this is the perfect storm for a horrible accident.... a bike in front with a car right behind. We've seen one car wreck in Wine Country when a car went around a bike (staying in their lane still) but the oncoming car panicked and swerved and went across the other lanes and went straight down head first into a deep ditch. Miraculously, they landed on a lot of weeds that softened the blow and no one was critically injured.
Walt Lars September 12, 2012 at 10:18 PM
like Pat S say wine country needs better bike lanes since so many of Wineries lands back to each other they might get together to make a bike/hourse path that off the narrow public roadways it be better for Tourism Public saftey a Win-Win all away around
That Temecula Guy September 12, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I think that instead of enforcing existing laws, we should spend more tax payer dollars on making lanes that aren't really necessary. After all, people are people, and it is better to throw money at the minority instead of spending on the majority. Cyclists are supposed to follow the rules of the road too. If they are interrupting the safe and efficient flow of traffic, and the basic speed law, they need to be cited. If they're holding up traffic, they just need to pull over when safe to.

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