by Gary C. Brustin
Pacific Palisades is a cyclist’s delight. From the beaches to the mountains and all the points in between, the diversity of its terrain and near perfect weather make the Palisades ideal for cycling.
But before hopping onto your bike for a spin, make sure you choose your cycling routes carefully. Some streets in the Palisades should be avoided whenever possible. Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset Boulevard, for example, are dangerous even to motorists. Fast moving automobile traffic is the primary reason so many auto-bicycle accidents take place on these streets every year. Neither road has adequate shoulders on which to ride, forcing cyclists into motor lanes and thereby increasing the chance of an accident.
On the other hand, the beach bicycling path, beginning at Temescal Canyon and working its way south, is great for a family bicycling outing. The path is almost flat, making it an easy ride for kids and weekend cyclists. Remember to always stay to the right when riding on the path, and keep a lookout for pedestrians who must cross the bike path, to reach the beach.
Other excellent riding areas in the Palisades are above The Highlands or in Will Rogers State Historic Park. Both areas contain dirt trails that are great for mountain bike riding.
Cycling in residential areas of Pacific Palisades is also a pleasure. Cyclists, however, must use extra caution when riding on the area’s many steeply sloping streets. Young and novice riders may not realize how fast they are traveling on these hilly roads and the swift acceleration can easily cause them to lose control of their bicycle.
Accidents involving motorists are the most common cause of injury -when a bicycle and an automobile collide, the bicycle always loses. To help prevent motorist-cyclist accidents, the cyclist should follow these guidelines: (1)wear brightly colored clothing, (2)obey all traffic signals and stop signs, (3)use hand signals for turning, (4)make sure you use bike lights and reflectors when riding at night, (5)avoid busy roads, especially during morning and evening “drive times.”
Even the most cautious of cyclists should always wear bicycle safety helmets when riding. Select a helmet that properly fits, is well ventilated, comfortable and, above all, meets the American National Institute safety requirements. The reason? Over 1,200 bicyclists die each year and another half million are injured. An estimated 85 percent of the serious injuries and deaths could have been prevented if the cyclists were wearing safety approved helmets.
What is even more disturbing is the fact that children under the age of 15 account for one-third of the deaths and two-thirds of the injuries, yet fewer than 5 percent of school-age children wear safety helmets.
Bicyclists can be equipped with colored flags on poles that attach to the rear axle as an extra safety precaution. The flags will increase the bike’s visibility to motorists, especially for smaller children’s bikes.
The Palisades offers bicyclists a variety of routes and paths on which to ride. Whether riding seriously or just for fun, make the extra effort to ensure that your family’s ride is a safe one.