As you likely know, equestrian activities have long been an important part of Portola Valley’s culture.
Most local riders are aware of the need to watch for automobile traffic in areas where our local trails intersect with auto traffic to avoid an incident. We have learned recently that equestrian riders and cyclists must also be aware that some cycling activities carried out near equestrians could also pose a safety risk.
Many area cyclists participate in pelotons; groups of cyclists that ride together at a fast pace as part of an endurance training program that can also serve as a social activity.
It is important to know that when an equestrian encounters a peloton, the buzzing sound made by a large group of bicycles can inhibit the horse’s hearing, sparking a "fight or flight" instinct which may result in a horse bolting and possibly running with the peloton, to join what it perceives as a stampeding herd. As a prey animal, this is an instinctive reaction which can cause a rider to lose control.
By virtue of various provisions contained in the California Vehicle Code, bicycles may share the road with automobiles. What most people don’t know is that the Vehicle Code also requires that automobile drivers and bicyclists slow down or stop as necessary when approaching horses and other livestock to avoid frightening the animal. California Vehicle Code Section 21759 states:
“The driver of any vehicle approaching any horse drawn vehicle, any ridden animal, or any livestock shall exercise proper control of his vehicle and shall reduce speed or stop as may appear necessary or as may be signaled or otherwise requested by any person driving, riding or in charge of the animal or livestock in order to avoid frightening and to safeguard the animal or livestock and to insure the safety of any person driving or riding the animal or in charge of the livestock.”
The following safety tips are provided to help ensure that equestrians, automobiles, cyclists and pedestrians can coexist safely in Portola Valley.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Look not only for vehicles, but also animals and pedestrians.
- When approaching an animal, slow down to 20 mph and give a verbal coming up from behind or heads up when passing. If the animal seems frightened or the rider signals there may be a problem, stop and proceed after the animal has safely passed.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Pedestrian and equestrian trails intersect with many area roadways. Look not only for vehicles, but also animals and pedestrians.
- When approaching an animal, slow down to give the rider time to become aware of your proximity. Don't assume that the rider can hear your vehicle or otherwise know that you are there. If the animal seems frightened or the rider signals there may be a problem, stop and proceed after the animal has safely passed.
- When approaching a cyclist, walk slowly and secure the horse quietly with your riding aids. If the horse exhibits frightened behavior, stop, circle, or dismount if possible. Always wear a helmet and carry a cell phone.
- The best approach to ensure your safety, as well as that of your horse, is to avoid pelotons whenever possible. To that end, a summary of the schedule of regular peloton activities that the Town is aware of is shown below. Please note that this information has been provided to the Town as a courtesy by area cyclists and volunteers, and does not reflect all of the peloton rides that may take place.
TO POST RIDE INFORMATION, please email the webmaster to have your ride information posted and updated in the schedule below.
|Group/Ride||Days/Approximate Times/Contact Information|
|Contact: Mike Osmond|
Saturday. Routes vary and do not consistently travel on Portola and Alpine Roads. Need to contact club and ask if there is a way you can be added to their ride notices or announcements. Ride details often posted on team calendar (see web page).
|Silicon Valley Triathlon Club
|Contact: Garry Chinn or Warren Mine|
Saturday. Routes vary and do not consistently travel on Portola and Alpine Roads. Need to contact club and ask if there is a way you can be added to their ride notices or announcements. Rides usually announced on Yahoo group: http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/interactivesvtc/
|TRIbe Triathlon Club
|Contact: Nick Goddard|
Routes vary and do not consistently travel on Portola and Alpine Roads. Need to contact club and ask if there is a way you can be added to their ride notices or announcements. Rides usually announced on Yahoo group: http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/tribetriathlon/
|Team in Training
|Contact: Mike Ingardia|
Routes vary and do not consistently travel on Portola and Alpine Roads. Need to contact club and ask if there is a way you can be added to their ride notices or announcements.
Contact: Steve Esswein or Kevin Merritt
Rides usually announced on Yahoo group: http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/AltoVelo/. Rides start at Peet's Coffee in Los Altos at 9 am and sometimes go north or south. If going north, would hit Alpine/Portola intersection around 9:30.
|Spectrum Ride||Saturday. Heads up Alpine, reaches Portola at approx 9:40. Returns through Alpine at Portola around 10:45. Route generally does not vary.|
|Noon Ride||M-F. Gets to Alpine and Portola at 12:15. On some days comes back through Alpine and Portola around 1 pm.|
|Peninsula Velo Ride
|Contact: Erik Salander|
Leaves Canada and 92 at 8:10 (on Saturday and Sunday), goes though Alpine and Portola, sometime around 8:45. In the summer, Peninsula Velo has rides that leave Canada and 92 at 6 p.m Tuesday and Thursdays, looping through Alpine and Portola.
Rides are posted on web site: http://www.penvelo.org/secondary/rides.html.
Workouts often posted at: http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/penvelo/messages
|Valley Ride||Leaves Los Altos at 6 pm on Wednesday once Daylight Savings Time begins. Goes through Alpine and Portola around 6:30 pm. Route generally does not vary.|
|Morning Ride||Starts at the downtown Palo Alto Starbucks (on University Ave) early in the morning at 6:25 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This ride travels opposite of the Noon Ride around the loop (Sand Hill, Portola, Alpine). Route generally does not vary.|
"Not a Fast Peloton Group"