Motorists and cyclists are urged to be aware in cone zones

Summer construction reminds drivers and bike riders to share the road
By: Ally Rondoni Journal Correspondent
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Summer in Auburn is often filled with swimming, lazy days, popsicles, and road construction. Currently in the Auburn area California Department of Transportation has several different construction zones and projects that include a ditch clearing on Highway 49 in coming weeks that will prepare that portion of the road for the fall rainy season. At times, these work zones provide a challenge for motorists and bicyclists. “It’s simply a change in the pattern we’re used to. We have to alter our route which is more dangerous for everyone concerned,” said Isaac Chilton of Victory Velo an Auburn Bicycle shop. Chilton, who has 25-plus years experience of cycling on the road, says that road work is a part of cycling. “I will say it’s a little confusing,” Chilton said. “It’s dangerous in the sense that when they stop traffic (and use only one lane). It’s set up for motor vehicles, and they’re letting traffic through at that pace. A bicycle is obviously slower and when the flow of traffic has gone past you, you’re in no man’s land.” Chilton said the most dangerous situation a cyclist faces during road work is when construction requires the use of barriers that take up the shoulder and a cyclist’s riding room. “You’re forced into the lane of traffic and there are cars behind you. You’re doing your best and but there’s nothing that you can do really. That to me is the scariest.” Deanna Shoopman, Caltrans Tahoe Basin Outreach Coordinator, said that bicyclists are expected to abide by the same rules as motorists though workers will take their speed into account. “When we close a lane and have flaggers and if they (the cyclists) have a hill, the workers will radio up to let others know about the cyclist so there’s not equipment in their way,” Shoopman said. “Caltrans understands that the bikers are sharing the road.” Shoopman urges drivers to “go slow for the cone zone,” and adhere to the new law that requires drivers to move over for workers when possible. “If you’re in a construction zone, really pay attention to the driver in front of you. A lot of people look at the construction instead of the person in front of them, and then they rear end someone,” Shoopman added. Big O Tire employees Rich Liming and Jake Zebroff can see the new streetscape construction on Lincoln Way outside of their Downtown Auburn office window, they say that it’s a “tight” fit for motorists but cyclists are generally not a problem. “There are detour signs so generally they go around,” Liming said. Zebroff added that they had seen an incident though. “There was an old couple who didn’t see the cones and they went into the ditch,” he said. “A tow truck had to come and get them out.”