It’s watch-out-for-bicyclists week.

As Sonoma County gears up for Sunday’s start to the Amgen Tour of California, drivers will be encountering many more bicyclists than normal along with some traffic delays and road closures.

But the key for all will be safety.

The brunt of that responsibility will fall to drivers. While bicyclists must follow traffic laws too, some don’t. So drivers this week will have to take particular care when encountering bicyclists. It’s common for bicyclists in packs to take awhile to move over to allow cars and trucks to pass, so drivers will have to be prepared to hang back and wait to pass when safe. Give the bicyclists plenty of room. I’ve seen plenty of cyclists suddenly swerve out into the traffic lane for some reason — perhaps they’re dodging debris or something. And with thousands out-of-towners coming for the Amgen, many will hit the roads too and you may find them gawking at our county’s beauty and not paying attention to the traffic behind them.

CHP Officer Jon Sloat said he’s been out in the west county and he’s already seen an increase in bicyclists.

His tip for drivers: “Just be patient. Don’t get inpatient and do something dangerous. It’s a temporary inconvenience.”

For those who have to drive through the race’s course, Sloat suggests checking the routes and making alternate plans if you don’t want to get delayed by the race.

You’ll also find more bicyclists on the road on Thursday — it’s Bike to Work Day.

Road closures and traffic delays will abound this weekend. Here’s some:

–For the Amgen, Mendocino Avenue in downtown Santa Rosa will be shut starting at 8 a.m. Saturday from First to Seventh streets along with Third Street from B to D streets.. Then on Sunday, most streets downtown will be closed for the day for the race’s festivities. When the racers leave downtown at 10:50 a.m. and head to Windsor, then back to Santa Rosa before heading out to the West County, the coast and back downtown, the CHP will have dozens of officers conducting rolling roadblocks along the route, with some intersections closed for 30 to 60 minutes as the racers pass.

For maps of the Amgen route, CLICK HERE.

–On Saturday, there’s the Life Time Gran Fondo race, with races starting between 8 and 9:30 a.m. from the Cloverleaf Ranch on Old Redwood Highway just north of Santa¬† Rosa. There’s three races — 25K, 50K and 100K — and they basically rideinto the north county, with the 100K reaching almost Cloverdale before heading back to the Cloverleaf Ranch.

For maps of the routes of the Life Time GranFondo, CLICK HERE.

–Also Saturday is the Sonoma Napa Gran Fondo, with rides of 11, 50 and 75 miles. These races start at 9 a.m. at the Sonoma Plaza. The 11-miler goes a few miles south of town and then back, while the 50-miler goes into Napa County, back to Sonoma County across Trinity Road and makes it way back to the plaza. The 75-miler also goes into Napa, back across Trinity Road, over to Rohnert Park via Bennett Valley Road, back to the Sonoma Valley via Pressley and Sonoma Mountain roads before heading to the plaza.

For maps of Sonoma Napa Gran Fondo, CLICK HERE.

–Then on Saturday, there’s the Team Swif Junior State Criterium Championships that will be around the County’s Administration Center.

So if you’re driving somewhere this weekend, plan and ahead and give yourself some extra time to get there.


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