Several weeks ago I wrote a letter to. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone, optimistically hoping that he would consider the situation for cyclists on provincial roads and highways.
I understand a bit about the workings of government and accept waiting several weeks for acknowledgement of the letter. None has been forthcoming and I believe a recap of these concerns might make for some interesting discussion among cyclists and anyone who uses our road system.
We had a recent and unfortunate death of a fellow cyclist near Cherry Creek. This man was a very high level cyclist who travelled the route from Savona to Kamloops regularly.
There has been a long period of silence following this incident and I expect that some sort of inquiry is taking place to establish what happened. I await the result with interest (and express much sympathy to his family and friends), and in the interim, recently cycled through the area that was the scene of this tragedy.
The condition of the shoulder where we cyclists are expected to ride is very sub-standard and risky. There is virtually no rideable pavement and a rider must ride on the white line in order to avoid riding in gravel (not easy with 23-millimetre tires).
It is easy to see why such a situation could arise, and I can tell you this is not uncommon on that stretch of highway and on many other main roads.
Another local example is Highway 5A (old Road to Merritt ) which was always a very enjoyable road for cyclists until the last couple of years when, to our dismay new pavement was put on parts of the road and a minimal and unsafe shoulder for riding was left.
Not to mention the increased number of big, occasionally unsympathetic and sometimes aggressive, semi trucks and drivers.
Yet another example of this is the well documented road in Westsyde which has been improved (?) over the past year with again, a very small shoulder if at all (as in the latest extension of pavement past Black Pines).
The list goes on and on, despite the increasing number of cyclists (cycling is seen as a growth sport and has been dubbed the "new golf"). Many thousands of cyclists are taking to the roads in Grand Fondos (organized rides) and as smaller groups and individuals using the bicycle for exercise as well as a break from extreme gasoline prices.
I wrote to make a plea for these and many other roads to be upgraded to the point where local and international travelling cyclists can ride without having to play "chicken" with vehicles that can, in an instant, kill them.
I also wrote in hope that the transportation ministry is utilizing knowledgeable individuals from the cycling community as consultants to those who build and upgrade the roads of the province.
Wouldn't it be great for our province to gain a reputation as a cyclist-friendly location subsequently drawing tourists for the purpose of riding based on a well-
deserved reputation of beauty, challenge and safety?
I indicated my willingness to meet with Mr. Stone to discuss this issue and trusted he or someone else might be able to institute some change. I remain hopeful that this is an ongoing topic of discussion in the ministry, and look forward to improving conditions for cyclists.
PATRICK C. MCDONALD