When people go on the defensive, they sometimes lose their focus. A few days ago, I asked an innocent question: should racing cyclists be banned from Westsyde Road?
Well, maybe not so innocent. That was the attention-getter. The subtext is this:
Road cyclists, especially in large groups, impede traffic. Sorry, but you do — you ride at around 35 kmh; automobiles drive that road at anywhere from 60 to 100 (Yes, many of them go way too fast — I’ve written about rural drivers before).
If a road has a paved shoulder, the cyclist can at least move further out of the way and make it safer for both him/herself and the driver. Westsyde Road is narrow, has many corners, and no paved shoulders (or no shoulders at all).
In my view, informal races that don’t have the benefit of enough signs, markers and traffic control increase the risk. When 10-year-old cyclists are sent speeding down such a road, I think it’s natural to raise concerns. And when cyclists insist on riding two or three abreast, that’s a problem.
In the various responses to my comments, I haven’t seen an acknowledgement of shared responsibility for working things out between cyclists and motorists. Instead, I’ve received invitations to take up road cycling, to stay off the road when cyclists are using it, and have been accused of being the problem.
Both online and off, I’ve been on the receiving end of some comments that disparage my views based on my age. The veiled message was unpleasant — you’re are old, go away.
Agism is a first cousin of racism. Suggesting that an opinion of someone older than you is not worthy isn’t far off from saying the same thing because he or she is black, brown, poor or gay.
Joe Dobson, in particular, has apologized for his comments, so let’s move on.
If anyone wants to actually defend the continued use of Westsyde Road for road racing in a way that addresses safety issues with practical answers, I’m up for the discussion.