The cycling path on Kalamalka Road is getting some grief. (Tennille Litzenberger photo)

Bring back road shoulders for cyclists

LETTER: In response to Vernon bike paths

In response to Brent Vinoly’s concern about “cyclists” not using the Vernon to Kal Lake bike path, I believe there needs to be some clarification.

First, while there are three different cycling groups in town, from what I can tell not one of them was approached to give input to this bike path and how it might best be utilized.

As usual, the City of Vernon moved forward of their own accord without a clear understanding of what they were doing.

To understand the problem, you need to know the difference between a cyclist and a bike rider. Vinoly, by the sound of it, is a bike rider.

Your typical cyclist is wearing spandex, a helmet, cycling shoes and gloves. Cyclists try to travel in straight lines, try not to ride against traffic, move a speeds of 15-50 kilometres per hour and tend to be predictable in their actions.

Bike riders tend to set a leisurely pace, tend to wander about in their actions. When a bike rider wears a helmet it tends to be undone, on backwards or is strapped to their handlebars or a bag.

There is a large majority of people that fit into the “Bike Rider” category – myself included when I am not being a cyclist.

A bike rider does not focus on heart rate, power output, average speed and other performance measures that a cyclist may be focusing on.

The City of Vernon decided in their infinite wisdom to mix cyclists, bike riders, walkers (who are even more random in their actions), joggers, strollers, skaters and those in wheelchairs all onto one path and take away the narrow shoulder that cyclists use to travel on along Kal Lake Road.

READ MORE: Cyclists don’t belong on sidewalks

For the safety of everyone listed above, the best place for a cyclist is on the road. Kids stepping out in front of a bike traveling at 30 km/hr has dire consequences.

And yes, I could slow down, and have been forced to do so when on this trail, but why should I have been forced to do so when the trail really did not need to be 12-feet wide.

Eight feet would have been lots, leaving cyclists a safe place to ride on the road. It use to be called a shoulder.

I have had more near misses with cars riding that trail than I have in Vernon since moving here in 1983.

Drivers are not expecting bike riders and cyclists to come upon them from the side like we do now.

Drivers heading north trying to turn left are not looking behind them waiting for a cyclist to pass on their left (which we are doing all the time on that trail), so they punch the accelerator to sneak though traffic only to hit a person on a bike.

I have had to lock my breaks up at the Vernon Golf Course, Brown Road, Alpine Center and at Toro’s as drivers pull out to get into traffic.

The first week the path was open a friend’s son broke his wrist hitting a car on that path. He’s probably not the only one to get hit.

We do not allow bikes on sidewalks for a reason – bikes and pedestrians do not mix.

But now we want fast moving bikes with slow moving bikes to ride along and against pedestrians.

What is the rule for walking on a sidewalk? Do you walk on the left or right? Do you walk against traffic so you can see me coming?

No — you walk and skip and turn unexpectedly and your kid falls over and you trip and take up the whole trail.

When I say “On your left,” you step left and look right because that is what we do. Then I, a cyclist, hurts or kills you.

Then I am the bad guy, riding on the trail that I didn’t ask for so that drivers can motor down Kal Lake Road and not give me the few feet I need to keep me safe and the people who benefit most from the trail safe.

The rules change on the rail trail as bikes are not moving as fast and traffic is not crossing the trail at regular intervals.

Rick Latta

READ MORE: LETTER: Bikers beware


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