Cyclists already contribute

I am writing in response to Keith Williment's letter “Tax Cyclists” that was in the June 29 edition of The Morning Star.

I am writing in response to Keith Williment’s letter “Tax Cyclists” that was in the June 29 edition of The Morning Star.

I am a cyclist. I often ride on weekends as part of a group. All of us wear helmets, ride in the cycling lanes if provided, use our hand signals when turning, and when it comes to choosing the route, we will do everything we can to avoid riding on any highway to ensure that we minimize conflicts with traffic.

Unfortunately, to access the back roads through the country requires us to ride on stretches of our local highways. It’s not the highway that poses the most problems for cyclists as the paved shoulders are often wide enough to allow a bike to ride safely away from the motorists’ lanes.

The day you encountered this large number of cyclists was perhaps the Central Okanagan Bike Rider Association Ride. This is an annual event with more than 200 cyclists participating in a 100-kilometre ride from Armstrong through Salmon Arm and back into Armstrong.

Most organized rides do take place on a Sunday when vehicle traffic is less, therefore lessening the chance of vehicle/cyclist mishaps.

The back roads that join many of our small communities together are not highways.

The posted speed on most of those roads is the same as you would see if you were driving around in town.

Furthermore, most cyclists are very aware of vehicle traffic and try their very best to stay out of your way not only for their own safety but to lessen any delays to you.

I’m not sure if Mr. Williment put a lot of thought into his suggestion to get cyclists to contribute to road tax.

Does he think that the cyclists he sees out there riding in groups are all unemployed? These people have jobs and own homes and pay taxes.

They are lawyers, doctors, physio and massage therapists, police officers, nurses, teachers, firefighters, letter carriers and business owners, to mention only a few professions.

If they’re not working, then they’re retired and are now able to enjoy an activity that has many benefits.

The fact that cyclists are actually taking steps to keep themselves physically active, tells me that we care about our health.

You should be congratulating anyone who can take initiative to roll out of bed early on a Sunday morning, or anytime for that matter, to cycle rather than drive, whether it’s to work, to ride with their children or to ride 100 kilometres through the country.

These people are contributing hugely to minimizing our current and growing health care crisis.

The healthier people are, the less they are going to use health care.

Instead of “getting your knickers in a knot” when seeing a group of cyclists out for a pleasure ride, or a large group who might be riding for a cause (Cops for Cancer, Cops for Kids, Ride to Conquer Cancer, fundraisers for prostate cancer), you should be encouraged and inspired to get yourself out from behind the wheel on occasion and join in on the fun.

Denise McMahon,