Several times each year someone writes a letter to the editor maligning cyclists or cycling in general, leaving it to a member of the cycling community to reply and refute their specious arguments. Perhaps it’s my turn to reply now, in light of John Thomas’s anti-cycling diatribe (Western News, Oct 19).
Thomas refers to cyclists as a “pack of freeloaders”. This is a common complaint of some motorists, but it is false. In fact, cyclists are subject to federal and provincial income tax, sales taxes, health insurance premiums, etc., just like everyone else, and these revenues go towards building and maintaining our transportation infrastructure and health care system.
Thomas refers to bike training as a “danger” and road racing as a “threat to safety.” This is hardly the case. A cursory reading of any newspaper will show that injuries and deaths caused by road cycling are extremely rare, while injuries and death due to car accidents are deplorably common.
Lastly, Thomas suggests that public expenditures on cycling infrastructure be curtailed as it has, according to him, “little, nil or negative return to the average citizen.” Actually, cycling is of significant benefit to all of us, John Thomas included. By cycling instead of driving, there is an immediate reduction in the air pollution that we currently breathe. It also greatly lowers the number of accidental injuries for which we pay vast quantities of money to treat medically. In the longer term, cyclists develop fit and healthy bodies, reducing the slow decline in health that results from a sedentary lifestyle.
We should all encourage our politicians to spend more, not less, public money on wider roads, paved shoulders and bike lanes. Ultimately it will cost us less and leave us with a fitter, healthier population.