I have never written to a paper before, but the letter from Mr. John Thomas has compelled me to do so. When I first read his letter I was feeling angry.
After reading it again several times, I now feel sorry for him. Sorry that he has had something in his life make him so callous and short sighted towards a group of people who chose to lead a healthy lifestyle.
I am a newer road cyclist. I purchased my road bike four summers ago and completed Ironman this year. (I am signed up for Challenge next year — Yay.) The people that I have met through cycling and triathlons are the most positive, happy people one could know. These people are not some “pack of freeloaders” as stated in his letter. In fact, they are made up of every demographic in our community. I guess Mr. Thomas thinks that everyone other than himself is a freeloader.
I do believe that all of these people pay taxes, and many pay a much larger share than others. And I do believe that they all own a vehicle. I also think that each one of these valued members of our community deserve to be safe when they are on the roads regardless of whether they are in their vehicle, or riding their bike. Each one has a family and friends that love them and wish them to be home each night safely.
To even suggest that improvements to our roads which consider the cycling community should be scrapped is down right cold and selfish. We add sidewalks to the sides of many roads to keep pedestrians safe. Perhaps we should only charge the people that actually walk on a given sidewalk?
The economic impact of the events held in and around our city are much further reaching than what Mr. Thomas states. Many local businesses benefit from the cycling/triathlon community that live here, beside the hospitality sector. All of the athletes that I know spend money at local sports outlets, health food stores, specialty stores and they all at some time see a chiropractor, physiotherapist, massage therapist, etc. — not because they are sick or injured (well, not usually anyway) but because they take care of their bodies in order to maintain and lead the healthy lifestyle they have chosen. They pay for these services with their own hard-earned dollars.
These people are healthy and in fact maybe they should all get a large tax break for not burdening our health care system as do those who choose not to lead a healthy lifestyle.
I find it actually humorous that Mr. Thomas is asking the City of Penticton to reconsider spending money on improving roads or cyclist when he lives in Kaleden. He even goes further and names several other communities in his letter, none of which he resides in.
The local triathlon/cycling clubs have many members. Some that are unable to still participate in events, but still actively volunteer for these events. In fact, all members do take time to volunteer for events throughout the year, and many for non-cycling triathlon events as well. In an effort to convince Mr. Thomas that these nuisances he speaks of are actually fine upstanding citizens of our community, I would like to invite him to volunteer at one of these events and actually meet some of us. I believe that he may find that he actually likes these people.
They are in fact the best people I know. I am honoured to have many as my friends. In fact, I like them so much that I bought road bikes for my two sons. They love riding and triathlons. They have had so many positive experiences interacting with many local athletes. Oh, and they are great students, are leaders in their schools, in the local swim club, play school and community sports, and they volunteer at events. Certainly not on their way to being freeloaders.
In closing, I would like to encourage the City of Penticton and the surrounding communities to continue to support healthy lifestyle opportunities for our beautiful cities. We live in the best place in Canada, and we have the potential to be even better. Do not let any chance slip away.
In life there are three types of people: Those that watch what happens, those that make things happen and those that wonder what happened (John Madden). Please let us all be the ones that make things happen.