EDITORIAL: Tragic start to summer a stern reminder for those on the roadways

Summer has arrived. And just like every year, streets and highways throughout Penticton and the South Okanagan are getting busier.

Summer has arrived. And just like every year, streets and highways throughout Penticton and the South Okanagan are getting busier.

That means more RVs, trucks and cars, but it also means more cyclists and runners. Given Penticton’s place as a hub for assorted runs, triathlons and Ironman Canada, we are talking abut a lot more. And the amount will be increasing over the next month as more of them get out on the roads, finishing their training for the 2012 Ironman.

Now, the recent death of a Penticton man in an Oliver cycling accident highlights the need for awareness of these sometimes less visible fellow travellers.

Roads can be treacherous enough, even when surrounded by a couple of tons of steel. Put yourself in the rider or the runner’s position, with nothing between you and the road except a bit of spandex and your skin.

Yes, we’ve all seen, all too often, cyclists blowing stop signs at intersections, zipping past stopped cars on a sliver of road shoulder and riding conversely between the road and the sidewalk. But generally, they’re in the minority — the majority of riders recognize that they are vehicles, and responsible to act as such.

But car versus cyclist isn’t a fair fight. The outcome of two tons of steel versus 10 kilos is a guaranteed win for the car. So it falls to drivers to be even more aware.

In addition to being less visible than a large vehicle, cyclists can also be moving deceptively quickly.

While slow heading up long inclines, cyclists can cruise pretty easily along flat stretches of road at 30 to 40 kilometres per hour, and easily hit up to 65 km/h or more on downhill sections. That doesn’t leave much space for reaction time when a car cuts a cyclist off.

So enjoy the summer, but we hope you stay aware that there you are sharing the road with more than other drivers.