Safety improvements needed on Eastside Road

I personally know of three people who have been clipped by vehicles while riding their bikes on this road

Cyclists are all members of our community, not foreigners from a distant planet. They are regular people who pay sales tax and gas tax. They pay income tax and property tax. If we are talking about a user tax, then perhaps we should consider a tax for the unfit. Obesity and lack of fitness are direct causes of diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, coronary artery disease, etc. which incur an astronomical financial burden on the health system.

The fact is that most countries on this planet cope with bicycles and motorized vehicles intermingling, as forms of transportation and recreation. We can get along if we follow simple guidelines. Cyclists: obey traffic rules and ride single file. Motorists: use caution and a bit of patience. Adequate infrastructure is also very helpful.

Which brings me to the topic of Eastside Road. Yikes! Eastside Road: at best an embarrassment, at worst a nightmare. This road must be one of the most popular cycling roads in the province.

Several events, besides Ironman, are held on this road. Dozens of training camps come to Penticton from April to August to ride this route, as well as individual athletes and residents running and walking. Add the ever increasing car traffic due to development and Eastside road is a dangerous frustration to cyclists and motorists both.

This past summer, the crumbling, sporadic, decaying shoulder was the cause of an accident in a very successful cycling event. One of the top female athletes ‘ran out’ of road shoulder, riding into the dirt at high speed, crashing and knocking down another top female athlete. She was air lifted to Vancouver for surgery, with a pelvis fractured in several places. I personally know of three people who have been clipped by vehicles while riding their bikes on this road, and they were riding single file or alone.

Coeur d’Alene has its own version of Eastside Road along their shoreline with a substantial and popular bike/walking lane alongside. They hold many events along this road and it is a fantastic tourist draw. Can we achieve this too?

It seems to me that after 30 years of Ironman, this stretch of road should be safer than it is. Is there someone that can inform us, the public, if there is anything planned for the entire length of Eastside Road, to improve the safety and enjoyment for all who use this route?

Sybilla Bartram