May 10, 2019 7:05 pm
Updated: May 10, 2019 7:42 pm

New biking event planned south of Calgary amid ‘growing tension’ between cyclists and drivers

WATCH: A new Alberta cycling event is expected to draw hundreds of cyclists to rural roads southwest of Calgary. But as Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, organizers are concerned about growing tensions between drivers and people on bikes.

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It’s easy to see why the highways through the rolling foothills of southern Alberta are a magnet for cyclists.

They pass through scenic countryside, which riders say is peaceful with the exception of some angry motorists.

“You’ll get some drivers who come by and push on the gas and give you a little exhaust smoke and I’ve had some horns honked and people yelling out of their windows,” said triathlon coach  Jenna Caer. “It’s pretty frustrating.

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“I am a fairly confident cyclist, but when I was just getting into the sport, it was really scary when you have someone come close to you with a couple tons of steel — it’s pretty frightening. It’s unfortunate that some people feel the need to do that.”

Tom Bamford is organizing a new event west of Calgary that will see cyclists travel on Highway 22X and south towards Turner Valley.

READ MORE: Drivers, cyclists could be impacted by proposed changes to Calgary transportation bylaws

The Chinook Classic Gran Fondo will include 50-kilometre, 110-kilometre and 155-kilometre rides. The longtime touring cyclist says he’s seen more strain recently between people on bikes and those behind the wheel.

“There’s growing tensions between people that live here — people who have their commutes and traffic through this area — [and] with a lot of the cyclists who are riding in packs, taking up roads into the shoulders,” Bamford said. “At times, I’ve seen cyclists in groups of three or four wide having a chat, and that’s just not conducive to safe riding.”

Bamford says Foothills County has been  supportive of the new Chinook Classic Gran Fondo.

Riders advise those on bikes to ride single-file and wear visible clothing.

As for drivers, they suggest putting down the phone, slowing down and learning to share the road.

“I think cyclists need to follow the rules of the road and they need to stay over to the right,” Bamford said. “They don’t want to be riding three or four wide and having a conversation. They have to realize they are vehicles as well. If we all follow those rules, I think we’re going to be less of a nuisance in those cases.”

The event will be held on June 15 with an estimated 500 registered participants.

 

 

 

 

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