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Bikes should always be welcomed

Sierra Scoop
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Of all places, the Endurance Capital of the World should be a place where cyclists are welcomed, at all times. There have been several negative comments on the Auburn Journal website in recent weeks regarding today’s Amgen Tour of California coming to town. Similar comments seem to pop up any time cyclists are in the news locally — whether it’s regarding new bike lanes in town or the formation of a cycling club. I’d like to think the majority of people in Auburn and the surrounding area are supportive of the Tour of California as well as the average Joe out for a casual ride on the weekend. Today’s race in particular should give a nice boost to the local economy. Many businesses around town have spruced up their buildings and manicured their grounds. The City of Auburn and Placer County have smoothed out the roads and streets and the local authorities are doing all they can to accommodate the event. But there are those in the foothills who can’t seem to get their head around the idea that the Tour of California is a world-class event, worthy of investing the time and effort it costs the community. The race will be broadcast on live television around the world, meaning Auburn and the surrounding area will get international exposure. More than 13 million people viewed the 2009 Tour of California and the event received 3.5 billion media impressions according to the organizers. The opposition to cyclists in general is perplexing. I find it hard to believe the presence of bicycles on the road drives these motorists to the point of exasperation on a regular basis. But that’s the impression I get from reading some of the comments left on our website. Do these same people lose it if they have to wait in line for two minutes at the post office? Should giving an extra 18 inches of room for a cyclist on the side of the road really ruin your day? Certainly there are inconsiderate riders out there who skirt the rules and they ought to know better. Cyclists should not be on the road unless they’re educated in the rules of the road, just like motorists. But bikes are here to stay. And as more and more riders discover the beautiful cycling available in our area, we will see increasing numbers of them on the road. Maintaining a confrontational attitude just does not make sense. The bicycle is a beautiful, simple machine. It’s self-sufficient, requires relatively little maintenance and provides an endless list of benefits for both the user and the community. Cities all over the world are discovering the positive impacts of bicycles as a means of transportation — less congestion, less pollution, less reliance on oil and so on. Auburn has taken steps in the right direction as well, installing new bike racks around town and getting behind cycling events like today’s race and next month’s Auburn Downtown Criterium. In addition to supporting the talented athletes in competition, we should also give it up for the individuals pedaling on our roads each day.