After a frightening close-call on a North Okanagan road, a Vernon senior and avid cyclist says more safety awareness is needed among drivers.
During Go by Bike week in B.C. (May 31 – June 6), more cyclists than usual are sharing the roads with motorists in the Okanagan.
Among them is 65-year-old Nancy Hichok, who’s been passionate about cycling for decades as a way to maintain her fitness and health while enjoying “the beautiful countryside we live in.”
Hichok is a cancer survivor, and after a friend was diagnosed this year she committed herself to the Tour de Cure — B.C.’s largest cycling fundraiser. On Aug. 28, she plans to ride 160 kilometres in under seven hours to raise funds for the BC Cancer Foundation.
She’s currently training for that endeavour with two other locals who are also taking part in the tour, riding six days a week. Yesterday (June 3) they covered 90 km along rural roads from Lavington to Lumby, hitting Rawlings Loop from Highway 6 and then onto Mabel Lake Road.
About two-thirds into the ride, Hichok said they were left shaken by a truck that flew past them going well over the speed limit, nearly making contact.
“He came so close to us we felt it on our legs, and the mirror almost hit us in the head,” she said, “We were just so shaken up. It was hard to come back because we still had 35 km to go to come home, and it just rattles your brain.”
She’s seen it all in her many years of racing and road cycling but says she’s witnessed a higher number of careless drivers of late.
“I’m a seasoned cyclist for 45 years and this year, for some reason, it seems to be a lot worse. Is it COVID? Are people irritable?”
Hichok and her riding partners use flashing handlebars, red tail lights and reflective gear; they ride on highways as sparingly as possible.
On the other hand, says Hichok, there are some cyclists who don’t wear helmets and ride on sidewalks or on the wrong side of the road.
“Those few cyclists give us all a bad name.”
She’s travelled on roads throughout the valley and says most drivers are careful and accommodating.
“When they see there’s nothing approaching them they give us lots of space, and we so respect that of them.
“But it’s those other few that make it so frightening because we’re vulnerable out there.”