Concerns about out-of-province cyclist team improperly riding throughout the South Okanagan spark on social media

Cyclist team ruffles feathers

Residents posted to local Facebook groups about the L’Équipe Cycliste Desjardins Ford team, reporting seeing the riders cycling abreast to one another in groups instead of riding single file on local two-lane roads and highways, making it dangerous for drivers to pass.

Dan Moskaluk, a local in the area and a former member of the RCMP for over 33 years, decided to approach the group after coming across them in the Naramata area multiple times riding hazardously.

“This cycling group came to my attention several weeks ago, it's been about a month they've been in the area. I observed them riding two to three abreast here out on Naramata Road, within the city limits and all the way to the dead-end, to Indian Rock road area and Chute Lake road,” he explained.

“A couple of times I'd encountered them I had difficulty passing, even in straight-aways, because they weren't dropping back to a single file even when there was traffic, I thought that was a little dangerous.”

According to the Cycling Regulations, Restrictions & Rules of the Road in the BC Motor Vehicle Act, "A person operating a cycle...must not ride abreast of another person operating a cycle on the roadway."

“Riders must ride single file on the roadway,” Moskaluk said, explaining that other individuals commented on the posts noticing the group's riding being "uncourteous and unsafe and illegal."

Another day, Moskaluk came across a group of around 20 of them cycling, riding two and three abreast along the roadway and had trouble passing them once again.

Their safety vehicle also began drifting over to the opposing lane as he started to pass, and made Moskaluk worried he would be hit or pushed off the road.

“I thought well that's enough of that, if I see them again I've got to identify who these individuals are, what they're doing out here and so on … Between my bilingualism and previous training, I thought I should step in before somebody gets killed.”

On Wednesday, he heard they were on the roadway again and drove out to meet them.

When he came across the group, the same scenario occurred with multiple riding alongside one another and the cyclists waved him past as they were still taking up the roadway. He managed to pull over and waive down the safety vehicle.

"I courteously asked them a bunch of questions as to, you know, I know you've been here for a while. This is what's been observed in the community, not sure if you're aware," he said, explaining the social media posts in multiple local Facebook and concerns from residents on the dangerous way they are riding their bicycles.

“This dangerous way in which your cyclists are riding ...This is the reason why I'm speaking with you. I don't want to see a collision involving one of these cyclists, be it serious injuries or fatal or a collision with two vehicles caused by a cyclist, myself as a retired police officer.”

Moskaluk said the whole purpose of conversing with her was to hopefully point out what's been going on.

“It's not a matter of being angry, I tried to be as courteous and polite and not aggressive yesterday when I approached them,” Moskaluk explained. “I've gone to fatals and banged up cyclists and kids, I really, really don't need to be coming home and coming across a collision or an injury. It's traumatizing to all those involved including the drivers.”

After a discussion with the drivers, Moskaluk stated they told him that they would have a meeting to discuss the issues he brought forward.

L’Équipe Cycliste Desjardins Ford responded to Castanet’s question about resident’s concerns with the community, apologizing for any disturbance they may have caused.

“We understand the concerns that have been brought up to us, team management and coaches have addressed the team riders accordingly. L’Équipe Cycliste Desjardins Ford have had training camps in Europe and Canada in the past years and have always respected proper road etiquette,” their message reads.

“Our goal has never been to disturb any locals and we have made sure these situations do not happen again.”

A further concern brought up by residents is seeing the Quebecois team training in BC, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and growing cases numbers.

Provincial restrictions currently state that high performance athletes can train, travel and compete together but "as a high-performance athlete," which must be identified by the "Canadian Sports Institute Pacific affiliated with an accredited provincial or national sports organization" and must follow safety protocols.

However, travel for sports otherwise between communities for training, practice and competition is prohibited and people should train at their home base.

Castanet has not yet received a response as to why the Desjardins-Ford cycling team has come to BC to train.

“Road safety aside, with the COVID situation they shouldn't be training here,” Moskaluk said.

"I'm from Ontario, Quebec region and I know there are some beautiful areas in Quebec that are very similar to the Okanagan Valley for roadways hills, the geographical makeups."

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