After reading the title of this post, I’m sure you are thinking, “Lauren hates bikers!” I absolutely do not. I love motor and bicyclists that follow the rules of the road and don’t try any silly tricks to impress people in nearby cars.
What I did not appreciate was the scene that follows.
Matt (my husband) and I had just finished visiting my Grandmother (like we do every Friday night). As I was approaching the yield sign at the square in Belleville, Matt said, “Watch out for the bikes.” I looked and sure enough, there was a mom, dad and son each riding a bicycle…in the dark. I was glad that my husband had pointed this out because I certainly had not seen them. It could have been the fact that everyone in the family was wearing dark clothing and didn’t bother to put lights or reflectors on their bikes.
When I began to approach 159, I saw that a set of stop lights was on flash and there was a police car up ahead. We thought that there had been an accident. As we painfully inched our way closer to the light, I saw what the real problem was: bikers. Tons of them. I looked at Matt and groaned, “It’s the Tour de Belleville!”
Tour de Belleville occurs every year on the second Friday in July. This is an event where cyclists of all ages can come and ride around down town Belleville at night.
First of all, I think that this idea is very silly. Why would you want to ride your bike in the dark? You can’t see anything! There is no beautiful sunset or gorgeous mountain range in the background. All you will see are buildings with no lights on. Just darkness.
Perhaps the most annoying part was that the city of Belleville did not bother to provide drivers with a detour. You literally had to wait at the flashing stop light until the police officer waved you through. And he was doing a poor job, at that. We sat there for 30 full minutes and witnessed two huge gaps between cycling groups. Did the police officer wave us on? No. He waited for two bicyclists to slowly make their way through the intersection. Then, he waited for one lone biker (who appeared to be trying to sight see) amble through before FINALLY waving us on.
I do not mind the city hosting events for bikers. What I do mind is that there were no signs or banners to alert others to the event. My husband and I do not take the local newspaper and we do not watch the news. The city of Belleville should have had signage posted at both ends of town so that drivers could have the choice of sitting in their cars waiting or taking a different path home.
Secondly, why was no detour offered? This would have been the safest option for such an event. The likelihood of a cyclist getting hit by a car in that area would have practically been reduced to zero (there is always the possibility of a wrong-way or drunk driver). Furthermore, I do not have extra money to spend on gas that is wasted from a situation beyond my control. I had no notice that my trip home was to be so delayed. I should have been given the option of knowing about the event and then making the decision as to which route to take.
Hopefully, the city of Belleville will think of these important issues for next year’s tour. Otherwise, I expect to see a check in the amount of my gas purchase in the mail.