ANYONE who has ever seen broadcasts of the Tour de France knows cycling takes courage.
The extraordinary distances ridden day after day, the long, tough climbs, terrifying descents, and feverish sprints are all difficult enough.
Competition aside, investing in cycling infrastructure also takes courage – especially in Australia, and, in recent times, especially in Orange.
In this city more than any other, a poisonous antagonism between motorists and cyclists has been cultivated to the point where it threatens the public’s safety.
That stand-off, which is experienced all too frequently on our roads, has been fostered by rancorous social media commentators.
It is not fanciful to see a link between the antisocial hysteria whipped up this way and incidents such as the bottle thrown at a pair of cyclists on Moulder Street just last week
Less dramatically, it has produced a seemingly endless spiral of shameful sledging from both motorists and cyclist on the Central Western Daily’s Facebook and website forums, each party hurling insults secure in the certainty their point of view is the right one.
In this instance – as almost all – nothing is black and white, and there are many examples where those traveling on both two wheels and four have engaged in dangerous behaviours on Orange’s roads.
The Central Western Daily won’t point any fingers of blame here, except to say something as obvious as it is unoriginal: It is in all of our interests to make room – literal and figurative – on our roads for cyclists.
Cycling has enormous benefits, not only for person under the helmet (hopefully) and holding onto the handlebars, but for the wider community.
By encouraging people to ride, it pushes them away from their cars as their mode of transport, where they only increase the backlog of traffic on, and wear and tear of, our roads.
Given the surfeit of complaints about potholes in our streets, this line or argument should resonate with motorists.
It is up to our governments, especially at the local and state levels, to resolve this issue in terms of providing infrastructure to accommodate all those who want to use our roads, regardless of which method of transportation they choose to employ.
Here’s hoping they have the courage to do so.