CYCLE SCARE Road riders fear for their safety following two recent frightening incidents involving aggressive vehicle drivers.
A cyclist on Highway 99 was surprised last week when an unhappy driver pulled a baseball bat out and threatened him.
The incident happened on Highway 99 at the north end of Whistler. Two cyclists were out for a northbound training ride when a black Ford F150 passed the pair as they rode single file on the right side of the white highway line.
A honk came from the truck as they rode by the Whistler heliport, said one of the cyclists. The cyclists carried on and spotted the truck stopped at the Wedgemount entrance.
"At the time I thought whoever pulled over might have been someone I knew," one of the cyclists said. (The two cyclists asked that their identities be kept confidential for safety reasons.)
Then the truck's driver came into view holding a baseball bat.
"The guy with the bat started coming out to the road towards me with his bat saying he wanted to kill me."
The cyclists sprinted away and called 911. Staff Sergeant Steve Leclair confirmed that the RCMP responded and made efforts to find the truck.
Whistler road cyclist Tony Routley was disappointed when he heard the story.
Routley is friends with the riders, describing them as experienced cyclists. Routley recounted a similar incident on Jan. 20 while riding on the Paradise Valley Road north of Squamish.
Routley was riding with Dr. Cathryn Zeglinski when a group of five other riders joined them in the northbound lane. Routley said the pack also included a 15-year-old and one of the people confronted by the man with the bat on Jan. 25.
Zeglinski said the oncoming vehicle was driving right towards the vulnerable group as the cyclists rode two abreast in the northbound lane.
"We're looking up and wondering what he's doing," said Routley.
The car got so close that Routley said riders were contemplating bailing off the road and into the ditch.
"He intentionally came into our lane straight at us and swerved at the last minute," said Zeglinski. "If his timing was off a little bit he would have killed us."
The man behind the wheel of the small car was reportedly laughing as he drove by. Zeglinski said she tried to sprint after the car to read the license plate number but there was so much dirt on the vehicle that it was impossible to make out.
According to Zeglinski, too many people don't understand the laws of the road.
"We have the right to the road and it may mean that cars are required to slow down for a very short limited time but they have to be aware that when they're slowing down they are slowing down just like it was for a slower moving car," said Zeglinski.
The Motor Vehicle Act in B.C. states: "...a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle."
She noted that Whistler's tourism-based economy is dependent on visitors who will come in increasing numbers with the arrival of Ironman Canada and its proposed bike route between Pemberton and the Callaghan Valley.