Cyclist can’t be part of Bluewater Bridge Race
Sarnia cyclists are disappointed after the Bluewater Bridge Authority turned down their bid to be part of an international race across the span.
The 36th Annual CHOK/YMCA International Bridge 10K Run is set for June 2 and the YMCA’s website had touted the addition of a new 80 kilometer bike event to run in conjunction with the race. But the bridge authority has nixed the idea and that’s disappointed Lawrence Green, one of the cyclists trying to organize the ride.
Green is part of an informal group of cyclists which look for longer bike events in Ontario to take part in. Other communities, such as Aylmer and Norfolk County, have organized events which now draw up to 1,000 cyclists, filling up local hotels and keeping restaurants busy for the weekend. Green says an event over the Bluewater Bridge would certainly draw a large number of people. “That’s the attraction of the bridge run, they could do a whole regular run in Sarnia and Lambton County, but the whole attraction is crossing the bridge,” says Green. Green and fellow cyclist Dick Felton were anticipating at least 100 riders would take part this year.
But safety concerns trumped the ride. Green says the bridge authority was worried about cyclist crossing the expansion joints on the bridge and going too fast. “We offered to look at anything we could do to ally their concerns, putting on (speed) restrictions of the bikes going over, making them stop and walk across the expansion joints or putting matting over it,” says Green.
John Elliott, spokesperson for the Bluewater Bridge, says safety was the biggest concern. He concedes the issue of the expansion joints could likely be dealt with, but says it would take a lot of time to do and that would mean the bridge would need to be closed longer.
“It involves some considerable prep work… closure time and the resources required prepare the bridge and recover from the bridge event in addition to monitoring it has economic implications,” he says. “The economic implications to both countries one of the main reasons we’re working 24 hours, 7 days, 365 days a year to keep the bridge open…It’s not possible with the resources we have right now.”
“It’s a shame,” says Felton of the bridge authority’s decision. “This was an ideal opportunity. The people in Sarnia would jump at the chance to ride across the bridge and it was a great revenue thing for the Y.” With registration at $50, the Y could have raised an addition $5,000.
And Felton says it would certainly have been a tourist draw with people from Windsor and London participating.
Felton hopes the issues can be resolved so a cycling component could be added in 2014. Elliott said the bridge would be willing to talk about the idea next year.