Last Saturday we worked somewhat after our usual closing time as we were chatting with couples from Victoria and Calgary until around 5:15 pm. A few minutes later we locked up and left the museum. We noticed that the alley way next to us and opposite had been taped off, so we assumed something was going to happen later that evening.
We proceeded west up First Street as far as the Connaught Avenue cross-walk outside the Frisby Ridge restaurant. The road was completely empty so we proceeded to cross. Half way over we encountered a bunch of demented idiots on bicycles hurtling round the corner from Campbell Avenue and east down First Street, mostly on the wrong side of the road. We were very nearly mown down by them. At the same moment, a young lady on a bicycle was pedaling west along First Street, arriving at the cross-walk just as we did. She kindly did stop for us, jumping off her bike and looking nervous. She should look nervous, as if it had not been for us acting as a shield, she would almost certainly have been mown down by the oncoming hoard of morons. I voiced my concerns to a person dressed in orange garb at the junction of Campbell Avenue, pointing out that cyclists, like any other wheeled road user, are supposed to stop at cross-walks when they are occupied by pedestrians, not simply shout at them to get out of the way. She agreed to pass the message on to the riders concerned.
We later discovered that this was some kind of cycle race, presumably sanctioned by someone at City Hall.
1) I would question the legality of holding races on public streets.
2) It is highly irresponsible to hold such events in the downtown core, particularly in streets lined with open retail stores, restaurants etc, many of which had members of the public therein.
3) What was the insurance position? It is to be hoped that both the organisers and the City had massive third-party insurance in place, as in the event of a major accident, there would be large claims to be made upon someone. Personally, I feel that ALL cyclists should be forced to carry third-party indemnity.
4) Why was it, as usual in this City it appears, that no prior notification of the event was provided to occupants of the businesses along the route, so that they could at least warn their customers that it was happening? Our visitors from Victoria and Alberta may easily have been injured as a result.
In this instance, had there been a pile-up of cyclists, or swerving to avoid such a pile up, some could easily have crashed off the road and through a plate glass window of one of the stores. Where would the organisers and the City stand in the event of a participant being killed in such a way?
The person at City Hall who authorised this needs their head examining. Would they kindly not authorise anything of the kind again.