By M Adrian Brassington
Published September 06, 2011
Today the Spectator published a letter to the editor regarding the proposed velodrome for the 2015 Pan Am Games. The letter reads in part:
Our city fathers would have us believe that there is only one other velodrome in North America, located in Los Angeles. In fact, there are two indoor velodromes. One is the ADT Event Center in Carson, Calif. and the other is the Colorado Springs Velodrome in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Then there are 21 other outdoor velodromes throughout the United States.
The author concludes that the velodrome "will be underutilized and cater to only a minute sector".
I read it and my immediate reaction was to think of US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's quote, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." My secondary reaction was to realize that a lack of understanding of issues isn't the exclusive domain of politicians.
Finally, I decided to get in touch with Greg Mathieu, CEO of the Canadian Cycling Association. Mr. Mathieu had made a presentation to the GIC meeting on August 29th, and I'd been fortunate enough to have been present.
He delivered a solid, evocative presentation, and as I was reading Mr. Schmiedeberg's letter, I'm sure some of the facts he'd relayed came to mind.
Mr. Mathieu writes:
Of course the LA Velodrome is the one in Carson City, so the writer is not unearthing anything not already in the report to Council.
The Colorado velodrome is not UCI standard as it is 142 meters and the international standard is 250 meters, all of which is part and parcel of the study done for Hamilton by Sierra Planning.
There are a number of outdoor cycling velodromes in Canada and USA that were largely built up to the time of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. They were built at various lengths ranging from 250 meters up to 400 meters. Of course the track cycling season was run in concert with the Road season until 2004 when the World Championships were moved to March.
Most recently, track has been run in the October to March period with World Cup season culminating with the World Championships. Therefore, preparing for the highest level of track cycling occurs in the September to March period and that is a period in Canada where we can't depend on outdoor tracks. It is for this reason that our National Team program is in Los Angeles using an indoor track that is 250 meters in length.
In any case the value of the velodrome to the community, including the Mohawk College student population, is much beyond the high performance programs of the National, Provincial and National Cycling Centre Hamilton programs. It offers a facility that can hold community cycling programs of all types including club development and safety instruction. It can provide a safe and weather proof training track for cyclists, and then there is the infield area, which is being designed to host multiple sport activities that can be run while the track is in use.
We fully expect the velodrome to be a very well used facility benefiting the cycling community, the Hamilton sport community, active living practitioners and the Mohawk student body.
It is our hope that the community use of this facility is well presented and understood when Council next meets on this matter.
Whether or not the velodrome, as it has been packaged together in the effort with Mohawk College, is a good idea has yet to be determined by Council. Whether or not the entire project is a prudent one for Hamilton, period, is also a matter to be sorted out.
Certainly every Hamiltonian has a right to their opinion, but preferably after they have full command of the facts. No matter what the topic, surely we can all agree that it's vital to be processing the same set of facts.
Hopefully Mr. Mathieu's reply has added some clarity to the discussion.
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