Cyclists returning to the Stromlo Criterium circuit after the winter hiatus from racing will be confronted with the stark realities of the dangers associated with competing in the upcoming criterium season.
Forget about the perils of cycling versus cars on the roads. No, public enemy number one within the cycling community which races on the Stromlo Criterium are kangaroos.
Having almost been cleaned up a couple of times over the years with kangaroos coming from the bushes onto the track at dusk, I can vouch for the danger.
The numbers appear to have increased considerably because of the drought; the lure of green grass on the running track is enticing. To get from bushes to the cross-country track they have to go through the criterium circuit, thus creating a problem.
The increased numbers of the kangaroos has led to a sharp increase in the numbers of crashes involving cyclists at speed, either crashing into roos or crashing to avoid them. Organisers have been forced to send wranglers down to the bottom of the circuit to persuade the grazers to stay put, while in many cases races are slowed down.
So what is the solution?
Parts of the Tuggeranong Parkway have a fence to limit the number of kangaroos creating mayhem with cars. By all reports, it has led to a sharp decline in the number of collisions between cars and roos.
Why not a fence around the criterium circuit?
A campaign driven by Canberra’s cycling community is gathering momentum to encourage the ACT Government to at least have a look at the problem, with the hope that a fence will be built.
At this stage, it is unclear how much it will cost but the priority should be the safety of cyclists using the track.
Possibly clouding the issue are the original plans for Stromlo Park, which included a longer criterium track and a 15 to 20-kilometre closed circuit road course within the park.
An extension of the cycling tracks appears to be off the agenda so the focus can be on the existing facility.
There have been some concerns that a fenced track would imply that it will be exclusive and not open to the casual rider outside times in which it is being used for competition.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim is to ensure the safety of all cyclists, not just those competing in races.
To my way of thinking, the solution appears to be obvious.
The erection of the safety warnings is a start as it indicates that the government also understands the dangers presented by kangaroos at Stromlo Park.