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GUEST COMMENTARY: Rules of the road and Ironman

July 2, 2009
Julie Voss and Kenny Boettger Co-owners of Placid Planet Bicycles
As the debate over the Ironman Triathlon unfolds, we would like to express our views.

    First of all, our business, Placid Planet Bicycles, benefits directly from the Ironman Triathlon.  This gives us a reason for wanting the event to continue.  We also believe our entire community is vested in the future of this event.

    As we see it, objections to the event fall into two categories: logistical issues, such as athletes training and race day, as well as economic concerns.

    The Ironman brings many athletes to this area to train throughout the year, primarily in the spring and summer.  The vast majority are considerate of those around them; however, some are not.  We all agree it is frustrating to be stuck behind people riding their bikes in the road.  This issue must be rectified.  At Placid Planet we are beginning a renewed campaign to educate cyclists on the rules of the road.  Packs of cyclists should not obstruct the flow of traffic.  In many areas, riding side by side is not allowable either.  We are committed to decreasing the aggravation we all feel at times with respect to cyclists.  Regardless of who is right or wrong, all cyclists must allow cars to pass by quickly and safely.

    Drivers must also understand that in many places our roads have deteriorated to the degree that riding on the shoulder is impossible.  As cyclists we have all experienced cars passing dangerously close to us.  Cyclists are vulnerable to the smallest miscalculation of a driver.  Most of us are not training for Ironman.  People ride their bikes for many different reasons, including inexpensive transportation with minimal environmental impact.  Please be considerate and patient when driving.

    For some, race day is an inconvenience, yet others marvel at the human spirit and accomplishment.  Road closings are inconvenient, but the organizers of this event have done a superb job of minimizing the impact of road closures. Unfortunately, some people are greatly inconvenienced and some businesses are negatively impacted. 

    There is no such thing as an event that benefits everyone.  There are many events that do not benefit our business and some impact us negatively.  We do not complain because we understand other people enjoy these events and profit from them.  Tolerating things that you do not enjoy or benefit from when others do is being part of a community.  The whole is greater than the parts.

    In 2008, it is estimated that the direct spending by people from the Ironman Triathlon was over $8.9 million.  This generated $693,830 in sales tax for Essex County and the State of New York.

    We hear a lot of talk about “Ironman doesn’t do anything for me.”  $8.9 million in direct spending translates into approximately a $50 million economic impact in our community.  How does that work?  At our shop, for example, the 15 people we employee buy housing, food and entertainment in our community.  We hire plumbers, accountants, electricians, lawyers and painters.  We send our kids to school and pay local, state and federal taxes.  We go to the dentist and the doctor.  We contribute to local groups and charities.  We go out for a beer and an occasional dinner.  In turn, those people do the same thing and that $8.9 million begins to turn over again and again in our community.  The revenue from the Ironman benefits most of us.

    Without the influx of visitors and money from the Ironman Triathlon, we believe many businesses would need fewer employees.  We certainly would.  Our community does not need further job losses.  We need to create jobs, not turn them away.

    Economic times are changing.  A dialog discussing how to pay for the state police for this event and a solution to the problem must be established.  $50,000 is a lot of money yet it pales in comparison to the economic benefits our community receives in return.  We do not have a solution to this question, but the answer probably lies in what is the standard for the Ironman events and what is the norm for other events in our community. 

    We believe the Ironman Triathlon is a healthy and inspirational event for the vast majority of people and businesses in our community.  We are lucky to have them here and they are equally lucky to be here.  The athletes we meet every day love the area and are incredibly grateful for the support they receive here.  Many come back again and again, not just for Ironman but to ski, fish, golf, hike and do many of the things our beautiful area has to offer.

    Would you like to see the Ironman event continue in Lake Placid?  If not, why not?  What could be done to improve the event? Do you enjoy participating in the event? Do you find the emphasis on athletics to be a positive or negative influence on our community and our children? Do you or your business receive revenue related to the event? Would you like to see that continue?

    We feel it is important that we speak up and remind the decision makers how crucial the Ironman event is to our local economy.

    You know what we think. What do you think?



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