Do bike races have an economic impact on the communities, especially rural ones, through which they ride? That was part of the discussion at Monday's Council of Governments (COG) meeting in Coalville.
What started as a dialogue on how Summit County's special events calendar is populated turned into a talk about the logistics, downsides and economic benefits of events such as bike races.
Notable figures in the discussion were Park City Mayor Dana Williams, Summit County Council members Dave Ure and Roger Armstrong and the mayors of Henefer, Kamas and Oakley: Randy Ovard, Lewis Marchant and Blake Frazier, respectively.
Ure, Marchant and Frazier were not available for comment but Williams, Armstrong and Ovard said the conversation was a great starting point.
"There was a discussion about events generated from Park City that impact the rest of the county, particularly bike races," Williams said. "They have an impact on rural [parts of the] county, which believe they are of no economic benefit to them."
Henefer Mayor Randy Ovard, who says his community has enjoyed seeing cyclists come through, did add that large bike rides with hundreds of riders in towns such as Oakley are becoming an issue.
"[Riders are] going up through Oakley, past [Rockport] Reservoir, and just going ahead and going through," Ovard said. "There's very little revenue being generated in their communities as a result."
The strain that hundreds of cyclists put on traffic was also highlighted. Summit County Council member Roger Armstrong said that towns on the East Side are often not getting a fair deal from special events.
"They get all of the infrastructure demands and hiccups that may be caused by a special event without any of the attendant benefits of those events," Armstrong said.
Adding to the traffic congestion, Williams said, is the fact that often cyclists coming through are riding in clusters of three or four rider abreast, sometimes occupying a lane of the road.
"If they're not willing to ride single-file somewhere like [Rockport] Reservoir, it's a very big inconvenience to motorists. They have to follow them and they can't pass them," Ovard said.
When there are large rides, Ovard said, often no one affiliated with the ride will contact the cities through which they will be riding. He said that Summit County Council member Dave Ure, also a rancher, wanted to move 150 of his cattle out during a bike ride for the National Abilities Center on Saturday. Because of the hundreds of riders on the roads and the time it would have taken him to move his cattle, Ovard said he had to cancel those plans.
"If bikers want to come through, we can control traffic," Ovard said. "But if a beef or sheep man wants to get his animals up the road, we let them do that. [Ranchers] want to have some kind of notification, so they can plan around [a ride]."
Williams said that, in his estimate, roughly 90 percent of the events that get permits through Park City are held in Park City. There are, he added, "a couple of major ones" that go out into the East Side of the county. He said the COG is looking at ways to make special events more inclusive for those rural areas.
Williams expressed that it is "certainly worth having the discussion" about special events and their impacts on the East Side. He said part of the plan for the next COG meeting could be to discuss getting events staged in East Side towns.
The next COG meeting is scheduled for Nov. 19.