As a 65-year-old woman who rides 20 mph only in my dreams, I feel compelled to respond to Andy Dolich's comments, which serve to further inflame animosity toward cyclists. This negativity toward cyclists makes the roadways dangerous for us every time we ride. The gear that he ridicules serves a safety and welfare function -- all the more necessary because of the lack of acceptance of cyclists by motorists.
Helmets: As any emergency-room physician will attest, helmets should be required of all cyclists. When I fell on wet pavement, I sustained only a broken arm and not a skull fracture -- thanks to my helmet. Who cares if I look like "an alien?"
Gloves: Cycling gloves are padded to protect the nerves in our hands, wrists, and arms. If Dolich had ever tried riding more than a couple of miles without bicycle gloves, he would know why these are necessary.
Jerseys: Anyone who has been to a professional sporting event -- or even watched on TV -- knows that fans love to wear shirts attesting to their loyalty. The same is true for cyclists, who sometimes don team jerseys. But unlike the team shirts and jerseys worn at most sporting events, the bicycle jersey serves several important functions. The pockets in the back allow the rider to carry food, water, and other gear, such as tubes, phones, etc. Most importantly, these colorful jerseys make the cyclist more visible to motorists. Anyone who has been nearly (or actually) sideswiped by a car appreciates the value of anything that increases visibility.
Shorts: Cycling shorts are padded to provide some modicum of comfort. Try riding any length of time without padding!
Clipless pedal cleats (or "click clack shoes"): These enable riders to have more power and speed by enabling the rider to use strength on the upward cycle as well as the downward. I personally do not use these because I lack the necessary coordination, but they would sure make riding easier, especially for long distances.
Many of these riders he is criticizing ride 25, 50, 75-plus miles a day. All of this gear enables the cyclists to ride harder, further and more safely.
We should all be encouraging these men and women in their pursuit of a lifelong exercise activity that also protects the environment. I would challenge Dolich to try riding regularly to learn the value of this gear he finds so offensive.
Kathleen Moskowitz is a resident of Benicia.