Some see physical limitations as just another challenge
I take exception to a number of David MacKinnon’s assertions (Put the Emphasis on Safety Instead of Attacking ATVs, Weekend Feedback, Jan. 23). Chris Milburn’s original point (ATVs Too Dangerous for Public to Support, Jan. 19) was not that all-terrain vehicles should be banned but that they should be more tightly regulated and, more important, that our tax dollars should not be used to promote an activity that is inherently dangerous and environmentally destructive.
While it’s true that almost any outdoor activity carries some risk, our tax dollars should be used to promote activities (and create infrastructure) that will get people more physically active.
MacKinnon asserts that ATVing gets disabled people “off the couch” and that “not all are suited to triathlons as Chris Milburn is.” Is he implying that disabled people can’t be physically active? What about the disabled people who would like to be active on trails but are too afraid to venture out with their wheelchairs and walkers and white canes onto what the ATVers hilariously call shared-use trails?
For most of us, disabled or otherwise, sharing a trail with a motorized vehicle is roughly akin to sharing the Trans-Canada Highway with a jumbo jet. A runway may look like a highway but there’s a reason keep them separate.
And, for the record, here’s a list of people who’ve completed the Ironman, the sport of triathlon’s longest and most gruelling race: a 78-year-old nun, a double leg amputee, several paraplegics (using hand cycles), blind people (with guides), a young man with severe cerebral palsy (pushed by his father, who had survived two heart attacks), an 80-year-old man, a man with AIDS, a man with ALS (Lou Gherig’s disease), several people with multiple sclerosis, countless survivors of cancer, and people with traumatic brain injury, organ transplants, mental illness, addiction, morbid obesity and various other illnesses and disabilities.
One of the best professional triathletes in Canadian history, Lisa Bentley, suffers from cystic fibrosis. I could go on all day about this, but you get the point.
While some people may choose to sit on stinky, loud, motorized vehicles rather than get some exercise, there are very few people who are not “suited” to even the most gruelling physical challenges.
So please, Mr. MacKinnon, don’t add your voice to the chorus of those who tell Cape Bretoners – and particularly disabled Cape Bretoners – what they can’t do, what they are not “suited” for. We’ve heard enough of that already.
And count me among the majority of Nova Scotians who are fuming like ATV tailpipes about where our tax dollars are being spent. Julie Curwin Sydney Editor’s note: Comments in MacKinnon’s published letter about getting people “off the couch” and not everyone being suited to triathlons referred to “ handicapped as well as ... the able-bodied,” and not exclusively to disabled people.