By Rebecca Anderson and Steve Medcroft
Floyd Landis took time out from his work to prepare for his upcoming case at the US Anti-Doping Authority to attend a road safety meeting in Madison, Wisconsin.
On crutches following the "Birmingham" hip resurfacing procedure he underwent earlier this month, Landis had been invited to keynote Saris Cycling Group's annual fundraiser to support the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. This is the second time Floyd has appeared at this event which raises funds for bicycle related projects in Wisconsin.
Landis addressed a group of approximately 500 at Saris' manufacturing and business headquarters in Madison on the need for cyclists to advocate for safety issues within their communities. "I find most Americans to be respectful to riders," he said, "but I wish more cities had dedicated bike lanes or paths like Madison does and educating drivers about bikes on the road is always going to be needed."
The fundamental issue of safety for cyclists, he said at the event, is about making sure cyclists and drivers have the education and support they need to coexist. "I believe most cyclists don't go out of their way to get in the way of a car and likewise, I don't think drivers are always aware of how close they are to a bike. Every now and then there is the driver who would rather see you in the ditch - or dead - but not too often. Unless you've been on a bike and had a car come close to you, you wouldn't think about this situation. Cyclists need to show as much respect as possible; it doesn't help to react to a driver and education for drivers is needed. Which is why I'm here tonight."
Chris Fortune, President of Saris Cycling Group, said that the fundraiser was his company's way of contributing to the dialog of road safety. "We need to create a safe environment for people to ride and that means dedicating space on the roads and teaching drivers to respect bikes (as well as) providing funding to make the roads safe - for programs like "Safe Routes to School" and "Bike to Work Week," he said.
Fortune said that the funding and advocacy work is intended to raise the profile of the cyclist in public debates. "We are dedicating the funds (from tonight's fundraiser) to the advocacy projects of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. Last year BFW used the funding to hire a lobbyist to make sure that cyclists are heard at the state capitol when funding decisions are being made. Here in Wisconsin, over $7 million every year is pirated by the highway builders and redirected from bike and pedestrian initiatives to fund state highways. We have to turn that around. People aren't going to commute by bike or ride for pleasure if they don't feel safe. Floyd is here because he is giving back to the industry that he makes a living in and working together we can make a case for more funding for cycling initiatives."
Landis recovery progressing
Landis noticably required the aid of crutches during his talk. "My hip feels good," he said when asked at about his ongoing recovery from hip surgery. "I don't have the pain I used to have." The surgery was necessary to repair bone degeneration caused after a fall three years ago left him with a broken hip; the fracture healed but scar tissue reduced blood flow to the femoral head and with no nutrition going to the bone, parts of his hip essentially decayed.
"The (Birmingham) procedure entails resurfacing of the bone and it's ideal for a younger patient," he said about the procedure. "Some of the dead bone is removed and in my case a new man-made femoral head was set in place."
Landis was well-received by the crowd and says he is generally treated well in public. "I can't go anywhere without being recognized," he said. "But people have been really supportive. I live in Temecula, California and there is a ton of traffic there. I get a lot of waves."