Surrey council plans to lobby for laws to control sportives and even club runs

Local pressure leads to addition to Surrey cycling plan

by John Stevenson   December 3, 2013  

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 - riders passing a mill

Surrey County Council is planning to lobby the government to introduce legislation to control cycling events such as sportives and even club runs if a new cycling strategy is approved later this month.

The council published a draft cycling strategy in September and requested feedback. Following that consultation, the council plans to call on the Government for a new law so all road cycling events must be registered.

Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Cycling has brought great opportunities to Surrey, including tourism and healthier lifestyles, but we also recognise we need to limit disruption to residents and businesses.

“That’s why we’ll ask the Government to take action on hundreds of unregistered events in the county every year if our Cabinet approves the strategy later this month. Our plans will also give Surrey residents a stronger voice on cycling.”

We’ve asked for clarification from Ms Clack as to what the council means by an event, as a broad interpretation of the term could result in club runs and informal group rides coming under the scope of the legislation.

Ms Clack says there are "hundreds" of events in Surrey and the council claimed in its September draft cycling strategy document: “Following the 2012 Olympic Cycling events, there has been a major increase in sports cycling on and around the Olympic road race route.”

According to the listings on  sportive calendar site, within a 25-mile radius of the centre of Surrey there were 36 sportives or sportive-style events in the period August 1 2011 to July 31 2012 and 46 from August 1 2012 to July 31 2013.

That’s roughly in keeping with the growth of the sportive scene as a whole, which British Cycling’s Chris Boardman put at 20 percent per year in a recent interview.

According to the council 65 percent of those who provided feedback on the draft cycling strategy thought cycling events were good for Surrey.

The organisation of events in Surrey has become controversial in recent months after local complaints about closed roads for the RideLondon - Surrey sportive led to a petition calling for such events to be banned. A counter-petition started by reader Keith McRae was signed by Chris Boardman and went on to garner more signatures than the petition calling for the ban of closed-road events.

In November Surrey council was accused of doing a secret deal for the RideLondon Surrey 100 sportive to run for five years. The event raised more than £7 million for charity in its first year, claimed to be a new fundraising record for a one-day cycling event in the UK and was recently awarded Sports Event of the Year and Large Event of the Year at the UK Event Awards.

24 user comments

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LOL classic nimbyism it seems.

posted by northstar [1100 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 16:56

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I trust surrey council are also calling for car journeys to be logged? For all Motorcyclists to ask permission before riding to the café?

Maybe there is a need to do something, as most sportives are really races but for stupid laws? but is this really the best way???

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posted by mrmo [1068 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 17:03

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After what I'd heard so far from Clack, I'd have expected better - it's more about perception by a bunch of local muppets than any real issue. A limit of peak time traffic would make way more sense !

Including club runs would be both unworkable and one £$%^ing huge own goal, unfortunately although we have a lot of cyclists here we also have a high percentage of car-centric knobbers so it may not play out well in the ballot box.

You can't want to increase cycling in surrey then complain that they're the 'wrong sort of cyclists'..

posted by JonD [180 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 17:10

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I live <15km from the hallowed zigs and zags of Box Hill, so I ride it a couple times a week in the Summer at least.

I actually agree that there are too many sportives using that one particular road in Surrey. One August Sunday there were 2 sportives on, plus some kind of triathlon event as well. It was blimmin chaos when you factor in all the groups out on Sunday rides at the same time. That many riders on an open public road is going to cause problems with cars, regardless of the fact that it is perfectly allowable by law.

I dont actually know how it currently works, but personally I would welcome the idea of sportive organisers actually communicating with each other so that that kind of madness doesnt happen again.

But putting constraints on standard Sunday club runs, that is straight up ridiculous.

posted by edwardbmason [37 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 18:21

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Just double checked the calendar....I haven't missed out on Christmas and New Year and suddenly found myself at the start of April have I?

Someone's 'avin' a larf aren't they?

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posted by Bike Swanky [19 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 18:25

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Most of the proposed Surrey Cycling Strategy is quite positive - but my worry is that the beneficial advances suggested don't get through and the ban of cyclosportives goes through, and no one benefits! How can anyone seriously suggest regulating a passtime that is a healthy free choice activity, while allowing HGVs to roam our country with blind spots that include most of the pavement they are passing, and doing nothing much to curb driving while on mobile phones (shown to be 7 X more dangerous than driving at the drink-drive limit!)!


I ride bikes.

posted by Herbie [8 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 18:36

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The whole Surrey Cycling Strategy is a pile of poo - cycle strategies are documents envisaged under the local transport plans, so should be about utility cycling - to school, work, shops etc. The Surrey opus is unduly hung up on sports cycling, especially this nonsense about events and sportives.

Where it does cover utility cycling it is pure eco-fluff - some fine-sounding intentions which lack any substance. They are not measured, or costed, or SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant or time-bound). The whole thing is just a box-ticking exercise apart from the spittle flying about road racing etc.

posted by Paul M [308 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 18:45

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Well, I used to organise events under Surrey League and Border Cycling Assoc for our club, and we had to lodge event dates with Police and Council for them to sanction - just so that clashes didn't happen. What used to happen was that they came back sanctioned, and then on the day we found a Gymkhana or Music Festival on with cars turning up on the route, also sanctioned by the coordination teams at Police and Council - i.e. they did nothing, no research, no checks, no sensible separation of events!! The same chaos occurred then as does now! So, when the council/police get involved again under this proposal, it will be the same all over again - and is actually probably an approach to limit cycling events rather than be fair and sensible about all events out there!


I ride bikes.

posted by Herbie [8 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 18:47

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I do have some sympathy for the locals when it comes to some of the sportives - you end up with a few hundred people strung out along the route making it impossible to overtake, clogging up all the traffic. If that's happening increasingly regularly (even having events coinciding on the same day and stretch of road) I can see people would get annoyed.

So if there was a bit of law which which required those events to register, perhaps limited their number while allowing them to be bigger, that might be a worthwhile trade-off. However I don't think there is such a problem with club runs as they tend to be smaller and better coordinated. So the key thing here is what counts as an "event" and how do you define that legally to separate the wheat from the chaff? E.g might it apply to any profit-making event? Or any ride with more than a certain number of riders?

(On an aside I really don't get why people bother with sportives around Surrey - it's just as cheap to go for a ride and stop off at the multiple cafes and if you want to get competitive, race or use Strava)

posted by thebongolian [37 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 18:52

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Ha, how is a ban going to work? It's like the hunting ban round this way.

Are you hunting?

Nope, just taking the dogs for a walk. While on a horse.

Ah, carry on then.


Are you on a sportive?

Nope, just going for a ride. With some other people.

Ah, carry on then...

posted by localsurfer [162 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 19:18

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posted by Some Fella [744 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 19:43

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How did Time trialling start out… Thinking


Hello officer, we just happened to bump into each other, what a coincidence that we appear to be going the same destination, what are the chances of that Rolling On The Floor

This Country is getting pathetic, with ban this, ban that some people obviously have too much time on their hands Waiting

posted by martib [37 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 19:45

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Um, this country really has a culture of regulation generation, luckily there isn't anybody out there to enforce any of them. Don't worry as an old fart I can assure you nothing of any consequence will take place, it is just minor league politicians looking for any issue that will take them away from having to do real work.


posted by solkanofastera [24 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 22:26

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Since when is a Sunday club run a cycling 'event'? This sounds like scaremongering from road cc.

Some kind of regulation of sportives is actually not a bad idea..(if done reasonably and fairly, and granted that's a big 'if')..And I'm pretty sure I wasn't alone in this view when it was discussed here a few months ago.

This is about mass cycling events, not informal Sunday club cycling. its a debate that needs to be had, so that road user groups and locals can feel more consulted in future, and to minimise risks to health and safety and local disruption.

Scaremongering about club runs is clearly going to cause strong feelings on here and is only designed to whip up a frenzy, as per usual, than have a sensible debate.

posted by 700c [556 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 23:17

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Club runs, social rides, and even (occasional) enormous charity rides involving thousands of riders, on closed roads, are absolutely fine.

But inconveniencing tens of thousands of residents, drivers, and businesses, sometimes to the point of arrogant intimidation, quite often on the same roads, multiple times per year, and increasing in frequency by 20% per annum, for commercial profit, is just plain wrong!

And I'm sure I'm not the only cyclist to be alarmed about the potential consequences for cycling in the UK.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
4th December 2013 - 0:23

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I really can understand the supposed frustration from people who only drive cars as opposed to the majority on here I would guess are cyclists and motorists.

However, cyclists have just as much frustration with cars so where do we draw the line...especially given that cars also do the killing bit for good measure?

So, in the name of equality do city centre cyclists demand a parallel law to prevent the streets being clogged up by congested traffic, which in many cases actively prevent a cyclist from making unhindered progress?

Given the lack of progress cycling is getting from a 'changing the law' perspective if a local council can get the law changed tempers would really flare when many thousands of us along with numerous road safety charities have spent years banging heads against walls to instigate change with nothing happening.

Get in line Surrey Council, if experience has proven anything its that changes to law involving cycling are as likely as Kate Hoey trading her 'little Mini' in for a BMX.

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [124 posts]
4th December 2013 - 1:05

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If you work on the basis that we live in a free society and that roads aren't just for cars then the anti cycling argument becomes untenable. It's as simple as that.

posted by bike.brain [2 posts]
4th December 2013 - 10:11

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Can someone please ban or make everyone register for rush-hour twice a day? You know, that time when everyone files out of work in their cars at roughly the same time, to to race home or pick the kids up who can't possibly walk or cycle as it's too dangerous, at a great speed for no apparent reason?

posted by IHphoto [95 posts]
4th December 2013 - 12:50

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Sportives are one thing and club runs or group rides are quite another.

Hundreds of cyclists on one road at any one time is an issue. I have ridden sportives and have enjoyed them but you can't get away with thinking it's not an issue in the way that an extra large or slow moving load is an issue.

The sportive organisers are also commercial ventures and if you do the maths are making quite a bit out of it. Generally £25 - £30 a rider and they are selling out on events. The New Forest 100 in October had 2500 odd riders per day. That's about £120k in revenue.

So sportives like firework parties, demos, slow / large loads do need to have some regulation.

Club runs are a different animal altogether. Different sort of riders generally and different attitude purpose.

As an aside I was brought up doing club runs back in the 70s. I went on a group ride organised by a bike shop with my son and was more than mildly concerned over road discipline. There was me expecting a nice two abreast steady paced civilized affair and there were people all over the road paying no heed to whether anything was oncoming or waiting to pass or actually passing. Not so much a group ride as 25+ individual riders on the same road at the same time.

Having done a couple of sportives to see what they were like my brother, son and I just go ona club run now. more or less for free.

As ever, a sensible club run with sensible experienced leaders and participants regulates itself. Hundreds of individuals with no experience of group riding in a mass event probably do need some regulation. Maybe some of the profits could be used for police or motorbike marshalls or other security.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [563 posts]
4th December 2013 - 13:19

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There is an element of good sense in regulating 'events' in any area for the good of all, however, if we fail to regulate these ourselves, then the busy-bodies will f**k it up!.

BritishCycling should be regulating and coordinating these events from both promotional and safety sides of the argument.

Of course - this would need all 'events' to be registered with BC and there's nothing to call for that as any stipulation unlike racing. Introducing a law could effect things like Sunday club rides which RoadCC have correctly highlighted and also traditional club events like Randonees etc. This would be a big can of worms.

Better that BC PROMOTE benefits of registering an event with them and the local councils/police support them and these events over others including use of council facilities.

Rogue charity events will continue to be run at a detriment to cycling overall.
Well run events will continue to be run on dates clashing with races and other events also, which will continue to antagonise other road users as it is currently doing in these areas.
If you are planning an event - there is no single source to check for clashes to a decent level of risk.

If the powers that be dont look after Cycling in general - we will all suffer.

posted by Farky [179 posts]
4th December 2013 - 13:38

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Does seem to be Surry want their cake and eat it.

Surry certainly needs to recognise and except if you tout for the big money events with all that coverage others are going to use those courses.

Am sure Yorkshire will be hoping to attract some of the business away from surrey after this years TDF with maybe a"Great north ride" at present if such an event was to find it's way into the calendar I know which one my mates and I would choose. The olympic course and ride london does not have the status of the london marathon yet.

Be careful surry or you will find that businesses are asking you where all the cyclists have gone


posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
4th December 2013 - 14:55

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If i was to do a sportive in Surrey, I'd spend money = money into the local economy.

Many local councils would kill for this situation.

Why're they moaning for - obviously there must a lot of money in the local area ?

posted by yenrod [100 posts]
4th December 2013 - 17:51

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posted by yenrod [100 posts]
4th December 2013 - 18:04

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northstar wrote:
LOL classic nimbyism it seems.

Sums it up in one!

posted by Nevans [12 posts]
7th February 2014 - 15:34

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