Surrey Council Council pushes for sportive organisers to be forced to give a year's notice of events

Targeted events include any that 'may affect movement on the highway' - but council has not clarified what these are

by Sarah Barth   December 14, 2013  

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 - riders passing a mill

Surrey County Council is to push for government legislation to force mass participation ride organisers to notify various authorities at least a year in advance of their taking place, although it has not yet defined the type of rides to be targeted.

The council will debate its Cycling Strategy, with the stated aim of “supporting the development of cycling as a means of transport and to secure economic, health and environmental benefits for Surrey” on Tuesday.

The published strategy document notes in its foreword that “Surrey has been on the map as a destination for cycling.

"Every weekend hundreds of people head to the Surrey Hills to cycle through our beautiful countryside. We welcome this element of the Olympic legacy but recognise that it comes at a cost to some of Surrey’s rural communities.

"We want to act to ensure that all those who use our roads act safely and respectfully of others”.

On the other hand, it notes that every child in the county should learn to ride a bike and that ordinary people should cycle for transport and leisure.

One major concern of the council is that there is no current legislation to control events such as sportives that are not classified as races. The strategy document notes that: “The regulations date back to 1960 and we are concerned that they no longer reflect the situation, with a sharp increase in events that are not covered by the regulations. We are very concerned that, with no requirement for event organisers to notify the police or highways authority, there are risks to safety as well as potential inconvenience to local communities.”

The council says that it will lobby government to address these concerns by forcing legislation over these events.

A supplementary council document defines a sportive as “An unregulated organised, mass-partipaton event. A sportive is a ride rather than a race, although participant times will normally be recorded.”

The council names the London to Brighton ride in aid of British Heart Foundation as such an event.

It proposes that event organisers must notify the council a minimum of 12 months ahead of any ride and obtain a permit from the relevant highway authority.

And not only must sportive organisers notify the council of their plans, but also anyone planning “an activity which has a footprint on the highway or may affect movement on the highway,” - which could even include large club  rides. It is not yet clear how the council intends to draw a distinction between rides.

The Cabinet will also debate its support for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive and Classic race over the next four years. The minutes for the meeting note that: “Over 16,000 people took part in the 100, including about 2,000 Surrey residents. Over £7m was raised for charity.”

As part of its considerations the council will look at two petitions, one entitled Surrey County Council: Stop Surrey being turned into a cycle track, with just over 3,000 signatories, and Surrey County Council: Interact and give knowledge to those you represent, in direct opposition - created by user Gkam84, with almost 4,000 signatures to it.

But it is expected to give a formal endorsement to the agreement to stage RideLondon on Tuesday, despite the protestations of the founder of a local widlife charity who told the BBC the decision to do so was "reckless and undemocratic".

Simon Cowell, chief executive of the Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF) said charity workers were unable to leave its base for at least two days a year for the last three years because of cycle events.

"As a result of these cycling-related road closures, WAF has often been unable to respond to emergency callouts on the days of these events," he said.

"I was appalled to hear that [the council] had made a deal behind closed doors and had committed Surrey to hosting these extremely disruptive cycle races every year for five years.

"I am spitting blood about this. It is reckless and undemocratic."

13 user comments

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".....workers were unable to leave its base for at least two days a year for the last three years because of cycle events. ......."

Of course I believe them. Every word. The poor little dears.


mike the bike's picture

posted by mike the bike [375 posts]
14th December 2013 - 19:32


And not only must sportive organisers notify the council of their plans, but also anyone planning “an activity which has a footprint on the highway or may affect movement on the highway,”

I look forward to this being extended to every school-run-mum and rush hour driver causing queues at the start and end of each day - they affect movement on the highway!

posted by crazy-legs [652 posts]
14th December 2013 - 20:49


It does look as if some sensible compromises have come out of this process though.

The road closures will not be for so long and the professional race will be run behind a rolling road closure as examples. Personally I feel that has been a sensible move.

It also appears that consideration has been given to local access and this may be somewhat easier than in the past. If only the council and the organisers had done this previously, it would have saved an awful lot of tension.

All the details are on the Surrey County Council website.

posted by freespirit1 [212 posts]
14th December 2013 - 21:39


I am in the ballot for a place on the LondonSurrey100 on 10th August. That would be on the second anniversary, 10th August 2012, of my mother's death at Walsall Hospice. If I ride it, it will be sponsored for that hospice in memory of my mother and to help them care for those in need of their services. If Surrey residents try and stop me, just to get to their golf club in time for Sunday lunchtime drinks, God help them!

posted by Orbea Mike [19 posts]
14th December 2013 - 21:54


I really want to know what happens if they stop the sportives then loads of people just turn up and ride around surrey every weekend anyway, just in a disorganized fashion.

And don't the Wild Arse Federation or whatever they are know how to ride bikes?

posted by drfabulous0 [406 posts]
14th December 2013 - 22:23


SCC succumbing to nimby'ism. Little disconcerting really.

Crimea03's picture

posted by Crimea03 [14 posts]
14th December 2013 - 23:55


Why is it that when a decision does not go the way some would like it is beacause of nimbyism?

This really is a becoming a stuck record.

posted by freespirit1 [212 posts]
15th December 2013 - 8:00


“an activity which has a footprint on the highway or may affect movement on the highway''

Do the 200,000 vehicles per day which give the M25 in Surrey its status as Europe's biggest car park count as an activity with a footprint on the highway?

Northernbike's picture

posted by Northernbike [217 posts]
15th December 2013 - 8:48


Short of sneaking this into an existing bill there's no way the Government is going to agree to such legislation, it's controversial and, in the run up to an election, at best marginal in terms of vote winning. Depending on its form there are also devolution issues that could well see Scotland and Wales not participating in such measures.

posted by bendertherobot [555 posts]
15th December 2013 - 9:14



“an activity which has a footprint on the highway or may affect movement on the highway''

Doesn't affect me as I can track stand Laughing


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [723 posts]
15th December 2013 - 10:48


if the wildlife staff couldn't get of base for two days I wonder how they got to their base in first place?

posted by jonathanfmcgarry [28 posts]
15th December 2013 - 11:52

1 Like

Come ride in Yorkshire instead.


posted by Sudor [184 posts]
15th December 2013 - 12:24


Do people just complain about everything? This clearly has to be wonderful for the local economy so get over road closures for a handful of days a year already

posted by jarredscycling [457 posts]
16th December 2013 - 19:50