British Cycling decision to end sportive insurance cover for National Escort Group riders branded "foolish"

Endura Lionheart organiser criticises governing body's move, but British Cycling says escort must focus on road races

by Simon_MacMichael   January 28, 2014  

National Escort Group motorcycle (copyright Britishcycling.org.uk)

The organiser of a leading sportive has criticised what she terms a “foolish” decision by British Cycling to remove insurance cover for motorcycle riders belonging to the National Escort Group (NEG) for non-competitive events. The governing body, however, says that factors including increasingly strained resources have forced it to ensure the NEG focuses on road racing.

Emma Slevin, co-director of the Endura Lionheart, says that she discovered earlier this month through a third party that the extension of British Cycling’s insurance cover for NEG members to cover sportives had been removed with effect from 1 January.

“This is a foolish, backward step for British Cycling,” she said. “Whilst I understand the demands on such a limited supply of brilliant NEG Marshals – their primary role being to safeguard road racing in the UK – I feel that in order to support the growing demand in popularity of non-competitive events such as The Endura Lionheart, British Cycling (BC) should be encouraging more NEG marshals into the fold, not pulling the rug from under them.

“Having welcomed their presence each year, the NEG Motorcycle Marshals have become part of our event. They truly are a big warm safety blanket around our riders whilst out on course, and this year they will be sorely missed.”

She continued:  “Whilst the safety of a sportive should not be dependent on the presence of the NEG – full risk assessments, good signage, pre-event communication with the event team, riders and local constabulary all helping to ensure as safe a ride as possible – by their own admission BC write that The National Escort Group was formed to provide an accredited group of motorcyclists trained to assist with the safety of events held on the public highway.

“This decision is the wrong one and I sincerely hope that BC have a re-think,” she added.

But in an email to road.cc, British Cycling made it clear that it would not go back on its decision, saying: “A high proportion of road races at regional and national level are reliant on the NEG to provide advance warning to other road users that a road race is taking place.

“British Cycling provide training and resources to the NEG for that purpose and the training is specific to road racing.

“In addition to insurance cover for event organisers across the disciplines British Cycling also provides motor vehicle insurance cover for road race events. In the past this cover has extended beyond road races to sportives but this has recently been reviewed and we have taken the decision restrict the cover to road races only.”

The governing body also outlined the specific reasons why it had decided to restrict cover for NEG riders under its insurance policy to road races only:

The change has been driven by a number of factors including:

· the ever increasing stretch on resources – sportives and road races are growing areas, calendar clashes between the two are more common but from our perspective the priority role for the NEG is in the road race environment

· the training and development pathway is specific to road racing

· the need to ensure that we continue to protect competitive road racing and in doing so provide a safe environment for the sport to grow and develop

· the NEG role on a sportive is very different to that on a road race, not all sportives require the support of the NEG

· the majority of sportives, in comparison to road races, are better resourced to arrange their own cover for motor vehicles on their events

· sportive organisers can continue to use the NEG as they of can of course seek their own insurance cover for motor vehicles on their events and the NEG could be included that cover.

According to the NEG’s website:

NEG riders working on BC road race events have the opportunity for their motorcycles to be covered under the BC vehicle insurance policy.  To receive this cover, the rider must be a member of BC and be the "normal" insured driver of the vehicle. This cover is in place whilst the race is in progress. All fully qualified NEG riders will receive free BC membership at the basic (bronze) level which covers the above membership requirement. Race organisers are required to advise the BCHQ in advance of the event of the registration numbers of the machines of motorcycle marshals.

NEG GB riders operating on a NON BC event should check with the event organiser re insurance cover for the event or arrange through there [sic] own insurance company adequate insurance to cover you for events.

33 user comments

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If you're going fast enough in a sportive to need a motorbike outrider to clear the road of traffic, you should probably enter a real race instead of pretending the sportive is one. Sportives are about taking part, not speed.

posted by trtimothy [4 posts]
28th January 2014 - 17:56

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Jesus, it's nothing to do with speed, it's do with the fact that there could be inexperienced people riding and motorists being very resentful of "sharing the public highway", the amount of open ignorance some people display is breathtaking.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
28th January 2014 - 18:03

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Quote:
To me NEG is about controlling traffic, and that shouldn't need to be happening with a sportive.

Another one, yes it should, because EVEN if the public highways are closed, motorists WILL STILL try to use them, seen it many times, they have no limits as to what they will try and do when confronted with "obstacles".

Next?

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
28th January 2014 - 18:05

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I'm more or less in agreement with BC on this one. Certainly I agree that the requirements of a sportive are far different to that of a road race. Also, I'm not sure what sort of statement having NEG looking after these events makes...

To me NEG is about controlling traffic, and that shouldn't need to be happening with a sportive. For that to be necessary it would suggest that the basis of the insurance covering sportives (i.e. that it is not a competitive event) is false.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [211 posts]
28th January 2014 - 18:05

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I am aware that the insurance policy for BC is massive... as an organisation BC are not in the 'ideal candidate' category for insurers, in fact I believe the organisation has only one option and they are paying through the nose for it.

What I am saying is that should it be BC that has to carry the financial can for insuring NEG support at sportives, or should it sit with the organisers of what is by far, the most profitable side of event organisation?

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [211 posts]
28th January 2014 - 18:23

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The racing scene needs all the help it can get and having NEG tied up with sportives does seem pretty silly.
The costs of racing also need to be considered and if that goes up dramatically to provide the support where will our next Wiggo and Cav etc come from? Grass roots needs support!

Sportives are great, but they are unlikely to produce our next great racers. I'd bet if you took a poll on the age groups in a sportive most of them are past being the next pro's!

If I am honest, I can only think of one or two sportives that I have done where the NEG have been there, or where vehicle support has actually been any good (Tour of Wessex being one). The majority don't use NEG and probably don't need it.
Should my 40 miles saturday morning club run have support? I don't see there is a huge difference.

Lets keep them protecting the racers and keeping them safe as we need as much protection between the race vehicles as possible!!!

posted by charlierevell [34 posts]
28th January 2014 - 18:30

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Why should BC pay insurance for NEG on a sportive run by a private (profit making) enterprise?? As others have said, if you want the warm blanket of motorbikes riding about in a sportive then shouldnt that insureance be covered in your entrance fee, rather than just getting a free bannana.

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posted by STATO [410 posts]
28th January 2014 - 18:35

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+1 for @Jimmy Ray Will. Let's not lose sight of the fact that the (vast) majority of sportives exist to make a profit for the organisers! To use a 'hackneyed' phrase - "costs should lie where they fall".

posted by colin267 [15 posts]
28th January 2014 - 18:37

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*sighs* Ignorance everywhere.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
28th January 2014 - 19:21

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Northstar, I'm with you, don't worry, it seems many haven't even taken part in a sportive with some of the opinions voiced above Day Dreaming

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posted by Gkam84 [8686 posts]
28th January 2014 - 19:50

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As a BC member and Commissaire, there's no way BC should be subsidising the operating costs of a profit-making events - if sportive organisers want them, they can pay full costs for themselves.

Alternatively, if riders want escort riders, suggest they take out a race-licence and enter a race?

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [358 posts]
28th January 2014 - 19:50

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monty dog wrote:
As a BC member and Commissaire, there's no way BC should be subsidising the operating costs of a profit-making events - if sportive organisers want them, they can pay full costs for themselves.

Alternatively, if riders want escort riders, suggest they take out a race-licence and enter a race?

THIS

Totally agree

posted by Sim1 [57 posts]
28th January 2014 - 20:33

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For the fee most sportives charge, I'm sure they should be able to subsidise this myself? To be honest, it's news to me tonight that some of my British Cycling membership fee paid for private businesses to get this cover.

Some of the popular audaxes can have a large throng of riders, but that never seems to require an escort. As with all such rides, people string out into smaller groups.

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posted by Chutzpah [67 posts]
28th January 2014 - 20:50

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Firstly, I understand that the Sportives have to pay the NEG guys (even if its just expenses) I'm not sure how these guys work, but have appreciated their work over the years if they don't, then they should.

secondly, as it's advised, lots of Sportive riders are BC members, as it keeps them insured.

Thirdly, they do a different job on Sportives than races, they don't close junctions etc.,they police and safety check what becomes (unlike a RR) a very long field, and advise unruly riders.

I believe this is to do with the insurance which up until now has applied to competitive and non competitive events, blanket. Now its competitive only.

I would imagine that the organiser or NEG rider having to get separate insurance on an event by event basis would be expensive, and difficult.

Why don't BC charge a fee to Sportives to allow them to make use of the blanket cover?

I'm not a BC member, so have no real right to moan, but this seems a bit political.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [458 posts]
28th January 2014 - 21:30

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Northstar, how many sportives have support motorbikes? Sorry ive only done one (well, same one 3 times, the NorthernRock/Virgin Cyclone) and that didnt have any motorbikes that i noticed, some marshalls tho.

I can understand the need for motorbikes on closed road events, as some riders may ride on the wrong side of the road, risky if a car has sneaked onto the course.

Dont know how motorbikes can help on open road events tho, as there would be riders spread out everywhere, so you need static marshals (not mobile ones) at risky junctions.

It might be 'ignorance' that we are overlooking the fact that sportives get people cycling, something that is a BC objective, so maybe thats an issue here? otherwise sorry, I dont get your point, why cant sportives pay for this insurance.

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posted by STATO [410 posts]
28th January 2014 - 21:31

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Gkam84 wrote:
What would happen if a group of experienced bikers got together to do the same job as the NEG?

So taking motorcycle marshals from somewhere else, like the Moto Escort Team? http://www.metgb.com/

Others that run similar services

http://safetybike.co.uk/motorcycle-escort/
http://www.coursesecuritysg.com/
http://www.thepurplewing.com/

There is not a lack of organisations offering exactly the same as NEG do, so f**k British cycling and get someone else on board

Why should BC allow organisers who operate outside their jurisdiction to benefit from any expertise that has cost time and money?
Pay up or shut up!

posted by festival [101 posts]
28th January 2014 - 23:33

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monty dog wrote:
As a BC member and Commissaire, there's no way BC should be subsidising the operating costs of a profit-making events - if sportive organisers want them, they can pay full costs for themselves.

Alternatively, if riders want escort riders, suggest they take out a race-licence and enter a race?

My thoughts exactly!

posted by festival [101 posts]
28th January 2014 - 23:37

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Flying Scot wrote:
Firstly, I understand that the Sportives have to pay the NEG guys (even if its just expenses) I'm not sure how these guys work, but have appreciated their work over the years if they don't, then they should.

secondly, as it's advised, lots of Sportive riders are BC members, as it keeps them insured.

Thirdly, they do a different job on Sportives than races, they don't close junctions etc.,they police and safety check what becomes (unlike a RR) a very long field, and advise unruly riders.

I believe this is to do with the insurance which up until now has applied to competitive and non competitive events, blanket. Now its competitive only.

I would imagine that the organiser or NEG rider having to get separate insurance on an event by event basis would be expensive, and difficult.

Why don't BC charge a fee to Sportives to allow them to make use of the blanket cover?

I'm not a BC member, so have no real right to moan, but this seems a bit political.

Because the sportive organizer doesn't want to operate under the umbrella of BC and conform to its rules and pay a levy otheir events.

And at present BC probably hasn't the will to get involved with sportives and take on the liability

posted by festival [101 posts]
28th January 2014 - 23:44

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I've read some of the comments on here and the only 'foolish' thing about the article are the organisers naive comments, and road.cc 's decision to use the word 'foolish' in the headline.

Lets put things in perspective.

An average regionally organised RR with 80 riders will bring in £1600 at £20 a pop. Deduct £100 -£200 for village hall hire. Deduct event levies, rider levies, commissare fees, NEG fees and god forbid if anythings left prize money and it will probably run flat, just wash its face or more often than not make a loss thats provided for by club subs.

At the moment the organiser of the event who is branding the decision 'Foolish' is sitting on revenue of circa £38000. Obviously minus overheads. Not withstanding that i dare say that theres a profit at the end of it, and nothing of that goes back into the community sport.

The irony of it is that BC do provide the event insurance, and no doubt include the particpation figures in its submissions / stats to UK sport which eventually fund the elite & development programmes via the UK sport surveys.

I could go out tommorow, dig out an old audax route. create a GPX from it. buy a catchy named website. offer a goody bag and water stops and charge folk a shed load of money.

But i wouldn't put it back into my bank account against my house, i could not ethically do that.

If i were to promote a sportive , I'd do it upfront and say X % of profits is going direct back into the sport, promoting new races, developing riders, and put it on year after year after year ensuring that the competitive sport is not left scraping the barrel as it is at the moment relying on the goodwill of aging volunteers giving up their own time for nothing.

So far, I've not seen a single sportive promoter do that. This sort of message that they are not prepared to have their profits eaten into frankly stinks when its pure commercial profit

so come on...
Have some perspective. 'Foolish' is what you think people are if they buy into this sort of Rhetoric.

posted by rothbags [7 posts]
28th January 2014 - 23:48

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Well said rothbags

There are people on here who have never raced, never organised or helped out and don't understand how grass roots racing is kept going in this country by a few souls.

They see the big pro races but have no idea about how our sport is kept alive.

posted by festival [101 posts]
29th January 2014 - 0:08

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I'm all for the Sportives etc. paying for this, if its down to a shortage of NEG volunteers, BC and Triathlon get the first shot. In fact, why not try and earn a dollar or two from it.

As for the older guys doing Sportives entering races, you guys know that there is a severe lack of availability in the low categories across the country, just as I do.

Remember too that BC gets funds from the lottery etc. as well as subs and clubs.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [458 posts]
29th January 2014 - 0:22

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Gkam84 wrote:
What would happen if a group of experienced bikers got together to do the same job as the NEG?

So taking motorcycle marshals from somewhere else, like the Moto Escort Team? http://www.metgb.com/

Others that run similar services

http://safetybike.co.uk/motorcycle-escort/
http://www.coursesecuritysg.com/
http://www.thepurplewing.com/

There is not a lack of organisations offering exactly the same as NEG do, so f**k British cycling and get someone else on board

Firstly - unhelpful or even constructive.
Secondly - 'offering exactly the same as NEG' - completely insulting to all NEG volunteers, you clearly have no idea of what the NEG do.
Thirdly - you go try and get those riders from the USA, Singapore, the 2 in London and I doubt the guys in Wales will have enough time to cover all the sportives in the UK either.

Proposing that a new group of commercial riders take on sportives is only going to make racing and the NEG less efficient and put riders at risk on sportives too.
Whilst the NEG don't cover sportives in the same manner as races, their race experience and general racing pedigree, lends itself to the nature of the event - an advert for cycling in general.
Throw in a bunch of ill-informed, untrained riders on motorbikes and you take away from the value of the NEG, the enjoyment of the day and for the few, the ability to gain and keep cyclists involved, wanting more.

This is ONLY a question of money.

I totally agree with BC - why should BC membership or funding, pay for organisers to profit from their volunteers without reward?
Yes, NEG riders get paid an equivalent of the basic wage in addition to mileage but NO, this doesn't include insurance. Its only a matter of adding the NEG riders to their own event commercial insurance.

There are some great sportives out there who will suffer from this, some great NEG riders whose incomes and possibly ability to afford to 'volunteer' in racing will also suffer. Knock on effect may even see some short-term effects on race cover.
However, it won't be long til this wind has died down and everything finds it path.
I don't know exactly what form that will take but when money is the only question, it can and will be answered.

Many races wouldn't exist without NEG cover and safety WILL decrease without them.
Sportives will and do exist without NEG but they do benefit from their additional support. This may have been taken for granted at the cost of racing. Foolish? Yes....by organisers though, not BC.

posted by Farky [177 posts]
29th January 2014 - 0:44

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Well said Rothbags.

I can point you in the direction of a Sportive organiser who puts funds directly back into racing;

http://www.boudiccasportive.co.uk

Check it out, attend if you can. Really quiet roads and scenic route.....even if we did manage to have one incident sparking off the whole #bloodycyclists thing;-)

Thousands put back into racing last year and plenty to be seen going back into it again this year. I think the profit was split between those that made it happen (local clubs, host location/charity and one additional good cause).

posted by Farky [177 posts]
29th January 2014 - 1:00

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STATO wrote:
Northstar, how many sportives have support motorbikes? Sorry ive only done one (well, same one 3 times, the NorthernRock/Virgin Cyclone) and that didnt have any motorbikes that i noticed, some marshalls tho.

I can understand the need for motorbikes on closed road events, as some riders may ride on the wrong side of the road, risky if a car has sneaked onto the course.

Dont know how motorbikes can help on open road events tho, as there would be riders spread out everywhere, so you need static marshals (not mobile ones) at risky junctions.

It might be 'ignorance' that we are overlooking the fact that sportives get people cycling, something that is a BC objective, so maybe thats an issue here? otherwise sorry, I dont get your point, why cant sportives pay for this insurance.

Not a clue as I don't take part in them (for other reasons, mainly be most if not all insist on helmets but let's not go there (again)...; ).

I can't see the organisers who are in it to make a profit covering the Insurance / NEG costs, it'd be great if they did though.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
29th January 2014 - 1:08

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rothbags wrote:
I've read some of the comments on here and the only 'foolish' thing about the article are the organisers naive comments, and road.cc 's decision to use the word 'foolish' in the headline.

It's in the headline as a quote; that's why there are quote marks round it.

Had it not been for the original release from Endura Lionheart, it's doubtful this issue would have come to light yet.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7914 posts]
29th January 2014 - 1:24

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I would agree with the British Cycling stance.

The vast majority of Sportifs are for profit and so should pay for any event costs.

The NEG was specifically created to help marshal road races, the majority of which are not-for-profit and organised on a low budget by local cycling clubs.

I have ridden road races with NEG support and they do a fantastic job. Why on earth they are needed for a sportif which is essentially a large Sunday club run is beyond me.

posted by seanbolton [125 posts]
29th January 2014 - 11:23

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BC shouldn't be funding commercial events like sportives.
Thats the organisers job.
The same riders can still be used or another bunch can do the same job. It just that the commercial groups that run these events now have to put their hands in their pockets.
If the NRG only have so many man days available the rightly they should be used for races , the events created by those paying for the insurance.

posted by mattsccm [245 posts]
29th January 2014 - 11:25

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Agree with BC decision on this, far better for them to concentrate on road racing and let the sportive organisers dip into their massive piles of cash to fund their own escort teams if required.

posted by rockfield [67 posts]
29th January 2014 - 15:05

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I'm with BC 100% on this, for a change.

posted by Matt eaton [298 posts]
29th January 2014 - 22:28

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Here's an idea, how about sportive organisers pay for insurance for NEG riders out of their own ridiculous profits that they get from charging £25/head and more for people to ride it? What a bunch of whining greedy idiots.

posted by smaryka [16 posts]
29th January 2014 - 23:04

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