Archer organiser says BC had "head in the sand" for years on road closures

Action needed to bridge gap between elite and other levels of British cycle sport?

by Tony Farrelly   February 6, 2009  

Road closed sign

Archer GP organiser Stuart Benstead last night responded to comments in our original story about the race's cancellation by Jonny Clay, British Cycling's cycle sport and membership director that Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS), designed for roadworks and traffic management situations might give scope for races like the Archer to continue.

Clay did also say that British Cycling was one of a number of sports governing bodies lobbying the government for new regulations to replace the Cyle Racing and Highways Regulations (1960) which are regarded as being outdated.

In response Stuart Benstead posted his take on the situation in a comment on to the road.cc story:

“Our information from the police lawyer is that this scheme would NOT apply to events with a county council road closure order which MUST be controlled by the police if it is a 'rolling road' closure as used for cycle races. Such a closure stops oncoming traffic as well as at junctions, whereas the CSAS only allows stoppage of traffic at junctions but the traffic would still be approaching so the race would strictly have to keep to the left.
So it does NOT put control back into our hands and would NOT save money. It is a manipulation of a law intended for something quite different. That is probably why many police forces have decided against introducing this system for cycle racing, including the one covering the Archer GP.

Sending documentation to various Whitehall departments obviously achieves nothing. They have a copious supply of pending baskets. The action has to be at Minister level from CEO level at BC, which has only begun in the past few months. It should have started many years ago but BC has had its head in the sand and naively thought that middle ranking civil servants would listen and then have the clout to get things done. Quite obviously they do not.”

Yesterday, Dave Brailsford, British Cycling's performance director called on the nation to take up cycling and be inspired by the success of British cyclists at the Olympics and World Championships. While cycling numbers are dramatically increasing in many British cities those wishing to take the next step and get involved in riding competitively may find themselves stuck both by a lack of velodromes for track cycling and problems staging races and other mass participation events on the roads as highlighted by the cancellation of the Archer.

As road.cc blogger Secret Squirrel pointed out earlier this week at the moment there seems to be a disconnection between the elite at the top of the sporting pyramid who are well catered for (medals mean money) and those at certain other key points in the sporting structure.