North Wales Police refuse permission for road races due to safety concerns
Police pull plug on events organised by clubs not affiliated to Welsh Cycling Association
Police in North Wales have told clubs that are not affiliated with the Welsh Cycling Association to cancel road races due to concerns over safety, according to BBC News.
David Hughes from the Anglesey-based Clwb Rasio Mona told the BBC that the police would not give approval for mass road races to take place until marshals had received full training, but said that suitable courses were only available in South Wales.
As a result, cyclists from Clwb Rasio Mona and other clubs not affiliated to the Welsh Cycling Association can only currently compete on the road in individual time trials. The clubs are talking with North Wales Police to try and find a way round the problem for the 2011 season,
A spokesman for the police force told the BBC: “We have had problems in the past with poorly-run events."
Mr Hughes added: "They say that the marshals are maybe not qualified to deal with traffic situations in a mass start road race."
He continued: “There is training available but it's actually getting the helpers to go along and do the courses, because mainly they are down in the south and it's just hard for people to commit themselves."
According to Mr Hughes, there is a risk of a Catch-22 situation developing as a result of riders being restricted to racing in time trials or on the track.
"Riding in a mass start race is totally different feel altogether," he explained. "So without the races taking place the riders are losing out of gaining that skill.
Mr Hughes pointed out that road races did not appear to be as much of an issue elsewhere in the UK. "The police say they have safety in mind but it goes ahead in England and places so why is there such a problem here? It's as if we've been ostracised in north Wales."
The situation elsewhere in Britain may not be quite as rosy as Mr Hughes depicts, however.
Earlier this year we reported on road.cc that British Cycling had launched a campaign on Facebook called ‘Keep Racing on the Roads,” which it said was in response to the sport facing “an uncertain future as event organisers struggle to cope with archaic legislation and increasing police charges.”
Inspector Guy Blackwell of North Wales Police insisted that the force would not normally refuse to grant permission for time trials so long as there was adequate marshal provision.
"However, we have and will refuse large groups of cyclists on the road who are not affiliated with the WCA," he said.
"The WCA have trained marshals so that the events can run safely,” Inspector Blackwell added.
"Non-WCA events at present are not authorised on road safety grounds due to the lack of trained marshals."