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The 100 mile sportive has already had a major re-rerouting - but will it be the last?

Businesses in Staffordshire have hit out at the route for the inaugural Velo Birmingham closed road sportive, saying that they will lose thousands in revenue without adequate warning.

The route for the event has already been changed once, following fierce local opposition in Worcestershire.

The route within Worcestershire has been shortened by 20 miles and a section in Herefordshire skipped altogether, with the event now spending longer in Staffordshire instead.

Velo Birmingham 2017 route map.jpg

Velo Birmingham 2017 route map.jpg

Some 15,000 riders are due to take part in the event, and while organisers describe the changes as “exciting,” they acknowledge that the change are designed to “address issues which inevitably arise from an event with road closures of this scale.”

But now, businesses like Halfpenny Green Vineyards and Wild Zoological in Bobbington say they knew nothing about road closures from 7am to 1.30pm.

Following a meeting, the traders have united to protect the route.

Bill Wilkinson, chairman of the committee at Halfpenny Green Marketing Group, said a minimum of 25 companies will be affected just by the closure of one road, Tom Lane.

The vineyards has a restaurant, gift shop and coarse fishing on site among other businesses.

He told the Express and Star: "It was a total shock to find out they were closing the road, effectively shutting down all our businesses and no-ones told us anything about it.

"Someone living nearby had a letter – that's the first we heard about it, nothing direct.

"We just feel everyone's passing the buck. We're told it's arranged by Birmingham City Council who seem to have a total disregard for everyone else.

"And everyone is passing the buckk, we've tried speaking to the council who haven't got back to us, the highways department told us to speak to Velo and they don't want to know.

"I don't want to stop the fun and be awkward for no good reason, but there's a lot of one-man operations here and this is something they've been planning for years and we've heard nothing, we've got just a few weeks to prepare for the hit."

Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet support member for highways and transport, Helen Fisher, said: “The Velo Birmingham event will bring thousands of people into South Staffordshire and we’re pleased to be able to showcase our county.

"We do understand that on the morning of September 24 there will be some disruption to communities along the route and the event organisers are doing all they can to minimise this.

"The route was changed last month which has brought more of it into South Staffordshire and we understand this has been communicated to all affected residents and businesses."

As we reported earlier this year, there were concerns that the event might not be able to go ahead with a Worcestershire County Council official suggesting that permissions for road closures might not be granted.

The council said it only learnt that the event was on fully closed roads when leaflets were distributed to local homes and businesses.

A loop through west Worcestershire that included Great Witley and Hillhampton has been removed altogether, and there has also been a re-routing between Droitwich and Cutnall Green to minimise the impact on pubs and other businesses there.

The early part of the 100-mile sportive will see participants leave Birmingham to head towards the new Staffordshire section, which will take in towns and villages including Kinver, Wombourne and Trysul.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

26 comments

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Al__S [1284 posts] 6 months ago
3 likes

Either the businesses are lying about the lack of consulation or the organisers are a bunch of cowboys.

 

Of course, it could be both.

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kevvjj [329 posts] 6 months ago
4 likes

I don't think business will lost thousands... they might just lose thousands though.

Doesn't anyone proof read at Road cc?

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ped [292 posts] 6 months ago
8 likes
kevvjj wrote:

Doesn't anyone proof read at Road cc?

Doesn't anyone proof read proofread at Road cc road.cc?

 

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barongreenback [114 posts] 6 months ago
3 likes

Having paid my entry fee, I am continually disappointed by the shambolic organisation of this event. 

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stemps [7 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

I was out last Saturday riding the first part of the route and we stopped at Halfpenny Green Vineyards. I'm guessing that they didn't know about the road closures then because the people there were very pleasant.
The organisers do seem to be hopeless, which is a great shame because apart from taking large amounts of money from people, a badly run event means it probably won't survive into next year and we'll lose a potentially great boost to cycling in the West Midlands. The Birmingham Half-Marathon ( and now full Marathon again, from this year ) has become a part of the calendar and people seem to accept the road closures and disruption because of the people visiting the city, the great atmosphere and charity fund raising. It would be great to see a cycling event eventually having the same level of support and acceptance.

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don simon [1769 posts] 6 months ago
4 likes

Closed road sportives are not the way to ingratiate ourselves into the wider population.

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wycombewheeler [1257 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
stemps wrote:

I was out last Saturday riding the first part of the route and we stopped at Halfpenny Green Vineyards. I'm guessing that they didn't know about the road closures then because the people there were very pleasant.
The organisers do seem to be hopeless, which is a great shame because apart from taking large amounts of money from people, a badly run event means it probably won't survive into next year and we'll lose a potentially great boost to cycling in the West Midlands. The Birmingham Half-Marathon ( and now full Marathon again, from this year ) has become a part of the calendar and people seem to accept the road closures and disruption because of the people visiting the city, the great atmosphere and charity fund raising. It would be great to see a cycling event eventually having the same level of support and acceptance.

Many marathons and half marathons each year seem to manage closed roads without objection but only a quarter the distance and closed roads generally limited to the town that benefits.
Sportives will see a tourist boom in the start/finish location but disruption spread far and wide from there. Roads closed for riders that pass through without stopping.

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HalfWheeler [672 posts] 6 months ago
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don simon wrote:

Closed road sportives are not the way to ingratiate ourselves into the wider population.

Got to agree. Reality is we don't live in France/Italy/Switzerland etc, people hate these things in the UK, they won't suddenly become accepted.

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Woldsman [233 posts] 6 months ago
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don simon wrote:

Closed road sportives are not the way to ingratiate ourselves into the wider population.

I did my last sportive in 2016. Next month I'll be doing my first Audax in almost 30 years. Not huge numbers, but I understand it's nearly full in the first year of this particular event. Just saying. 

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shwoop [4 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes

I'm sorry but this sportive was a shambles from the get go.

When everyone I knew got picked from the initial ballot and the inflated price was proposed I decided to jump ship.  Nothing in the months since has given me the slightest beliefe that this was a bad decision.

A closed road sportive in Birmingham is a tempting idea but I'm saddened to see I won't be attending one any time soon.

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TonautBrom [11 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

I rode the 60 miles of the southern loop yesterday. It was beautiful. 

This event will be brilliant and I can't understand why some people who happen to organise other cycling events are against it.

Oh wait...

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crazy-legs [958 posts] 6 months ago
1 like
TonautBrom wrote:

This event will be brilliant and I can't understand why some people who happen to organise other cycling events are against it.

I don't think it's people who happen to organise other cycling events, it's the local businesses who feel that they haven't been consulted. It's actions like this from the organisers that leads to frustrated locals taking militant action against the event; tacks, signs removed, general disruption...

I hope I'm wrong, I hope it's a success and that any issues that arise in year one will be ironed out and that the locals will come to, if not welcome it, then at least accept it. But I think the way it's been handled up until now is rather poor.

Etape Caledonia had much the same history. Locals accused the organisers of ignoring their concerns and then, whipped up by a very small but very vocal bunch of NIMBYs and a rabidly anti-cycling reporter at the local rag, the event had a couple of years of organised disruption including tacks on the road.  2 They've come to their senses a bit now as the organisers have made concessions, involved them more in consultation and so on and as the community itself (especially local hotels, restaurants etc) have backed the event but it can take several years to establish that.

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exilegareth [128 posts] 6 months ago
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Al__S wrote:

Either the businesses are lying about the lack of consulation or the organisers are a bunch of cowboys.

 

Of course, it could be both.

It's not a binary question. Part of my experience is that there's a combination of consultation fatigue, where businesses receiveso many messages they either don;t read them or forget what they've read, and poor message design, where they get letters that look like just another bureaucratic borefest from that mythical body 'the council'.

Another part of it is that the post is opened and sorted by one person, but then never passed on to all the people who need to know.

If you;re an event organizer you need to do more than just send out letters - you need toknock on doors, call into businesses, chat to the managers and owners, and generally humanize your communication with them.

You also have to understand that people will exaggerate the potential impact of the event on them, not because they are dishonest or duplicitous, but because that's how they see the world. So you have to tailor your style of communication to them.

 

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HalfWheeler [672 posts] 6 months ago
1 like
crazy-legs wrote:

Etape Caledonia had much the same history. 

Yeah, you're right. But the Etape Caledonian is an example of exactly the sort of place where you can get away with a closed road event. The ideal location for a closed road event in car fixated, cyclist loathing Britain is something like highland Perthshire; good transport links but still remote enough for the disruption to affect the least amount of people as possible. The route passes through a handful of hamlets, the odd village, can't be more than a low 4 figure number of people  affected.

I'm trying to think of area in England where you could do something like this; Kielder Forest, some of the remoter part of the Pennines. But a closed road event in the Midlands? Crazy. We've just pissed off a lot of people that drive one ton speeding weapons.

 

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Chris Hayes [202 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

Having done Ride London a few times, it seems that footfall may actually increase with closed sportives - certainly in the larger satelite towns (Dorking, Leatherhead, Kingston).  Okay, my guess is that the spectators are probably spending more in cafes and restaurants than on hardware, but surely the commercial impact analysis exists from Ride London and only needs to be asked for....? 

Thanks to the road-side cheerers, by the way: you're amazing. 

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WillRod [254 posts] 6 months ago
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The roads leading to my uncles house are closed on the day of the velothon, when he is having his 60th birthday. Luckily most of those attending are local and are also cyclists and the rest of us are staying in local pubs, hotels and B&B's so they will get some business anyway!

It just needs a bit of thought ahead of time by those affected, and they may even manage to gain some trade by passing cyclists, spectators or others inconvenienced one Sunday morning.

 

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1961BikiE [405 posts] 6 months ago
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To address the issue raised by one of the businesses to paraphrase "we knew nothing until a local said they'd had a letter". What are the chances that this person is the only one that opens every bit of junk mail? We all know how much rubbish comes through our letter boxes. It's even worse for businesses. I wonder if the envelope that was sent out had any sort of indication on the outside that it contained important information. If so how was it worded? If it only stated that it was related to a cycle event would you open it if you had no interest in cycling. The organisers should have either paid South Staffs Council to send out the notification in an official council envelope or paid a fee to be allowed to use some official crest or whatever on the event organisers own mail out. To side with the organiser briefly; if one address received a notification I believe all in the affected area will have received one. Whether they opened it is another matter all together.

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crazy-legs [958 posts] 6 months ago
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The issues of "we sent a letter" are as 1961Bikie says ^^ but there's also the fact that there are so many media/news outlets now that paradoxically people finding MORE difficult to get information.

It's very easy to restrict social media feeds to only that stuff that interests you or from people that you like and it's therefore very easy to miss stuff from "the council" simply because you don't follow them. Same with council newsletters, the local free rag (if there is one), websites...

Ultimately you can put the news out there as much as you want but you can't make people read it! Some people (just in general, not these particular complainants necessarily) won't ever be happy unless the Mayor themselves comes over to their house with tea and biscuits and talks them through it all!

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brooksby [2919 posts] 6 months ago
1 like
crazy-legs wrote:

The issues of "we sent a letter" are as 1961Bikie says ^^ but there's also the fact that there are so many media/news outlets now that paradoxically people finding MORE difficult to get information.

It's very easy to restrict social media feeds to only that stuff that interests you or from people that you like and it's therefore very easy to miss stuff from "the council" simply because you don't follow them. Same with council newsletters, the local free rag (if there is one), websites...

Ultimately you can put the news out there as much as you want but you can't make people read it! Some people (just in general, not these particular complainants necessarily) won't ever be happy unless the Mayor themselves comes over to their house with tea and biscuits and talks them through it all!

Im sure the plans were available - on display in the city hall, in a disused toilet cubicle in the basement, in a locked filing cabinet, ... (You all know the rest  1  )

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Yorkshire wallet [1701 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes

SAY NO TO CLOSED-ROAD SPORTIVES! (if you're a business owner)

To be fair, I can see their point. It's not like racing, where it can actually bring people in to towns (look at the massive TDY crowds). Nobody is going to come along to watch a cornucopia of riders that they'd getting annoyed by normally. It's just annoyance all round for most of the public. Shut the roads off = annoyance. Open-road and everyone's getting annoyed by the vast amount of riders kicking about. 

Everyone hates us already, why make it worse?

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Ricks [1 post] 6 months ago
1 like

Grumpy old bobbington, can't believe their businesses will be that badly affected. As I understand it the road will reopen at 1330. Don't know what time they usually open for business but it's a Sunday morning for heavens sake. 15000 people passing by in one morning is a nice bit of free advertising I think. NIMBYs 

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Richard D [109 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes

But the problem with open road events is that you cannot trust drivers not to behave like ****s.

We had the usual "pleasantries" shared with us on an audax yesterday - drivers yelling about riding two abreast being illegal, close passes, and a near miss at a junction.  And most of the route was on very quiet country lanes.

The reason why I was prepared to pay the inflated Velo proce was the idea that for *one* day I will get to ride my bkike without needing to second guess motorists every single sodding time I see one.

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Chris Hayes [202 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Nobody is going to come to watch a cornucopia of riders they get annoyed by normally. [/quote]

The crowds at the Ride London-Surrey 100 event disprove this entirely; unless, of course, you're suggesting that the reaction to cyclists is less favourable the further north you go?  I don't believe this....and think that you'll be pleasantly surprised.  As would the shopkeepers... 

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Al__S [1284 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

Whilst there are good size crowds out early oon the RideLondon 100, it does have the advantage of the pro race (now World Tour) following it. It runs through an area with extensive rail network with frequent trains even on a Sunday on most lines

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Judge dreadful [278 posts] 6 months ago
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I don't do any organised route mass participation rides, unless they are on closed roads. I wouldn't pay to ride on a route I can ride anytime I want for free, unless there's something unusual about it. The only one I've paid to ride previously has been the Ride London, and  until this Velo Birmingham event, the only other mass participation event I've ever ridden is the annual Isle of Wight Randonnee, because it's free to enter. The Velo Birmingham looks like a giggle, and I'd never ordinarily have any excuse to visit Birmingham. If there's a few hundred like me, Birmingham's businesses win, because people who wouldn't normally be spending money there, are. I wouldn't have thought that was difficult to fathom.

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pato779 [7 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

In April this year I rode the etape Loch Ness which was on totally closed roads. The locals along the route came out and cheered and applauded the riders all the way round the route and considering there is only one road round the Loch the reception we were given was fantastic. I guess my point is what is the matter with the people along the Velo Birmingham route after all it is only for a few hours on one day.