In a move being hailed as a significant step towards safeguarding the future of grass roots road racing Inspector Bob Brayshaw of West Yorkshire Police has been appointed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to act as its liaison officer to British Cycling.
Inspector Brayshaw who took up his new role at the end of April has a high level of experience of the issues surrounding cycle racing on Britain's roads having been in overall charge of policing and safety for the Tour of Britain. In his new role which will last for two years he will take the lead in addressing any local level issues between race organisers and police authorities.
Commenting on the appointment Ian Drake, British Cycling's chief executive said:
"Having someone of Bob’s experience and standing dedication to liaising with police forces around the country can only benefit our work. Establishing productive relations with the police authorities is essential for the future of road racing, and in Bob we have someone leading the discussion who understands the needs and priorities of both the event organisers and the police. This should provide a fantastic foundation in terms of what we’re looking to achieve in this area over the next couple of years and we’re delighted to have him on board.”
The appointment comes at a time when cycle racing on the roads is perceived to be under threat, as roadcc has previously reported in recent years a number of high profile events have been cancelled due to problems with policing or the cost of policing including the Archer Grand Prix and the Tour of Wessex stage race, both Premier Calendar events. In 2009 the opening race of the Premier Calendar season, the Bikeline Two-Day in North Wales was cancelled by police mid-way through the first day due to problems enforcing the rolling road block. However the problems further down the racing hierarchy were much tougher road racing all but disappearing from some parts of the country.
This led British Cycling to lobby government and building on the head of steam created by cycling success at the Beijing Olympics and the focus on cycling in the run up to the 2012 Olympics in London, a task force was set up by the last Government involving British Cycling, the Department for Culture Media and Sport, the Department for Transport, ACPO and the Home Office charged witht coming up with a suitable framework that would allow competitive cycling to claim some space on the road. That work has continued and indeed the new administration has made it clear that it wants to relax the rules on holding competitive events on the roads - even if the headline emphasis is on motor sport.
Three core areas were identified by British Cycling as major contributors to the decline of road racing:
- Outdated Legislation – Agreement has been reached amongst all those involved in the task force that the current Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations, established in 1960, need updating.
- Police Charging – new guidance, with significant input from British Cycling was issued in March by ACPO which, says British Cycling, should result in a more consistent approach to police charging for road races.
- Marshalling – A successful pilot allowing marshals to stop and slow traffic has been running in Wales and Essex, and an alternative sign-based approach will also be piloted over the summer.
British Cycling views the creation of the ACPO Liaison role as the next step in the process, providing dedicated resource to build further on this work and ensure that decisions made at a national level are then implemented effectively locally.
Inspector Brayshaw’s priorities will be firstly to review the outcomes of the marshalling pilots and identify a definitive method for the recruitment and training of people to stop and control traffic that can be rolled out across the UK. Secondly he will lead on the driving through the amendments needed to modernise the current legislation and make them more relevant to today’s racing scene.
Commenting on the task ahead Inspector Brayshaw said: “The work to Keep Racing on the Roads has gradually gathered momentum and everyone involved sees the need for a dedicated role to ensure that this continues. If we can achieve the necessary amendments to the legislation and resolve the issue with marshals we will create a platform on which road racing in the UK can flourish for many years to come.”
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.