East Yorkshire bike races under threat after police reportedly insist on road closures due to safety concerns

Some events already cancelled - police move follows death of rider in time trial near Hull in March

by Simon_MacMichael   May 2, 2013  

Cycle Race - Caution (Cheshire Classic 2013, copyright Britishcycling.org.uk)

Bike races in East Yorkshire have been cancelled or are under threat of being scrapped as a result of Humberside Police apparently withdrawing its support for events not subject to road closures. The force’s move follows the death near Hull in late March of a cyclist taking part in a time trial who rode into the back of a stationary caravan.

Among races at risk are this Sunday’s Hull Thursday Road Club Spring Road Race which is due to feature double Olympic champion, Laura Trott, reports the Hull Daily Mail.

While East Riding Council, which is ultimately responsible for road closures, says it is confident the event will be able to take place, the newspaper says that uncertainty surrounds other races, and that some events have already been cancelled in recent weeks.

It adds that organisers of a number of races have been informed by police that they will not endorse events without council-approved road closures because of what it views as the high degree of risk associated with races on public roads.

Paul Kilvington, president of Hull Thursday Road Club, told the Hull Daily Mail: "The police have said they were not supporting events on the public highways unless the road is closed.

"It's not just cycling, it's any event taking place on the highways, including running races.

"A road closure might be achievable for a major event, such as the Beverley 10k run, but for a club cycle race or a time trial, you couldn't close the road for that."

Speaking of Sunday’s race, he added: "Laura Trott is listed as an entrant in Sunday's race. Like everything else, it is being held in limbo.

"There needs to be some common sense applied. Everything is a risk.

"There's a massive boom in cycling following the Olympics. A lot of businesses rely on it, it's huge."

Another event in doubt is the Velo Club of Beverley’s annual race, which is due to take place on 19 May.

Club secretary Rob Brown said: "If I have not had a decision by this Friday, I will call it off.

"Cycling is a very popular sport but if it is killed off at the grassroots level, where are the stars of the future going to come from?"

East Riding Council says it is keen to support events, but insists that necessary authorisations for road closures need to be secured ahead of time.

Its director of environment and neighbourhood services, Nigel Leighton, commented: “The council is supporting events on the highway to take place but requires event organisers to give the authority the required notice period of six weeks, so any relevant road closures can be advertised and put into effect.

"Organisers should also supply information regarding traffic management, first aid provision and stewarding arrangements to ensure events pass without incident.

"The council is keen to see events continue that are enjoyed by residents and attract significant turnouts of spectators.

"However, these need to be done in a safe manner and with appropriate arrangements in place in co-operation with Humberside Police."

Chief Superintendent Judi Heaton also maintained that the police were not opposed to such events, but said safety is paramount.

“What we are saying is roads are a hostile environment for cyclists and runners without road closures and the way to get a road closure is through the application process,” she explained.

"We do not want to be killjoys. We do want to support safe events. We will work with anyone and advise and assist them.

"We want events here, it is good for the economy and is good for so many reasons."

She added that police planned to meet with event organisers to clear up any confusion that may have resulted from a letter to them outlining the police’s position, which she believes may have been the subject of misunderstanding.

"Because of a lack of information out there and some confusion, we will have an open evening to share information," she added.

For several years now, British Cycling has been running a ‘Keep Racing On The Roads’ campaign, which the governing body says has three central aims – “to redraft outdated legislation, empower volunteer race marshals, and reduce police charging.”

Full details of its campaign can be found here.

 

22 user comments

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I am not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I totally understand the police's point of view. But on the other I know its a bit impractical for club events to close roads, especially if its a monthly sort of thing.

In my eyes. I'd love to see ANY event that calls itself a "race" on closed roads, just for the safety aspect of it.

If you don't want to race and be on open roads, do sportives....

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9308 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 2:27

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Quote:
“What we are saying is roads are a hostile environment for cyclists and runners without road closures and the way to get a road closure is through the application process,” she explained.

Maybe, y'know, work on sorting out that hostile environment?

posted by hoski [77 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 6:56

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hoski, and if only the police had powers to do so! Oh wait...

posted by Paul J [775 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 8:55

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It probably has public support though. Firstly "racing" reinforces the mythical Daily Mail stereotype of "Lycra Louts" racing around knocking down grannies as they run red lights. Secondly "racing" cars on the public highway is dangerous and illegal so why should it be any different for bikes?

Most cyclists will know differently but the general public won't see beyond "racing". In some ways it kills the grass roots but then again Wiggins, Cavendish, Thomas, Kennaugh etc. all came from a track background!

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 8:59

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British Cycling has been campaigning to keep road racing on the public roads and is currently trialling the use of 'official' marshals who can temporarily halt traffic.

http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/campaigning_racing_on_the_road

The police attitude here seems like a knee-jerk response to the recent fatal incident. Statistically there are very few accidents in road races (or running races), they are generally very safe.

Following the police's logic surely motor vehicles should be banned from the public highway as statistically they present the greatest risk of an accident causing a fatal or serious injury.

posted by seanbolton [165 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 9:03

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Is the expensive 'Sportive' on closed roads coming to bear on road races?

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1096 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 9:29

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I think that a lot of races need to have the route that they take scrutinised- on one hand there are events like the High Peak Road Race, where there are barely any cars for the whole of the 60 mile race.

Then on the other, there are time trials on dual carriageways, which many people feel is an accident waiting to happen.

They can't all be lumped into the same group, because they are so different. I completely agree with the Police in that running races on busy roads with rolling roadblocks can be very dangerous, so why not do some recon work and find roads that are quiet.

Bottom line is that banning road racing is a step backwards for the sport as a whole. Cycling is getting much more popular and as such we've started to pop up in people's viewpoint more. Everyone seems to have an opinion. We need to adapt and move forwards, rather than becoming stagnant and trying to keep things the way they've always been.

I so hope that this doesn't escalate across other Police forces, because if it does domestic road racing will go down the pan.

Chiggety check yourself before you wreck yourself

posted by therealsmallboy [117 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 9:38

1 Like

Some bizarre comments on here.

Cost of closing roads make it extremly impractical for every race to be closed road based on cost. For people participating in road races every weekend this would get very expensive. There is currently a rolling road block scenario so the roads are not completely open as such, once you are dropped you are out of the convoys protection though.

There is an aweful lot goes in to getting a road course risk assessed and signed off for use, this is also true for time trial courses. Its not like people just turn up on a strech of road and decide to have a race on it.

Refrence the comments on sportives. Not all are closed road and the ones that are get round this by extremely high participation numbers.

Sportives also are not races (contrary to the belief of many), this allows them to get around a lot of the red tape involved such as police permission (I think, hence why road races get cancelled if there are sportives running on the route at the time, police have power to stop the road racing but not sportives).

Craig S; Regards the current batch of UK pros coming from a track background. You think they got to where they are without doing any road races? Nonsense.

In every way its kills the grass roots. You cant learn road race craft on a track, its a complimentary discipline. Look at the 100% ME team for example. All the top UK teams are scratching around for races to push themselves.

You also see plenty of elite riders compete in midweek club 10's etc as well.

It is particularly baffling in terms of the 'Humberside' races as the lanes of The Wolds are particularly quiet!

posted by alwaysapleasure [17 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 9:51

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"I completely agree with the Police in that running races on busy roads with rolling roadblocks can be very dangerous"

Do you have any statistics that show this?

Hundreds of road races take place each year with no incident. Fatalities or serious accidents are extremely rare.

All road race circuits are risk assessed and the routes carefully chosen.

The British Cycling approach with marshalls having the ability to temporarily stop traffic is the way forward.

I also think that temporarily making some stretches of road one-way only during an event would help as well. So all traffic is moving in the same direction but avoids a complete road closure. This would work well on a lot of circuits.

posted by seanbolton [165 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 9:51

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"We want events here, it is good for the economy and is good for so many reasons."

As the statement above says, its good for so many reasons!
I think road closures are the way forward and change the current mindset that holding a race on closed roads is a hinderance to cars and make it an expected and acceptable event.
These type of races are generally held on roads out of towns in areas where local diversions would cause minimal disruption for a minimal period of time. Even small football club games generate traffic disruption that people seem to accept, so the culture needs to change to accept another sport.
Maybe in years to come we will have a culture similar to that of Belgium where it is the norm that a bike race is on and thus a few roads will be closed!

posted by Bom W [30 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 9:59

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Closed road for races are fine and brilliant idea. So long as they aren't anywhere near me or anywhere i might need or want to go...sorry i was driving this morning.

I can see the logic of wanting closed roads, but i think the practicality will vary depending on how easy it is to get roads closed for races - local council being onside etc as to wether it will be workable or just kill of racing in certain (*cough* New forest *cough*) areas. But then i haven't ever raced as i'm slow, weak and would probably not be allowed in due to being a triathlete...

posted by md6 [176 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 11:28

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its going to have to be a big shift to make true closed road racing viable. The costs will need to reflect the size of the event to keep grass roosts racing alive.

The biggest shift will have to be from the public though. The change from 'Anger and Inconvienece' to 'just a regular occurrence' won't be easy.

If you look at the way people rant about road closures for the Olympics, or the London Surrey 100 despite their size and infrequent appearence, can you imagine the carnage if a couple of villiages are shut off for a couple of hours every other Sunday?

I would love to see it, I think it would raise the profile of road racing and perhaps increase the spectator numbers, but I fear those making the decisions will make it difficult to manage.

Yet again, as with many things involving cycling, it will be dependant on the various authorities working together with the clubs, and a significant cultural shiift in the way the public views cycling.

posted by gw [44 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 11:44

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This concerns me most -

"The council is keen to see events continue that are enjoyed by residents and attract significant turnouts of spectators."

Essentially, we can't be bothered for anything smaller than the Tour of Britain. How exactly are we supposed to attract major events if we've effectively banned all small ones.

It's a disaster even if it only lasts a year as it's much quicker to kill off the racing scene than it is to build up a decent local series.

posted by racingcondor [136 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 13:09

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Do the police want a return to the semi-"underground" days when near enough the only racing was TT-ing? I'm sure there's some TT-ers wouldn't be too upset, but the idea of withdrawing support for the (generally safer) road racing with its mobile marshals, NEG, escort cars etc because of something that happened during a TT with its spread out riders, marshals only really at junctions and use of dual carriageways seems perverse. Of course, it is very hard to frame a law that could actually ban TTs.

posted by Al__S [855 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 13:18

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racingcondor wrote:
This concerns me most -

"The council is keen to see events continue that are enjoyed by residents and attract significant turnouts of spectators."

Essentially, we can't be bothered for anything smaller than the Tour of Britain. How exactly are we supposed to attract major events if we've effectively banned all small ones.

If it's Bradley or Cav, if it's the Olympics or Tour, everyone will turn out, wave flags and be happy about an entire week of road closures and disruption.

If it's an E/1/2/3 race of maybe 125km, lasting one morning, they'll be up in arms over it. Not interested. But to the council and Police, a bike race is a bike race is a bike race - be it a TT down a dual carriageway or a road race round some basically quiet left hand turn circuit of 6-10 miles.

Rolling road closures work fine, the problem is the Police are doing the typical knee-jerk ill-judged reaction of banning everything just cos of one unfortunate death.

Would love to see that principle applied to driving - sorry, someone died in a car today so we're banning all driving until we've worked out why.

posted by crazy-legs [636 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 13:36

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I agree that road closures are the way forward because if it subsequently saves, not a life but something as simple as minor injuries caused by a vehicle then it will be worth it.

We seem to have lost track here a little bit, in the past everyone shouts for the Police / authorities to do more to help us and make our pastime safer, yet when they come out and say we cant support a race unless the roads are closed so its safer for riders its a "knee jerk reaction" to what was a very unfortunate death. They all need to sit down together and discuss this so a correct result will come from it.

After all a council can close a lane for upto 2 weeks so that its workers are safer whilst they cut a bit of grass or clean the gutters so whats the problem in closing a lane for a few hours to help secure riders safety

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3176 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 14:37

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stumps wrote:

After all a council can close a lane for upto 2 weeks so that its workers are safer whilst they cut a bit of grass or clean the gutters so whats the problem in closing a lane for a few hours to help secure riders safety

Cost. Pure and simple. It costs a fortune and most grass-roots races run at only just above break-even point. Added to which it's an extra layer of bureaucracy both for the council and for volunteer race organisers who simply don't have the time, money or knowledge to work their way through the various protocols. And besides, residents and local businesses aren't going to put up with it. Once a year for the Tour of Britain is fine, every few weekends for a "fish&chipper", they'll just say no.

The Accredited Marshal scheme (where marshals have legal powers to stop traffic) is a far cheaper, far less disruptive and equally safe method.

posted by crazy-legs [636 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 15:43

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I'm not aware of the cost side of things but i cant imagine it will cost a lot to put a few signs up saying road closed and diversions in place ?

We, as Police in Northumbria, dont get paid for covering these events. The force simply cancels a rest day in advance and you have to work for free, with a day back in lieu at some point.

Cant comment on other forces though.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3176 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 17:01

1 Like

stumps wrote:
I'm not aware of the cost side of things but i cant imagine it will cost a lot to put a few signs up saying road closed and diversions in place ?

We, as Police in Northumbria, dont get paid for covering these events. The force simply cancels a rest day in advance and you have to work for free, with a day back in lieu at some point.

Cant comment on other forces though.

Direct experience - a road closure notice (which can then be enforced) can state "intermittant closures on xxxth of month 2013" for example, and that has to be advertised in the press, notices posted, all of which is down to the council responsible. THere has to be a traffic plan, the emergency services have to be consulted, anyone can object so that has to be dealt with, and all this cost around £2,000 10 years ago. Plus the cost of police to enforce it, at over $40 per hour per man. And all plus VAT because it's a "service". Even with the closure in place some police forces have placed field limits on races for "safety", quite odd in that they cannot guarantee that the closure is secure, so what is being paid for? Please can someone tell me how a local 2/3/4 can afford this?

One other point, only notification is required for a TT, it's all in the Act, as printed in the BC handbook, so quite how police can stop a TT is not clear. Run a sportive and it's up to the organiser if they bother to tell anyone. Stopping RR is easy, TT and sportives not.
So, in summary, an 80 rider road race cannot go ahead, a 150 rider TT spread over 4 hours on a main road can, a sportive with 1,500 riders can just happen anyway.
What a strange world we live in...

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 18:58

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doc, dont know where you got your costings from for Police but even now at double time on a bank holiday i barely break that and i'm on the top whack pay never mind 10 years ago.

Not disputing your other points cos i've no experience of such events, just commenting on pay.

It seems an awful lot of work for one race though and should be simplified.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3176 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 19:07

2 Likes

The East Yorkshire Road Race league events were to be my son's debut on the road this year after a winter of training. He is 16 and now posting times which place him second in the Hull Thursday Road Club Time Trial League among the seniors. If he is not the future of cyling then I don't know what is. When I told him his whole racing season is off he was crestfallen. I have spent £13,000 on bikes for him and myself in the last two years. There are only a handful of such youths riding in East Yorkshire - maybe a dozen at most. The sport is very thin for them as it is. There are very weak grass roots. It maybe booming for 40-year-old-men, but at the bottom end - the youngsters -there is next to nothing - lets not prtend he can drive to Teeside of Nottingham to take part in a road event. A velodrome ride in Manchester is but a dream. There are no velodromes in East Yorkshire, there are no off road circuits. There is no cyclo cross league (the last one was chucked off Beverley Westwood) For the police to say they are not kill joys is rubbish. Humberside Police has a track record of being killjoys, from policing football matches to Bank Holiday drinking.They let Ian Huntley slip through the net and having been letting down the public ever since. Taking away 100 years of HTRC history of racing instead of doing their job and targeting bad driving is the easy option - they like those.The police attitude has been far from constructive. They talk big but the bottom line is three races has been scrapped and counting.

posted by eagle1 [1 posts]
3rd May 2013 - 12:50

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Everybody should be pleased to know that the Hull Thursday RC series of events, run under TLI Cycling rules and regulations, are now back on track and will run as scheduled.

Thanks to TLI Cycling who liaised with the police to satisfy their original objections. Remember, TLI Cycling annual membership costs only £10 for seniors and £5 for juniors.

posted by geoff_r [1 posts]
29th May 2013 - 18:54

1 Like