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Locals "intimidated by cyclists"...

Surrey County Council is exploring ways in which sportives and other mass participation cycling events around Box Hill can be registered - residents on the hill feel "imprisoned" by the sheer numbers of cyclists says a local councillor.

The leafy lanes of Surrey have made the county a weekend destination for thousands of Londoners looking to escape the city and test themselves up the iconic climb of Box Hill.

As well as the profile generated by the Olympic road races last year, Surrey has an above-average rate of bike use, with 20 percent of residents riding at least once a month, compared to the national average of 15 percent.

But the country’s popularity as a venue for sportives, and high cycling rate is generating something of a backlash. A local councillor says that residents feel they are trapped in their homes during large events.

Councillor David Preedy told the BBC that the council is exploring ways in which events can be regulated.

"Imprisoned"

Councillor Preedy, who leads the Lib-Dem group on Mole Valley District Council, said the main problem was the "sheer number" of cyclists.

"Every weekend there are hundreds and hundreds of cyclists and then on top of that, big organised events," he said. “The pressure on residents is just getting too much, they're feeling imprisoned, they can't get out.

"A lot of them, particularly in Box Hill, are older people who feel intimidated driving through large numbers of cyclists."

"I welcome a number of events but we have got to get some of the organisers to look at limiting how many events they have so residents don't feel imprisoned in their houses, aren't frightened to drive out every weekend, and aren't intimidated by cyclists."

Olympic effect

You might say, “Well now they know how cyclists feel all the time,” but Rob Hillman, event director of sportive organiser Hman Race, says Councillor Preedy has a point.

“David very much has his residents at heart and given the vast increase in recreational cyclists going over Box Hill since the Olympics then he has a tricky job on his hands,” he told road.cc.

“We organise a large number of events and go through very thorough processes with Councils, Highways, Parishes etc to gain support of the events we deliver and share information. This isn’t the case with everyone and when you have instances where sportive routes are going in opposite directions to each other on the same stretch of road it is frustrating knowing that if other events had gone to the same lengths then this dangerous situation could be avoided.”

Near misses

Hillman says that Box Hill is already a special case. As it’s owned by the National Trust, organisers should contact the Trust and agree a license for use of the area. But, he says, “I know that a lot don’t!”

“We had several near misses a fortnight ago when the [Human Race-organised] London Cycle Sportive went the opposite direction to the Capital to Coast event (which the National Trust and David didn’t know anything about). It is only a matter of time until those near misses translate into something more serious as two sportive packs with motorists on both sides of the road too doesn’t make a happy picture.

Hillman said he would welcome some degree of regulation of events in the area.

“Given the number of events seems to be increasing at a great pace, the instances of routes clashing is also likely to increase. At the moment there is very little regulation and imparting a degree (none of us want to get caught up in too much red tape) would ensure that organised events can co-ordinate what they are doing and who they are affecting.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

48 comments

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3cylinder [94 posts] 2 years ago
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I saw this the other weekend when two sportives (Cambridge Big Bike ride and the Flatout in the fens?) were running opposite ways on a B road north of Cambridge; strings of mini-pelotons in both directions is not going to give white-van-man warm and fuzzy feelings. It does make sense to avoid this kind of thing, and it would need a central 'clearing area' to do so.

I find it hard to believe that people are intimidated by cyclists though. Inconvenienced, yes, same as any popular location in summer. I grew up in a tourist area and you knew to avoid certain routes and junctions on summer weekends. This sounds like the same complaints that are raised by locals* in any tourist area against visitors that cause traffic jams, litter, noise etc

*the most vocal 'locals' usually being the most recent immigrants into the area

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 2 years ago
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" ... who feel intimidated driving through large numbers of cyclists ... "

Dear yes, I'm sure their tin shell, crumple zone, SIPS and dual airbags leave them just SO exposed

And that's not counting the chelsea-tractor crowd

pfffff

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Not KOM [79 posts] 2 years ago
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A pack going past can be intimidating on a country lane, but I don't care that the drivers feel worried about them. It's about time.

Silly, reactionary NIMBY'S.  37 Sadly, if cyclists are shown that they are not allowed to use the road by the dis-respect that they are shown by drivers, then they'll use methods to force themselves back onto the road. Riding in a pack keeps you safe, and drivers have had it their own way for long enough now. It's about time they altered their behaviour for once.

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CraigS [129 posts] 2 years ago
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So if cyclists complain about being intimated and having their journey blocked by vehicle traffic on certain routes then someone ib power will make a fuss and will do something about it right?

...Thought as much.

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james-o [232 posts] 2 years ago
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“The pressure on residents is just getting too much, they're feeling imprisoned, they can't get out."

Genuinely hilarious.. I can understand some of the sentiments but talk about over-reaction that undermines the credibility of the point being made..

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georgee [160 posts] 2 years ago
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Do remember the head of transport for Surrey CC is a convicted drunk driver, do not doubt their friendly pro cyclist policies.

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sean1 [175 posts] 2 years ago
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"A lot of them, particularly in Box Hill, are older people who feel intimidated driving through large numbers of cyclists."

Maybe you could just drive behind them instead?  39

Once again the attitude is that roads are for cars, everything else is a nuisance that is just getting in the way.

I doubt there is a major problem, this is just a local councillor pandering to a few local constituents. Make a bit of noise so they vote for him next time around....

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doubledex [32 posts] 2 years ago
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Also same old arguements about rich people living in the countryside to get away from the townie oiks - now they even have bikes and can get out into the countryide, how dare they! If they dont want to be part of society then they need to move somewhere remote. Hey, even freeing up those homes for younger, cycling families perhaps? I have a dream.........

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doc [167 posts] 2 years ago
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In amongst the reactionary comment, there was an important point. There appears to be little or no communication between organisers and local bodies (Human Race and other good professional excepted) because there are no regulations about sportives. Essentially any group of riders using the road is entitled to go where they wish, and this should be the case.
Possibly a voluntary and widely publicised registration system might help, if only for participant safety. Also not treating sportives as a race, which some wanabees can be seen trying to do at times. Then the unpleasant heda on approaches may be much reduced. Otherwise it will only be a matter of time before we get a rider to rider head on and possible very serious injuries. Then any regulation would be a knee-jerk reaction, which is nearly always poorly thought through and detrimental to someone.
All that said, last year near me there were not two sportives head on, but THREE. At one junction, riders came from tjree directions, forests of arrows were up, doubtless some followed the wrong ones, result absolute chaos. Add in the entrance to a horse event with all the attendant 7 ton trucks driven by nervous people.
An accident surely waiting to happen....

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JonD [389 posts] 2 years ago
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doubledex wrote:

Also same old arguements about rich people living in the countryside to get away from the townie oiks - now they even have bikes and can get out into the countryide, how dare they! If they dont want to be part of society then they need to move somewhere remote. Hey, even freeing up those homes for younger, cycling families perhaps? I have a dream.........

To be fair, Surrey's a bit of a mix, not everyone fits that description, tho' it might around BH.

Actually, I was on the Capital>Coast ride myself, tho' we passed through about9 or 9:30, probably earlier than some, at that time looked probably typical for a nice day, tho' mebbe there were higher numbers later. But to put it in perspective, the C2C rider numbers only went up to about 1700 from what I could see, so it's not exactly a huge number on-road when you consider they'll stretch out between London/Kempton (the start points) and BH.

I do find 'a couple of near misses' rather amusing - how many actual collisions do you get between motor vehicles on a given day ?

Whilst I have *some* sympathy for the residents - and no-one should feel they can't get out - the 'older' ones are probably retired and at least have the option of weekdays to get out too.

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JonD [389 posts] 2 years ago
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doc wrote:

because there are no regulations about sportives. Essentially any group of riders using the road is entitled to go where they wish, and this should be the case.

I think last (?) year one road club had to cancel its event because it had to apply for permission and didn't get it/had it withdrawn because the same day there was a sportive running, which didn't.

(A lot of IIRC in that, I should add..)

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 2 years ago
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Makes a change from the usual. Betwwen Boness and Ambleside the only way to "get out" is on yer bike because of all the cars.

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nuclear coffee [205 posts] 2 years ago
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I know it sounds odd but I can believe it. Very few drivers genuinely don't care if they hit someone - most are concerned to at least some degree, and aware of the fact that they are human and fallible.

The result is that unfamiliar situations on the road, when you have no training or experience to fall back on, can be intimidating even when there is no prospect of injury to yourself. And a large number of semi-organised semi-racing cyclists is unfamiliar to most. This is going to be especially pronounced in older people with worse eyesight and less ability to adapt and learn.

I'm going to side with this sentence from the article: "You might say, “Well now they know how cyclists feel all the time,” but Rob Hillman, event director of sportive organiser Hman Race, says Councillor Preedy has a point." Sheer numbers of recreational cyclists is one thing, but organised events can and therefore should take the impact on locals into account somehow. Not saying I have any idea how though.

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crazy-legs [704 posts] 2 years ago
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It doesn't particularly need regulation as such, just common courtesy of notifying residents/councils etc that such events are on so that residents can make alternative plans, councils can accommodate it etc.

Problem is that some (certainly not all but a minority) of organisers don't do that because they fear that they might get a "no". It's easier to run the event, make the money and apologise afterwards than to jump through the hoops. That then puts the proper organisers under increased pressure - one bad apple in the cart and everyone looks bad.

And don't be fooled by what you're claiming is the "over-reaction" of locals. I'm an experienced race convoy driver - I've done all sorts right up to Premier Calendar level - and I'm a former racer. Yet I've driven through packs of Sportive riders and even as a cyclist, expecting the unexpected and never overtaking round blind bends or on descents, bloody hell there were some dangerous tossers there, riders thinking they owned the road, riders 8 abreast as they overtook slower people.

Now I understand that, I know that on a climb riders are going to bunch up, fan out to overtake and I can make allowances for that. Nervous old biddy going to church or white van man in a rush isn't going to be quite so accommodating.

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chrisb64 [5 posts] 2 years ago
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They were not moaning when the Olympics 'came to town'.

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crazy-legs [704 posts] 2 years ago
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chrisb64 wrote:

They were not moaning when the Olympics 'came to town'.

Some were!
And besides, most contented themselves with the knowledge that it was two days of events, maybe a week of disruption while they moved in barriers and infrastructure then took it all down again but basically, all done and dusted inside of a week.

This is every weekend, more or less 8 months of the year. I can see their point in much the same way as I can see the point of view of the residents of Scafell in the Lakes who complain about the constant stream of those "Three Peaks in 24hr" challenge walkers who disrupt their peace in the middle of the night every weekend.

Not saying I know what the answer is though...

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Beaufort [270 posts] 2 years ago
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It isn't obvious when driving a car with groups of cyclists in front how to safely overtake. It isn't practical to stay behind forever - is that what you'd want anyway ? I'm super careful in a car around bicycles but have to say that when trying to overtake groups it's pretty difficult to know how to do it safely - it can often mean pulling into a smallish space between groups, which I don't like to do. Those of you who drive and have found themselves on the road with groups of bikes should speak up because I'm sure you'll admit how difficult it can be to be it right.

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ribena [174 posts] 2 years ago
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700c [819 posts] 2 years ago
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When large groups of cyclists use the road, in groups, it is tricky to navigate around them in a vehicle.

I can well imagine if I lived around Box hill, I would get wound up by multiple events taking place every weekend, plus we all know that a minority of cyclists ride in sportives somewhat dangerously and inconsiderately

Events, particularly in congested areas should be coordinated centrally, for safety purposes if nothing else.

if some organisers are doing it without the requisite permissions, they should be banned from doing so in future.

On a related note, I passed some kind of time trial event taking place on a busy road on Saturday afternoon last weekend -groups of riders milling around the start, the finish line appeared to be at the entrance to a busy garden centre. What a completely inappropriate choice of location and scheduling.

It seems not every event organiser has the common sense required to organise safe events.

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andylul [410 posts] 2 years ago
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Box Hill?

There's so much more to Surrey than that - literally making a mountain out of mole hill...

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sean1 [175 posts] 2 years ago
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"when trying to overtake groups it's pretty difficult to know how to do it safely"

Blimey  29

Maybe this will be helpful......

https://www.gov.uk/using-the-road-159-to-203/overtaking-162-to-169

note

"give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car"

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700c [819 posts] 2 years ago
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seanbolton wrote:

"when trying to overtake groups it's pretty difficult to know how to do it safely"

Blimey  29

Maybe this will be helpful......

https://www.gov.uk/using-the-road-159-to-203/overtaking-162-to-169

note

"give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car"

I think you miss the point.

If you have multiple groups of cyclists, overtaking each other, sometimes going in the opposite direction (ref the comments made by the sportive organiser in the article), then it's bloody difficult to get past safely, no matter your level of driving experience.

When I'm riding two abreast, I will always move ahead or back off into single file, unless it is a wide, straight section of road with no oncoming traffic.

Cyclists and drivers both have to be considerate of each other, otherwise this animosity will only increase

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workhard [397 posts] 2 years ago
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Every weekday, morning and evening, the roads around Dorking are chock-a-block with cars. The rush hour, which involves 1000's of cars, every weekday, is acceptable. a few weekends a year a few hundred cyclists rock up to take part in a sportive and that's unacceptable. Most weekends a few hundred weekend warriors rock up in lycra or on phat tyres, and I may be one, and the locals go nuts because they can't hussle their wankpanzers down the lanes fast enough. Bonkers.

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hillboy [11 posts] 2 years ago
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It's quite interesting to hear someone from the South East of England where it almost impossible to escape the noise, pollution, congestion and conflict of the motorised traffic on the ground and ever present landing and taking off jets in the sky complaining about 'the sheer number of cyclists' spoiling the environment. I suppose psychologists might point to a kind of displaced agression; a person taking out his hostility on something less threatening to that which is actually making him angry. This is quite possibly the root cause of a lot of hostilty to cyclists on the road, and domestic violence in the home. It's a big problem in modern society. Cllr Preedy needs to see someone about his anger.

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Jimbonic [135 posts] 2 years ago
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700c wrote:
seanbolton wrote:

"when trying to overtake groups it's pretty difficult to know how to do it safely"

Blimey  29

Maybe this will be helpful......

https://www.gov.uk/using-the-road-159-to-203/overtaking-162-to-169

note

"give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car"

The po

I think you miss the point.

If you have multiple groups of cyclists, overtaking each other, sometimes going in the opposite direction (ref the comments made by the sportive organiser in the article), then it's bloody difficult to get past safely, no matter your level of driving experience.

When I'm riding two abreast, I will always move ahead or back off into single file, unless it is a wide, straight section of road with no oncoming traffic.

Cyclists and drivers both have to be considerate of each other, otherwise this animosity will only increase

The point being made, I think, is that it can be very difficult to pass a line of, say, 10 riders on a narrow, twisty road. A situation that makes riders and drivers nervous. It must be very frustrating for drivers. And some are less patient than others!

I agree that the Highway Code says allow as much space as you would for a motor vehicle. But, most vehicles aren't 25 m long.

We can all help the situation by being more considerate: riders and drivers.

Personally, I can't see what all the fuss is about Box Hill. There are much better, less crowded hills nearby...

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Jimbonic [135 posts] 2 years ago
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We do need to be wary, though. Surrey CC changed the road layout to stop the large number of motor cyclists enjoying themselves. Admittedly, they did tend to enjoy themselves rather too quickly! But, the point is that Surrey CC aren't averse to taking it out on a minority community...

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Tony [111 posts] 2 years ago
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700c wrote:

When large groups of cyclists use the road, in groups, it is tricky to navigate around them in a vehicle.

When large groups of motorists use the road it is tricky to navigate around them on a bicycle.

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SteppenHerring [322 posts] 2 years ago
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Hmm. I have mixed feelings about sportives. As a club rider (and ride leader) I know we're careful about maximum numbers in a group and keeping groups apart. Sportive riders don't always have club discipline (to be polite). The story about the horse being put down that was published earlier in the week is an example.

I find it ridiculous that when organising a time trial that will obstruct precisely nobody, I need to put in a police permission form but sportive organisers can send thousands of riders along an inappropriate route (Cycling Weekly going up Pebble Hill to avoid the Box Hill Tax for instance) without informing anyone.

Recording times an publishing a list of finishers in time order makes a sportive a de-facto race but yet they're subject to none of the regulations.

Share the roads and play nice. And if you want to race, there are plenty of races and TTs.

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a.jumper [845 posts] 2 years ago
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Jimbonic wrote:

The point being made, I think, is that it can be very difficult to pass a line of, say, 10 riders on a narrow, twisty road. A situation that makes riders and drivers nervous. It must be very frustrating for drivers. And some are less patient than others!

No, it's not difficult - it's impossible. But that's OK. There is no god-given right to drive vehicles on narrow, twisty road at the maximum speed that engine or law permits. If you don't like going at the speed of the slowest road users, then stick to the wider straighter main roads.

Give it a couple of weeks and those townies-in-the-countryside will be complaining about all the long farm vehicles blocking the small roads while they're getting the harvest in.

If you're a victim, sorry constituent, of idiot Councillor David Preedy, then please suggest he tells his other constituents to share the roads and drive patiently until they reach the major routes and not try "driving through" cyclists!

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Yorkshie Whippet [501 posts] 2 years ago
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Having done a sportive up Box Hill, I doubt it's actually the cyclist there are the problem, more the cause of the problem.

All it takes is one slow rider pottling up the hill at 8mph to bring the area to a grind. Drivers forcing their way passed on the wrong side whilst motorbikes zip in and out of gaps that possibly weren't there to start with. Coupled with the hot weather, fuses get short, tempers flare and KABOOM! Locals have to wait forever to get in and out of their properties as everyone attempts to go as fast as possible. Ultimately not able to go as fast as before, perceived or otherwise. Anyway sportives tend to run on weekends....

Role on next year when le Tour comes to Yorkshire, bet you anything those at Box Hill don't complain about the congestion around the route.

A little patience would go a long way, however in this day and age a little patience is all people have.

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