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Surrey County Council wants more control over sportives

Responds to complaint that residents are “sick to the back teeth” of “races” on narrow country lanes

Surrey County Council has called on the Government to revise current regulations covering sportives, lamenting that it has no power to regulate such events.

Get Surrey reports that the council was recently contacted by local resident Alison Dicks, who said: "I live in the Chiddingfold area and we are all sick to the back teeth of cycling road races taking place on very narrow country lanes. They have absolutely no respect for other road users, including those on horseback."

She said a cyclist avoiding a pothole had recently hit her car after coming round a blind bend on the wrong side of the road – “he apologised profusely” – adding that she and her dogs had been forced to take evasive action the following day when a group of seven cyclists “came round a dark blind bend at full pelt".

Seemingly of the opinion that the cyclists in question were taking part in an organised event, she asked: "Are they above the law when it comes to speeding and road safety? Do the organisers of these events have to obtain a permit? If so, why are the local residents not consulted? Is it going to take a death before these events are properly managed?"

Glyn Durrant, of the Surrey Cycle Racing League, said it was more likely the cyclists had been on a charity ride.

"These are not regulated like our races and cause a lot of problems to us as well as residents. A lot of these charity rides can appear to be races to those who don't understand the difference. Every race we run has a following referee and we do not stand for anti-social behaviour of any type."

In response to Dicks’ complaint, the council's highways department said it had "no powers to give permission for open road events such as sportives."

It added: "Under current legislation, event organisers are not required to give notification of open road sporting events, though many do so voluntarily.

"We issue organisers with a code of conduct, where we receive event notification, and ask that participants should receive a full safety briefing, although we are relying here on goodwill and do not have means to enforce this."

It continued by saying: "Surrey County Council and partners do not agree with the current legal and regulatory split in oversight of these events.

"We strongly support changes to the current position regarding sportive events which are run on open roads.

"We have been calling on the Government to revise the current regulations to cover sportive events that are not currently regulated.

"We have been concerned to hear of the safety issues described and are in correspondence with police partners and the event organiser to address future event safety."

In 2013, a Surrey resident launched a campaign demanding that the county council not allow closed-road cycle events, such as RideLondon-Surrey, arguing that they turned roads into a “cycle track”.

There have also been complaints that too many cycling events are using Box Hill with reports of anti-social behaviour by riders.

This ill-feeling has at times manifested itself in acts of sabotage. Last year a small group of anti-cycling protesters threw tacks and removed signage, forcing the organisers of the Kelly’s Summer Cycle sportive to shorten the 75 mile route to 55 miles.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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