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Cycling City? Not on our land

Bristol City Council stops all cycling activity on council land; other sports unaffected

Remember when Bristol was championing itself as the first Cycling City? Seems that cycling's out in the cold nowadays: the City Council have take it upon themselves to suspend all cycle events on council sites, effectively cancelling the Western League cyclocross series in the process.

We spoke to Craig Denning of Dream Cycling, whose Western league event, scheduled to take place at Hengrove Park in Bristol, has had to be moved at short notice. "the first event at Hengrove went ahead as planned," he told us, "but when I didn't receive a license for the second, I had to chase and chase to get through to someone at the council. Eventually I was told that a decision had been made by the new manager of parks to suspend all cycling events on Bristol-City-owned sites."

So much for a cycling city, then. When pressed by Denning, the Council stated that a wet summer, coupled with budget cuts, meant that they weren't prepared to put cycling events on and risk damage to facilities. When asked whether the suspension would also apply to football and rugby, the Council unsurprisingly confirmed that they'd be going ahead as normal.

"It's ridiculous - Hengrove is a sports facility, not an area of outstanding natural beauty," Denning told us. "There used to be crit races held up there on the old Whitchurch Airport runways, and there's a car boot sale held there every week that does more damage than a cylocross race ever could." Initially reports were circulating that the Council would be asking for a £2,500 deposit ahead of each event, but even that route – which cyclo cross organisers wouldn't have been able to afford anyway – is now seemingly closed. The reason for the suspension, that appears to affect cycle events and nothing else, is unclear. Recently the Bristol Bikefest events have encountered problems with access to, and restoration of, fields used as campsites during the summer and Oktoberfest events, but there's no campsite at a CX race.

All this from a City council that was happy to take £11m of Government funding in 2008 to become the first designated Cycling City in England. "Cycling clearly plays a big part in that and is central to Bristol's vision of the future," states their website. That's presumably so long as that cycling doesn't take place on their land...

Dave is a founding father of, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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