Routes through the Pennines to be barred to everyone but locals in bid to avoid gridlock

UPDATE: Well, it's gone noon, so... this was of course a little bit  of fun we made up for 1 April (although at least one person in Yorkshire tweeted us saying they should do this year-round.) Come July 2014, though, we reckon roads in the Pennines will be chockablock with people trying to get over to the Tour, so maybe the thought of spending a couple of days in Yorkshire rather than brave the traffic's not so foolish after all...?


Cycling fans living in Lancashire hoping to watch next year’s Tour de France live may have to stay in Yorkshire overnight after it emerged that roads crossing the Pennines on the days of the opening two stages will be open only to locals. Police forces in both counties have taken the unprecedented step due to fears of gridlock, with the event expected to draw crowds in excess of a million people.

While there will be no restrictions on the M62, police and tourism bosses are keen to avoid potential traffic jams on the motorway, and road.cc understands that Welcome to Yorkshire, which is responsible for the Grand Départ, will be launching an advertising campaign in the North West encouraging residents of the neighbouring county to tie in their visit to the Tour with a longer stay.

A source connected with the agency's team working on the Grand Depart told road.cc: "We're determined that all visitors, wherever they come from, enjoy the Tour and the other events we are putting on around it to the full, rather than their memory of the day being spending hours sitting in traffic jams.

"That includes extending a big Yorkshire welcome to our friends from across the Pennines, and we'll be launching a campaign later this year encouraging them to make a longer stay of it and enjoy our region's hospitality - we're sure they'll enjoy it so much that they'll wish they'd stayed longer.

"In the meantime, we're working closely with police and transport authorities to ensure everything goes smoothly, and starting today leaflets are being delivered to homes in communities on roads affected to outline our proposals."

For those living in Lancashire as well as Greater Manchester, other roads, however, will be in effect impassable for 24 hours starting on the evening of Friday 4th July, the day before Stage 1 of the race from Leeds to Harrogate.

Checkpoints will be put in place on routes such as the A56 from Colne to Skipton and the A681 from Bacup to Todmorden, with police running licence plate checks and also requesting identification from motorists whose cars are not registered to a local address to prove they do live in the area. Those unable to do so will be turned away.

While taking the train, in the form of the TransPennine Express, is an option, there too some forward planning will be required, with operators FirstGroup understood to be planning to introduce compulsory seat reservations for the Grand Départ weekend due to the numbers expected to travel.

There is another option, of course, for keener cyclists, which is simply to ride across the Pennines – there won’t be any restrictions on people travelling by bicycle.

News of the travel restrictions is unlikely to sit well with many in Lancashire, where the ‘Roses’ rivalry in sports such as cricket is well established, although based largely on historical inaccuracy.

The term Wars of The Roses was popularised by the writer Sir Walter Scott in the 19th Century, with the attribution of the red rose to the House of Lancaster and the white rose to York based on a scene from Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part I rather than fact.

Indeed, although Richard III, while Duke of York, had close ties to Yorkshire, with Middleham Castle in Wensleydale becoming his principal residence, the two dynasties involved in the conflict had little to do with the counties with which they were associated by name, with their main landholdings situated elsewhere in England and Wales.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.