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RideLondon-Surrey 100: Surrey County Council withdraws support beyond 2021, despite majority wanting sportive to continue

The council has proposed that a 50km 'inspiration ride' should replace the 100 mile sportive in 2021, while it's becoming increasingly likely that the larger event won't return in 2022 and beyond...

Surrey County Council (SCC) has reiterated that it doesn't intend to host the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey (PRLS) 100 mile sportive event in 2022 and beyond, confirming it will only support a shorter event next year. SCC says this is because a survey revealed "a significant proportion of respondents were strongly opposed to the event", despite a majority of 58% agreeing that they would support the continuation of it for the next five years. 

With the whole physical RideLondon event cancelled this year, SCC's cabinet paper confirms that they will not support a 100 mile sportive or men's professional race in 2021. SCC has proposed that a shorter, 50km 'inspiration ride' event should take place instead of the 100 mile sportive, with only four miles of the route crossing into Surrey. Its reasoning for this is that smaller events will be "less disruptive" to businesses and residents, and that the Council's objective is to "enable more people to cycle for everyday journeys", adding: "This approach would more closely align with the Council’s corporate objectives, compared with longer events focused primarily on sports cycling." 

SCC has also proposed that RideLondon organisers London Marathon Events (LME) should deliver the event on a "wholly not-for-profit basis" if it proceeds beyond 2021, and have refused to provide any financial support other than the time required for their officers to review arrangements of the event. 

It appears, then, that SCC is set on withdrawing its support for the 100 mile sportive, despite a small majority of survey respondents strongly suggesting they want the event to continue. The data included in the cabinet paper says that 53% of respondents who were Surrey residents 'strongly agree' or 'tend to agree' that the benefits of the event "outweigh the impact and disruption". Just 31% strongly disagreed that the event's benefits outweighed the disruption, and among non-Surrey residents surveyed, 54% strongly agreed and 35% strongly disagreed. 

The report also says concerns such as "the safety and restrictions of roads, the impact this has on emergency services, and the antisocial behaviour of both spectators and cyclists, which results in increased littering" were raised by survey respondents. They also said some noted long-term impacts "due to several cyclists using the route for practice or leisure all year round"; in other words, some residents weren't in favour of the event leading to increased levels of cycling in Surrey.

The paper concludes: "Overall, the findings lean towards supporting the continuation of PRLS for the next 5 years, with 58.38% of all respondents and 53.47% of Surrey Residents agreeing that Surrey should continue to host PRLS.

"However, this margin is relatively small and there have been many lessons identified for surveys like these in the future."

SCC says that if the decision is made to continue with the sportive, it recommends there should be more focus on addressing "widespread safety concerns", assessing the route, addressing "health and social care concerns" and analysing the event's funding structure. 

A final decision will be made by the SCC cabinet on 27th October. 

After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake. 

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