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12/11/2010 // INFO 1 Comment

Support at last for grass roots road racing?

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RoadCycling

Maybe some good news in the offing with regards to grass roots road racing in this country. Sport and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson has said he will support efforts by British Cycling to resolve problems relating to staging efforts at grass root level.

Mr Robertson, speaking at a visit to British Cycling’s headquarters at Manchester’s Velodrome yesterday (November 11), says he was “acutely” aware of problems British Cycling faced with regard to road closures, police costs and other bureaucracy and that his department were working hard to resolve those with the Department of Transport and the Home Office. British Cycling’s chief executive Ian Drake no doubt pressed him on the issue during the visit, and will be glad of a public statement by Mr Robertson.

Although road racing remains the largest discipline of cycling as a sport, it is in decline, with the number of events having significantly reduced in the last decade in contrast to the growth in other cycle sport disciplines, British Cycling states.

British Cycling ‘s position is that race organisers are finding the barriers to promoting a road race just too difficult to navigate and road races and participants in the sport are being lost as a result.

Legislation governing cycling racing is very much outdated with present regulations governed by the Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations Act, 1960. Under these regulations, the police must be notified of an upcoming road race. The police also have the right under the legislation to impose any conditions they deem appropriate, which is where most of the problems occur as it is purely up to the police what is acceptable.

British Cycling wants legislation to be amended to start from the presumption that road races are a legitimate activity and should be authorised by the police, subject to the fulfilment of an updated set of requirements. This it says will limit the current regional variability of police requirements and allow volunteers to organise races more effectively.

Another issue of concern is marshalling. There appears to be no clear practice established which allows marshals to stop and slow traffic briefly in order to let a race pass with again the police having overall say on such matters. Here British Cycling is pushing for a Code of Conduct which would include formal recognition of the role played by trained and accredited marshals to control traffic at bike races.

It also wants a consistently applied policy for police charging at road races which recognises that the overwhelming majority are run on a non commercial basis by volunteers. At grass roots level promoters and organisers of smaller club level events do not have anywhere near the same levels of funding as elite level races and this must be reflected in costs.

British Cycling is running a Facebook campaign to gather support at grass roots level to petition MPs for support, while British Cycling has also had several senior-level meetings with officials at the Department for Transport to discuss amending regulations to cycle racing on roads since March this year.

Update

British Cycling has this afternoon (November 12) revealed that it is making good progress on the issue of revising Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations Act and police costs.

On the legislation, British Cycling said meetings had been held with the new Transport Minister, Norman Baker, and subsequent meetings with DfT officials have resulted in the agreement of a proposed re-draft of the Regulations. Additional DfT resource has been allocated to this, and British Cycling is pushing hard for this draft to be completed over the coming months.

On police costs, cycling was the only sport invited to meet officials responsible for the re-drafting of ACPO’s guidance on police charging for events. Having helped draft the relevant sections, British Cycling expect the new guidance to be a significant step forward.

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1 comments [leave one]
Barry Munro November 14, 2010 at 8:17 am

Seems strange from down here near Antarctica that the locals cannot race in an organaside manner on their local roads. Cycling Otago does it very well. I love this kind of local racing!
Cheers.

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