Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

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squeaker
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Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby squeaker » 12 Mar 2018, 6:03pm

(mods: please feel free to move this to a more appropriate location - although preferably not the deleted bin!)

This closed roads sportive has already got a few locals up in arms. See note below from Ian Thatcher (who?) and a parish clerk:

Whilst I 'get' such events as the Tour de France (more than just a bike race?), do events with long road closures (assuming the necessary closures will be obtained) really benefit 'cycling' overall? I suspect not, but would welcome comments (before it's discussed at my local parish council) especially from anyone who experienced 2017 Velo Birmingham (from either side of the fence).

Subject: Velo South - 100 miles of closed roads - Disruption to the communities of West Sussex



_____________

Dear Parish Councils on cc: The email below is intended as supporting context to any briefing received concerning the forthcoming Velo South event. I politely request that both the information and sentiment in this email be distributed and communicated to parish councillors. Equally I encourage the topic of Velo South road closures to be added to any forthcoming parish council meeting agendas. The delivery of Velo South proposes a significant disruption to our communities, the full effect of which has not been communicated to residents and isn't intended to be communicated to residents until it is too late for those affected to have their say. Please advise any parishioners that may or may not be affected by this event to stay vigilant for TTRO applications on council websites made by CSM Active, or Velo South (that are currently being applied for) to ensure that any concerns are raised NOW. The mechanism to voice concerns can be found here: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/roads-and ... -on-a-tro/

I urge parish councils to lobby and petition organisers and stakeholders to reconsider the proposed event in it's current design and format to prevent county-wide disruption.
______________

Members of the press: This email is intended as an alternative briefing to press releases published by CSM Active and associated councils regarding Velo South. I encourage you to challenge both the associated councils and CSM publicly to ensure proper engagement, rigorous planning and accountability to avoid a repeat of the chaos created by Velo Birmingham in our county.
______________


Dear Ali and Alicia, (key stakeholders, parish councils and members of the press cc'd)

Having spoken with yourselves and many of the main operational stakeholders regarding the forthcoming cycling event, Velo South, I wish to raise a number of points that I feel urgently require greater transparency.

Briefing for those not aware: CSM Sport & Entertainment LLP (CSM Active) is bringing a cycling event to West Sussex under the name Velo South. Velo South is advertised as a cycling road race hosting 15,000 riders on 100 miles of closed roads in West Sussex on 23rd September 2018.

Velo South is the sequel to Velo Birmingham, a cycling event of the same scale, 15,000 riders, that caused widespread disruption to residents of Birmingham and surrounding villages in 2017, resulting in acts of sabotage by local residents following complaints of a lack of sufficient consultation. Subsequently Velo Birmingham has not been allowed to return in 2018.

Press coverage: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats- ... e-14229058

I raise the following points:

1. Have the lessons from Velo Birmingham been learnt?

I observe a distinct void between the publicity materials you've distributed promoting Velo South and what you're actually permitted to deliver. I also observe that you currently do not have permission to close 100 miles of roads, as per the route advertised, and operational and logistical sign off is still subject to approval at council level. I also observe that there has been no engagement with residents due to be affected by the proposed road closures.

With the support of a small working group within West Sussex County Council, Horsham District Council and Chichester District Council and a top level agreement, Velo South has already delivered multiple launch events, emails and social media posts selling the 100 mile closed road route event without a single nod to residents, or logistical approval at a council level. Quite simply, it's false advertising and a repeat of the strategy seen with Velo Birmingham - sign up riders first, ensure the commercial interests of the event are prioritised and then field enquiries from communities and residents at the point of no return.

Questions that I have put to Velo South concerning the proposed route and logistics have so far resulted in unclear answers. No resident liaison plans, no clear logistics plans, contingency plans, maintenance schedules, marshalling, or clear up plans have been communicated - yet I believe tickets are sold out and I believe TTRO applications are underway. If this is the case then there must be plans in place? Why are these not being communicated and why are residents not being consulted?

Given the media coverage of the disruption in Birmingham, I ask the question - If the city of Birmingham with comprehensive infrastructure cannot deliver this event successfully, then how are the country lanes connecting the rural communities of West Sussex supposed to? In our local area a fallen tree, or something as tragic as a road traffic accident can cause huge detours (closing a 50 metre stretch of road for essential re-surfacing work caused us a 45min detour recently) and if you close some of the roads as currently advertised, there is simply no way around - even pedestrian access will be impossible on narrow country roads with no pavements.

According to council policy when applying for TTROs the following terms must be considered:

· "For restrictions involving closures and prohibited movements you will need to think about access for pedestrians and emergency vehicles, and access to properties within the proposed restriction. You will need to provide details of access arrangements on the form. Vehicular access to properties adjacent to a highway may not be prohibited for any more than 8 hours in any period of 24 hours and it is compulsory that emergency services can gain access to all properties within the restricted length at all times."

· Applicants are required to undertake advance public notification, such as a letter drop, to affected parties advising them of the proposed works or event.This will include, but not necessarily be limited to:

· all properties (residents and businesses) fronting the highway affected

· bus companies using the affected road and any diversion routes

· police, fire and ambulance services

This has simply not been the case to date, (perhaps excluding some liaison with emergency services) and I therefore ask you to remove all advertising of the route until due process is complete and feasibility studies have been shared to reassure local residents on matters such as mobility, health and safety and access.

2. What benefits will be seen by the region through an event of this format?

Many of the local villages already endure a multitude of unregulated cycle club events and the activity of cycling is strongly represented in the county. Indeed other large cycling road races that will be held in West Sussex this summer include the Sussex Gran Fondo, Ups and Downs, Haywards Heath Howler, South Downs Epic, Orro Sussex Downs Classic, South Downs 100, Fallen Leaves, to mention a few. I believe the Orro Sussex Downs Classic occurs just two weeks before the proposed date for Velo South. This also doesn't include the weekly training rides hosted by some of the 24 cycling clubs that are in the county, or indeed visiting cyclists. I can assure you that there are plenty of cycling opportunities offered within the county without this event and I observe an underlying surge in resident's frustration with road dominance and poor etiquette.

Velo South is being run by CSM Sport and Entertainment LLP, a Sebastian Coe led private company that generated over £100 million in turnover last year. Tickets for Velo South are as much as £150 per rider. Multiply this by 15,000 riders and it represents not an inconsiderable sum of money, well in excess of £10million in fact (allowing for a variation in ticket price). However the commercial benefit to West Sussex, and more specifically the local community, has not been communicated. What are the commercial benefits to the county?

Large sporting events usually offer an upside - entertainment, commercial uplift, inclusivity, fostering sport, or charitable donation to the areas that are hosting. For example, when the Tour De France came through our village it brought real benefit to the community through improvement to the roads. In the case of Velo South however, we see no evident support of the county, or indeed the local communities. It is clear that this event meets the needs of an exclusive group of riders without care or consideration for the greater needs of the county, or indeed the communities it relies on disrupting to deliver.

Velo South supports popular, national charities, with currently no publicised support being offered to local causes, South Downs National Park projects, local infrastructure projects, local community or sporting projects etc. For example, in our village we have a live community project to refurbish our recreation/sports ground and village car park, so more may come and enjoy our area. These projects will not see a benefit, nor will our local businesses, to which there will be no access during the proposed road closures.

Based on these observations I challenge CSM and council stakeholders with the following questions:

- Please could you disclose the commercial arrangements between CSM Active and the collective of councils, the revenue projected and how that revenue will be invested in the county?
- If the local councils are being paid for the privilege of hosting the event, where will that funding be spent and can we be assured that it will be used to support those areas impacted?
- Who will bear the cost of stewarding, emergency service support etc, not to mention the clear up?
- Equally, how much will CSM Active be charged for the large emergency service and Highways management resource that will be required to deliver the event as promoted?
- Could those involved share insight into how this event will benefit local causes beyond a select few private landlords and hoteliers (some of which will be national chains)?

We would be happy to issue a freedom of information request if you feel you cannot be forthcoming.

3. Exclusivity, not inclusivity

Let's be clear: cycling is exclusive and not inclusive. Velo South is exclusive, so I do not understand why we are giving this event such a platform?

According to CyclingUK.org and the British Social Attitudes survey of adults over the age of 18, 69% "Never Cycle" and only 31% "Cycle". It's a male dominated activity with three times as many male as there are female riders and four times as many cycling miles covered by males than females. The largest age segments of riders falls between 21 and 49. For Velo South it is clearly stated that riders must maintain an average speed of 11mph, and tickets cost as much as £150. If sentiment on social channels from Velo Birmingham is analysed there is comment that it was an adult male dominated event and women and children were under represented. These are not facets of an inclusive event.

Velo South is being advertised using the following rhetoric "...provide an excellent opportunity to showcase our unique district at it's best - an exhilarating ride for the competitors and a real spectacle for local residents and visitors to enjoy". Indeed, Lawrence Foord, licensing for Chichester District Council, remarked to me "it is wonderful for the county to attract an event of this calibre". I don't however understand why? We see hoards of cyclists every weekend on our lanes, so I hypothesize that the majority of locals really aren't interested. Has anyone conducted a survey around local, or county attitudes towards cycling? Additionally our county has strong GDP and CVA rankings and being within the South Downs National Park, tourism is strong. So what are we showcasing and to whom, and for what purpose? Why do we need it? What's the benefit?

In summary:

My observations are - a small working group within the associated councils have committed to a partnership with a global corporate who are now profiteering from a current vogue pastime amongst an elite male fan base. Advertising is false, organisation is not transparent and is currently unapproved at a logistics level. It is set to bring countywide disruption for the majority, with a sport that is already well (over) represented for the minority, with little consideration of the impact on local residents. This is not an event for all the family, and with the numerous cycling events we have inflicted on us I suggest that this will not be a 'real spectacle to enjoy', but merely another source of frustration.

Suggested outcome:

Given the current lack of engagement with the community, the proposed scale of the event and time pressures with the TTRO application threshold, I call for this event to be postponed to 2019 or 2020. This will allow for sufficient liaison, consultation, planning and reconsideration of the design and scale of such an event so that it's viability, or feasibilty may be properly assessed against a criteria that is truly inclusive and offers better value and benefit to the county of West Sussex beyond that currently proposed.

I look forward to a response - and not a press officer "It will be great for the county and we'll be on hand during the event to help local residents" response. A proper response please.

Many Thanks,

Ian Thatcher
Compton
West Sussex


Dear Ian,

Thank you for your email, which I will circulate to my parish councillors.

You are quite right that there is an underlying surge in residents’ frustration regarding cycling events. This is certainly true in Plaistow and Ifold parish. During certain times of the year, our villages and narrow country lanes are turned into race tracks, with the ever-increasing frequency of sportives being the major problem. Residents are increasingly being verbally abused by cyclists and marshals and we’ve also experienced a couple of injuries. Once they’ve finished using our village as a race track, we’re then left to pick their rubbish out of our hedgerows.

Cycling organisations have a strong voice and are keen lobbyists. I agree that the voice of residents also needs to be heard.

Kind regards,

Beverley
BEVERLEY WEDDELL
CLERK TO PLAISTOW AND IFOLD PARISH COUNCIL
"42"

millimole
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby millimole » 13 Mar 2018, 9:09am

I'm very doubtful of the benefits of this type of event to the promotion of cycling generally, or to the local economy.
As far as my jaundiced eye sees out, they benefit a limited number of relatively well off riders, the organisers, and possibly a few B&B.s..
They increasingly irritate residents (and visitors), and do nothing for 'everyday' cycling. The event 'parachutes' into the area leaving local cyclists to pick up the simmering parish councils and local papers.

I'm a trendy consumer. Just look at my stupid phone.
Leicester; Riding my Hetchins since 1971; Audaxing on my Dawes; Riding to work on a Decathlon Hoprider

Mike Sales
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby Mike Sales » 13 Mar 2018, 9:18am

And they mandate helmets.

thirdcrank
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby thirdcrank » 13 Mar 2018, 9:47am

Re temporary road closures for cycling events, I think there's a spectrum with TdF at one end and things like car free days at the other. At the TdF end, the energy and expertise of Sir Gary Verity, head honcho at Welcome to Yorkshire, created immeasurable value for the county in terms of immediate visitor spend and longer-term publicity. The local authorities have generally latched on to this and so are keen to host the spin off in the form of the Tour de Yorkshire and the county will host the Worlds. The road closures and inconvenience come with the territory. One of my nephews lives in Addingham, which was on the TdF route twice in two days. Some local grumbles but overall, two jours de fête. There are now brightly painted old bikes strung up all over on the routes used. Incidentally, something that's preferable to the sad memorials represented by ghost bikes.

Car-free days just demonstrate the benefits to anybody prepared to listen. They must also provide an opportunity for riders unhappy in traffic to experience a carefree ride on normally busy roads.

I'm pretty much with minimole on this. I'd find it hard to list benefits to anybody but the participants to outweigh the inconvenience which can turn into more open hostility.

whoof
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby whoof » 13 Mar 2018, 10:46am

This has been going on for years in the running world. Local to me this year there will be closed roads for both the Bristol and Bath (cancelled) 1/2 marathons. It always annoys some people as pedestrians are using the roads and they haven't even paid for them.

roubaixtuesday
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby roubaixtuesday » 13 Mar 2018, 12:24pm

I did the Ardechoise event a few years ago (highly recommended) which has some closed roads and a huge impact on the local community.

It seemed to be hugely popular with the locals - a massive community event and party. Of course it's community organised rather than for commercial gain.

I'd love to see similar events in the uk.

http://www.ardechoise.com/en/Associatio ... -structure

brynpoeth
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby brynpoeth » 13 Mar 2018, 4:08pm

millimole wrote:I'm very doubtful of the benefits of this type of event to the promotion of cycling generally, or to the local economy.
As far as my jaundiced eye sees out, they benefit a limited number of relatively well off riders, the organisers, and possibly a few B&B.s..
They increasingly irritate residents (and visitors), and do nothing for 'everyday' cycling. The event 'parachutes' into the area
..
..

The parachutes have four wheels and infernal combustion engines, participants often travel great distances :(
On the other hand closing the roads prevents vast numbers of motor crimes! :D
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott

Vitara
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby Vitara » 15 Mar 2018, 6:15am

I've got mixed views, but if Ian Thatcher was to read his own email it would be self evident why the organisers have not consulted with residents before making their plans. They probably wouldn't get very far past the word cycling before enough people were saying no that it would be virtually impossible to move the plan forward.

I won't be entering anyway, I've already managed to get an entry into the Wyle & Ebble Valley 200Km Audax which is on the same day.

A lovely ride, £6 to enter, very sociable with bacon butties and cake and cake at the controls - what's not to like.

details here:

www.aukweb.net/events/detail/18-817/

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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby Si » 15 Mar 2018, 8:04am

I much prefer the closed roads city rides. Much more accessable to all standards of cyclist (last one i was at we even did a learn to ride for non cyclists with bikes supplied), free, drags in a lot of random passersby that didnt even know it was happening, still gets good reporting in the news but without all the rural nimbys sticking their oars in.

Whilst the velo brum was very enjoyable for the vast majority of riders, andnthere was a real carnival atmosphere in places like bewdley, there was also lots of negative feeling. Much of this was probably not helped by the organisers lack of ability to engage with people who lived or worked along the route, and a fair bit was from people just looking for an excuse to moan.

millimole
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby millimole » 15 Mar 2018, 9:12am

I've re-read the letter by Ian Thatcher a lot more carefully. He makes some very good points, he pulls out a lot of detail, and he makes his points coherently. However - where he becomes unhinged is in his blurring of the distinction between sportives and other cycling.
This blurred lines in affected communities is both understandable and deliberate.
The affected community - quite understandably - cannot distinguish week to week between the leisure rider and the event entrant; they go on to vent their anger their rage against all cyclists.
Ian Thatcher and I would, I guess, agree on the issues around the closed road sportive, but when he talks about (and I paraphrase) hoardes of cyclists then we would part company.
The organized event - sportive or charity ride - brings traffic (transporting participants & machines), signposted routes, marshalls (trained or otherwise), wanna be race-like behaviour and very often litter (gel wrappers in particular). None of this is good for the affected areas or for the image of cycling.
The day-to-day legitimate use of the roads by cyclists is a completely separate matter, and there needs to be very clear separation of the two uses of the highway. I wonder if the number of non-event cyclists Ian Thatcher (and residents in these areas) complains about would attract the same vitriol if they were all in cars?

I'm a trendy consumer. Just look at my stupid phone.
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squeaker
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby squeaker » 15 Mar 2018, 2:01pm

Seems it's part of WSCC's tourism initiative - this from the council leader:
Velo South is an exciting event which we see will have many benefits such as helping us to shine a light on our beautiful county, support the tourism industry and our local economy. It will also help towards raising additional funds for charities too. The route, which is still being developed, will run through the districts of Horsham and Chichester. We are working closely with CSM, the organisers of Velo South to make sure the event is run safely and efficiently, with the least possible impact on our residents’ daily lives.

We appreciate that road closures needed on event day could be an inconvenience for some people and we want to you reassure you that the road closures will be closely managed by West Sussex County Council. We will make sure our residents feel well supported and informed so they are able to move around the county on the day – and we hope enjoy the event themselves.

Your support of this event is about developing our local economy and promoting West Sussex as a great place to live, work and visit – something that is reflected in our West Sussex Plan; our five year plan to develop the county.

We are working closely with the event organisers, our district and borough partners, and of course with you to ensure its success. We would really value your support and input to help us to achieve a visitor, business and resident experience that we can all be proud of.

I am aware that many of you will want to know greater detail as soon as possible and I have explained this to CSM. This will happen when details are finalised in April.

As part of their engagement with you, CSM will be attending both Chichester and Horsham’s Annual Meeting of Parishes to be on hand to answer questions you may have.

In the meantime we would encourage you and your parish councillors to visit the Velo South website here for more information where you can also sign up for alerts.

We will obviously keep you posted, but I sincerely hope you will be able to support this event in West Sussex.


I'm still not comfortable with the concept, especially give the rural nature of the route, on the basis of excluding all but an 'elite' group from the roads concerned - unlike car free days etc.. (I would include closed roads car rallies, and any public space exclusion in this discomfort.) I also agree with millimole that Ian Thatcher reveals his true biases with his 'hordes of cyclists' tirade, but would suggest that closed roads events just goad people like him further!

I suppose there have always been, and always will be, Nimbys like him - watch this space, I guess?
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Mike Sales
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby Mike Sales » 15 Mar 2018, 2:28pm

Does "closed roads" exclude cyclists who have not paid to enter?
If the roads down my way were closed I might well go for a ride out of a desire to assert my right to use the public highway.
I would be readily distinguishable by my lack of expanded polystyrene. Would I be stopped by the enforcers?

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Si
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby Si » 15 Mar 2018, 2:37pm

In terms of tourism income, at the brum veloyou either had to pay and extra £40 or so, or turn up the day before to register.....thus imguessing that a number of people decided to spend the night in brum beforehand. However, unlike an audax they wouldnt have stopped at every single cafe and pub along the route.

Ateotd, the ultimate goal for velo is to make as much money as possible for the organisers. The ultimate aim for the city-ride type event is to get as many people on bikes as possible. Both are lots of fun for the riders, but i know which id rather support.

thirdcrank
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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby thirdcrank » 15 Mar 2018, 2:42pm

Mike Sales wrote:Does "closed roads" exclude cyclists who have not paid to enter?
If the roads down my way were closed I might well go for a ride out of a desire to assert my right to use the public highway.
I would be readily distinguishable by my lack of expanded polystyrene. Would I be stopped by the enforcers?


I've been stopped by traffic wardens in similar circumstances, which dates it to the time when they were police employees. The bit of road I was riding on wasn't part of the route of whatever event it was, but part of the diversion scheme for motor traffic. Probably Leeds Half Marathon. (No right to use the public highway if it's officially closed.)

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Re: Velo South closed roads sportive - good idea?!?

Postby Vitara » 15 Mar 2018, 6:06pm

millimole wrote:I've re-read the letter by Ian Thatcher a lot more carefully. . . . . . .

It's noteable that Ian hails from Compton. It's a small village with shop and tearoom which is a very popular venue for cyclists. Although the tearoom does have other customers I'd hazard a guess that cyclists add considerably to their turnover and keeping it a going concern.