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Keep Racing on the Roads - February 2011

Posted: 2 February 2011

British Cycling's campaign to secure the future of road racing in the UK continues. Please find below a summary of the core issues along with an update on progress over the past couple of months.


Issue: Road racing is regulated according to the Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations, 1960. Under these regulations, the police must be notified of an upcoming road race and the race must comply with what are termed the standard conditions, such as a limit on the number of riders. Additionally, the police have the right to impose any further conditions they deem appropriate, which does at times create problems.

Update: The required changes to the Regulations have been agreed and we are awaiting input Department for Transport's (DfT) legal team. In the meantime, we have received useful support in parliament from both Ian Austin (Shadow Sports Minister and British Cycling member) and Julian Huppart (co-chair of the All Party Cycling Group). Particularly noteworthy is the fact that on two recent occasions, these issues have been raised for discussion in the House of Commons. The relevant extracts are as follows:

Debate on Sustainable Transport (Wednesday 19 January 2011)
Ian Austin - Dudley North, Labour and Co-Chair All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group
I was interested to hear in the statement about the funding for Bikeability, but members of British Cycling, like myself, will want to know whether the Minister will take this opportunity to update the out-of-date transport regulations that are hampering the growth of the sport on the road.

Norman Baker - Lewes, Lib Dem - Minister of State for Transport
I am happy to say that the Government are fully committed to cycling. It features in the coalition agreement and the hon. Gentleman will have noticed the reference to £11 million for Bikeability this year and a further guarantee for the rest of the Parliament, for example. In respect of the specific issue that the hon. Gentleman raises about racing on the road, I am happy to tell him that I had a meeting earlier this week with officials and key interested parties, and we are close to moving that forward to a satisfactory solution.

Adjournment Debate - Cycling in England (Friday 21 January 2011)
Julian Huppert - Cambridge, Lib Dem and Co-Chair All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group
May I briefly draw the Minister¹s attention to problems faced by the cycle-racing community, which has been championed by the hon. Member for Dudley North (Ian Austin)? Will she support the ongoing work between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and her Department to redraft the outdated Cycle Racing on Highways Regulations 1960? Will she try to facilitate appropriate traffic signs for road cycling? Will she review the anomaly that motor rallies are allowed to take place on bridleways, but cycle racing is not?

Theresa Villiers - Chipping Barnet, Conservative - Minister of State for Transport
As for road racing, officials from the Department for Transport, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office have been working with British Cycling and the Association of Chief Police Officers to explore ways of improving procedures for holding cycle races on public roads and addressing the issues that my hon. Friend rightly raised. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary met British Cycling representatives earlier this week, and we have identified an existing legal power that enables the police to give directions for places at which traffic must stop for the race, and for cycle race marshals to hold a sign for that purpose. It is not sorted yet, but we hope that that might provide a solution to the major concerns expressed by the cycle racing community. Working with British Cycling, we have identified amendments to regulations to improve procedures for authorising cycle races, and the Under-Secretary is keen that they should be introduced.


Issue: Top level races increasingly suffer from high and very variable policing costs, which have increased significantly in recent years with extremely wide variations between areas and from year to year.

New guidance on police charging has been published by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) - The guidance includes sections establishing that most cycle races are non-commercial events (para. 5.37 on p.18) that generate revenue only to cover organisational costs are therefore should not be treated in the same way as commercial events. It includes as one of its nine worked examples a Premier Calendar Road Race (p.24) which runs through all the assessment criteria that ACPO use to demonstrate why it should be given an abated charge. This will now enable race organisers who have been hit with high levels of cost recovery to put together a persuasive case that they should be charged much less than 50%, whilst many road races will attract no charge at all. Cycling was the only sport invited to meet officials responsible for the re-drafting of this guidance.


Issue: A race organiser's job would be much easier and police time saved if there was a clear practice established which allowed marshals to stop and slow traffic briefly in order to let a race pass.

Update: Two potential options are being pursued. Firstly the expansion of the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) which has been successfully piloted in Essex and Wales. For this to be implemented nationwide it must overcome the current complication of requiring marshals to be employed. Both Ian Austin and the Sport & Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson have supported a relaxation of the rules in view of the ‘Big Society' agenda - this is now with Policing Minister Nick Herbert. Secondly, a sign-based solution through the Road Traffic Act and Road Traffic Regulations which would enable police to authorise marshals to use signs in road races for directions included in the race authorisation. This is currently with the DfT,and ACPO, we are hopeful of progress over the coming months.


Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, cycle races are expressly forbidden from crossing or going along bridleways, even though quad bike racing and motor rallies are allowed. This anomaly acts as a significant constraint on the development of mountain biking in the UK. This has been discussed with Norman Baker, Transport Minister, and we are pursuing legislative changes to clear this up.

The working group comprising representatives from British Cycling, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office continues to make solid progress. Importantly, the issues laid out above continue to be discussed - no mean feat during these challenging times for the country - and in Norman Baker we have Transport Minister who is a genuine cyclist and clearly keen to help. Furthermore, the appointment of Co-Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group in the shape of British Cycling member Ian Austin and Julian Huppart, gives us the impetus to take things forward. We continue to be grateful for their support, and indeed for all of you following the campaign through Facebook. We look forward to providing further positive updates in the near future.


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