How to foster national distrust

Box Hill is in the news again this week and once more it’s for all the wrong reasons. It has certainly been a bad year for bike riders at this Surrey cycling hotspot where there is now a growing sense of persecution.

First came the squeeze on spectators for the Olympic test event. Whereas we had originally imagined Tour de France-style crowds on the famous zig-zag bends, just 3,400 fans were allowed inside the barriers to cheer the riders. Ridiculous.

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Outrage two came as the result of Surrey Police’s decision to target cyclists in the Box Hill area and fine riders £1,000 for ‘antisocial cycling’.

Now the National Trust is stepping up its policy of charging organisers for using Box Hill. With costs increased to as much as £2,000 per sportive, many rides have moved elsewhere.

There’s no shortage of hills in the North Downs, but it isn’t right that organised events are being priced off the hill, particularly considering the amount of revenue generated by cyclists at the National Trust’s own cafe at the top of the hill.

The place is packed with people wearing Lycra all week – a reasonable estimate would be that cyclists bring in £4,000 of revenue just at the weekend. The National Trust should recognise this loyal support, not seek to exploit it.

The full article on Box Hill’s sportive fees is in this week’s issue of Cycling Weekly magazine.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly

Related links
Surrey Police go after inconsiderate cyclists
Box Hill declared limited access for Olympic road race