British Cycling, the national governing body for cycling in Great Britain, has called for immediate government support for sporting events on the highway through the creation of a dedicated unit to secure the future of sporting events on public roads.
The request has been highlighted in a report, called Securing the Future of Cycle Events on the Highway, submitted by British Cycling to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The report highlights that cycle racing on the road is in decline in the UK and the issues and barriers facing it. Cycle racing on the road is vital for developing participation in cycling and for producing cycling stars such as World Championship gold medallists Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.
British Cycling chief executive Peter King said: “Our ability to win medals in Beijing, London and beyond is being compromised by a weakened calendar of road races in the UK.
“British Cycling is calling for a concerted effort by government to resolve this ongoing issue by creating a nationally consistent environment where sporting events on the highway can take place.
Securing the Future of Cycle Events on the Highway is part of an ongoing British Cycling programme to enable the future success of racing on public roads. It emphasises the current inconsistent interpretation of legislation, guidance and costs for events which are key to athletes preparing and developing for Beijing 2008 and London 2012 while also providing opportunities for people to get involved in cycling.
To tackle these issues, Securing the Future of Cycle Events on the Highway calls for:
? Uniform police charging guidance across all forces for events which are volunteer-delivered and which make a significant contribution to the Government?s sport and physical activity agenda.
? A change to the 1960 Cycle Racing on the Highways Regulations, which were designed to encourage such events, to reflect changing traffic conditions.
? Amendment of the 2002 Police Reform Act to allow approved and trained ‘unpaid’ employees (volunteers) of British Cycling to stop and direct traffic during British Cycling sanctioned events.
? The DCMS to take a lead on this complex and cross-departmental matter.
Peter King added: ?It is essential that the DCMS, UK Sport and Sport England co-ordinate and drive this work in partnership with relevant Government agencies and departments as well as sporting national governing bodies. This issue affects several sports and impacts on Team GB?s Olympic success as well as the government?s stated desire to increase the nation?s physical activity and participation in sport.?
This year operational issues raised by police and local authorities have caused the cancellation of the Archer Grand Prix in Buckinghamshire and the proposed three-day Tour of Wessex Premier Calendar event.
Race organisers throughout the country are encountering inconsistent rules and messages from police and other authorities when attempting to put on events. And, because the legislation concerning racing on the open road is out-dated and open to interpretation, there are plenty of ways for the authorities to make it all but impossible to run races on the roads.