UK road race fields to grow under British Cycling proposals

By Sam Dansie | Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10.00am

Field sizes in amateur UK road races will grow under British Cycling proposals to relax 50 year-old laws in favour of a risk assessment-based approach to race organisation.

The national federation said it still wants to give the National Escort Group – which provides vital motorcycle outriders to amateur events – legal clout to stop and control traffic at junctions.

This week the Department for Transport (DfT) announced a consultation on the clauses of the 1960 Road Traffic Act which governs road race organisation. Currently the laws limit standard fields to 80 riders and demand that road circuit loops be at least 10 miles long.

The growth in field sizes could worry some, especially after concerns have been raised about the dodgy bike handling of some competitors.

But Jonathan Day, British Cycling's Cycle Sport Manager told BikeRadar: "The bottom line is those regulations are out of date."

Instead the federation is arguing for – and has support from senior police officers – to switch to a risk assessment approach which will examine how appropriate a race is for a proposed course.

"In addition to regulation amendments we will also be looking to develop an associated code of practice to accompany them," Day said. "It should make it easier for organisers to better understand what's required to run a road race on the highway and also it'll link quite strongly to risk management. It'll help organisers to provide appropriate mitigation to the risks that are there."

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Day said the British Cycling road race calendar had increased eight percent on last year, which he described as "really positive". He added that the Accredited Marshal Scheme which means roadside volunteers equipped with a DfT sign have similar powers to police to stop traffic as a race passes has been warmly received by police forces and councils around the country.  

Day added: "Our focus is to try and expand the scheme because we've still got a lot of work to do with it in terms of its expansion.

"We are also still exploring other ways to stop and hold traffic, particularly linking that to the NEG in the future. It is a desire for us for them to hold those powers but it doesn't currently work under Accredited Marshals Scheme because they have to be static and the signs we use are quite big."

The DfT consultation closes on 21 October.

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