Surrey County Council will demand central government bring in new rules to regulate sportives if its cycling strategy is approved today.
It means the move could have a big impact on national sportive organisers too, who are already preparing for tighter event regulation and have warned extra red tape could mean higher entry fees.
Surrey has seen a big jump number of amateur riders on its roads since the 2012 Olympics when the men’s and women’s road races visited the county. Since then, Box Hill in the Surrey Hills has become a focal point for many an amateur rider’s day in the saddle.
But the influx of amateurs has triggered some residents to call for measures to curb numbers of cyclists on county roads and regulate events. A petition entitled Surrey County Council: Stop Surrey being turned into a cycle track, has now attracted more than 3,000 signatures. A counter petition has almost 4,000 signatures.
In October, the county council took the unusual step of holding a public debate on the strategy which aims to boost the number of people cycling but without unnecessarily inconveniencing other residents.
If Surrey councillors approve the document, the local authority said it will ask central Government to ensure all road cycling events are registered with local authorities.
Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “We’ll ask the Government to take action on hundreds of unregistered events in the county every year if our Cabinet approves the strategy later this month.”
Sportive regulation on the way?
It could be the precursor for new rules that govern the organisation of events all over the country. While most events are organised in consultation with councils, local police forces and British Cycling one sportive organiser said he believed there was no legal requirement to do so.
Some sportive organisers appear to accept that greater regulation is inevitable, however.
Rob Hillman, operations director at Surrey-based Human Race, which organises events such as the Wiggle Dragon Ride and the Financial Times London Cycle Sportive, which also visits Box Hill, said sportive regulation has become a major talking point.
Hillman said: “We’re definitely getting towards the stage where probably a degree of regulation is needed.” But while he cautiously welcomed the idea of regulation, he said any decisions needed to be reached in consultation with event organisers.
“We do need to be sensitive to communities and people that we affect on sportive routes, but I think generally speaking we would be broadly supportive of a calendar system so long as it took into account in its formation all of the different stakeholders that are involved in these events.”
But he warned more red tape was likely to raise entry fees too. Entry fees can vary from around £20 up to hundreds of pounds for multi-day events.
“It would in all likelihood put the costs of event up,” added Hillman. “I think it would also dissuade a lot of the other existing sportive organisers – whether they’re clubs or individuals or charities who are not set up full time as an organiser.”