The amendments in the consultation, if implemented, would mean a presumption in favour of holding road races. British Cycling has been central to this process and sees the changes as an important step to help grow the sport and get more people on bikes.
Commenting on the plans, British Cycling’s Policy Director, Martin Gibbs, said:
“The consultation is a big step forward for British Cycling and its 81,000-strong membership. We’ve been pushing this issue up the government’s agenda for some time so this is welcome news and we’re finally going to see this outdated legislation made more fit for purpose. I’d encourage everyone who supports our sport to respond in favour of the proposed amendments.”
British Cycling members’ played a crucial role in pushing this issue up the agenda during the Department for Transport’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ where more submissions were received on the 1960 Cycle Racing on the Highways Regulations than any of the other 400 odd regulations they put up for review.
Cycle racing on the road is governed by the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations, 1960. Race organisers and cycle clubs find this outdated legislation difficult to deal with because it is overly complex, arbitrary and appears to allow cycle racing only grudgingly.
The discretionary nature of the legislation can lead to large disparities in how road races are treated between regions and over time. Police forces also have the ability to impose any further conditions they deem appropriate which can place arbitrary and unreasonable demands on a race organiser meaning that it allows forces that are not supportive of road racing to effectively “condition” racing off the road.
British Cycling already co-ordinates the road race calendar effectively and has been pushing for the regulations to be amended so that they better reflect modern road conditions, shifting the emphasis from individual Chief Officers’ discretion if an event can be held to one where events can only be rejected on the basis of a risk assessment and lack of appropriate mitigation. The changes will bring greater transparency and accountability to the process.
British Cycling will take the lead in producing the associated Code of Practice together with the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). The Code will set the standard to which all road racing events should meet and will make it easier for organisers and the police to assess any risks and provide appropriate mitigation. It will also prevent misunderstandings between organisers and the police by setting out the standards required for a road race.
British Cycling will continue to expand the ‘accredited marshals’ scheme which works to empower volunteer marshals though the use of a legally empowered sign to slow and briefly stop traffic to let a cycle race pass junctions. The implementation of this initiative and its wide endorsement from all the relevant agencies is at the heart of modernising cycle racing on the highway. The proposed amendments to the current regulations will further improve the consistency and sustainability road race organisers need today and going forward.