A South Gloucestershire man has launched a petition to try and prevent the return of the Severn Bridge Road Race to a village where a cyclist was killed while participating in the 2013 edition of the race, claiming that the roads in the area are too unsafe to race on.
Junior Heffernan was killed when he hit a car head-on while descending Vattingstone Lane in Olveston on the third lap of the ten-lap race, which is held on partly open roads.
An inquest in 2014 heard that the 23-year-old from Devon had been riding at 46.5 miles per hour and was on the wrong side of the road when he struck a BMW car being driven at 15 miles per hour in the opposite direction.
The race has followed a different route since then, but next year’s edition in March is scheduled to pass through Olveston.
Local resident Graham Clark, aged 74, has gathered more than 100 signatures on a petition he put up in the local post office calling for the race to be rerouted, reports the Gloucestershire Gazette.
He said: “I just don’t think that this kind of race is suitable for the area. It is quite a disruptive event for us all as residents. They close off the roads for a long time so residents will be put out by it.”
He continued: “I want to make it clear that I don’t want them to stop racing, I just think that the event is more suited to other areas.
“The infrastructure is not suitable for the road that the event is planned for.
“These are top level cyclists, they are really fit people and they go way faster than the speed limits for cars.”
Avon & Somerset Police said they were awaiting a risk assessment from British Cycling and would look at it carefully before signing it off.
A spokesman for the force said: “As far as we are aware there has only been one objection to the race and the concerns raised – and any others that are received – will be listened to by the organisers and the police as the reviewing body.
“The race is still in the planning stages but has now been risk assessed by British Cycling. Once this risk assessment is received by our force liaison officer, it will be fully scrutinised before any sign-off takes place.”
“Conditions have already been set for any future risk assessment, which will change the format of this race, from its previous format.
“The race is organised at the highest level with the safety of those competing and the wider general public paramount.
“Concern has been expressed about a fatal accident, which had occurred in 2013. There is no evidence to suggest the route, the organiser/organisation or British Cycling played any part in contributing to this incident,” he added.
Organisers of the race are holding a public meeting at Tockington Parish Hall on 5 November to hear the concerns of local residents.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.