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Council defends Vélo Essex road closures as local paper warns of “traffic chaos”

The aticle doesn't cite any opponents to the event ... and one compares it favourably to Tour de France's visit in 2014...

Essex County Council has defended road closures that will happen in the county this September when it hosts the debut edition of Vélo Essex after a local newspaper warned of “traffic chaos” associated with the event.

No-one quoted in the article in the Braintree & Witham Times is actually predicting that – although you’d best have your anti-cyclist bingo card to hand if you decide to dip into the comments beneath.

The 100-mile, closed road sportive takes place on Sunday 20 September and also comprises a shorter 50-mile route option, both starting and finishing in Chelmsford and with a total of 15,000 participants.

> Pre-registration opens for brand new Vélo Essex closed road sportive

There will also be a family-friendly ride in the county town itself, which could attract up to 10,000 riders, with the event as a whole set to be the biggest ever sporting event Essex has hosted.

Essex County Council said it is holding “detailed and ongoing communication” with local residents and businesses on the route, adding: “As with any mass participation sporting event, there are some risks with running this event the most likely being resident complaints about the closed roads”.

The article quoted Finchingfield parish councillor Jane Welsh, who said that they had not been consulted on the route or the road closures.

However, she drew favourable comparisons of the visit to the town of the 2014 Tour de France, when the peloton passed through the village on its way from Cambridge to London.

“If it was like the Tour de France it would be good for the village,” she said. “The only thing it would be bad for is for people wanting to get anywhere.

“But we managed it on the day of the Tour de France when they shut all the roads coming in.

“It has been done before. And bear in mind the Tour de France was on a weekday.

“If the crowds come and it’s planned well then I think it will be more of an issue with travel – not the village per se.”

Prospective road closures did not faze one resident of St Edmund’s Lane in Great Dunmow, where parking will not be permitted on that road from 5.30am to 11pm on the day of the event.

“On the face of it the Dunmow carnival is more disruptive when we can’t turn left or right at the bottom than this event when we can park in St Mary’s Church car park the day before and then walk up to get the car if we need it,” he said.

A spokesman for Essex Highways explained to the newspaper how the road closures would work.

 “An event of this nature means road closures will need to be in place, but this will be for a few hours only and they will be rolling road closures,” he said.

“As the cyclists pass each point, the roads will be opened up behind them. Being able to cycle on closed roads through amazing countryside is a key attraction of Velo Essex and is why interest levels are already high.

“We will make sure that all residents and businesses are fully aware of road closures before the event, as well as local diversions, including any bus rerouting.

“As the event takes place on a Sunday, a quieter day for traffic than a weekday, there will be much less disruption.

“There will also be arrangements in place for both spectator car parking and alternative parking arrangements for local residents.”

One criticism often levelled by opponents of sister event Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, and other closed road events such as the RideLondon-Surrey 100, is that road closures may impede emergency vehicle access.

The spokesman explained however that they would retain access, saying: “Emergency vehicles will of course be able to access streets as required and the SAG (safety advisory group), convened for all events of this nature, will have oversight of all road closure plans.

“Essex County Council and all partners in Velo Essex are committed to the health and wellbeing of all residents during this event.

“All of this will be communicated directly to residents before the event, and this communication will involve key partners such as parish councils and district councils.”

Given the headline of the newspaper’s article – Fears Vélo Essex cycling event in mid Essex will cause traffic chaos –  it’s perhaps surprising there weren’t more anti-cyclist comments below it, although this one, from someone calling himself Van Man, certainly ticked most of the anti-cycling boxes (and saw a number of people making point-by-point rebuttals to his claims).

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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alansmurphy | 4 years ago
1 like

Essex County Council said: “As with any mass participation sporting event, there are some risks with running this event the most likely being resident complaints about the closed roads”.


That's not a risk!

crazy-legs replied to alansmurphy | 4 years ago

It's a huge risk - the risk being that they'll go out and sabotage it!

Rapha Nadal | 4 years ago

I think Velo Essex need to start defending the price of this event!

Jetmans Dad replied to Rapha Nadal | 4 years ago

I confess, I have never understood that argument, so I'll bite.

Why should they have to defend the price of the event? As all companies/organisations do, they will set the price that they want to charge. If their potential customers think it is fair they will pay it, if not then they won't. 

No event organiser is duty bound to price their event so that everyone who might like to take part can easily afford it, and any organiser charging too much will find that not enough people take part to make it viable. 

I think Apple charge way too much for their products when you look at what they actually are, but they can do that because enough people are prepared to pay for them. Result ... Apple thrive and sell loads, and I don't own any Apple products. At no point, do I think they have to defend their prices. 

If it is an event directly raising money for charity through the entry fee, like The Selby Three Swans (Yorkshire Cancer Research) it is a more valid question. 

Rapha Nadal replied to Jetmans Dad | 4 years ago

£80 for a standard entry and an extra £35 if you'd like the benefit of having all of the entry guff posted to you.  THIRTY FIVE POUNDS for postage.  If you feel that doesn't need defending then wow.

I thought Ride London was a bit toppy on price but is this an indication of the direction in which sportive pricing is heading?

Jetmans Dad replied to Rapha Nadal | 4 years ago

Rapha Nadal wrote:

£80 for a standard entry and an extra £35 if you'd like the benefit of having all of the entry guff posted to you.  THIRTY FIVE POUNDS for postage.  If you feel that doesn't need defending then wow.

You and I probably just have a different perspective on it ... the fact that I don't think they should have to defend it doesn't mean in anyway that I think it is a reasonable amount of money just to have the registration docs sent by mail.  

It is a ridiculous amount, so I just wouldn't pay it and if I desperately wanted to take part in the event I would make sure I could register in person. If not, I just wouldn't enter.

I am genuinely not interested in why they think it is an appropriate amount or the reasoning behind how they would begin to defend it. Life is too short. 

AlsoSomniloquism replied to Rapha Nadal | 4 years ago

Closed Roads do come at a cost charged by the Council and Police plus barrier hires and other needed services to close off 100 miles or so. And then they are a profit making organisation who have to take it all on along with the potential risks (Original South called off with weather/ North called off as no one wants to go there).

However I do wonder how they can charge £35 extra to post out the pack rather then collecting on the Saturday? I assume it is a disuasion pricing scheme as they want you there at the bike village  and in the area for more then a day so they can justify local people by how much tourism it brings in for the weekend. 

Legin | 4 years ago

I'm in! As an Essex resident and a fat old cyclist, I thought I should smiley

David9694 | 4 years ago
1 like

not so sure about the need for the bingo card - comments so far don't seem that unreasonable, and where they are, bravo to the riposters, such as below. " Vanman " is most likely a troll.  

I saw some some Lycra clad cyclists blocking-up a country road for at least a minute and I think one of them was using a mobile phone  - this all happened in 2016 and again last year - it's outrageous. 

And I kind of agree with nomorebuses: no more FUN number plates either, no two-seater sports cars without a permit.

There was an earlier article in the soaraway B&W Times about the rate of entries to the event.  

nomorebuses24th February 3:37 pm
 0Ill add my vote to the roads are not for playing on. If you use your bike for transport, fine, otherwise take your toys off the road. They are not safe.

Enigmatonic8 hrs ago
 1Fine - as long as you submit a written request justifying why your journey by car is absolutely necessary and not just for leisure purposes in advance of every time you want to use your car.



srchar replied to David9694 | 4 years ago

David9694 wrote:

no more FUN number plates either

If intentionally mis-spaced/jiggered about with number plates are a source of fun in your life, you should just end it, really.

Or go and work for Pimlico Plumbers.

Awavey | 4 years ago

Anyone else getting the next story at the Braintree & Witham times after the Velo Essex link, is the A120 crash closure with a picture of a car upside down on its roof ?

EddyBerckx | 4 years ago

Wondered how long it'd take!!  1

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