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Town council says “restrictive” RideLondon sportive not wanted – because locals “can’t get out of their own road”

An Ongar town councillor claimed that residents would be better off donating “a pound or two” to charity than putting up with the event

A local council in Essex has claimed that the majority of locals “don’t particularly want” the annual RideLondon sportive to return to the town this year as residents “can’t get out of their own road” during the popular event.

Members of Ongar Town Council also argued that the apparent benefits of hosting the sportive – particularly for local businesses – were unfounded, and that the money made available to charities thanks to the event could be exceeded if all households in the area donated a “pound or two”.

The route for this year’s RideLondon-Essex sportive, organised by London Marathon Events in partnership with Essex County Council, will cover the same roads as last May’s debut edition which saw more than 22,000 cyclists head east out of the capital into the neighbouring county.

On Sunday 28 May, cyclists will ride from central London towards Epping Forest into Essex, continuing on through Epping, Ongar, Leaden Roding, Great Dunmow, Felsted, and Writtle, before heading back into the capital via Ongar.

> Route for RideLondon-Essex 2023 sportive confirmed

Following the 2022 event, the first to take place in Essex following RideLondon’s move from its former Surrey base, the county council and LME held a consultation to gain feedback from local businesses and residents, with the aim of implementing improvements in areas such as access for people living locally and crossing points.

Announcing the 2023 route last month, Essex County Council said that this year’s course “has been confirmed because it has the least impact on the strategic road network in the county, includes roads wide enough to accommodate both emergency vehicles and cyclists and offers the greatest number of access options for residents.”

However, councillors in Ongar – where riders will pass through twice during the sportive – have claimed that locals have raised concerns about the event, which they say is “restrictive”, Essex Live reports.

“I’m not saying we don’t want it. We don’t want it in its present format,” Derek Birch, Ongar Town Council’s chairman, told a meeting this week.

“It blocks off the high street for the whole day and because the majority of roads in Ongar all come off the high street – the high street is the main artery – if you are not out by about 5.30am you can’t get out, and even then you can’t back until about 7pm.

“The majority of people who contact me don’t particularly want it because it is restrictive. It’s on a Sunday so the one day they can do what they want, but they can’t get out of their own road.”

> RideLondon: more controversy and confusion as rider times will be paused at feed stations

Birch also questioned the perceived benefits associated with hosting the sportive in the town, which serves as a ‘welfare stop’, where riders are encouraged to take an extended break that won’t count against their official event time.

The councillor said: “It’s not as if, as the idea was last year, that people will have Sunday lunch and then ride off again, which I was very sceptical about. It didn’t really happen.

“If you are going to go on a bike ride, are you going to pull in somewhere, have Sunday lunch and then carrying on riding on a full stomach?”

> Is Essex ready for RideLondon? Police defends silence over road safety issues

Another councillor, Simon Cole, also dismissed the event’s charitable impact on the town. As a direct result of its partnership with RideLondon, Essex now receives significant funding from the London Marathon Charitable Trust to support physical activity and sporting opportunities across the county, especially in areas covered by the route.

Since last May, £1 million has been allocated to scale up the ‘Essex Pedal Power’ initiative, which aims to make cycling more inclusive, increase active travel opportunities in schools, and fund a small grants programme for Essex-based projects.

More than 80 applications have so far been approved, helping young people, women and girls, older residents, and those from less affluent communities to get on their bikes.

However, independent councillor Cole argued that the amount of funding made available to Ongar-based charities from RideLondon last year could have been surpassed if every household in the town donated a small amount to the same organisations.

“Quite frankly, if they all put in a pound of two it would more than exceed the contributions,” he said.

> RideLondon: Cyclists claim they were assaulted by motorist with drawing pins on sportive route

An initial consultation was held by Essex County Council and London Marathon Events after last May’s inaugural event, but – following a limited response from residents – the organisers are continuing to contact all 44 parishes in the county, as well as local businesses, to gather further feedback on the route.

A RideLondon spokesperson said: “The Ford RideLondon-Essex events that will pass through Ongar on Sunday May 28 will see thousands of people, of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, enjoy the incredible experience of being part of the world’s greatest festival of cycling. Many of these will be riding for charity, helping to raise millions of pounds for good causes.

“We are pleased to be working closely this year with Ongar Town Council, Epping Forest District Council and Essex County Council to build on learnings from last year’s event and to help the people of Ongar welcome the cyclists and the event to the town.

“We want to hear from anyone in Ongar, or anywhere else on or near the route, who has feedback on Ford RideLondon-Essex.

“We held a public drop-in session in Ongar on November 1 where we shared the proposed plans for 2023 and will follow that up with another drop-in session in the coming weeks.

“When the time, date and location of this meeting is confirmed we will publicise this widely and would welcome anyone who would like to see and hear more about the plans to attend.

“We would also urge people to visit the Community Info page on the ridelondon.co.uk website where you can also find details on how to contact us.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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27 comments

Avatar
BadgerBeaver | 1 year ago
0 likes

Not surprising frankly, and not unjustified. 

If it was a disruption for a couple of hours, (with obviously much fewer people), it wouldn't be so bad. But it's not even confined to the morning.

The organisers need to understand it's just not the same as the London Marathon which is a much shorter distance and with underground alternatives for people to get about. 

The main problem with the event is that it is just too big. Too many people, crashes, too long to clear the roads, too much organisation and admin at starts, registration etc. 

Does it really need closed roads? Well I personally wouldn;t choose to ride up to Epping on those roads with traffic alongside, and I wouldn't want to do it with tens of thousands of people who have rarely if ever ridden in a group before. 

I rode it the first year only, and despite the delicious pleasure of riding the Embankment with no traffic, the traffic free element was only significant in making it possible for my fastest 100mile time. 

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ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
4 likes

It's not called the RideLondon-Essex sportive anymore. It's called the Ford RideLondon-Essex sportive. We should all remember that.

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IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
5 likes

By George, what a spiffing idea!

Publish a route with copious options and accept non-refundable bids from any settlement nearby to allow them not to be on the route, then revise the route according to the bids. Set a minimum per capita fee to even be considered and a further level to guarantee the route not passing within 500 metres of their home etc.

Should raise a fortune given how adamant they are that they can't cope with being inconvenienced for 8 hours a year.

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peted76 | 1 year ago
1 like

Before the the Commie games this year.. the rather 'special' nextdoor site saw 'Alan' very very upset indeed, positivley spitting feathers, that his saturday morning was going to be disrupted (they closed his road for the road race).. it turns out, it wouldn't help Alan to park his car the other side of the closure oh no, as he would have to carry his kayak to his car and it was too far for him. Saturday mornings are when Alan goes kayaking.. and he certainly did not want to be trapped in his home for a silly cycling race.

 

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David9694 | 1 year ago
4 likes

there's got to be a "trapped in their homes" ism just waiting to come out! 

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Legin | 1 year ago
4 likes

Having lived in Essex for 55 years I feel I have the authority to say this is, "Normal for Essex". It's a bit like "Normal for Norfolk" but different.

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BadgerBeaver replied to Legin | 1 year ago
0 likes

100% predictable

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HarryTrauts | 1 year ago
4 likes

"It’s on a Sunday so the one day they can do what they want."

It's on Sunday 28th May.  The day before a Bank Holiday.

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Rendel Harris replied to HarryTrauts | 1 year ago
3 likes

And in any case, does everyone go out 52 Sundays a year? You couldn't schedule this one for a bit of DIY or mowing the lawn or something?

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LeadenSkies replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
6 likes

I have said it before but as someone who is a keen cyclist and someone who lives and works directly on the RideLondon route, the communication from RideLondon last year was way too little, way too late. My village has 3 out of 4 roads in to it on the route and the 4th just leads into a trapped section completely within the 100 mile loop. There was absolutely no advance information given on how you could get a car across the route, what little public transport options we have werr stopped by the route. The nearest off route place to park a car that would then allow onward travel required a walk of just over a mile, back along the route, along a lane with no pavement so in conflict with all the bikes. RideLondon and ECC put lots of effort in to telling us how they would be keeping us informed and no effort into actually keeping us informed. Plenty of people lost a day's wages, I am not surprised they aren't happy. Yes, it's only a day and as a participant it was a great experience but the communication aspect with the towns and villages it passed through was dire.

Edited to tidy up a few typos / grammatical errors.

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huntswheelers | 1 year ago
4 likes

Well it's not as if they haven't had enough notice of the event..... same happens around here with the Tour of Cambridgeshire.... they know 11 months in advance but there are always those who "didn't know about it" "I need to get there" "I can't get out of my drive" and all that rubbish

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essexian replied to huntswheelers | 1 year ago
6 likes

A few years back I was in Colchester for the finish of a Tour of Britain stage where we and a group of other specators had to stop one motorist from removing the barriers blocking the road as they wanted to drive to a side street on the route and would not take "No...wait" for an answer..... until the Police arrived that is.

Its not as if the driver didn't know the road would be closed that afternoon. A friend who lives in Colchester said it had been on the news for weeks.

Sometimes, wrap a few tons of metal around people and they turn into morons. 

 

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Awavey replied to essexian | 1 year ago
3 likes

that happened few years back at the Womens Tour too, theyd just about managed to stop traffic getting onto the High street from Head St, the route was coming up North hill on to High street from the cycle park, so some enterprising drivers nipped round the back streets by the Jumbo water tower to get out onto North Hill, and despite the police outriders telling them to stop, really wouldnt take no for an answer.

in the end they decided it was just safer to let them go as by that stage the convoy was approaching and the police outriders needed to get to the next junction to block access and just couldnt babysit them there till it passed.

plus we never got to the bottom of what really caused last years delay during a stage when an outrider crashed with a vehicle on the course.

 

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jaymack | 1 year ago
8 likes

“Quite frankly, if they all put in a pound of two it would more than exceed the contributions"; 'if' being the operative word. 'If' people did then he may have valied argument but they don't so he hasn't. 

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Surreyrider replied to jaymack | 1 year ago
2 likes

Exactly. Some really dodgy logic going on here.

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rct replied to jaymack | 1 year ago
9 likes

If members of the Conservative Party weren't careless with their tax returns, then would we need charity at all?

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jaymack replied to rct | 1 year ago
2 likes

Sadly I can only award you one 'like' when it should be many.

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Daveyraveygravey | 1 year ago
2 likes

Moaning wankers.  Could they not park somewhere else, if going out in their car is so important that day?  Could they not walk somewhere, or get a bus?!

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JustTryingToGet... replied to Daveyraveygravey | 1 year ago
3 likes
Daveyraveygravey wrote:

Moaning wankers

Sounds like they are too busy inside to need to leave the house

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Rendel Harris replied to JustTryingToGetFromAtoB | 1 year ago
2 likes

Shouldn't be driving with eyesight like that, either…

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mark1a replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
2 likes

Niw now, thxre,z np rvud3ncr whstsiver thut w4nkung affuxcts eyes!ght. 

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mark1a | 1 year ago
3 likes

Ironic that the good people of Ongar can count one of the best cyclists the world has ever seen as their neighbour. 

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essexian replied to mark1a | 1 year ago
12 likes

??????

I moved from the area in 1980.

 

 

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nniff replied to mark1a | 1 year ago
0 likes

Indeed.  They'll be claiming that cyclists attract armed burglars to the town next.  

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nniff replied to mark1a | 1 year ago
2 likes
mark1a wrote:

Ironic that the good people of Ongar can count one of the best cyclists the world has ever seen as their neighbour. 

Indeed.  They'll be claiming that cyclists attract armed burglars to the town next.  

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brooksby replied to nniff | 1 year ago
2 likes
nniff wrote:
mark1a wrote:

Ironic that the good people of Ongar can count one of the best cyclists the world has ever seen as their neighbour. 

Indeed.  They'll be claiming that cyclists attract armed burglars to the town next.  

Well, we do know that cycle lanes attract drug dealers...

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mattsccm replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
0 likes

Usual crappy click bait from Roadcc isn't it? It does have to be said that it is only moral that residents of any area have greater say in what happens than a mob of outsiders and any commercial organisation has to come right at the bottom of the list in this respect. 

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