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Farmer who stopped Borders sportive says the event is "a waste of police time"

Says motorists are “held up every day of the year” by cyclists and sees road closures as “an indignity”

One of the men alleged to have held up and attacked riders taking part in the Tour o’ the Borders sportive has claimed that he was attempting to stage a peaceful protest but was grabbed by a “bearded hooligan”. He also suggested that the men he was with were shoulder-charged by other cyclists.

A number of riders reported men with sticks blocking the Tour o’ the Borders route at around the 26km mark last Sunday. Several said that the men had swung at cyclists.

Deadline News reports that 60-year-old John Marshall has admitted to being the “ring leader” of the group of farmers.

“Four of us organised it. I don’t want to name the other three but I was the ringleader. We waited until the police bike and tour car had gone round.

“We blocked off the road and had draining rods in our hands but they were basically touching the ground so we weren’t appearing violent. It was meant to be a peaceful demonstration so they would stop and we could have dialogue.”

He said: “We tried to shout at them that we were pedestrians and one of them shouted ‘morning’ thinking we were there to support.

“I started to say we were pedestrians again but they started to push through. Two of us got shoulder-barged and I got grabbed so I shouted back at the guy who I could only describe as a bearded hooligan.

“From what I saw nobody touched the ground, nobody was pushed except for ourselves. For them to say what they have – I hope they can back it up.”

Marshall believes that motorists are “held up every day of the year” by cyclists and sees the road closures for the sportive as an added insult.

“We’ve been getting more and more abuse from them when we’re just trying to go about our daily lives, and for the cyclists to suddenly shut off the road is a bit of an indignity as they get the police to monitor the event and it’s basically a waste of police time.”

He says the police investigation into the confrontation is also a waste of time for “what is basically a storm in a teacup.”

Nevertheless, he remains unhappy with the event’s impact.

“I had to have words with the organisers last year because they’d taken up the whole junction – you should still be able to get two articulated lorries round it side by side so to shut off the whole junction last year was regrettable.”

He also questioned the nature of the sportive.

“The other thing is that they were racing – it’s supposed to be a ‘tour’ and it even says on the pamphlet ‘this is not a race’. If they were just touring they would’ve been able to stop and have dialogue.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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77 comments

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Bikeylikey | 6 years ago
2 likes

Says motorists are “held up every day of the year” by cyclists and sees road closures as “an indignity”

Uh? I say 'Cyclists are held up every day of the year by motorists and see motorists killing, maiming, and polluting as an indignity'.

 

Why is there always an assumtion that people in motor vehicles somehow 'own' the road and people on bikes are some sort of hindrance and don't have any real right to be there?

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Neil Dalgleish | 6 years ago
4 likes

Some comment from the event organisers:

It's worrying that Pedal for Scotland was affected by potentially dangerous 'protest' action too. Legal action against this sort of activity is now overdue. Those responsible don't seem to realise or care about the potential dangers, and they discuss their activities like it's their legitimate right to behave in this way, or a bit of insignificant mischief against cyclists - who they see as an irrelevant nuisance.
Let's not forget Tour O The Borders brings well over £350k to the local economy each year - and that's not counting repeat or other visits by cyclists inspired by the event. Tour O The Borders is also the Scottish Borders' biggest mass participation sports event.
The road these guys protested on was closed for 3h 40m in total, early on a Sunday morning, and was opened 40 mins ahead of the advertised closure schedule. There was no harvest going on (according to info from other local farmers) and no-one in that area had made prior contact with us (the organisers) to discuss a grievance or discuss access issues before the event. 
We trust the Police will prosecute if they can, and also the community will recognise the people responsible for what they are. Anti-cycling aggression has no place either here in the Scottish Borders or anywhere else, but some education seems to be needed to make that clear to some parts of society.

 

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minnellium | 6 years ago
0 likes

Are we sure he was a farmer?  There's plenty of other cyclists who detest the idea of sportives. 

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burtthebike | 6 years ago
0 likes

Report here saying that they did attack cyclists and that one was injured.  I do hope the police will be treating this as a premeditated violent crime.

http://www.scotsman.com/regions/dumfries-borders/idiots-beat-us-with-sti...

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pockstone | 6 years ago
1 like

This chap is clearly wrong.

A waste of police time would be ,for example, checking that all 'the man with the stick's' untaxed tractors are  'used for short journeys (not more than 1.5 kilometres) on the public road between land that’s occupied by the same person.'

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Mungecrundle | 6 years ago
2 likes

The slightly amusing thing is that once he loses his EU subsidies and whatever it is that he produces is uncompetetive in the free market of international trade, then his farm will be sold at a knock down price to some ex investment banker and his wife, looking to escape the big city rat race and start a B&B business catering for recreational cyclists.

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antigee | 6 years ago
2 likes

google finds plenty of agricultural shows in september - memory says they cause traffic problems for people like me from the city who have no idea about country ways

http://www.stackyard.com/orgs/agricultural_shows/dates.html

looks more like confrontation than protest - well done to those taking part for just ignoring 

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WillRod | 6 years ago
3 likes

I know quite a few farmers. Most are anti-cycling except for the few smallholders that have enough spare time to actually ride themselves.

Most older farmers are grumpy old sods at the best of times.

Yes they want to drive around during harvest to get the crops in, but they often leave mud on the road causing havoc or they try to squeeze last cyclists before they get a chance to pull over. Several round my way remove footpath signs and then shout at you for trespassing (even though I am on a definite footpath)

Farmers, car drivers and also cyclists need to remember that they don't have exclusive use of the road, especially farmers as tractors don't pay road tax!

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kitsunegari | 6 years ago
4 likes

If nothing else, I would question the veracity of anyones claims that they were protesting peacefully when they turned up with sticks.

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mattsccm | 6 years ago
2 likes

Usual selfish and uninformed rubbish being spouted again here.

Firstly any agricultural transport has complete right against some commercial recreational event. There is no way that, for example, a tractor should be stopped from using a road because a bunch of outsiders want to play.  Rods?  As a weapon? No  of course not. As a way of extending an arm to make yourself wider, why not? They wanted to obstruct and as their progress was obstructed it seems fair to me.  Most farmers carry a stick as an extendtion of their arm, it would be automatic to pick something up.Of course any town dweller wouldn't know this.

Every sportive  have ever come across has the same issues. Selfish riders who care nowt about the local needs making a fuss when there are legitmate concerns.  The Wiggle event around Monmouth had a similar problem on open roads. The dozy organsisers had sent the route through an awkward mini roundabout at the busist time of the day on a bank holiday. Stupid. Riders then took to the pavement whilst still riding pushed past pedestrians (I saw this twice in the few seconds it took me to pass) and ignored rights of way.  Now what impression does this have?

Mass cycling events disrupt. Fact. They also are mostly events for outsiders that disrupt locals. In any place of residence locals must hold a right to veto, the country is not a place of free access for all t do as they like.

Give and take is fine. Cycing is fine but sadly many of these events just go too far. If they had some consideration for others I would sympathise but so ofte they fail to do so.

Before you ask I am a cyclist of some enthusiasm. I can't claim to be a long standing cyclist having only started serious riding at the age of 17. I'm 54 so would at best call myself a mid termer. I ride daily with a club or by myself and have seen over the years how the explosion in cycling, whilst fantastic in many ways has also created conflict that doesn't ned to be there. Most of it has been created by the riders and the commercial organisations who care little for the long term.

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crazy-legs replied to mattsccm | 6 years ago
8 likes
mattsccm wrote:

Usual selfish and uninformed rubbish being spouted again here.

Firstly any agricultural transport has complete right against some commercial recreational event. There is no way that, for example, a tractor should be stopped from using a road because a bunch of outsiders want to play. 

Sorry, WTF?!

If a road is closed (for ANY reason) then there is certainly not a  "complete right of access" for a tractor or any other vehicle. That's the whole bloody point of closing the road!

Ironically, causing disruption to an event, whether by standing there holding not-weapons, scattering tacks, removing signage or whatever actually makes the event, and therefore the disruption, last longer.

There are ways and means of protesting an event via the council, your MP, lobbying groups, petitions etc. Not by standing in the road making threats to the people taking part, they're not responsible for the road closure.

 

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davel replied to crazy-legs | 6 years ago
3 likes
crazy-legs wrote:
mattsccm wrote:

Usual selfish and uninformed rubbish being spouted again here.

Firstly any agricultural transport has complete right against some commercial recreational event. There is no way that, for example, a tractor should be stopped from using a road because a bunch of outsiders want to play. 

Sorry, WTF?!

If a road is closed (for ANY reason) then there is certainly not a  "complete right of access" for a tractor or any other vehicle. That's the whole bloody point of closing the road!

Ironically, causing disruption to an event, whether by standing there holding not-weapons, scattering tacks, removing signage or whatever actually makes the event, and therefore the disruption, last longer.

There are ways and means of protesting an event via the council, your MP, lobbying groups, petitions etc. Not by standing in the road making threats to the people taking part, they're not responsible for the road closure.

 

It also has the Streisand effect - loads of people who've never heard of the sportive now want to know more about it, take part in it, or support it, to piss off some intolerant bellends.

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esnifador replied to mattsccm | 6 years ago
3 likes
mattsccm wrote:

Firstly any agricultural transport has complete right against some commercial recreational event.

In any place of residence locals must hold a right to veto, the country is not a place of free access for all to do as they like.

Obvious question to both these points: Why?

Road closures are not approved at the drop of a hat, which is why most sportives aren't on closed roads and most running events will either not be on closed roads or only close one lane where possible. If the farmers can prove their livelihood is seriously affected by the road closure they should share this with the authorities, not block the roads for a 'dialogue' which consists of moaning at the participants for being 'the problem'. And if agricultural vehicles have a complete right to ignore road closures, where do you draw the line? Surely delivery drivers or road hauliers could claim similar detriment to the operation of their business? How about taxi drivers, or plumbers, or pizza delivery men?

And why should residents have a right to a veto? They should certainly have a say and have their views genuinely considered, but a veto would be absurd. How many objections would be required for a veto? 50% of residents? 10%? 1 person? That's what the term veto suggests, after all.

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beezus fufoon replied to mattsccm | 6 years ago
4 likes
mattsccm wrote:

In any place of residence locals must hold a right to veto, the country is not a place of free access for all t do as they like.

it's an interesting point - where I live there's a 20 mph limit, but as the road has been a backstreet cut through from the main road for many years, people regularly exceed 20mph, skidding round 90 degree corners, and also can become very impatient sounding their horns at 3am in a residential area etc...

I myself have considered going out and having a "peaceful dialogue" - armed with various tools -and have imagined the various outcomes to such scenarios - clearly, the adage to avoid shitting on one's own doorstep has given me cause to ponder the best response in this case.

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Hypoxic | 6 years ago
0 likes

Must be the uncle of the bloke who went off at the Aussie Gold Coast event.

 

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BadgerBeaver | 6 years ago
0 likes

Did anyone have a dialogue with the farmers or not?

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ConcordeCX replied to BadgerBeaver | 6 years ago
9 likes
BadgerBeaver wrote:

Did anyone have a dialogue with the farmers or not?

I wonder how much of a dialogue the farmers would engage in if they were going about their lawful business and were stopped by armed thugs demanding that they justify themselves.

How much would you engage in?

I live on the route of the London Marathon, among other regular large-scale events. Have done for more than twenty years. Nobody has ever had a dialogue with me about it, or even asked my opinion, or whether it's going to disturb my work. 'They' just tell me it's taking place on such and such a date, that all the roads will be closed for several hours, and there will be enormous crowds.

I moan about it, but I don't try to trip any of the runners, or stick things in the spokes of the wheelchairs. Nor do I try to engage any of the participants in "dialogue" while they're participating. If I want to put a stop to the whole thing I will talk to the organisers, my local council and my MP about it, and perhaps organise other marathon-haters to protest legally.

Why do farmers think they're special?

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Helmut D. Bate replied to ConcordeCX | 6 years ago
7 likes
ConcordeCX wrote:
BadgerBeaver wrote:

Did anyone have a dialogue with the farmers or not?

I wonder how much of a dialogue the farmers would engage in if they were going about their lawful business and were stopped by armed thugs demanding that they justify themselves.

How much would you engage in?

I live on the route of the London Marathon, among other regular large-scale events. Have done for more than twenty years. Nobody has ever had a dialogue with me about it, or even asked my opinion, or whether it's going to disturb my work. 'They' just tell me it's taking place on such and such a date, that all the roads will be closed for several hours, and there will be enormous crowds.

I moan about it, but I don't try to trip any of the runners, or stick things in the spokes of the wheelchairs. Nor do I try to engage any of the participants in "dialogue" while they're participating. If I want to put a stop to the whole thing I will talk to the organisers, my local council and my MP about it, and perhaps organise other marathon-haters to protest legally.

Why do farmers think they're special?

The extra toes?

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drosco | 6 years ago
3 likes

Seriously, if they get this irate about being prevented from going about their work by a bike ride once a year, I suggest they try commuting by Southern rail. It might put their suffering in perspective.

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Jharrison5 replied to drosco | 6 years ago
2 likes
drosco wrote:

Seriously, if they get this irate about being prevented from going about their work by a bike ride once a year, I suggest they try commuting by Southern rail. It might put their suffering in perspective.

Have you tried commuting by bicycle? I hear it's rather good  3

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drosco replied to Jharrison5 | 6 years ago
2 likes
Jharrison5 wrote:
drosco wrote:

Seriously, if they get this irate about being prevented from going about their work by a bike ride once a year, I suggest they try commuting by Southern rail. It might put their suffering in perspective.

Have you tried commuting by bicycle? I hear it's rather good  3

I have and I do, after getting so sick of the journey in and out of Canary Wharf. I now have a delightful 20 miles a day heading out of the city.

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davel | 6 years ago
5 likes

Scum. Knew exactly what they were doing, carrying drain rods to accidentally get them caught in spokes. Passive aggressive twats. Shame they weren't met with actual aggression.

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Wolfcastle50 | 6 years ago
7 likes

My city roads get closed twice a year for 'non competitive' running events I shall stop my car in the middle of the course, drain rod in hand and shout ' I am a motorist!' I'm sure I won't get arrested.

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brooksby replied to Wolfcastle50 | 6 years ago
6 likes
Wolfcastle50 wrote:

My city roads get closed twice a year for 'non competitive' running events I shall stop my car in the middle of the course, drain rod in hand and shout ' I am a motorist!' I'm sure I won't get arrested.

Ive just put the tv on to see the news, and miles and miles of roads through Newcastle and the surrounding areas have been closed for the Great North Run- absolutely disgusting: how are decent road tax paying consumers going to drive to the shops, eh? Gawd, think I'll have to buy a drain stick and some pies...

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Leviathan replied to brooksby | 6 years ago
2 likes
brooksby wrote:

Ive just put the tv on to see the news, and miles and miles of roads through Newcastle and the surrounding areas have been closed for the Great North Run- absolutely disgusting: how are decent road tax paying consumers going to drive to the shops, eh? Gawd, think I'll have to buy a drain stick and some pies...

Close enough...

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Yorkshie Whippet | 6 years ago
4 likes

Got admit I find the concept fascinating.

Closed road means that other than those on the event no-one is allowed on the road. A group of people ignore this and block the road. They also arm themselves with a view of peaceful dialogue with those participating.  

They then complain about how the other group behave when confronted.

 

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ChetManley | 6 years ago
4 likes

Good to know. I can stand in the middle of the road so long as I yell "I'M A PEDESTRIAN!" at everyone.

And another thing, has this guy ever held up traffic with a tractor? You know he has.

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longassballs | 6 years ago
3 likes

What I found sinister was the shouting of "WE ARE PEDESTRIANS" which I think is likely to be a reference to a recent high profile court case... I hope this isn't the first incident whereby people who are anti-cycling feel empowered by events & proposed legislation to self declare as 'pedestrians' and feel they have innate priority in all circumstances, or at least a lightening rod for action, to put cyclists in their place, so to speak

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Rich_cb | 6 years ago
2 likes

I don't support their actions in any way but if this event did genuinely disrupt their harvest then the farmers do have a legitimate grievance.

You sometimes only have a very narrow window to get your crops in and any disruption to that can be very costly.

Given that harvest dates can't be predicted exactly I'm not sure how this could be avoided without changing the time of year that the sportive takes place.

On an unrelated point if a poster uses the phrase "take back control" it's a Brexit reference until proven otherwise. It was the main slogan of Vote Leave.

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Helmut D. Bate replied to Rich_cb | 6 years ago
1 like
Rich_cb wrote:

On an unrelated point if a poster uses the phrase "take back control" it's a Brexit reference until proven otherwise. It was the main slogan of Vote Leave.

Thank you.

It's not like handlebarcam hasn't got form in turning threads into Brexitballs.

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