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Frustrated locals see off World Championships with final complaints about road closures

Despite the online noise, those on the ground in Stirling experienced a far more positive local reception to the event

Anyone walking through Stirling last week would hardly have needed to be Sherlock Holmes to sense the buzz of the famous old city hosting an extravaganza of the world's best time triallists. From the packed cafes and restaurants doing a roaring midweek lunch trade, the pubs filled with celebrating Belgians toasting Remco Evenepoel's victory on the Friday, all the way through to the booked-out accomodation and packed caravan parks — the event brought an extra energy to the area for three days of cobble-induced grimacing.

And the numbers back that up, with Stirling Council celebrating an additional 75,000 people visiting the city centre compared to the same days the previous week, bringing "lasting economic and social benefits".

Speaking to the locals on the roadside, the view was equally positive, one resident enjoying some of Wednesday's U23 action on his way to the shops and pointing out that you only have to look at the number of people visiting, spending money in the town to see the benefits... "especially after Covid, lockdowns, Brexit".

> "It felt like the Tour de France": Have Scotland's World Championships been a success? We ask the riders, fans, and locals

And what about those who say the road closures aren't worth it? "In three days they can all go back to their boring lives." In fact, so overwhelmingly positive was the party atmosphere on the roadside, walking back down the hill from the castle among throngs of spectators young and old, it would have been easy to forget all about the road closure debate that we heard during much of the build up to the cycling world descending on Scotland.

The finish of the Gran Fondo, hosted in Perth, was moved due to road closure complaints, while in the days before that event locals slammed the "disgrace" of a "100-mile diversion" to cross another town on the route.

Elsewhere, in Dumfries, where the para-cycling events were held, residents criticised the "ridiculous" traffic restrictions, complaints which led the council to tweak its plans for the event to enable residents of one road access to a nearby street via a supermarket car park.

So therefore, even with the Stirling crowd's cheers still ringing in our ears, it is not entirely surprising to hear more of the same being reported, the Daily Record suggesting villagers on the time trial course were "left frustrated" by road closures and diversions.

One Cambusbarron resident, a village near the end of the time trial routes, said the pre-race drop-in sessions organised by Stirling Council to talk through road closures were "an apology session with little meaningful content or information".

> Scotland could soon host Tour de France stages after "successful" World Championships

"We did however believe that we could leave and enter our home by car during limited access periods," they said. "The reality belied this information. On Wednesday we tried to leave at 1.10pm which was in the 12.45pm-1.30pm access window. However, we drove east down Touch Road and just before Barony Court a motorbike approached me from the opposite direction in the middle of the road, a car was behind him.

"He gestured for me to stop which I did, he asked where was I going and I replied out of the village, he replied I required an escort from him, I asked when was this rule introduce as it was not in the information released by the council or at the various drop-in sessions.

"He instructed me to wait for two minutes whilst he escorted a car out of the village to the west, and no time did he introduce himself, and explain on whose authority he could question and restrict my civil liberties.

"As we waited, three teams of cyclists with back-up cars and motorcycles passed us. This in the 'safe access period'. Why were the cyclists still on the road during this time? Had I been allowed to continue unrestricted the 500 metres to the barrier I would not have encountered the cyclists at all. If cyclists were still expected to be on the road at this time why was it not expressly mentioned in the information?"

The paper also heard from a trader in Thornhill, impacted by the para-cycling events, who said his takings had dropped by almost 30 per cent. Another business owner in the village said they had not been properly informed about the event, while another resident described the information on road closures as "disjointed".

2023 UCI Cycling World Championships Stirling (Pauline Ballet/SWpix.com)

[Pauline Ballet/SWpix.com]

However, back to the people we spoke to in Scotland, the picture was again more positive, one Glasgow resident Kyle summing up the situation nicely: "In Glasgow it rains about 300 days a year, and then when it's sunny we find a way to moan about it, you know?"

Laura, a veteran volunteer of Commonwealth Games and European football championships, added: "Folk have been so friendly. When we stop them at crossing points, they're saying, 'oh, we understand', and we just explain the system to them if they're a bit aggravated, that it's for their safety as well as the cyclists' safety.

"We do know that it's upset a few folk in the city. But the majority of people are coming with their families, they're sitting with their kids, and they're waving at the cyclists as they pass. It's so nice to see. The atmosphere has been absolutely great. I've volunteered for a few things, and I'm having a blast."

For more World Championships reaction check out Ryan's in-depth look at how the event was received by the riders, fans and locals...

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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7 comments

Avatar
leedorney | 9 months ago
0 likes

From a TV spectacle it was exactly that, it was simply a crash-fest.. The pro mens RR went from Edinburgh to Glasgow then done a 30ml criterium I think, in Glasgow which was a turn off... What happened to doing an extended route between Edinburgh and Glasgow then doing 3 laps as it just caused crashes even the winner crashed.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to leedorney | 9 months ago
2 likes
leedorney wrote:

From a TV spectacle it was exactly that, it was simply a crash-fest.. The pro mens RR went from Edinburgh to Glasgow then done a 30ml criterium I think, in Glasgow which was a turn off... What happened to doing an extended route between Edinburgh and Glasgow then doing 3 laps as it just caused crashes even the winner crashed.

In fact they did 89 miles around Glasgow, 10 loops of an 8.9 mile circuit, not entirely sure how you could mistake that for 30 miles if you were actually watching. It was not in the least a "turn off", it provided one of the most thrilling men's road races in many years and the best three single day racers in the world took the podium places.

Avatar
BigSigh | 9 months ago
7 likes

Overwhelmingly, I think the event was well received 'on the ground'. And I don't feel that the local media accurately reflected that.

In the run up to it, people did have concerns but this perhaps reflects more on the information provided to people living on and around the route. Maybe this is where the frustration of some locals stemmed from.
One colleague didn't think he'd be able to leave home for the duration of the champs but ended up texting with me excitedly as he waited for the men's road race to pass.
And I only got called a "fucking bike wanker" once, on the first day, by my union rep! (Bizarrely, as I pointed out to him, he also cycles sometimes).

As a by the by, the Stirling time trial was the one event I'm kicking myself for missing - if only I'd asked, I could've started my shift in Stirling and watched the whole thing. The place was certainly packed and buzzing afterwards.

Avatar
Brauchsel replied to BigSigh | 9 months ago
3 likes

Indeed. I was up in Stirling today, and my colleagues up there (who are definitely not cyclists or fans of pro cycling) had enjoyed the whole experience and hadn't found any road closures unduly problematic, even though more than one has an elderly parent that they care for.

I did consider whether they were just being nice for my benefit, but then thought about their general opinion of me and discounted that option. 

Avatar
David9694 | 9 months ago
9 likes

Worth another outing for this for Mr McCivil Liberties of Cambusbarron.

Avatar
Cocovelo | 9 months ago
12 likes

locals slammed the "disgrace" of a "100-mile diversion" to cross another town on the route

A "town" that you could walk across in about 5 minutes flat. I'd love to know exactly how many locals actually made this 100-mile trip (200-mile round trip) so that we could find out just how much impact road closure had to their seemingly essential road. My guess is a big fat zero.

Avatar
Safety | 9 months ago
13 likes

Great to see the Wimbledon effect with a load of kids cycling around the housing estate I live on. I was even asked by a near neighbour who knew I cycled to give an old bike from the back of their shed a once over so they could use it. Brilliant! happy to help.
Let's hope a decent percentage of them keep going.

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