Author Topic: VeloBirmingham?  (Read 41494 times)

« on: 14 May, 2017, 02:45:45 pm »
There are ways of organising closed road sportives and ways not to organise closed roads sportives. This is a text book on what happens if the latter approach is adopted.

WCC - refers to Worcestershire County Council.

Source: Great Witley Parish Council Minutes.

Minuted Report of the Meeting held on
Monday 24th April 2017, 7.30pm at Great Witley Village Hall
Jon Fraser of WCC re VeloBirmingham

Present: Councillors: Geoff Goodman, Frank Chapman, Roger Perkins, Charles Shaw, Bill Dallow, Adrian Symonds and Jo Evans Clerk
Joined by County Councillor Ken Pollock
And members of the public

Acting Chairman, Geoff Goodman (GG) welcomed Jon Fraser, (JF) and introduced the reason for calling this meeting to those present.  Concerns over the lack of consultation from CSM Active, London organisers of the VeloBirmingham event to be held on Sunday 24th September 2017.

JF, who was happy to attend this meeting, outlined that Worcester County Council, (WCC) were approached around 18 months ago by Birmingham City Council, (BCC) regarding the proposal for this mass participation cycling event.  The event would be centred around Birmingham and the surrounding rural areas of Herefordshire and Worcestershire.  BCC appointed CSM as organisers of the event who then approached WCC to start discussions.

WCC agreed that they were interested, in principle, to considering CSM’s proposals.  WCC would require a full consultation process.  It was assumed by WCC that a ‘rolling road’ closure would operate to accommodate the 15,000 entrants of all abilities.  Before any agreement was made, CSM went ahead and launched a website and invited interested cyclists to sign up and pay the entrance fee of £75.

In principle WCC were happy to make temporary road closures but, again, before any agreement was reached CSM carried out a sporadic leaflet drop and announced the route.  This amounts to around 9 hours of road closures, something which is felt to be considerably unacceptable in the rural Worcestershire area and not agreed by WCC.

Contrary to what CSM have stated, they have not demonstrated that they can manage safety issues or that they have indeed carried out 1:1 consultations with local businesses, such conditions set out by WCC, and therefore, WCC will not grant the road closures if these are not met.

Because of their ‘wall of silence’, many local businesses and members of the public have contacted WCC, and specifically Marcus Hart (MH) and Ken Pollock (KP) to report their dissatisfaction over the handling of such a majorly disruptive event.  It should be noted that many local businesses will suffer loss of earnings should these road closures be granted.

Both WCC and HCC have written to CSM for answers to their concerns asking for a response by the end of April.  JF believes CSM are unlikely to reply within the required timeframe and therefore WCC and HCC will refuse their request for road closures during the event and their support will be withdrawn.

It is thought that 15,000 tickets have been sold at £75 each.  CSM’s publicity for the event does not seem to be very consistent.  Many residents in the affected areas have found out about VeloBirmingham by mistake, or word of mouth.

The parish of Great Witley is likely to be ‘hit’ twice by the suggested road closures, affecting the A443 and Stourport Road.  Road closures of this type is clearly unpractical.

CSM has promoted accommodation available for Birmingham City but no such publicity for Herefordshire or Worcestershire.  They have already advertised that this will be an annual event and invited entrants for 2018.

JF on behalf of WCC has requested the support of GWHHPC in refusing this event in Worcestershire and GWHHPC are happy to do this.

GG, who attended a recent presentation given by Jim Bellinger, reported two examples where a mass event of this type has worked in the city but not in the surrounding countryside.  Namely, London and Surrey and Cardiff and Gwent.

Frank Chapman (FC) suggested that if there had been a consultation process then shorter road closures and alternative routes could have been discussed.

JF will report back to GWHHPC in a couple of weeks when the deadline for CSM to reply has passed.
No diversions have been suggested, the emergency services have not been consulted, contrary to CSM claims, therefore the Police have stated that they will not be supervising the event.

Charles Shaw (CS) warned that due to the anger within the local community disruptions, confrontations and the possibility of violence should not be ruled out.

GG reported that CSM is a profit-making organisation and that entrants and the wider public may be misguided into believing that this is a wholly charitable event.

A member of the public highlighted the worrying concerns that in the small print of the terms and conditions, as set out by CSM, the route can be changed or the event cancelled without notice and no refunds of the entrance fee of £75 will be made.  It was then questioned if the whole scheme might not be a scam; making it impossible WCC and HCC to agree to support this event and thereby making them the scapegoats if entrants are forced to lose their fee.  CSM tactics seem to be aggressive.  Steaming ahead without confirmed support from WCC or HCC.  Responding to all enquires with a ‘wall of silence’ and even stating that any vehicles parked on the roads on the route will be moved.  The village of Clifton-on-Teme was used as an example where many homes do not have off road parking.  Are CSM going to remove all cars parked on the road in this village?  FC informed the room that CSM have no legal right to remove such vehicles.

KP reported that he has spoken with an entrant who appreciates the obvious flaws in this event plan and that neither himself or MH are backing VeloBirmingham.

GG closed the meeting by thanking JF for his attendance and for clearly answering the concerns of the parish of Great Witley and Hillhampton.

Organiser of Droitwich Cycling Club audaxes.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #1 on: 14 May, 2017, 07:24:02 pm »
Guess who the chair of CSM is - Lord Seb Coe!

I have met lots of ( typically the newer ) the cycling community, who are clearly expecting a Tour de France type of closed road experience. Looking at the diversity of entrants I know of - from really new inexperienced riders to those who are expecting a " high placing" - in a sportive! Therefore the closures, if they do happen, would be over several hours, not like the Tour of Britain.
I see it as a costly and cynical move to make profits, and one that will alienate many towards cycling and cyclists.
By the way, the entry cost does not include " extras" such as very expensive parking .


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Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #2 on: 14 May, 2017, 08:09:23 pm »
I see it as a costly and cynical move to make profits, and one that will alienate many towards cycling and cyclists.

AIUI there's a commonwealth games bid that hinges on them being able to demonstrate they can run an event of this magnitude...


Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #3 on: 03 July, 2017, 01:47:34 pm »

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #4 on: 03 July, 2017, 02:26:07 pm »
They have moved the 'problem' from Hereford to South Staffs and created a 'ring of steel' where movement will be severely restricted during that area of loop.  Closes main through road in village where I live and means no bus service or access within the loop to major businesses, care homes and church services during that morning to name but a few challenges.  Can't see this doing anything for local cyclists other than to get cyclists in general a bad name for all the inconvenience caused.  Also amazed that proposed road closures will be on some major arterial/spine routes that will create quite a bit of mayhem on the day as folk travelling from afar will have no idea about the closures.

Although CSM say this has been 'years in the planning' there has been no communication with local businesses and went for lunch at Ashwood Nurseries today chatting to staff who are completely oblivious to the fact there will be no access on morning of the event to their business; they are a very busy garden centre who are renown throughout the area and UK for their work and a regular winner at RHS Chelsea Flower Show who managed another gold medal along with the The Diamond Jubilee Award this year.  Can't see them being too happy about the event!

Looking forward to having a coffee with the local County Councillor for the area to discuss the challenges ahead!


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Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #5 on: 03 July, 2017, 06:02:41 pm »
What a mess.

Is there an upper limit to the size of the field which can be run on open roads? Are there any standards for this or is it completely up to the local council / police to approve or insist on closed roads?
2019 🏅 R1000 and B1000

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #6 on: 03 July, 2017, 06:57:34 pm »
Is there an upper limit to the size of the field which can be run on open roads? Are there any standards for this or is it completely up to the local council / police to approve or insist on closed roads?

I have no doubt the police would have an opinion on a large number of cyclists using open roads, hence the need for closed roads due to 15,000 taking part.  My belief is that road closure is by a Traffic Regulation Order from the Highways department for the relevant council and the police should be consulted but will rarely intervene, unless emergency access for them is compromised in which case they put blue lights on and everyone else gets out of the way.  I assume that all police forces will have documents similar to this one:

p12-13 makes interesting reading.

Police will get involved if you hold a race on open roads as that comes under the Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations, 1960, but on closed roads there is no perceived danger to other users.  And I believe a Sportive, such as Velo Birmingham, is not a cycle race and is not subject to cycling regulations applicable to racing.  I imagine there are considerable insurance ramifications regarding the need for closed roads.

So why would a council be interested in causing such disruption to their electorate?  Probably due to the significant income generated by road closure administration and fees they will be charging the organiser.  Hence the reason why so may Royal British Legion parades for remembrance events have been taken away from roads due to costs associated with closure or policing.

Once the local paper picks up on the extent of road closures I have no doubt 'stuff' will hit the fan.  I have advise the local county councillor to be ready for this event and offered assistance in routing options as someone who rides the roads and knows the area very well from a cycling perspective.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #7 on: 06 July, 2017, 09:09:59 pm »
Interesting information about what type of cycles can be used on Velo Birmingham:

The following are NOT allowed to be used by riders: bikes with disc wheels*, recumbent bicycles, electronic bikes of any kind, unicycles, penny farthings, tricycles, quad cycles, BMX bikes, fixed gear bikes / singlespeeds / fixies (allowed with two independent brakes and a freehub); any unconventional handlebars, including triathlon bars, aero bars, clip-ons, prayer bars, Spinaci bars and cow bars.

*bikes with disc brakes are allowed

No tricyles or recumbents?  Can't wait to ask how they might accommodate amputees that might be ex-military and riding for a charity that supports ex-military folk.  And no fixed gear unless you have a freehub which highlights their inexperience regarding an understanding of cycling. Doh!

T&Cs are interesting and Section 6 deals with participant obligations that would appear to ban bar ends often seen on flat bar bikes and hybrids.

Helmet is mandatory, so no surprise there, and best of luck to them in ensuring no riders are listening to music!


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Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #8 on: 25 July, 2017, 07:59:18 pm »
So tandems are OK then? Super. Sadly I think I might be washing my hair on that day.
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Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #9 on: 25 July, 2017, 08:09:53 pm »
I wonder what makes a bike electronic?  A motor?  DI2?  A cycle computer?   ::-)

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #10 on: 25 July, 2017, 09:37:23 pm »
I went to a briefing by the CEO and organising team late afternoon today.  I cycled over (just for fun) and had a good chat about cycling prior to the event; I was the only attendee to arrive by such transport.  Fair to say they have done themselves no favours in what they have done thus far, but they do seem cognisant of that and have will be throwing a fair number of folk at the event on the day and are trying to do as much as they can to ameliorate the damage that has been done.

How on earth the local folk who will be inconvenienced on the day will take to it all is another question.  Sky Ride Birmingham did inconvenience folk and Ride London, along with other events, had significant effects, but folk in bigger conurbations/cities seem to take better to such events than folk out in the sticks where not much happens to disturb their normality and 15,000 cyclists effectively imprisoning them in their house/garden/road for a half day is all too much.

Look forward to receiving one of the letters they will be sending everyone on/near the route to inform them about the ride.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #11 on: 14 September, 2017, 09:58:14 am »
Organiser of Droitwich Cycling Club audaxes.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #12 on: 26 September, 2017, 08:32:04 pm »


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Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #13 on: 26 September, 2017, 10:04:44 pm »
Did anyone here do the ride?  How was it?

The closest I got was noticing the unusually high numbers of road bikes in and around Mordor Central as I returned from the Wing weekend with a loaded tourer.  It was notable how some of the cyclists gave me the nod and others completely blanked me.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #14 on: 27 September, 2017, 08:49:25 am »
Did anyone here do the ride?  How was it?

The closest I got was noticing the unusually high numbers of road bikes in and around Mordor Central as I returned from the Wing weekend with a loaded tourer.  It was notable how some of the cyclists gave me the nod and others completely blanked me.

By all accounts from fellow club members, very well. Despite the horrendous lead-up to the event the actual day was very successful.  There was sabotage in Staffordshire with protesters laying oil and nails but most had been cleared away by the time riders appeared.
Organiser of Droitwich Cycling Club audaxes.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #15 on: 27 September, 2017, 09:18:56 am »
South Staffs reporting! (The Staffordshire bit of the ride)

Despite all the pre-ride objections, the event was very well received with folk out in the village cheering and encouraging them on.  2 pubs on route in the parish were isolated so they opened earlier and one provided drinks and bacon butties (riders and supporters) and one just provided drinks; the business opportunity was not missed.  The other pub, that had access by vehicles to the car park and was on route but not isolated, did not change from normal operating procedure and complained.

Sadly, some idiot put tacks down in the lane approaching the village at a pinch point (one side of road coned off due to land slip) and tacks were put down, along with a metal pole across the road, further on from the village but still very near due to the looping nature of the route.  Oil was also put down just outside a very vocal opponent of the ride.  I was on hand in village to assist with track pump and gave away 5 replacement inner tubes to those who punctured as they had used their spare.  I also provided a new shoe plate to one rider who stopped and asked for tie-wraps or tape; she was soon sorted at my home and even had the luxury of a nice toilet break! Could not help the rider who came off after puncturing on the tack area and grazed all her arm as it was just outside the village.

I agree with Phillip's comments and there are many lessons to be learnt.  I had 2 face to face discussions with the organising team (Jon Ridgeon et al) and will be contributing to the formal debrief for South Staffs/Staffordshire as I know the local county councillor and she soon realised I knew a thing or two about cycling and big cycling events.  I was running around like a madman helping riders, sorting out diversions for angry motorists/motorcyclists etc etc.  Don't like to blow a trumpet, but had I not been there it would have been there the critics would have taken over and ensued chaos prevailed.  Much more involvement of local cycle clubs to help marshal, assist, advise etc would help.

Overall, 15,000 cyclists got through with a very small amount of localised trouble (my area and idiots responsible).  Problems did occur with no food or drink at the later stops for the later riders, some of which was caused by the riders who got there earlier grabbing too much etc.  But when I reflect on the challenges of PBP (no pre-ride meal!) and LEL, then stunning achievement by the organisers.

Finally, I pre-parked my car on the open side of the village just in case someone needed to get somewhere in an emergency etc.  It had to be left there overnight.  For my support to the community, my car was 'keyed' as some folk who opposed the event know I am a cyclist and was not trying to stop the ride, rather, I just accepted it had been foisted upon us and we had no say so let's make it run as smoothly as we can and as safe as possible for riders and the community.  There are clearly some very narrow minded idiots where I live.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #16 on: 27 September, 2017, 01:45:41 pm »
I had a wonderful day out by participating in this event and while I anticipated some angry 'locals' it never actually materialised and instead all I can remember was seeing lots of very happy people supporting and cheering from the roadsides.

Most of the pubs I passed were probably doing a good trade while the children waited outside wanting 'high-fives' and without the pollution from the traffic, and clean air for once.

Having ridden the Ride London 100 earlier this year, the 15,000 was about half of the London event, however I believe that about 70% of the London event is made up with charity riders and as a result there were a lot more supporters so perhaps Velo birmingham might like to invite more charities to become involved next year.

I am already waiting for the announcement of next year's date for Velo Birmingham and will most likely enter again.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #17 on: 27 September, 2017, 09:36:46 pm »
The PR was very " professionally " handled. The BBC and others reported £000s raised for charity, but the reality was that rider's were encouraged to raise their own sponsorship, or buy a charity place off the charity that had bought places from the organiser. The organisers seemed to me to get the good PR from the charity aspect whilst being entirely commercial.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #18 on: 27 September, 2017, 10:07:58 pm »
I believe the reports have said the riders raised the money for charity rather than the organisers.  They were always keen to use phrases such as 'partners' and if folk did not realise they are a commercial company then what planet do they live on? I think CSM have got all the flak when the councils who agreed to it should be getting more flak than they have.  Summed-up by the local rag reporting folk travelling from Ipswich to South Staffs for a 'stunt driving course' at local airport could not access airport due to road closures and said CSM did not communicate sufficiently along with airport. Except airport 100% to blame as they had known for over 2 months and I even attended a meeting where both CSM and airport manager present when everyone knew there would be no access to airport.  So I think we have to be careful about reporting, interpretation of events and realise that for some folk the mantra "never let the facts get in the way of a good story" will always hold true.

This is what they do:

And remember this:’s-showpiece-event-to-life

While CSM Active concentrate on activity events, they are still part of the CSM empire who are not a charity, they are a business that provide opportunities for others.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #19 on: 23 November, 2017, 03:38:20 pm »
Velomidlands is indeed for rebranding purposes and an attempt to mitigate the "if it's associated with Brum then stay in Brum!"  However, Worcestershire may not like Midlands tag and I know Staffordshire prefers not to have that tag as they fear becoming part of a 'Greater West Midlands' and tend not to use Midlands on anything.  My suggestion was Velo Central which avoids any triabilism in terms of areas as it is relatively vague.

I also suggested going north of Brum, or east or south east, to avoid a repeat of this year where some fairly major arterial routes were closed and communities were isolated along with many folk wishing to get from A to B.  Going north would allow major arterial routes to be passed via bridges which was not available on the route this year as such facilities were absent.

I know Staffordshire County Council support a repeat but South Staffordshire District Council, which is the territory the ride passed through, are against a repeat.  The MP for the area, Gavin Williamson (SoS Defence) is against a repeat of the route.  Many in South Staffs were hoping Worcestershire would vote against it to force it to go elsewhere, which might be happening.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #20 on: 30 November, 2017, 06:48:02 pm »
Sources inform me that 16 September is preferred date for 2018.

I would have thought having it at the same time as Cycle Show made sense.  Appears not if the 16th is really the chosen date.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #21 on: 17 January, 2018, 10:12:54 am »
A decision  on Velo Midland will be made by Worcestershire County Council's Cabinet on 8th February on whether to support the application for Traffic Regulation Orders.  If they decline, the event could still go ahead theoretically but without the road closure though I would imagine that as unlikely. 
Organiser of Droitwich Cycling Club audaxes.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #22 on: 17 January, 2018, 10:28:48 am »
I don't think the event will go ahead without road closures as that was a key requirement last year for insurance purposes.

I believe they are also considering/planning a route north of Birmingham that could also use roads in Staffordshire as they remain keen for the event to visit it again, although last year it only visited the southerly parts of South Staffs that are within Staffordshire so far as Highways are concerned.

I know that Staffordshire County Council is on 'tenterhooks' and waiting for decision by WCC.  I don't think the Velo organisers will be as concerned as they are planning alternative routes that might even improve the event.  That said, the reception they received in Bewdley and other parts of the route, including the village where I live in South staffs, was very good, but not sure whether locals in my village want it back and no doubt a route change would be welcomed by many.

Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #23 on: 31 January, 2018, 11:32:38 am »
With just a week to go until the WCC Cabinet meeting, VeloBirmingham/Midland have announced that the next event will not be held until Spring 2019.  The only remaining local authority listed on their partners webpage is Birmingham City Council, with Sandwell, Dudley, Staffordshire and Worcestershire authorities no longer being listed.

The idea of a spring 2019 event is daft as most novice cyclists are not going to brave the winter elements for training.
Organiser of Droitwich Cycling Club audaxes.


Re: VeloBirmingham?
« Reply #24 on: 31 January, 2018, 01:01:31 pm »
Blimey, did they try to spin this in the email they sent me: longer amount of day light and better roads. Frankly, that's rubbish. If they were truthful, then they would have said they were having issues in confirming a route so were giving themselves a little more time to get things agreed.

The fact that Birmingham are the only council listed is also interesting. It seems to me to imply that the route will stay within the bounds of the City and if so.... and not being rude here to Birmingham, can they find a route worth doing after all, I can't really think of any hills worth doing etc.

No, to me I really doubt they will be back which is a shame as a fully closed road ride in the Midlands should be most excellent.