Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Triathlon organisers promise no road closures

ORGANISERS of a new three-day triathlon in and around Henley have given an assurance that it will be trouble-free as there will be no road closures

ORGANISERS of a new three-day triathlon in and around Henley have given an assurance that it will be trouble-free as there will be no road closures.

Hundreds of people will take part in the Henley Highwayman, which will take place from Friday to Sunday, June 5 to 7.

On the Saturday, about 300 cyclists will ride a route of up to 180km, passing through Sonning Common, Nettlebed and Lower Assendon and going as far as Watlington.

This has sparked fears among some parish councils in the area of a repeat of the chaos caused by the Challenge Henley triathlon.

That event required 12-hour road closures, which caused disruption and led to so many complaints that the organisers moved the event to Weymouth in 2013.

The organisers of the Henley Highwayman say it won?t need road closures as they will adopt the sportive style of racing, meaning cyclists will set off at intervals over a period of two-and-a-half hours.

Jeremy Laming, who also runs the Henley Swim series, said: ?The sportive method removes the competition element from it by having a staggered start. It?s an approved method and we are working with a safe team with a long history of running these sorts of events.

?We considered the sportive method the most appropriate way of creating an event which is for Henley and will bring people into the town.?

Barbara Lewis, chairwoman of Nettlebed Parish Council, said: ?If they decide this is a safe way to go it?s up to them. We are not here to make sure the cyclists are safe, even though we do want them to be. As long as they know and obey the rules of the road it?s fine.

?If they bunch up and ride two or three abreast there will be impatient road users who will overtake in places that perhaps aren?t the safest. The cyclists have to take responsibility for being safe.?

Barry Wood, chairman of Rotherfield Peppard Parish Council, said: ?I?m assuming the organisers have put measures in place to assist with road safety however it would have been good if they had contacted the local community to work things out.

?We welcome the event to our parish but we would like further details on approximate times and the route itself, which is why I?ve written to Jeremy.

?I don?t think the organisers have communicated well with Peppard.?

David Nimmo Smith, Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for highways, said he had been contacted by parish councillors in Stonor and Lower Assendon, which the cyclists will pass through on their way back into Henley.

He said: ?They had a bad experience with Challenge Henley and no one has really reassured them that this is a different type of event.

?They are concerned about what?s going to happen with the amount of cyclists on the road.?

Aafke Oldridge, chairwoman of Bix and Assendon Parish Council, said: ?I would be worried if I was the organiser because it?s a lot of cyclists to have on the road. The roads around here are very narrow and if you have cars involved people are going to get frustrated. The fact that the roads aren?t closed is a good thing but on the other hand hundreds of cyclists is quite difficult.?

Mr Laming said the cyclists would be expected to stick to the laws of the road to keep safe.

He said: ?We will approve a safe route and put out markers but the onus is on the cyclists to safely manage themselves around the course.

?By the time the cyclists reach Stonor I don?t think it?s going to look any different to a standard Saturday or Sunday.

?We want to make it safe and enjoyable and to work for both athletes and residents.?

Councillor Nimmo Smith said: ?Cyclists are entitled to be on the road and to hold events.

?Challenge Henley had to have road closures because it was a race and there were a lot of cyclists on the road. Highwayman is not a race as such.

?If drivers and cyclists take due care and attention then we will not have a problem but like any cyclist going along a road, you can?t rule it out.?

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