A BENTLEY man has carried out his own online social media survey to try to test public opinion about the safety of cycling time trials held on the A31.
Darren Siggs has written to East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds, Highways England and the local authorities after his Facebook poll attracted 1,700 votes in seven days, with 90 per cent of respondents in favour of a ban.
They had been responding to the question: “Do you think the A31 cycling time trials are dangerous and should be stopped unless properly organised with it coned off and emergency services present?”
Alton Cycling Club, which is one of six or more clubs to run trials along the A31 during the summer months, points out that all cycling time-trials on public roads are governed by the Cycle Racing on Highways Regulations 1960. These stipulate conditions which must be met by organisers. Routes have to be risk assessed and notifications of Intended time trials have to be sent to the Constabulary concerned.
While Mr Siggs claims to have “no problem whatsoever with cyclists”, he does take issue with time trials on A-roads.
He said: “I find these organised time trials simply dangerous for all road users when the events take place.
“Times have changed since they first started 30 years ago, with vehicles being bigger and faster and the amount of traffic probably 10 times as much.”
Mr Siggs makes reference to Highways England who had planned to ban cycling time trails on the A63 in East Yorkshire, based on concerns over cyclists’ safety due to “increasing volumes of fast-moving traffic” and accident figures.
But the authority had held back at the last minute - a decision which Cycling UK has since described as “a victory for commonsense”
Mr Siggs argues that if there is a question over suitability of the A63 for time-trialling, then the A31 should face similar scrutiny. He, along with other Facebook poll contributors, claims to have witnessed near misses, incidents of poor and inconsiderate riding, and accidents along the racing stretch which, for the 10-mile trial runs from the lay-by opposite The Bull pub at Bentley down to the Holybourne roundabout and back or, if longer (25 miles), up to the Coxbridge roundabout at Farnham.
Having used the A31 for time trials for more than 60 years, a spokesman for Alton Cycling Club believes the club has a good safety track record and that there is a perception that cycle racing is dangerous, producing a response to the poll that could be “prejudicial rather than rational”.
He was adamant, saying: “We take safety very seriously.”
And he added that Alton Cycling Club 10-mile trials take place on Thursday evenings each week from mid-April to mid-August, starting at 7pm to avoid the rush-hour traffic and using daylight hours - “we do not cycle if it is too wet or in poor visibility”.
Numbers are small and riders are required to wear high-visibility clothing and helmets with flashing red lights. The route is signposted and overseen by marshals in high-visibility jackets.
He said: “The majority of motorists are considerate, slow down and give the cyclists a wide berth.”