CYCLISTS using a major route through Uttoxeter have been ‘taking their life in their hands’ as motorists battled to overtake them in busy weekend traffic.
Angry motorists beeped their horns in protest as they tried to get past the cyclists making their way down the A50 on Saturday as part of the Cycling Time Trials.
The time trials see the participants start and finish at Etwall, taking in the A50 westbound between the McDonald’s roundabout and Doveridge.
Staffordshire Police warned organisers that the road was ‘unsafe and potentially dangerous’ for the trial saying it would leave the cyclists ‘particularly vulnerable’ but said they were unable to prevent it.
As a result, concerned Uttoxeter residents have told the Advertiser that the riders were causing a general nuisance on the road and putting their own safety at risk, as well as that of the other road users.
Readers have also said the event proved ‘ridiculously dangerous’ and an ‘absolute nightmare’ with the riders ‘taking their life in their hands’.
However, Nick Sharpe, national secretary of the Cycling Time Trials, said any cyclist can ride use the A50, day or night.
He told the Advertiser: “It is a road that any cyclist can ride along and it is lawful for cyclists to ride along the A50.
“We don’t often get a bad reaction but sometimes if drivers have to slow down from 80mph to 50mph they can be a bit aggrieved but it is not often to do with the trial but because it is a cyclist.
“Just because we have a number of people on their bikes they do not take up any more of the road and they are perfectly entitled to be there.
“We did notify the police that the ride was going to take place.
“I have ridden along that road myself and it is not like they have a group of cyclists, they all leave one-by-one so people would only have to overtake one individual at a time.
“Motorists only overtake one cyclist, not a group going together.”
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said they were notified that the trial would be taking place six weeks in advance.
A spokesman said: “We are not responsible for policing the Time Trials but the organisers are obliged to inform us six weeks in advance. We have no power to prevent it, only give appropriate road safety advice.
“The police cannot approve of, nor give permission for events of this nature which take the public highway into use as long as the 28 days notice to hold the event is given and that the vent is conducted in accordance with the Road Traffic Act under the Cycle Racing on the Highways Regulations.
“The responsibility for the safety of both participants and other road users rests with the organisers.”
In a letter to the organisers, Staffordshire Police said it noted ‘with concern’ the intention to conduct the Time Trial on the A50 which is a high speed dual carriageway which involves negotiating a series of roundabouts and slip roads.
The letter stated: “Cyclists involved in time trials are particularly vulnerable on dual carriageways which reflect conditions which are more akin to motorways from which cycling is prohibited.
“We consider this to be an unsafe and potentially dangerous road for the conducting of a Cycle Time Trial.
“Indeed Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services Ltd, who are responsible for the A50 had a cycling path laid to alleviate any potential fatal situation from cyclists using this dual carriageway.
“Please be assured it is not our intention to prevent time trials from taking place. I recognise that organisers adopt a very responsible attitude towards their sport.
“The safety of competitors must be of prime concern to all concerned.
“The final decision whether to heed to police advice must rest with the organiser, but it should be clearly understood that if any accident resulting in serious or fatal injury were to arise, we should be obliged to make it known what advice had been given at the outset.”