“Cycling City” My Ass

This weekend heralds the BSCC cyclo cross competition, kindly organised for us by Dream Cycling. Like last year, it was was scheduled to take place in Hengrove Park. Bike racing has been happening in Hengrove Park for many many years. The amazing clip below features Bristol South and other local clubs taking part in the Goram Fair.

Which makes it all the more bizarre, myopic and specious that the council have decided to revoke all permissions for cycle races on council leisure grounds, leading to huge disruption for the Western League Cyclo-Cross, a popular grass-roots event held every winter, appealing to young and old alike. Here is last year’s event:

Note the enjoyment, the nigh-on empty park, the scenic detritus lining the edge of an unkempt park, the willingness of the cycling fraternity to use the leisure facilities in the first place. Now consider the ridiculousness of the decision by the Council.

“the Council stated that a wet summer, coupled with budget cuts, meant that they weren’t prepared to put cycling events on and risk damage to facilities”

Cyclo-cross uses the edges of the park. It cuts up the surface for a brief period of time before nature repairs the damage. The council hasn’t agreed to curtail other activities – football and rugby – that turn entire penalty areas into quagmires for the duration of winter.

For a supposed cycling city it’s a disaster. It’s a ludicrous decision that flies against common sense. I’ll even ignore the fact that Hengrove looks like a dogging spot for sallow smack addicts, still has a bloody massive runway through the middle of it and is about as appealing as a weekend in Chernobyl. In fact, it’s probably the only park or garden in the country that actually looks better with a couple of tyre tracks from some cyclo-cross bikes for a few days. At least it’s being used.

There’s a thread here. Maybe when Bristol Council defended itself in March 2011, saying it would take time to gain the benefits from the £11 million investment as a cycling city, maybe this was what they were referring to. Meanwhile a fistful of shonky mayoral candidates clamour to rip out cycle lanes and reassert the car as the fulcrum of city life. Plus ca change.

More reasoned argument here.

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