Concern over cycle event that “choked” town

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One of Scotland’s biggest charity events caused major problems for Linlithgow residents and businesses, with a “choked” High Street making it impossible for some shops to do business.

That was the complaint from Linlithgow Civic Trust chairman Chris Long this week, in the wake of the Pedal for Scotland event last Sunday, run by Cycling Scotland, which saw thousands of cyclists descend on the area as they made their way from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

He says the town centre became unmanageable as they made their way from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

Mr Long said: “I’m all for encouraging cycling, but with our High Street a long narrow street, and the folk festival in full swing, you couldn’t move – I know some traders gave up and shut for the rest of the day.”

The event now attracts 10,000 participants meaning road closures are required for longer periods. There was a new route this year between Avonbridge and Linlithgow, passing through California, Maddiston and Whitecross and concern was raised beforehand over the duration of the road closures, which were scheduled from 6am until 5pm on the day, despite the event not starting in Glasgow until 7.30am.

Keith Irving, Cycling Scotland chief executive said: “We regret that the necessity of road closures to allow participants to cycle safely will have caused disruption to communities along the route.

“The spirited support from residents, particularly children, along the route was hugely appreciated and we are very grateful to the Maddiston and Avonbridge churches for handing out water and baking thousands of cakes and treats.

“Safety for participants and event staff doesn’t start when the first rider comes through; the route needs to be free of traffic in advance with signs, cones, temporary traffic signals and stewards in place to help direct and inform participants and residents.

“As such, road closures need to commence to allow these activities to take place along all 46 miles of route as quickly as possible.”

A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “The multi-agency team that agreed the route will take on board all comments and experiences relating to Sunday’s event at the de-brief meeting that is scheduled to take place next week.

“Public safety during the event itself is of paramount importance and future event routes will also be discussed with sensitive concern to the feedback received.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland works closely with event organisers and other relevant partners to help them assess and plan a safe event.

“The safety of people attending an event is the responsibility of the organisers. Police and other partners will work with them to suggest ways to ensure the safest possible event.

“This may include alternative routes which are safer, or the use of appropriate stewards to implement traffic management plans. If road closures are required, Temporary Traffic Restriction Orders are applied for and administered by the local authority.”