Time trial cyclists defend their sport

By Ted JeoryTIME trial cyclists have defended their sport following calls to have them banned from the A12 after two deaths on the road in the space of six weeks.

By Ted Jeory

TIME trial cyclists have defended their sport following calls to have them banned from the A12 after two deaths on the road in the space of six weeks.

It comes amid growing confusion over which of the county's roads the time trial cyclists are actually allowed to ride on.

Colin Rodd, 64, from Hockley, died on the A12 near the junction with the A120 on July 13, while Jim Perrin, 66, from Braintree, was killed near the Eight Ash Green junction on August 25.

Both men, who were competing in early morning open road time trials, died after they were involved in collisions with motor vehicles.

With the rise in the volume of traffic on the A12 in recent years, there have been increasing calls for cyclists to be banned from the road, as they are from all motorways.

Most Read

But John Golder, general secretary to the East Anglian Veterans Time Trial Association, said: “We always do traffic counts and our national guidelines permit us to stage trials only where there are less than 1,200 vehicles per hour passing by.

“On the morning Colin died, I was doing the count myself and in a five-minute sample around 7am, only 37 vehicles went by.

“We've also discovered that on the A12, 80% of drivers only use the middle and outside lanes where there are three. So the inside lane is generally empty, making it very safe.

“People have to remember the people doing this are highly-trained athletes who do not wobble and they are doing in excess of 30 mph.”

Brian Ladd, Essex Police's casualty reduction manager, added: “It's a perfectly lawful pursuit. They're allowed to be on the highway - there are no regulations that say they can't be.

“We need to have discussions with the cycling organisations to see what they can do to make their people less vulnerable.

“But it is also incumbent on drivers to take care and pay attention of other road users. The A12 is for everyone.”

The A12 is classed as a major trunk road and the stretch outside the M25 falls under the responsibility of the Highways Agency, but Transport for London is in charge of the part inside the M25.

Cyclists have already been banned for “safety reasons” on one new stretch within London, from the Redbridge roundabout to the Blackwall Tunnel.

But beyond the M25 in Essex, cyclists are free to ride on the A12 and all other trunk roads - and this will also be the case when the new A120 dual carriageway from Stansted to Braintree is opened.

However, on the new Essex County Council-managed A130 dual carriageway near Chelmsford, cyclists and slow-moving traffic have been banned because of safety fears.

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said the A12 was an all-purpose trunk road and, under current legislation, had to be open to all road users.

“In order to ban cyclists, a case would have to be made by people writing in. We would have to consider them. But in the last six years, there have been only six accidents involving cyclists on the A12 in Essex,” she added.