One of Scotland’s biggest charity events left Falkirk residents with mixed emotions last weekend with complaints and praise in equal measure.
The Pedal for Scotland event last Sunday, run by Cycling Scotland, saw cyclists ride through villages in the Braes area as they made their way from Glasgow to Edinburgh.
Members of the public and Maddiston Evangelical Church were out on the streets handing out 500 bottles of water and energy bars – donated by Polmont’s Aldi store – to riders and cheering them on.
David Campbell from the church said: “It was good to be part of this national event. If the organisers plan the route to go through Maddiston next year we hope to be able to support the riders again.”
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.
Maddiston Community Council say there was a lack of consultation with local communities before the event and is calling for the organisation to review its procedures for next year. Community councillor John Wotherspoon said: “We hope that there will be a debriefing for this event which all interested parties will be invited.”
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has written to Cycling Scotland regarding the complaints he received about people being left “stranded” for most of the day due to the road closures.
He said: “I have been in touch with constituents and community groups and they have expressed their anger at the way in which this has been dealt with.”
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.”