Tensions over 2012 Olympic cycle route crank up a gear

Box Hill in Surrey has seen a dramatic rise in cyclists on its roads – but not everyone is happy

Next summer the world's top cyclists will battle it out in the rolling splendour of the Surrey hills for an Olympic gold in one of sport's most gruelling challenges.

In the meantime those hoping to live out their fantasy of being Mark Cavendish or Bradley Wiggins for a day are converging in record numbers on Box Hill, which plays host to one of the key sections of the flagship road race event during London 2012.

But mounting tensions between cyclists and motorists at the National Trust-owned beauty spot near Dorking have prompted pleas for both groups to learn to share the famous hairpin bends of Zig Zag Road.

This summer, extra police patrols were put on over the weekend to help keep a lid on emotions. Cycling clubs have also been urged to use the hill, which will be scaled nine times by the peloton after setting out from London in the 140km race next July, with respect for others.

Surrey Police confirmed there had been a "handful of incidents" and that the number of cyclists using the road had dramatically increased since it was appointed as an Olympic venue. Local people have complained about riders riding two or three abreast and of aggressive behaviour directed towards overtaking motorists.

Sgt Andy Rundle, of Surrey Police, insisted it was not a case of four wheels good, two wheels bad, but said concerns were being taken seriously. "This isn't an issue solely of cyclists but an issue of increased visitors to Box Hill full stop," he said.

"We are stopping motorists and cyclists and making sure that all road users are mindful that they are likely to encounter increased numbers of cyclists. It is a challenge the local police have to rise to and make sure that everyone is considerate of every other road user."

But cycling and triathlon clubs, who have already been reminded they face £1,000 fines for inconsiderate or careless riding as part of a county-wide crackdown on reckless two-wheelers, insist they also have rights. A number of teams were written to in the summer following complaints by motorists who had been stuck behind large groups of bicycles. According to the Highway Code, cycling two abreast is allowed when conditions are safe. However cyclists should always be in single file when going around a corner.

Adrian Webb, chairman of Redhill Cycling Club, said it was inexcusable for cyclists to be aggressive. But, he said: "Box Hill is not on a main arterial route. It is a leisurely zig zag road up to a small village and a National Trust outlook so it should not be impeding anybody's way. Cyclists are traffic as well."

Michelle Cleverley, of the National Trust, said there had been growing interest from organisers of sportive events. "It's a lovely place and we want everyone to enjoy it. So everyone will have to be a little bit more patient," she said.

There has already been controversy over the decision to use Box Hill for the hill section of the road race events. Cycling fans have complained there will be only limited access because of concerns over wildlife. Mark Cavendish, current world champion, has urged fans to raise a petition opposing the limits.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform