Velo South is returning in 2020 .
We're ready to
stop this one too.
Why do we want to stop Velo South 2020?
West Sussex residents love cycling and events that are accessible, resident-friendly, inclusive, pro-democracy and have real benefit for the county. Velo South isn't any of these things.
CSM Active and West Sussex County Council have announced the return of Velo South in 2020, despite delivering on none of the promises for "wash-ups", audit, inclusion, feedback and consultation. Wash-up meetings arranged between Parish and District councils with the leader of West Sussex County Council have all been cancelled, and to date, there has been no further engagement or consultation between residents and councils on the topic of Velo South. Nothing has changed, no feedback has been heard, nothing has been learnt.
On 23rd September 2018, the inaugural Velo South event was cancelled. It was claimed that severe weather stopped Velo South, however there was another story happening behind the scenes that was never told. On the Thursday of the cancellation announcement over 31,000 individuals comprising of councillors, parishoners, residents, business owners and employees were in active support of the Stop Velo campaign. Legal proceedings were in play questioning the legality of the event, multiple pitstops had withdrawn their support, there weren't enough volunteers to marshal the course, there was insufficient planning to get participants in and out of the registration area, student's were being offered jobs to try and make up the staffing short-fall, both train providers servicing the area had imposed 'no bikes' restrictions and over 3,000 people were registered to take part in peaceful demonstrations on the day.
To call a weather warning a lucky break for reasoning to cancel the event would be an understatement.
In light of today's announcement the message is loud and clear: unless the council wish to start delivering on it's promises and are prepared to consider an alternative to CSM Active we are ready to Stop Velo South in 2020 too.
Velo South’s closed roads will disrupt the lives of over 400,000 residents within the loop; access to 165,000 homes will be cut off and around 100 local businesses (that would have otherwise been open) will close or operate reduced services.
We believe the economic claims of Velo South are based on dubious statistics and dodgy comparisons with prestigious, international, elite sporting events. The negatives of the event, in terms of lost trade and increased costs, do not appear to have been taken into account.
The event is only open to those with £75 to £150 to pay to ride on our roads; the event is NOT open to youngsters, or beginners, or people with disabilities who use specialised bikes. Equally,
cramming 15,000 people into our tiny country lanes is hardly going to be safe or encourage people to take up this hobby, and the tension that comes from the inconvenience caused only adds to any ill feeling about cyclists and cycling.
This is not an inclusive, cycling friendly event. It’s a commercial exercise – at our expense.
Residents, businesses, Parish and District Councils were not consulted on this. Much promised “engagement” with the local communities has been farcical or practically invisible. The road closures have not been put on West Sussex County Council’s website for consultation. So it’s hardly a shining example of an open and democratic exercise.
As residents we're embarrassed by the quality of the offering and we're embarrassed by the empty promises made to participants; even members of our own cycling community are refusing to take part in the event or help out.
But this isn't what upsets us most...
We could've done so much better
If only we'd been asked.
We're such a friendly bunch here in West Sussex. We're proud of the county we live in and love it for its beauty. Tourism, entertainment and the service industries are some of the county's main economic drivers, so we'd do anything we could to support this. Many would have opened their homes and businesses for a spectacular event for all ages, all abilities, all charities. Sadly the reality of the imposition of this event is a divided and torn community.
As residents we're left feeling mis-heard. We're not against cycling at all! We're just against Velo South. Why? We can't see the benefit or justification for the disruption of over 400,000 people for an exclusive, private commercial event. Along with the cycling events that happen every week in West Sussex, we could have designed an event that is truly inclusive, rather than one that imposes and disrupts.
In fact, we're so convinced by this that we intend to demonstrate what we mean. Plans are well underway for a better alternative to Velo South. One that is for the residents and businesses of West Sussex as much as it is for thousands of cyclists of all abilities and ages. We're designing something that brings real, measurable benefits to the county. It will be unveiled for consultation soon (residents and businesses first) and ready to roll during the summer of 2019.
Say NO to Velo South and help us shape the future.
Join the residents of West Sussex who disagree with the principles behind Velo South. Be heard against a democratic deficit and fight for something better.