ONE of the highlights of Tasmanian cycling has been cancelled this year, for the first time in its 111-year history.
Organiser Ray Slater said the Launceston City Cycling Club had to call the $7000 Launceston-Hobart race off after Tasmania Police refused permission to race on the Midland Highway.
Mr Slater has been the race’s driving force since 1972, putting in about 100 hours of his time each year — while his tax accountancy business has donated prize money of $1000 a race.
Mr Slater, 78, said his unsuccessful battle with Tasmania Police to secure a permit this year caused him nightmares.
“It hurt very much when they said no,” he said.
Mr Slater said permits had been harder to come by since a fatal North-West Coast accident, involving a truck and young cyclist in 2004.
He said former police commissioner Richard McCreadie issued a permit last year but less senior employees had been less sympathetic this year.
Mr Slater said draft guidelines borrowed from NSW did not allow races on 110km/h highway sections, unless there were extenuating circumstances. He said his argument, that the race’s history was an extenuating circumstance, got nowhere.
He said that to his knowledge no Launceston-Hobart competitor had suffered an incident involving a motor vehicle.
He said he had offered to shorten the route to Brighton and switch the race day to AFL grand final day, when roads were quieter, to no avail.
He said he was determined to get the race up again next year.
“I will become a politician if I have to,” he said.
Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Tom Tully yesterday confirmed that cycle race guidelines excluded race permits on 110km/h roads.
Mr Tully said his department understood the race had “considerable history but is of the view that the safety issues associated with conducting a race for 25-50 cyclists over the length of the Midland Highway outweighs those considerations”.
“The guidelines were designed to maximise the safety of cyclists and other road users during a race and were adopted after consultation with the cycling fraternity in Tasmania,” he said
Note: I think it show’s poor vision on the part of the Police Force. This race has a long history and it’s worth remembering that the cyclists plying this route have been doing so for 111 years.. that’s just a few longer than the cars. Drop the speed limit to 100km for the day Commissioner Tulley? >:(