In my story on BikeBiz.com, Peter Hounam of ACRE (short for Anti-Closed Road Event) answered my email about his organisation’s opposition to the Etape Caledonia. But he didn’t answer all of the questions. Here they are:
I’m doing a story on the Etape Caledonia. Would you mind answering a few questions?
1. You’ve been quoted saying local businesses are impacted by the rolling road closure. Is this not very much offset by the money spent in the local economy in the run up to the event, with many of the riders booking hotels and eating in restaurants etc? Your family’s coffee house may have even done a roaring trade because of all the cyclists (one on the link below said he bought chocolates… [NOTE: Peter Hounam’s son-in-law is a chocolate maker based in Grandtully on the route of the Etape Caledonia)
2. Do you believe the Etape Caledonia is a race for the majority of entrants?
3. In what way do you believe the event to be illegal?
4. Clearly, highways are, by definition, thoroughfares for access, and closure of such rights of way is a restriction on free access. However, closure for the Etape Caledonia is for a limited time only. Road closures by themselves are not illegal: if two cars crashed head-on on the road through Grandtully, the police may temporarily suspend access on this road. What is the difference between these two types of temporary access restrictions?
5. I am aware of your background with the Sunday Times and the Vanunu expose and the budget leak etc. As an award-winning investigative journalist you have experience with taking on ‘the powers that be’ and winning. When and why do you think you will be successful in blocking the Etape Caledonia?
6. On The Courier website a commenter from Leeds said: “If the local people are so against it then who were all the lovely people stood by the roadside cheering, waving flags and playing the bagpipes?” What do you say to that?
7. As a percentage, how many locals as a whole are against Etape Caledonia? How about tourism-related locals, how many B&B owners and hoteliers are against the Etape Caledonia?
His answer to these seven questions was:
“Please feel free to use what I said to the Courier. You should practice asking open not loaded questions. We shall be issuing our arguments on legality when ready but they do not have permission to race only to run a trial and it is no longer that for many participants. Why not investigate this yourself. No more to add.”
The BikeBiz story has many more details. Pic by Simon Willis.