RideLondon, the event that will bring thousands of spectators to the district next weekend, could be held for five years, organisers have said.

Over 900 people have already signed a petition called "Stop RideLondon through Dunmow & surrounding villages".

The petition says the event should not close major routes in the area during the May Bank Holiday weekend each year.

Unhappy shop owners say they have had little information and fear losing customers, and a florist has felt forced to cancel deliveries on that day.

Concerns multiplied when yellow signage went up, wrongly stating that Dunmow's High Street would be closed all day for two days. A black bin liner now covers the wrong information.

Some residents have received booklets through their doors that warn they have to move their cars off the route, or face having them towed.

Essex County Council has referred all queries to RideLondon which has disputed there has been a lack of consultation, pointing to 860,000 leaflets delivered through doors, drop-in sessions, and an "extensive" awareness campaign.

Dunmow Broadcast: Great Dunmow mayor Patrick LavelleGreat Dunmow mayor Patrick Lavelle (Image: Saffron Photo 2021)

Great Dunmow mayor Patrick Lavelle said the event, which will impact the district on Saturday May 28 and Sunday May 29, has produced mixed feelings.

"We are pleased the organisers of RideLondon have recognised the beauty of Dunmow and included it in their route for both the elite lady cyclists and the general route.

"However, we are disappointed and annoyed by the poor communication and especially the incorrect and inappropriate signage that implied that Dunmow is closed on the Saturday and the Sunday.

"Dunmow town and High Street will be open on both days, with some restrictions at certain times."

Cllr Lavelle said on Saturday, May 28 there will be a period of 15 minutes where Dunmow High Street is closed between noon and 1pm as the elite riders come through.

Cllr Lavelle said on Sunday, May 29 there will be a very limited closure to Ongar Road, Chelmsford Road and Braintree Road.

He added: "We are looking to use the event to encourage our residents to cycle and to be more active and we will have stalls on the Sunday morning, with mechanics able to help with the services of bikes and encouraging people to take up cycling again.

"Dunmow is not closed. We are open. We are going to see this event through our town, it's going to be wonderful as an opportunity for people to see the riders."

Shop owner Nikki Anthony at ladies boutique Wardrobe said she had not been aware of the Foakes Hall meeting about RideLondon, despite being on social media extensively, had not received an information booklet, and it was hard to get clarity on the plans.

"It's just a shambles. Apparently, nobody has to agree the road closures, they [RideLondon] can close what they like."

Nikki said she feared the event will not help the High Street, which has fought to retain customers for two years through the pandemic.

Heather Bartels of jewellery shop Heather B Designs said they'd had no consultation or information, and the wrong sign had been taped over with a bin liner.

But she did not expect the day to generate business like last year's summer market.

Stephanie Harris of The Rose Garden florist has felt forced to have no deliveries to customers on Saturday, May 28.

"I can't figure out what roads are open and closed. The RideLondon website says which roads are closed but not the timings."

Stephanie said the problem is compounded by road signs which have different timings, adding to the problem.

She is also "livid" that potholes are now only getting fixed - for the riders.

A RideLondon spokesperson said they had carried out extensive consultation.

"The full routes for RideLondon-Essex were announced in February.

"At the same time a Save the Date letter was sent via Royal Mail to all addresses in the postcodes on the routes (total of 860,000).

"This was followed up in late April with a leaflet (also sent to 860,000 addresses) giving full details of the road closures in Essex.

"Since February, RideLondon’s engagement team has been working alongside Essex County Council and other local authorities to discuss the plans for the event in communities on the route and to discuss local access needs and plans.

"A total of 16 drop-in sessions have been held at various locations in Essex during April and May.

"A drop-in session was held in Foakes Hall on Tuesday, May 3, hosted by RideLondon and Active Essex, representing Essex County Council.

"This was advertised via posters and social media. The event was also promoted on Essex County Council’s website.

"The drop-in session enabled us to share our plans, discuss local access arrangements and listen to any concerns raised by residents or businesses.

"Any concerns raised have been followed up directly with the individuals concerned.

"There were also many people who attended the drop-in session who were excited by the plans and looking forward to the town welcoming RideLondon events on Saturday May 28 and Sunday May 29.

"The plans shared at the drop-in session included the Community Access Plan which allows vehicles to exit the town every 30 minutes."

The statement added: "Road closure information leaflets were placed on vehicles parked on the route last weekend and this process will be repeated this weekend.

"Approximately 800 highway signs have been placed around the route in addition to an extensive print, digital and radio awareness campaign in Essex.

"We are aware that the incorrect closure time was originally on signs in Great Dunmow. We apologise for that error and it has been corrected."

There is road closure information online at: https://www.ridelondon.co.uk/road-closures/road-closure-information

It states that more than 100 miles of road closures will be in place on Sunday, May 29 for the mass participation rides, significantly impacting Uttlesford as well as Chelmsford and Epping Forest.

Access to Stansted Airport is not directly affected but people should plan ahead.

Emergency vehicles will be treated as a priority in the usual way.

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “RideLondon has sought an agreement with Essex County Council for the event to be held in Essex for five years, starting in 2022.”

The routes for RideLondon 2022

The three-day UCI Women’s WorldTour road race, RideLondon Classique, takes place from Friday, May 27 to Sunday, May 29 across London and Essex.

Stage two's RideLondon Classique route, on Saturday, May 28, starts in Chelmsford and covers Felsted, Finchingfield, Great Sampford, Thaxted, Little Easton, Great Dunmow, Leaden Roding, North Weald and finishes at Epping.

RideLondon-Essex 100 takes place on Sunday, May 29.

It sets off from Victoria Embankment in central London and into Essex, covering Ongar, Fyfield, the Rodings and Great Dunmow, before joining a section of the 2014 Stage Three Tour de France route.

Riders will go through Felsted, around Chelmsford, Writtle, then back to Ongar and central London.

RideLondon-Essex 60 takes place, on Sunday, May 29. This is its first year.

Starting in central London on Victoria Embankment, riders will head to Epping Forest, then Ongar before turning around and heading back into central London for the Tower Bridge finish point.

RideLondon-Essex 30 is on Sunday, May 29.

It starts at London's Victoria Embankment, heads to Woodford near the Essex border and returns. The ride is designed for those who are new to cycling.

RideLondon FreeCycle is a traffic-free eight-mile central London bike route. It takes place on Sunday, May 29.

See more at https://www.ridelondon.co.uk/


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