Gran Fondo World Championship road race traffic chaos anger


Cyclists power on the Zig Zag stretch of the race in Gooseberry Hill. Picture: Bruce Hunt
Cyclists power on the Zig Zag stretch of the race in Gooseberry Hill. Picture: Bruce Hunt

SWAN Hills Labor candidate Jessica Shaw has added her voice to the public outcry over traffic chaos caused by the “mismanagment” of a major cycle event on Sunday.

She said the CIC Events-managed Gran Fondo World Championship road race represented a missed opportunity for the community and visitors to the Hills.

“The route chosen for the qualifier event caused significant traffic problems, major inconvenience for locals and loss of revenue for local businesses,” she said.

She said major arterial roads through the Hills, including Toodyay Road – one of WA’s most dangerous routes – were closed to make way for the state-sponsored Tourism WA event.

Access for fire and other emergency services caused anxiety for residents as the mercury rose above 40C across the eastern suburbs.

Toodyay Road is a transit route for Sunday deliveries of cattle through to Muchea and access to the Red Hill rubbish facility and riding schools.

“Local residents were cut off from the only local vet, access to feed stores, fuel, hardware and farm services and other supplies,” Ms Shaw said.

“Many people were trapped on their properties – I was locked in a driveway on Stoneville Road for hours.”

She said poorly advertised road closures did not reflect the outlined plans.

“People turned up to roads advertised as open, only to then sit and swelter in their cars at a road block,” she said.

“I can only imagine how hard it must have been for parents with kids in the car.”

Ms Shaw said people missed flights, job interviews and important appointments.

“I’ve heard some local businesses lost between 30-50 per cent of their usual trade,” she said.

Residents contacted the Gazette to vent their anger over animals stranded in livestock trucks and trapped for hours in the traffic congestion.

“The situation became so bad the police and rangers had to intervene,” Ms Shaw said..

Swan Hills MLA Frank Alban conceded the cycle race “was not handled well” and has asked for a “review” before the final race in September.

He said he had taken constituent concerns to Transport Minister Dean Nalder and the director general of Transport.

Midland Hospital pathology courier Heather Minchin, of Mt Helena, arrived an hour and 20 minutes late for work after trying “every which way” to avoid the traffic congestion.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed,” Ms Minchin said.

“Roads supposed to be closed from 5am to 8am were back-to-back with cars after 9am.”

She said the drive to Midland would normally take 20 minutes, but the journey had lasted two hours. Ms Minchin said only two couriers worked on Sundays across the metro area.

“It was just a nightmare; I was forced to cancel a couple of appointments,” she said.

“At one point, a driver in front of me threatened to break through a road barrier… I felt so sorry for the flag monitors who couldn’t do anything but apologise.”

Ms Minchin is calling on the Government to say what the event cost taxpayers in policing and “traffic-management”.

CIC Events was unavailable when contacted by the Gazette and WA Police declined to comment, saying they were not in charge of the event.

MAIN ROADS RESPONSE TO CYCLE EVENT CRITICISM

MAIN Roads WA released a statement about the traffic chaos caused by last weekend’s Gran Fondo World Tour event.

Main Roads said it had given ample notice of the event taking place, and unforeseen factors such as hot weather caused delays.

“Main Roads incident management team worked closely with event organisers, transport, police, traffic management to ensure the event was co-ordinated, and impacts minimised,” the statement said.

“Based on previous events of this size, additional Main Roads staff was rostered to work at Main Roads’ Traffic Operations Centre throughout the weekend.

“Main Roads apologises to those whose travel was impacted the cycle event.

“The event course was very large (over 140km) and impacted key metropolitan roads resulting in significant road closures, which led to traffic congestion and made individual travel communication difficult.

“The extreme weather conditions also made it difficult for the cycling participants to complete the course in a timely fashion, which in turn impacted on the ability of traffic management authorities to re-open roads as scheduled.

“Main Roads developed a communications plan to support the communications provided by the event owners and event organiser, to inform the public about road closures.

“Main Roads recommended motorists plan ahead to avoid delays and allow extra travelling time.

“This was done through radio traffic broadcasts, social media and electronic road signage; the event organiser provided radio and newspaper advertising.”