Cyclists turning town’s streets into racetracks

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A former international cyclist has slammed a website and phone app which he fears encourages riders to turn the roads of Chorley into racetracks.

Peter Ward, one of the men behind the Guild Wheel project at Preston, has warned unofficial time trials on open roads in the town could prove fatal.

California-based Strava, which allows riders to time themselves against others over measured sections of the road network using their mobile phone GPS systems, has hundreds of members across Lancashire.

Each day scores hit the saddle trying to set the fastest time and earn themselves top spot on the leaderboard.

One of the most popular trials is a 1.2km stretch tagged the Chorley A6 Sprint which comprises Shepherds Way, Clifford Street, Bengal Street and Water Street and has already attracted almost 1,000 would-be Bradley Wiggins to test their speed.

Another, a 5.3km route named A6 to Tesco Roundabout, has been attempted 1,433 times, with Horwich rider “Paul R” covering it in under eight minutes at an average speed of more than 40 km per hour.

And a 300-metre charge up Cowling Brow has been ridden more than 3,000 times against the clock, with the fastest so far bursting the tape in just 27 seconds.

“I’m all for cycle racing, it’s a terrific sport,” said Peter Ward who was awarded the MBE for services to cycling last year.

“But it has to be in controlled circumstances and, from the sound of it, there aren’t any safeguards doing it this way. You never know when a pedestrian or a car is going to come out in front of you. I dread to think what could happen if there was a collision. Someone could be killed.

“To me these cyclists are just posers. If they want to race and see how they compare to other riders then there are plenty of organised races, especially time trials, they could enter for which are properly marshalled and supervised.

“It is the same on the Guild Wheel at Preston. That is a 21-mile course around the city which was designed as a leisure route, not a race track. Yet these cyclists are bombing round there trying to set the best time and putting other people in danger.”

A spokesman for Strava was unavailable for comment ahead of publication.