Midlothian triathlon called off over cyclist fears

The reportedly dangerous junction where Cousland Road meets the A6124. Picture: Google Maps
The reportedly dangerous junction where Cousland Road meets the A6124. Picture: Google Maps
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A POPULAR triathlon has been axed to avoid a “dangerous” ruling which would have seen cyclists forced to stop at red lights.

Refunds will be paid to 360 athletes who learned last Friday that the Midlothian Sprint – which has run for at least ten years – would be called off amid police fears about the route and concern cyclists would try to “jump” red lights.

The event – which centres on Dalkeith and sees entrants take on a 750-metre swim, 20km cycle and 5km run – was cast into doubt last week after a police sergeant for the area expressed concern about the safety of the cycle circuit.

Each year cyclists have bypassed the six sets of lights on the route along Cousland Road and the A6124 by using a coned lane through red traffic lights on both laps.

In an e-mail to triathletes, race organisers said: “Since April 12 [we] have been working to come up with a safe course which is acceptable to the police.

“Unfortunately, there is no alternative option and no agreement could be found. Triathlon Scotland has advised us that the original course is acceptable as long as cyclists obey the Highway Code and stop at all red lights [six sets on each lap]. We fear that going ahead this year the race would quickly become a farce, lead to packs forming at the lights, ill-tempered motorists and cyclists and could be dangerous.”

It is understood next year’s event could also be under threat unless safety issues can be resolved.

A spokeswoman for Triathlon Scotland, the national governing body for triathlon, duathlon and multi-sport, said: “We don’t want to see any races being cancelled and we made suggestions to try to retain the race.”

Bruce Kidd, one of the organisers, said doubts over insurance cover ultimately put paid to tomorrow’s race.

He said: “The governing body felt the event could go ahead with people stopping at lights after looking at what British Triathlon had said.

“We weren’t really persuaded that the insurance would cover us. Racing round a course that has traffic lights is dangerous. If you see a red light athletes will try to race to it and it’s inviting an accident.”

Margot Russell, councillor for Dalkeith, said she was “disappointed” no agreement could be reached. She said: “It is sad as we want to try to encourage people to keep fit and healthy and it was good for the area. It has been running for quite a few years so it is disappointing it has been cancelled.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said they objected “due to concerns for the safety of cyclists” and a suggested alternative route had been “turned down”.