Spectator numbers were up at this year’s Cycling Australia Road National Championships, with a 10 per cent increase at the Friday night criterium and a 30 per cent increase in participation.
Cycling Australia representatives are happy with the results, saying 20,000 people attended across the weekend.
An estimated 7500 people made it out on Friday, with the crowd building in the evening after a 40-degree afternoon.
The criteriums moved to the Friday this year, before the road races on the weekend and time trials on Monday and Tuesday.
The para-cycling events, incorporated into the main program, were another drawcard, as were new events like the fixed gear crit and the community festival on Saturday.
There were more than 1600 people who entered the event, and more than 500 people attended the free outdoor movie screening on Saturday.
Meetings will begin soon for the 2020 event.
Buninyong business owner Alison Rickard said the consultation was drastically improved this year, between organisers, the City of Ballarat, and community members.
“The cycling community felt more welcome, the town had a welcoming feel about it,” she said.
“The film night was fantastic, and we look forward to a bigger and better event next year.”
City of Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh agreed.
“Our beautiful city of Ballarat and the village of Buninyong were put on a national and international stage,” she said.
“It’s also great to see our Creative City Strategy, although still in draft form, starting to have an impact with the artistically presented bike sculptures around the town as part of the Ballarat Art Bikes project.”
The attendance figures, and calculating the economic impact, is achieved by an independent third-party data gathering company who use face-to-face assisted surveying and live head counting techniques, commissioned by Cycling Australia – full results are yet to be released.
“I don’t want to see a fatality before someone makes it a priority.”
After more than a dozen years of Australia’s top cyclists, and tourists from around the world, taking on the national championships course, it’s time for the Yendon Number One Road and Mt Buninyong Road intersection to get fixed - that’s the message that Buninyong business owner Alison Rickard wants people to hear.
“It’s not wide enough for the traffic that’s already on there, even just cars,” she said.
“We do have heavy vehicles using it, and you add a cyclist to that, it’s a recipe for disaster.”
As the town grows, more people are using the rural roads for their daily commutes to Ballarat or Federation University, and according to Ms Rickard, the community has noticed the surface deteriorate and shoulders become looser.
That’s a worry when the road is also part of the Cycling Australia Road National Championships.
“The road surface is not getting any better, and as the race becomes more successful and we draw more crowds and people who want to visit and ride the course, the town itself is becoming busier,” Ms Rickard said.
Ms Rickard added the proposal to repair the intersection is supported by the City of Ballarat - the council noted the course met safety standards for road surfaces and corners at an appropriate level for cycling, working closely with Cycling Australia.
Specific hotspots like loose edging and potholes received additional attention to ensure rider safety.
Cr McIntosh said she hoped the course would be in use for “decades”.
“We’re responsible for 1600 kilometres of bitumen roads and 300 kilometres of gravel roads, but we only get 3 per cent of taxes,” she said.
“This race is on an iconic course, and we think it can host the event for decades.
“To upgrade the intersection would cost about $1 million – this is an ideal project the state and federal governments could come together for a major infrastructure response.
“(Cycling experts) spruik this internationally-known course – it deserves the highest level of attention, and it’s an opportunity to have a conversation with state and federal colleagues about a broader response.
“Everyone deserves the chance to have a go (on the national course), and we want people to cycle safely.”
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