Triathlon fails to get permit OK for bike race
County cites safety, traffic concerns
Published August 04, 2008
The county has denied the Annapolis Triathlon permits required for its bike race next month.
A letter to triathlon officials said county police and traffic engineering "determined that the bike race route would unduly disturb the safety and convenience of the public. Therefore ... the license cannot be issued." But race organizers still have another option - they can submit an alternative.
The parade license was but one of the permissions triathlon organizers were required to secure.
Race officials, reacting to traffic woes after last year's race, moved the planned Sept. 7 event out to Sandy Point State Park, where swimming and running contests would be held this year. The bicycle race portion of the competition was scheduled to wind its way through St. Margarets into Annapolis, out Route 2 to College Parkway and back to Sandy Point. But like the aftermath of last year's race when Annapolis churches complained that the race hindered church traffic, county churches complained that this year's Sunday morning race would interfere with their parishioners' access to church services.
Race organizers could not be reached for this story.
Inspections and Permits Director Betty Dixon, who signed the letter informing race officials the permit was denied, said the size of the race and its protracted time frame raised safety issues.
"Both our police and traffic engineering staff had serious concerns. How they can keep traffic flowing on major arterials like Route 2 and College Parkway is problematic," she said.
The county also heard from a couple of churches in the area that already have traffic issues without the race.
County Chief Administrative Officer Dennis Callahan said this morning that an informal poll of area business indicated "they were 100 percent against the race. Public safety was the overriding issue, but local businesses did not want it.
Ms. Dixon added "The professionals who look at these things have serious concerns about public safety and the safety of the racers themselves. We had no other choice but to deny their request for a permit."
But race organizers can come back with an alternative course, she said.
"We recommended they come in with an alternative course. Very often that will happen. We would review it like any other request." The churches' concerns were also a part of the decision, she said. The Rev. Stephen Tisinger, pastor of Christ Our Anchor Presbyterian Church just off College Parkway, said their concern was strictly the Sunday morning timing. "We are glad the county heard our concerns, but they had more concerns than just the concerns of the faith community, which were a small part of the total issues."
Should the race be moved to Saturday next year he said he would support it. "I would encourage my congregation to run in it."
And, this email:
It is unfortunate that we (the race organizers) are writing this letter to let you know of a decision that has been made regarding the 2008 Annapolis Triathlon. In short, we have received notice that our permit to have the bike portion of the race was denied, and despite our efforts, the County is not convinced that we are going to be able to launch a triathlon event which would be safe for the participants and have minimal impact on County residents. While we are extremely disappointed in this late breaking decision, we (the race organizers) want to take a positive stance, avoid negativity and not place blame while we continue to build on creating great synergy and growth for our sport in Annapolis .