A 2014 Commonwealth Games team has been stopped by the police. Four Sri Lankan cyclists were spotted using the M74 as their training ground, leading to police stopping them for breaking the law. Instead of arresting the team members, the police gave a warning and explained the law.
In the United Kingdom, the motorways are for vehicles only. It is extremely dangerous for those in stationary cars on the hard shoulder, let alone cyclists. Learner drivers are not even allowed to drive on the motorways due to the speed and danger on the roads.
The M74 is one of the busiest motorways in Scotland. It connects from the M6 in England and is the direct route straight to Glasgow. For foreigners it likely would seem to be the perfect training ground for cycling as the roads are often straight and pothole free—although there are exceptions. The motorway is also very close to Strathclyde Park, which is where the triathlon event will take place today and tomorrow.
Triathletes from the English team, Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee, could not help but capture the cycling event on camera. It was then tweeted by Jonathon who joked that it “is a nice wide road.” While it is amusing looking back, it was extremely dangerous and just shows the need for team members to understand the laws in the countries they are visiting. This would even apply to UK nationals when visiting countries overseas for other games and events.
The Sri Lankan 2014 Commonwealth Games team members were lucky to just get stopped by the police. They could have been arrested or fined. Police Scotland has confirmed that they were just loaded into a team van and taken to somewhere they could legally ride and train.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. During the Manchester Commonwealth Games, the Kenyan team were stopped for cycling on the M61 around Bolton. This event involved two members of the team, who spoke good English and explained they had cycled on the same road the day before without being stopped. They were also very shocked because it is legal to ride on motorways in Kenya.
In 1991, an African sportsman was also training on a Sheffield motorway in preparation for the World Student Games. Twenty years later in 2011 a man was found cycling across the M62 in West Yorkshire!
The legal speed on a motorway is 70mph. While some will drive at 50-60mph, there are some who will drive at 80mph or more (illegally). It is extremely dangerous for anybody on bike or foot to be on these roads, whether they are training for the 2014 Commonwealth Games or not.
It really does raise the need for those competing in games to learn the rules of the country before they go. While it will be difficult to learn all, learning the basics about the roads, age-restrictions and expected behavior are ones that are not unrealistic to expect. It would have prevented the 2014 Commonwealth Games Sri Lankan team from getting stopped by police for cycling on the motorway.
By Alexandria Ingham