Tour de France road closures could be avoided

The Tour de France comes to Britain this weekend, starting in Yorkshire then moving down to Cambridge and London.

Cycling fans will enjoy the spectacle, but the race will also cause considerable disruption and inconvenience to travellers and residents. Some people could almost be trapped in their homes by the road closures (for example, those with mobility problems who rely on cars and buses).

For large numbers who do not enjoy cycle racing there will be significant costs but few if any benefits. Yet, it seems that no compensation will be paid to those negatively affected.

To add insult to injury, taxpayers are being forced to spend millions hosting the race. And worse still, the BBC and the cycling lobby are already exploiting it to promote ill-conceived and economically damaging transport policies.

Such sporting events are telling examples of the state throwing its weight around and disregarding the costs imposed on individuals and businesses. As long as governments control the roads, politicians and officials will continue to impose their transport diktats on the wider population.

By contrast, roads under voluntary ownership would face strong incentives not to allow such disruption. On commercially operated roads, closures could mean fewer customers and less revenue. The interests of users and owners would be closely aligned and there would be a clear trade-off against potential revenues from any special event.

On local roads controlled by residents and businesses, small communities could decide for themselves whether to allow organisers to use their infrastructure, subject to pre-existing contractual rules on denial of access.

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