As Raleigh leaders debate new restrictions on road races and street closures, the request from neighborhood residents, businesses and churches is simple: Fewer street closures and better notification of detours.
But for race organizers, the big worry is that new restrictions could come with huge costs: the loss of a prime date on the calendar or a desirable race course. For charity events, that could mean fewer participants and less money raised for the cause.
Veteran race directors Jim Micheels (City of Oaks Marathon) and Paula O’Neal (RunRaleigh Races) have contacted the city council with a few suggestions:
• Don’t allow any new races in sections of the city that already have a high volume of street closures – even if the requested date is available. According to the city’s records, 27 races and parades will close downtown streets this year. About 16 will snarl traffic in the Hillsborough Street area, and North Hills and Oakwood will be impacted seven times each. Despite the 100-event cap and other restrictions established last year, those numbers are down only slightly from 2013.
• Reduce fees for events that close streets for a short period of time, rather than basing the fee structure off the length of the race. O’Neal also takes issue with the city charging both an application fee and a permit fee and said that only the application charge is needed.
• Rather than ask race directors to work out conflicting routes and dates themselves, have city officials help find minor tweaks that can address the conflict.
• Allow races to reserve dates for a multi-year period. That arrangement was provided for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, and other races say it would help secure sponsorships.