Is your behaviour as a motocross fan up to scratch?
It’s probably something we should all think about, especially when we consider that our beloved sport is actually very much a minority one on a world scale and most members of the general public probably have no appreciation of what a colourful, vibrant and exciting adrenaline rush it can be.
Neither do they appreciate that the racers are world class athletes, that the machinery is state-of-the-art or indeed that there are hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide who do take it very seriously.
To many people in the wider community, motorcycle racers are often seen merely as tattooed larrikin petrol-heads and their associated fans as just noisy hooligans.
So let us try to think about the impressions formed when outside observers see MX fans tossing beer cans down the road, see them leaving behind ripped-up tent debris or see them tearing down public fences … and this is something the BikesportNZ.com crew has witnessed at major MX events overseas.
No matter where it is held, the big annual Motocross of Nations, the “Olympic Games of motocross”, will probably have an impact on mainstream life and the mostly-disinterested general public will have their opinions further shaped by what they witness at or near the venue.
The 2017 Motocross of Nations will be staged at Matterley Basin, near Winchester, in south-western England, on the weekend of September 30-October 1, and the local media has been quick to pick up on it.
Here’s an excerpt from local newspaper, The Hampshire Chronicle, from a few days ago … under the tag line “A three-day motocross event near Winchester will go ahead despite objections from residents.”
THE ARTICLE READS …
“The Motocross des Nations event is due to take place near Alresford.
“Organisers have been granted a licence to play live and recorded music and serve alcohol from 7pm-2am for the three days the ‘Olympics of Motocross’ will take place from September 29-October 1, at Ovington Down Farm.
“The race’s organisers SD Events said that the entertainment, similar to previous Motocross Grand Prix events at the nearby Matterley Bowl, would serve as a means to manage the 15,000-strong crowds after the days racing had concluded, keeping spectators on site and stopping them looking for entertainment elsewhere.
“However, several residents in the nearby village of Cheriton objected to the proposed entertainments which would produce similar levels of noise to the Boomtown Festival. They argued that the disturbance would be much greater as the event would be nearer to Cheriton, Beauworth and Kilmeston and that the different topography of the land would cause more disturbance than BoomTown.
“At a licensing sub-committee review of the application, representatives from SD Events said that there would be measures put in place to minimise any disturbance to residents including angling speakers towards the audience, the staged reduction of noise levels from 11pm, providing a telephone number for residents to report to any disturbances to, as well as members from the council’s environmental health team monitoring noise levels from the event.
“Concerns were also raised over the use of a PA system and the sounds of motorbikes. The organisers made assurances that the system and bikes would only heard during races each day from 12-4pm.
“Retired magistrate David Pain, who objected to late on the grounds of preventing a public nuisance due to the late end time and noise levels, asked members of the sub-committee ‘whose environmental health were they actually looking after?’
“The committee concluded that the short period of the disruption and the steps taken by the organisers to minimise noise disruption to residents were sufficient to allow a license to be granted.”
Meanwhile, in an earlier story published in the same local newspaper, with the headline: “Residents lash ‘mosquito’ noise motocross” …
“Angry residents have hit out at highly controversial plans to host motocross near Winchester.
“They slammed the noise created by races at Three Maids Hill north of the city saying it spoiled their peace and was ‘like a mosquito in your ear’.
“Residents of South Wonston and Littleton were speaking at a two-day inquiry into Winchester City Council’s refusal to allow motocross to continue at the site.
“Cllr Stephen Godfrey, of Downs Road, South Wonston, said: ‘We got used to the background noise and the hum of the A34 and the occasional plane overhead.
“‘But for five years we had constant irritation of this very extraordinary sound. It was an alarming, demanding noise, which impacted on whatever we were doing.
“‘Some of us inside were able to ignore it but some are incapable of putting it out their minds, it’s like having a mosquito in your ear, requiring you to act.’
“Peter Highfield, of Holm Oak Close, Littleton, said he had moved to the village from St Giles’s Hill 11 years ago for a quieter life.
“‘Peace ended with the coming of the motocross,” he said. ‘The intermittent, high-pitched sound of revving motorcycles often spoiled conversation in our garden and the former tranquillity of the countryside that we value highly was often shattered.’
“Brian Middleton, of Main Road, Littleton, said: “We find this noise to be much louder than the nearby roads such as the A34, it’s very frustrating for us that a great source of noise is happening just beyond the village’s northern boundary.”
“Applicant Tony Child had asked WCC for permanent permission to host motocross after a five-year temporary licence expired in April 2009. But planning members unanimously rejected the plans last July saying the noise issues could not be overcome.
“Simon Randle, barrister for Three Maids Motocross, appealed to planning inspector Kay Sheffield to give fair weight to those who enjoy the sport and those that are affected by the noise.
“He said: ‘In a place such as this, where there is already noise from the A34, M3 and no doubt other local roads in the area, hearing the motocross is not the question. It is: does it give rise to an impact that makes it unacceptable?
“‘No one is suggesting, nor has it ever been suggested, that the motocross will not be heard.
“‘Merely hearing does not make it unacceptable. The mere fact you can hear something is not the test.'”
OUR PLEA TO FANS:
So it seems the MXoN at Matterley Basin won’t be popular with all the nearby residents.
BikesportNZ.com makes this appeal to the fans – Please don’t give them any more reasons to hate us or to curb the sport we love.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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