Council May Cap Road Races

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The number of road races in Raleigh is putting a strain on city resources, forcing City Councilors to consider a fee increase and a cap on the number run each year.

Members of the Raleigh City Council could vote as early as next week to cap road races at 100 per year. Eighty events are scheduled this year.

The City’s Law and Public Safety Committee Tuesday approved a new policy that would govern how road races are approved, managed and funded. The Council must still approve the policy before it takes effect.

As the popularity of these walks and runs have increased, the City has felt the strain on resources, namely police officers. Raleigh residents who live along popular race routes are becoming more frustrated with weekend detours and delays in their neighborhoods.

Nonprofits use road races as fundraisers and the City relies on some, such as the City of Oaks marathon, as an economic boost.

The new policy was a shot at a compromise.

Runners jog through the Oakwood neighborhood in downtown Raleigh in February 2011. Photo by Karen Tam.

Karen Tam

Runners jog through the Oakwood neighborhood in downtown Raleigh in February 2011. Photo by Karen Tam.

We’ve posted the full policy below, but here are some highlights:

Event Cap
Assistant City Manager Daniel Howe said that the City has about 80 road races and walks scheduled for this year.

After looking at similar cities, like Charlotte and Atlanta, Howe said staff came up with an event cap of 100. This cap would include essentially anything that closes a road down for a period of time, including parades.

Music festivals and street fairs don’t count toward the cap.

With parades, the city is close to that limit, with about 90 events. Any more than 100, Howe said, would start becoming unmanageable.

Performance Rating
First-time events would get a performance rating that will help staff evaluate a particular race. The basis of this rating is not whether the event was popular, but whether event organizers did everything they were supposed to do. The rating will be tied to deadlines, commitments and other requirements listed on the application form.

These scores will help staff schedule races.

Event organizers can file applications on a rolling basis up to three months before the requested date, which is reserved on a first-come-first-serve basis.

To mediate scheduling conflicts, priority will be given to the event with the highest performance rating.

No more than four events will be scheduled on the same weekend and no more than two of these events can be a major event, like a 10K or anything closing roads for more than three hours. Events following a similar route won’t be allowed to schedule on subsequent days or weekends. The exception is downtown, where these will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

The City Council has final say on when events can be scheduled.

The policy would also allow for a multi-year contract for up to three years.

Road races will continue to be managed by the Raleigh Police Department. For events scheduled downtown and in the Hillsborough Street area, the Downtown Events Task Force and the Hillsborough Street Events Task Force will take on managing the event after the initial application is made with the police department.

Most of the new policies were eagerly accepted by residents and event organizers, with the exception of a $350 per-mile fee for use of a city greenway.

Race organizer John Kane said he isn’t in favor of the fee because the greenways still remain open to the public and that tax-paying citizens run in his races. If the race fees increase, organizers will have to pass those costs to the runners.

“That could be a fairly substantial hit on the economics of that race,” Howe said of how the fee could affect smaller races.

The fees are intended to cover the preparation of the greenway for the race, including mowing, cleanup, repairs and inspection of the paths. Parks and Recreation staff said $350 per mile is comparable to what the city is spending on that maintenance.

Races run on the greenways do not require event organizers to pay a fee for off-duty police officers to come in manage the race.

The Parks and Rec department is also looking at designated 5K routes that could be used for a rental fee, much like the city’s ballparks.

Law and Public Safety Committee members decided approve the policy, but held off on the $350 greenway fee so that parks staff could come back with more definitive numbers about how waiving that fee would affect their overall budget.

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