Crowd control or management is an important part of a risk management plan. Crowd control can be done by hard or soft fencing, course tape, or man power depending on the size of the crowd, and prevents spectators and cyclists from crossing paths which is dangerous for both parties.
The start and finish areas are usually high in spectator traffic and should have crowd control. Fencing can be expensive, but it is your responsibility as race director to keep spectators and racers safe and separated. There are many fencing suppliers that rent fencing to events so shop around for the cheapest. You may be able to get a better rental rate if you group your order with another event. Also some cities may have barricades you can use. Check with your local sports commission.
Other locations where crowd control is necessary are the exciting areas of the course. For cyclo-cross races this might be near the run up and for a mountain bike race this could be near the technical sections. Use two rows of course tape here so people can’t squeeze under the top tape. In some cases where there are high speeds and technical parts of the course a double row of barricades are necessary to create a buffer from a rider flying over the first set of fencing and into the crowd. You may want to create specific spectator zones, highlighted on the course map and website, to direct spectators to highlighted parts of the course and keeping spectators from areas you where don’t want them.
Course marshals are a wonderful asset to your crowd control methods. Spectators don’t always look before they walk and having course marshals can prevent accidents. Course marshals should be placed at course crossings to manage spectators. Give your course marshals traffic vests or bright t-shirts for visibility to spectators other materials they need can be whistles, radios, and training to provide the best risk management for the event. Ensuring a designated crosswalk is narrow enough for a course marshal to block entirely gives them full control over that crosswalk.
Another place to put some crowd control measures or fencing is around the equipment pits and finish line stage. It is important to keep spectators out of the pit where athletes have equipment and mechanics are working. The finish line stage separation is important so officials and other technical personnel can do their work without interruption.
Not only is crowd management important during normal event operations, but also in the time of an emergency. Controlling a crowd while getting medical on scene or during an evacuation is where planning ahead is a best practice. If you are serving alcohol at your event, hiring professional security personnel is a good idea. They can deal with any person who is behaving inappropriately or dangerously leaving you to take care of the event. Check with you liquor authority for state by state laws.