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Government says Belfast cycle lanes blocked by parked cars are merely “advisory”; Albert-oh no! Bettiol's blunder; Teslas in Tunnels expands; Fuel prices and the psychology of habits; Hayter decimates the Baby Giro; Bardet's back + more on the live blog

Just like the inevitable Jumbo-Visma attack on a summit finish, it’s Monday again – and Ryan Mallon is here with all the latest cycling news and views on the first live blog of the week…
13 June 2022, 17:21
“I think we’ve had a glimpse into the future”: Who could resist the opportunity to ridicule Elon Musk?

“Well, sir, there's nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, one-car monorail. What’d I say?”

You have to hand it to Lyle Lanley – sorry, I mean Elon Musk. By convincing gormless politicians to invest in his underground taxi service, the tech billionaire’s provided us with an endless supply of jokes and Simpsons references. Which means more than money, really.

Here’s the latest selection from the comments:

I think Musk and the good people of Ft Lauderdale could be on to something here... in fact, they could massively increase the capacity of this "tube" transit system by moving the cars closer together, and tethered to each other to prevent collisions. Next, the rolling resistance could be reduced by running these cars (or "train" of cars if you will) on solid wheels running on parallel metal rails or a "track". These so-called "rails" could even be used to provide power to the whole thing avoiding the need for batteries and charging facilities.

I think we've had a glimpse into the future.

I was under the impression that in most of Florida the water table is about a centimetre below ground level...  I hope their pumps don't break down.

Water and electric cars, what a shocking thought.

Sorry, couldn't resist, I'll get my coat.

So you take a tunnel, put in a number of autonomous vehicles that travel between two points, picking you up and dropping you off?

Novel concept, I will have to contemplate that on the Waterloo and City later.

I think the whole thing’s more of a Shelbyville idea, if I’m honest…

13 June 2022, 17:08
Cyclists bare all for World Naked Bike Ride

The end of this year’s Bike Week was marked by the annual World Naked Bike Ride, as cyclists bared all in London, Manchester and Brighton on Saturday to highlight the fragility of cyclists on the roads, to protest oil dependency and to promote body positivity.

To celebrate that very worthy cause, here are a few photos and clips of the various rides for your, errr… entertainment…

13 June 2022, 16:22
Product placement, pro cycling style

Lovely bit of not-so-sneaky sponsor name dropping there, Pozzo.

Not quite as convincing as Quick Step’s infamous update on Julian Alaphilippe’s recovery from injury, brought to you by the good people at Tacx, but still, the photo’s a nice – and obvious – touch.

8/10.

13 June 2022, 15:43
Hayters gonna Hayter: Leo destroys rivals on mammoth Baby Giro stage

Remember the name, Leo Hayter.

After soloing to victory on stage two of the U23 Giro d’Italia yesterday, and taking the pink jersey in the process, the 20-year-old Hagens Berman Axeon rider – and brother of Ineos pro Ethan – followed that up with one of the most dominant victories of the season, or any season in fact.

On a frankly terrifying stage which featured roughly 5,000 metres of climbing and included the fearsome Passo del Tonale and Passo di Guspessa, before finishing at 1,738m at Santa Caterina Valfurva (surely even Tadej Pogačar would approach a day like today with trepidation), Hayter devoured the field, finishing solo an astonishing five minutes ahead of his closest challenger Romain Gregoire.

In what was a Merckxian performance, he also put roughly six minutes into all his other main rivals for the GC, including the much-fancied French climber Lenny Martinez (who at one point during the stage had broken clear of Hayter), while only the top ten got within seven minutes of the flying Brit.

British cycling’s latest sensation even had the time and composure to bow as he crossed the line, which only added to the feeling of complete and utter dominance.

With more climbing to come this week, Hayter the younger has put down an ominous marker not just for the rest of the Baby Giro, but also for the next few years as he inevitably rises to the pro ranks.

There may be some in the peloton, including his own brother, looking nervously over their shoulders now…

13 June 2022, 15:27
Albert-oh no! Leknessund takes breakthrough pro victory, as Bettiol embarrassed after celebrating second place

It’s been a Tour de Suisse of breakthrough victories so far, as 23-year-old Norwegian Andreas Leknessund followed Stevie Williams’ win on the opening day by taking his first WorldTour stage after attacking the breakaway and holding off the peloton into Aesch.

Nobody told poor Alberto Bettiol, however.

The 2019 Tour of Flanders winner punched the air in ecstasy after crossing the line ahead of Michael Matthews and Andrea Pasqualon – 38 seconds after DSM’s Leknessund had received the adulation of the crowd at the finish.

The same confused scene was played out just behind, as Bettiol’s EF Education-EasyPost teammates celebrated together – until, that is, they heard the actual result, which prompted a factually accurate salute from a nearby DSM rider.

Tour de Suisse 2022 (via GCN)

Oh dear, Alberto, oh dear. He won't live this one down in a hurry (at least not when Matteo Trentin is about)...

13 June 2022, 14:20
UK Dash Camera near miss
“A perfect example of how not to take a roundabout”: Driver’s dashcam submission backfires

Poor Joe, talk about telling on yourself.

First, he forgets the point of a roundabout, cutting across it (after seemingly forgetting to put his indicators on), nearly driving into a perfectly law-abiding cyclist in the process. 

After muttering not quite under his breath – obviously in reference to his own driving abilities – “Joe” seems to have gone home, examined the footage, deemed his manoeuvre perfectly acceptable and the cyclist a dangerous liability, and then sent the clip to UK Dash Cameras, who featured it on their latest YouTube compilation of bad drivers and close calls.

Imagine Joe’s surprise when he clicks on the video, only to see the majority of commenters ridiculing his driving, described by one user as “a perfect example of how not to take a roundabout”.

Dash Camera 'Joe' comments 10
Dash Camera 'Joe' comments 2
Dash Camera 'Joe' comments 4

 Whoops.

Thanks to AlsoSomniloquism for flagging this stunning piece of hubris in the comments!

13 June 2022, 13:46
Fuel prices and the psychology of habits

As fuel prices continue to soar to astronomical levels in recent weeks, there’s been quite a lot of discussion around behavioural change when it comes to transport choices (though our editor Jack reckons petrol may need to reach £3 a litre before people start to leave the car at home).

Ian Walker, an environmental psychology professor at the University of Surrey, close pass-helmet study pioneer, ultra-distance athlete, and sometime road.cc contributor (no doubt the greatest of his many achievements) put together a little thread this morning on the psychology of habits, in a bid to explain why even the most dramatic rise in fuel prices hasn’t appeared to drastically affect people’s decisions – and why this is the perfect time to make sustainable changes, and one that’s being squandered by those in power.

Actually, it’s not a little threat at all, it’s massive (to be fair, university lecturers are hardly ever succinct)…

So here it is, in nice tweet-less paragraph form:

A habit is a behaviour that, through lots of repetition in a specific context, shifts from being triggered deliberately by your choices to being triggered automatically by the environment you're in.

For example, you might start out thinking carefully about your daily breakfast, but if you end up having the same breakfast every day, chances are you'll eventually find yourself going through the motions automatically when you wander into the kitchen in the morning.

This business of doing things "on autopilot" is a hallmark of habit. So is feeling weird if you don't do your usual thing. These are key tests within the "Self-Report Habit Index", which is a common measure used by psychologists to measure habit strength.

Now, habits are generally a good thing! If you spent five minutes every day thinking through the pros and cons of all your breakfast options, only to always settle on cornflakes, that's 35 wasted minutes every week. Your mind addresses this by saying something like: "Every morning, in this kitchen, we always end up eating cornflakes. Let's just automatically make cornflakes every morning we're in this kitchen and save all the time and effort."

And so, after a while, merely being in the right place at the right time triggers the behaviour.

Now here's the important bit: from this point on, THE BEHAVIOUR IS NO LONGER A CONSCIOUS CHOICE. This means that telling you new things about the behaviour, or making it more expensive, isn't likely to change anything. The behaviour is just what you do.

You don't really think through scratching an itch - you just do it without thinking when you have an itch. People don't really think through driving to the shop for milk - they just do it when they need milk.

Now imagine, over the past few years, information has emerged about slavery in the cornflake industry. Why are you not abandoning the flakes? Why do you carry on eating them despite knowing the harms? You monster!

The answer, of course, is that the new information - which you've certainly heard and internalised - is no longer part of your cornflake action chain. You might know it, but it's in a very separate part of your mind to the part that pours the flakes into the bowl each morning.

So how do we solve this? How do we change behaviours that have "crystallised" to the point that what a person thinks isn't very important in a lot of their everyday actions?

The answer is that, as these behaviours are triggered by familiar contexts, the best time to intervene is when these contexts are disrupted. If you aren't in your kitchen, it simply can't trigger you automatically to start preparing cornflakes.

Similarly, if you move house or start a new job, your everyday journeys become different, providing a new travel context that doesn't have the same associations as the old one.

So anything that breaks your routines and puts you in new settings is a good chance to make change - your conscious decision-making is reactivated, providing a window of opportunity to rethink, to pay attention to information and to price signals.

Importantly, however, old habits don't just evaporate overnight. Even when a change of environment means you're no longer being triggered to perform an action, the proclivity to do so remains, lurking under the surface, ready to re-emerge when back in the old environment.

All this points to three lessons for policymakers:

  1. Stop expecting new information, or incremental price changes, to alter ingrained behaviours. Just stop it. Seriously.
  2. Look for times when people's lives are disrupted and GO IN HARD to encourage change at this point (Policymakers: you already know when all these points are! Moving house, having a child, getting a new job, retiring... We literally tell government when we do these things!).
  3. Support new behaviour long enough that old habits can fade away entirely. This will take weeks, or months. "Bike to work day" isn't going to cut it, because the underlying urge to drive remains intact despite the day off. Same for "Healthy eating week" or whatever.

As a final nuance, one of the earliest bits of work on habit by my old colleague Bas Verplanken showed that when in a habitual state, people are less likely to seek information about the behaviour in question. So there's a possibility of vicious cycles whereby people locked in habits are less likely to find the information about alternative behaviours that might prove useful when their contexts eventually get shaken up, and so are less prepared eventually to change.

(I'd suggest there's also an important extra process, whereby people post-hoc rationalise and defend actions that were not conscious choices as though they were. But this thread is already too long. And just to be explicit: habits aren't the only reason behaviour is hard to change. But it's a big one, and it's one policymakers and campaigners tend not to address.)

So in sum:

1. We're mostly doing behaviour-change wrong, squandering the best opportunities to make sustainable changes

2. Study psychology!

13 June 2022, 12:09
Bardet’s back! In-form Frenchman to ride Tour after withdrawing from Giro with illness

For those of you, like me, who quietly shed a tear when Romain Bardet – looking in his best form since Tadej Pogačar was sitting the Slovenian equivalent of GCSEs – was forced to abandon the Giro d’Italia after falling ill, good news: he’s riding the Tour!

Cue a month of constantly building French anticipation, before the inevitable mauling at the hands of Rog and/or Pog on Alpe d’Huez, and solid eighth place finish in Paris…

13 June 2022, 11:49
You can have your San Siro, your Camp Nou…

Hard to argue with Jeremy here:

But then again…

13 June 2022, 11:08
Oh, down in the tunnel where the Teslas are driving: Fort Lauderdale reaches agreement with Elon Musk to build ‘traffic-busting’ underground system

It’s been a while since we last heard about ‘Teslas in Tunnels’, Elon Musk’s ingenious solution to “the problem of soul-destroying traffic” – a subterranean transit system which allows users to sit in a car, often just behind and in front of other cars too (that seems oddly familiar), in an underground tunnel.

In fairness, if my soul was being destroyed, I’d much prefer it to happen below the earth’s surface…

The clear and obvious appeal of Musk’s latest brainwave – clearly thought up between spells of trying to take over Twitter and complaining about free speech – has led politicians in Las Vegas to approve a city-wide expansion of the project after two 0.8 mile prototype tunnels were opened in 2021.

And now, city commissioners in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, have approved an interim agreement with Musk’s Boring Company (geddit?), paving the way for feasibility studies on a possible Tesla Tunnel in the city, which they hope will shuttle locals and tourists from downtown to the beach.

Fort Lauderdale’s mayor Dean Trantalis, who obviously doesn't read this blog (I'm as shocked as you are), tweeted that this car-centric transport fix will allow users to avoid “traffic and the need to find parking”. 

I’m sure there are other ways to do just that, but none are immediately coming to mind…

13 June 2022, 10:31
Racing roundup: Longo Borghini nabs Women’s Tour as Williams and Hayter (Leo that is) take big wins… while Primož Roglič prepares for the Vuelta

It was a busy weekend of racing (don’t they know we have things to do?) – so here’s a quick roundup of all the action you may have missed while trudging around Tesco…

It was heartbreak at the Women’s Tour for Grace Brown. After withstanding relentless pressure from her rivals on Friday’s summit finish at Black Mountain, the Australian FDJ rider saw the yellow jersey slip away through the streets of Oxford, as Elisa Longo Borghini – level on time with Brown going into the final stage – used all her guile and strength to take the overall title in the dying metres of the race.

Despite picking up three bonus seconds at an intermediate sprint, Brown could do nothing as the Italian champion Longo Borghini bludgeoned her way to the front on the slight uphill drag to the line, and brilliantly held her own to take third behind winner Lorena Weibes (who else?), along with the four seconds required to overhaul Brown.

Now that’s what you call a thrilling finale…

While arguably the most exciting racing was to be found on British roads, there was success for British riders elsewhere, as Welshman Stevie Williams put a difficult, injury-hit few years behind him (notwithstanding overall victory at last year’s Tour of Croatia) by taking an impressive win – along with the leader’s jersey – on the opening stage of the Tour de Suisse.

After the GC battle surprisingly exploded to the life on the hilly loops around Küsnacht, the Bahrain-Victorious rider outsprinted a 15-man front group including runner-up Max Schachmann, Adam Yates, Remco Evenepoel, Geraint Thomas and Aleksandr Vlasov for a surprising (even honorary Welshman Magnus Bäckstedt didn’t spot Williams as he stormed by his rivals) and potentially career-rejuvenating win.

At the Baby Giro, Leo Hayter proved that whatever big brother Ethan can do, he can do just as well, by winning the race’s second stage solo and taking the pink jersey in the process.

The younger Hayter’s win at the U23 version of the Italian grand tour comes three years after Ethan achieved the same feat on his way to victory in the points competition. With an U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège title already under his belt, 20-year-old Leo will be hoping for more success on the roads of Italy this week.

Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma made light work of the mountainous final weekend of the Critérium du Dauphiné, blowing apart the field of the two summit finishes which decided the race.

While overall winner Primož Roglič was foiled by Movistar’s breakaway rider Carlos Verona on Saturday, there was no messing about on Sunday, as the Slovenian and Jonas Vingegaard detonated the race on the Plateau de Solaison, crossing the line hand in hand to ensure a one-two on the stage and on the GC.

In fact, the most entertaining aspect of Jumbo-Visma’s victory was Roglič’s post-race interview (and that’s saying something), where the 32-year-old joked about using the Tour to prepare for another defence of his Vuelta crown. Yes, the racing was that boring…

While the Dutch squad put down a marker for the Tour de France by squeezing all life out of the Dauphiné, fans of exciting racing will be hoping that a showdown between Vingegaard and Roglič’s formidable line-up and the seemingly irrepressible force of Tadej Pogačar – currently training in the Dolomites – will result in one of the most exciting Tours in years.

If like last year, however, either Pog or Rog fall victim to bad luck, we could be in for a long three weeks…

13 June 2022, 09:26
Newtownards Road cycle lanes 2 (Image - Justin Kernoghan)
Government says Belfast bike lanes are “advisory” – after local cyclists claim they are “completely unusable” due to parked cars

Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure has said that bikes lanes along a busy Belfast road are only “advisory”, after local cyclists claimed that the lanes are “completely unusable” due to the number of cars constantly parked in them.

Despite being in place for years, the cycle lanes on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast – the scene, incidentally, of Dan Martin’s race-ending crash during the opening team time trial stage of the 2014 Giro d’Italia – are rarely used by cyclists, who have described the lanes as a “tick-box exercise” for the Department for Infrastructure.

As we saw last week on the blog, the DfI – a department in the devolved Northern Ireland Executive – has come under fire in recent years for its rather laidback approach to cycling and walking infrastructure and its apparent devotion to the “cult of the car”.

“It can be quite frustrating when you approach the Newtownards Road and all of the cycle lanes are full of cars on both sides of the road,” a cyclist from the area told BelfastLive.

“It is a constant problem and there has never been a time that I have attempted to use it that I have been able to for more than a few yards.

“It is a very busy stretch of the road and it feels like there is no reason for the cycle lane to be there at all because it is completely unusable due to all of the cars parked in it.”

> “Build infrastructure. Stop ‘encouraging’”: Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure’s Bike Week social media campaign criticised by cyclists

The local claimed that he often receives complaints from fellow cyclists about the lanes, as well as from other residents and businesses about people riding their bikes on the footpath after being forced off the cycle lane.

He continued: “Active travel is very popular in East Belfast, which has been shown through the success of the Connswater and Comber Greenways, but there is a lot more that could be done to improve connectivity throughout the city.

“It is a shame that people are able to cycle so easily until they reach certain sections of the Newtownards Road where they are then blocked by cars.

“The DfI is absolutely devoid of any ambition whatsoever, totally devoted to the cult of the car.”

A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson responded to the complaints by noting that the cycle lanes on the Newtownards Road are merely “advisory”.

“This is denoted by a broken white line between the cycle lane and the rest of the carriageway,” the spokesperson said.

“As such, vehicles can park on the cycle lane, provided they do so in accordance with any other restriction that may be present.

“The Department encourages drivers to ‘think before you park’ and to be considerate of the needs of other road users.”

Needless to say, some weren’t happy with the Department’s definition of a cycle lane:

The complaints about the sorry attempt at cycling infrastructure on the Newtownards Road come just days after hundreds of cyclists took part in the annual Ride on Belfast on Friday.

On Saturday, Sustrans also organised a family fun day for young bike riders, mere yards down the road from the contentious ‘bike lanes’ – with both events underlining, perhaps, how far the Northern Ireland Executive is lagging behind the times…

13 June 2022, 08:34
“Stop driving! Get rid of your car”: Now that’s a road sign you don’t see every day…

Here's something to brighten up your Monday morning: 

My personal favourite, which magically appears on the screen just seconds after someone beeped their horn, is definitely “Honking won’t help”...

I should start a petition to get that displayed during every rush hour traffic jam (if only to frighten the unsuspecting motorists blaring away on their horns).

Fair play to the hacker for resisting the very real temptation to just make a series of fart jokes instead…

Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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