Another week, another social media debate about British Cycling…
Our latest episode of ‘people criticising the national governing body’ (a regular fixture of 2023, it seems) comes courtesy of an Instagram post encouraging cyclists to commute to work by bike – an ad which, one commuter claims, presents cycling as a “niche” pursuit for “athletic people interested in sport”.
The ad in question – put together as part of a paid partnership by cycling Instagrammer Biking Maz – lists some of the reasons cyclists might want to ride to work in the summer, including the fresh air and endorphins, the financial and environmental impact of not using a car, and having more time to spend in the evening with your dogs.
The video, because it’s a British Cycling advert after all, also advises commuter cyclists to join BC for the insurance benefits and the bonus of a free rucksack for new members (ah, the old perks for newbies trick, a British Cycling classic).
However, while most cyclists could get behind the ad’s message, it was the way this message was presented – featuring a racing cyclist wearing cycling kit and riding an expensive bike – that attracted the attention of some commuters on Twitter.
“This Instagram ad for cycling to work makes it look like it’s only for athletic people interested in sport,” wrote Jack Fifield, a journo at the Oldham Times.
“Not representative of the people I see cycling casually in Manchester.”
Here's some photos I took today of people cycling in Manchester and Stockport pic.twitter.com/6uVVb3aXkU
— Jack Fifield 🐼 (@jackfifield) June 3, 2023
Jack’s criticism of British Cycling’s ad, it’s safe to say, divided the masses on Twitter.
Katy agreed that the video was “unhelpful for active travel” and claimed that it makes cycling “look niche, specialist, hard to identify with… makes it also far easier for any opposition to say exactly that. And it’s not true.”
“I cycle to work every day, no matter what the weather, spring, summer, autumn, winter. I cycle in my regular clothes. I never get dressed up in a special costume,” wrote Citizen Wolf.
— Oxfordshire Cycling Network (@OxonCyclingNet) June 3, 2023
“Couldn’t agree more,” said Jamie. “The culture change necessary to cement cycling into commuter thinking needs all parties to have a look at themselves and how they portray what should be the most accessible of all travel options.”
However, not everyone agreed with Jack’s analysis.
“You’re getting angry at an advert,” Connor argued. “People cycle in all types of clothing on all types of bikes. British Cycling are constantly doing comms directed at more casual or beginner cyclists.”
“It’s just some budget Insta ad,” agreed Jacob. “God forbid they use a cyclist who does use cycle specific clothing. At no point does it imply this is the only way you can chose to cycle.”
Adverts by their very nature tend to be aspirational— I don’t really see it as that much of a problem, tbh
— Ian Wills (@ianjwills) June 3, 2023
However, one cyclist, Chris, decided to offer some much-needed balance to the whole debate (balance? What’s that? Never heard of it…).
“They're both right,” he said. “Most commuters aren’t roadies. But more roadies should commute. Selling commuting as an athletic pursuit for a specific audience that doesn't commute enough is good. I commuted like this when I was racing and loved it.”
What do you think? Should a cycle to work ad from British Cycling be more inclusive and representative of all cyclists who commute? Or does it really matter what a cyclist is wearing, either out on the roads or in a social media clip?
British Cycling’s commuter advert has certainly generated some discussion in today’s comments section. Here’s a selection of your thoughts:
EddyBerckx: “British Cycling is not a utility cycling champion. It exists mainly for the racing side of things and so yes, the ad is fine. I don’t moan about EVERY SINGLE OTHER utility cyclist organisation running ads that don’t represent me because I’m not a d***head and I understand and support what they are trying to do.
“The ad represents me including the carbon bike with aero wheels and the long-distance commute. I’ve tried every type of bike on my commute and this suits me best.”
Simon E: “Since BC is not a utility cycling champion why run this type of paid advert? Who is the target audience and why? I commute in lycra on a nice road bike but I can't see how this would appeal to someone like me, to my cycling club friends or to other people I know (including family members) who are pure utility cyclists. Just seems pointless to me, a bit of a missed opportunity.
“BC would probably be better off sticking to the sportive/leisure/competitive cycling (and do a better job of supporting clubs, race organisers etc) and leave the campaigning to bodies who know what they're talking about.”
Two water bottles for the commute?
— Tom Sanders (@TomSanders4) June 5, 2023
Didnthurt: “People misunderstand what BC is supposed to do. They’re the governing body of cycle sport, not an organisation focused on active travel. If that’s what you’re looking for, Cycling UK or even Sustrans are better options. BC is about bike racing, and their various attempts not to be have fallen pretty flat over the years.”
Rendel Harris: “Then perhaps they shouldn't offer ‘Commute’ and ‘Ride’ (‘for your everyday rides’) memberships alongside the ‘Fan’ and ‘Race’ options? If, as you say, they're just about bike racing they should say so, not try to boost their coffers by trying to attract members by pretending to be something they're not.”
No mudguards. Great commuter bike.
— Macc Active Traveller (@lkchdschh) June 5, 2023
Jetmans Dad: “Not a member of BC any longer, but their advert definitely represents me, and my 21 mile each way commute, that I wouldn't dream of trying to do in my teaching clothes.
“What I would like to see is more of a co-ordinated approach to these campaigns with Cycling UK and BC combining forces to cover as many bases as they can ... I moved my membership from BC to CU precisely because I was moving away from sportive type riding into short triathlons and concentrating most of my riding on utility/leisure.
“And I am with Chris on his comment (in the article). There are plenty of people who just do the training, long ride stuff who don't ride to work who should also be encouraged to do so. That's why all bases need to be covered.”
A cyclist who misjudged the time it would take to complete an epic 200-mile-plus ride from Galway to Belfast was stopped by police at the weekend, 30 miles from his destination… and handed a hi-vis vest and bag before being sent on his way.
The cyclist was riding on a main road in Portadown (not quite Northern Ireland’s premier location for bike riding, if I’m honest. Sorry Portadown people) at round 11.30pm on Saturday night when he was stopped by officers from Northern Ireland’s Road Policing and Safety unit.
“This cyclist had no lights or reflective markers on his bike or clothing and could not be seen due to the darkness,” the unit said on its Facebook account.
The rider, the unit said, was attempting to cycle the 320km or so from Galway, on Ireland’s west coast, to Belfast, but “had failed to prepare, not expecting to be cycling so late into the evening”.
The unit continued: “Following a short chat with our team, this cyclist was provided with a high visibility vest and bag cover to improve his visibility on the road to other road users.
“Everyone [has] a role to play in improving the safety of our roads. Be Safe, Be Seen.”
While the photo posted by the officers of the cyclist in his newly acquired hi-vis gear doesn’t appear to show the rider in too happy a mood (is that a V sign, anyone? Just joking...), the police’s decision to kit him up for the last 30 miles into Belfast really didn’t go down too well with some motorists on Facebook.
“So, let’s get this clear,” wrote Mark. “You stopped him for no lights whilst riding on a public highway, you then gave him a bag cover and sent him on his way to still ride on a public highway with NO LIGHTS... and you still expect every motorist on the road to have lights or they’ll get a ticket??
“This is exactly why there is a massive hatred for cyclists by drivers. If I were local, I’d be saving this and riding my motorbike with the lights off, hoping I'll get a nice waterproof high viz bag cover.”
Meanwhile, Ian wrote: “A car driver would have been given a fine and points on their licence, not a set of bulbs. Traffic laws are supposed to be for everyone.”
However, Eddie was a lot more forgiving of the cyclist’s planning skills, writing: “Super act guys for helping out a fellow citizen. Loving all the haters commenting on an honest mistake. Fair play lads.”
60-70 riders joined for the final day of the London to Ukraine bike ride which was just amazing. And we even got a police escort (!)
The ride was in aid of landmine removal in Ukraine, and we hit the 20k target this morning.
A huge thanks to everyone that has donated already -… pic.twitter.com/kGMyTY7GAI
— Tom Hashemi (@tomhashemi) May 14, 2023
It turns out that riding 1,300 miles to Lviv, Ukraine, while raising funds to clear landmines in the war-torn country and overcoming a tramline-induced crash and subsequent hospital stay along the way, wasn’t enough for Tom Hashemi.
Less than three weeks after completing his epic trip, Hashemi was back on his pimped-out Giant Defy, covering over 220km (at a decent speed too) over eight and a half hours… to draw Ukraine on Strava.
— Tom Hashemi (@tomhashemi) June 4, 2023
I know we see a lot of Strava Art™ on the live blog, but that is very cool. Though I feel tired just thinking about it…
Happy for you, Loulou!#Dauphine
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) June 5, 2023
We never really doubted him, did we?
After a tough 18 months characterised by bad luck, crashes, and badly-timed bouts of illness, former double world champion Julian Alaphilippe roared back into the imaginations of cycling fans everywhere – and put down a marker for next month’s Tour de France – with a dominant win in a wide-open sprint finish at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
After Jumbo-Visma’s Steven Kruijswijk crashed out of the race early on, along with Steff Cras and Romain Combaud, a draggy, grippy circuit around La Chaise-Dieu once again proved too much for the big-name sprinters at the race, with Sam Bennett fading to 11th while Dylan Groenwegen pulled the pin a few kilometres back down the road.
A flurry of attacks in the final 20km, first by Victor Campenaerts and Kenny Elissonde, before Tobias Bayer and Harry Sweeny each vainly darted off the front, was eventually snuffed out by Jumbo-Visma, as Jonas Vingegaard again worked to tee up yesterday’s winner Christophe Laporte.
However, the leg-sapping nature of the finishing circuit upended the traditional sprinting hierarchy, with Alaphilippe proving the fastest in a motley crew finale which saw Richard Carapaz and Natnael Tesfatsion take second and third ahead of the yellow jersey Laporte.
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) June 5, 2023
But all eyes today will be on the rampaging Frenchman who, after an indifferent spring campaign, appears to have put aside the setbacks that have plagued him on the big stage since his last worlds win in Leuven in 2021, and regained some of the sparkle in the legs that made him one of the peloton’s biggest stars.
As Alaphilippe demonstrated in his typically flamboyant – and early – celebration across the finish line, there was never any real need to panic after all…
Shari Bossuyt has protested her innocence and likened herself to someone wrongly convicted of murder, after Canyon-SRAM suspended the Belgian rider following a positive drugs test.
It was revealed yesterday that the 22-year-old tested positive for Letrozole at the Tour de Normandie in March, where she won a stage and finished sixth overall, though she claims she is a victim of contamination.
Letrozole is primarily used to block oestrogen during the treatment of breast cancer, but can be used in a sporting context to help boost the production of testosterone. It is regarded by the UCI as a specified substance, meaning it does not come with an automatic provisional suspension.
However, like cyclocross star Toon Aerts, who tested positive for the drug last year, Bossuyt faces a two-year ban from racing if the UCI upholds an anti-doping rule violation.
Speaking at a press conference this morning, the young Belgian – who signed a contract extension with Canyon-SRAM in April – outlined her determination to clear her name, and explain how Letreozole ended up in her system.
“I’ve ended up in an unreal situation. I have never come into contact with Letrozole and have never consciously used it. This was even the first time I had heard of Letrozole," she said.
“It feels unfair. I compare it to being put in prison for murder when you didn’t commit murder. That’s what it feels like.
“Everything indicates that we are dealing with a contamination. Hopefully we can quickly provide clarity to the necessary authorities. And above all that, we can prove that we are not cheaters.”
Aerts also attended Bossuyt’s press conference in Zwevegem, where the pair’s agent Yannick Prevost claimed that his riders were victims, and not dopers.
“We have been working on this file for a year,” Prevost said today, before providing a Contador-esque ‘tainted beef’ excuse. “It is very difficult to prove that it is a contamination from food.
“We are walking a track, but we cannot yet make it concrete. What we can say is that Shari and Toon both tested positive after competitions in Normandy, in Flamanville to be precise.
“Letrozole is used for the fertilization of cows and sheep. That is a relatively new technique. It is currently a hypothesis that we cannot yet substantiate. Because the food industry does not yet test for Letrozole.
“Shari and Toon are not doping users, but victims.”
I told you earlier today that road.cc’s Simon got on his bike in central London for the second weekend in a row to become part of the massive, sometimes fairly chaotic, bunch of cyclists bopping along to DJ Dom Whiting’s beats, as part of the by-now iconic Drum & Bass on the Bike.
Here’s what Simon had to say about yesterday’s sunny rave on the roads (now that’s a decent title, too), why it was different to the previous week’s RideLondon event, and why a humble DJ set can make you feel part of something big:
— TourDeBrad (@6WattsPerKg) June 4, 2023
Disaster. But at least it inspired a few witty Twitter exchanges…
More concerning is the slack chain
— TourDeBrad (@6WattsPerKg) June 4, 2023
Drive side crank should always be at 6 o’clock position when photographing your bike.
Other than that, nothing to see here
— Just Pat (@HillsRThrills) June 5, 2023
Just another weekend in London, packed with people having a great time on their bikes…
A week after RideLondon took over the streets of the capital, yesterday saw the turn of DJ Dom Whiting and his portable decks, transforming central London once again into a joyous two-wheeled rave:
Drum & Bass on a bike today in London 🎧🚲 pic.twitter.com/jqNLGP0176
— Tooting Paradiso (@MandrakeRdChaos) June 4, 2023
— London Cycling Campaign (@London_Cycling) June 5, 2023
— Sam Petherick (@sampetherick) June 4, 2023
A well-known music connoisseur, road.cc’s Simon was also there, enjoying the tunes and the group ride (and perhaps too much of the sun as well, judging by the colour of his face today)…
— Simon MacMichael 🏴🇮🇹🇪🇺❤️💙🚲 (@simonmacmichael) June 4, 2023
Though I’m sure a certain octogenarian disc jockey felt conflicted by the sight of a pedalling disco on London’s roads yesterday…
predictably, that Rowan Atkinson piece is driving me insane. it's opinion, absolutely not fact and has some straight-up untruths in it.
it's true, battery-electric vehicles aren't going to be the future of using cars like we do now. because we can't use cars like that in future
— Hazel Southwell (@HSouthwellFE) June 4, 2023
You’ve probably all read by now Rowan Atkinson’s piece in the Guardian from the weekend, where Edmund Blackadder himself claimed that, despite being an “early adopter” of electric vehicles, he’s increasingly felt “duped” by them, even arguing that it may be better for the environment if people just keep hold of their old petrol cars for longer.
“Increasingly, I’m feeling that our honeymoon with electric cars is coming to an end, and that’s no bad thing: we’re realising that a wider range of options need to be explored if we’re going to properly address the very serious environmental problems that our use of the motor car has created,” Atkinson wrote.
Fair enough, you might think. That paragraph especially could have been written specifically for road.cc’s readership.
However, for those of the bike-riding and active travel persuasion, it’s the actor’s proposed solutions to the environmental problems of the motor car that left many scratching their heads in confusion.
Hydrogen. Synthetic fuels. Keeping your car for longer.
Having played a character synonymous with a famous bike riding scene, it may surprise you that cycling, or walking, or wheeling, or any form of active travel was missing from Mr Bean’s electric vehicle article (though, in fairness, he does point out, briefly, that one solution is using a car “as little as possible”).
Unsurprisingly, it’s taken a few cyclists on Twitter to point out where Atkinson may be going wrong in his analysis:
The wider response to the Rowan Atkinson piece is:
- Yes, we should aim to reduce car use as much as we can - primarily by promoting walking/cycling/wheeling and public transport
- No, there is not a lower carbon alternative to EVs on the horizon for people who need a car
— Andrew Sissons (@ACJSissons) June 4, 2023
It SHOULD do Susan, but no mention in this piece, plus little mention of most of the problems NOT solved by EVs.
Rowan, stick to the day job.
— CHAIRRDRF (@CHAIRRDRF) June 3, 2023
“Electric cars aren’t here to save the planet, they’re here to save the car industry,” wrote Real Gaz on a proper bike. “A lot of trips could be made via other means and that needs to happen as Rowan forgets about the other pollution, congestion, and danger.”
Meanwhile, motoring journo Hazel Southwell put together an interesting thread refuting much of Atkinson’s article, which she claimed had “some straight-up untruths in it”.
“I’m a car journalist but the future of cars is: not cars. Sorry, that's the difficult truth here,” she said.
“By far the most sensible thing for us to develop isn’t BEVs or synthetic fuel, it’s public transport to get vehicles off roads.”
Spare a thought for poor Jack Haig. The Australian spent most of May riding through downpour after downpour in Italy, only to turn up at the first stage of the Dauphiné yesterday… and once again get absolutely soaked.
The fella can’t catch a break…
From calls for urgent action to curb aggressive driving to top secret new bike exclusives from the Dauphiné (eh, where was my invite?), here’s what you may have missed on road.cc while you were enjoying the weekend sun:
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.