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RideLondon safety car WON'T set 22mph speed limit — organisers admit race guide was "incorrect"

UPDATE: "Our event guide stated incorrectly that the event safety car would travel at 22mph and we apologise for the error. It will travel at a pace determined by the conditions and what is happening on the road"...

This article was updated at 12:51pm on Tuesday 17th May following a statement from RideLondon.

RideLondon will not have a safety car setting a 22mph speed limit at the head of the event after all...

In a statement released on social media this lunchtime, the organisers admitted the 22mph information was "stated incorrectly" and confirmed the "event safety car would travel at a pace determined by the conditions and what is happening on the road".

The apology comes after several days of heavy criticism from participants, disappointed by the pace limit, which many feared would see long tailbacks behind the lead car, and potentially dangerous scenes if faster riders opted to start later to ride at 22mph+ alongside less experienced entrants.

Last night, RideLondon's official Twitter account said the decision to implement a safety car setting a 22mph pace limit at the head of this year's event was "to ensure the safety of our participants". However, the event's same account has since backtracked on this, insisting the race guide included an "error".

Yesterday, we reported the news that entrants to the sportive, which will debut its new Essex route on Sunday 29 May, had been left disappointed after the race guide published over the weekend included news of the safety car.

> "Ludicrous": Disappointed RideLondon cyclists learn safety car will set 22mph pace limit

Following much criticism and debate as word spread on social media yesterday, RideLondon addressed the decision in a now-deleted reply last night.

 If anything, the explanation prompted even more questions and frustration from riders with places in next weekend's event.

One asked: "Could you let me know how making riders in the first wave slow to 22mph, thus causing riders in earlier waves to bunch up behind them into a group of riders (many inexperienced in large groups) numbering many thousands is likely to be 'safer'?

"I regularly ride solo at 23mph for 100 miles. As do lots of others entered in the sportive. Every year previously, on a much lumpier course, thousands of people finished the ride safely with an average speed well in excess of 22mph. 

"I sincerely hope the answer here is not 'every wave will have a safety car in front of it'."

Another said the decision would, in fact, "endanger participants" and would "push faster riders back in the waves" meaning "you will have large chaingangs forming at speeds of over 25mph in the later waves going past slower riders".

The participant who asked the initial question to RideLondon was also left unsatisfied by the explanation.

"None of this explains the 22mph limit, I'm afraid. You've got this one wrong. Why wasn't the limit clearly advertised during the entry process? And why did you ask people to estimate finishing times which would involve travelling at speeds in excess of the 22mph limit?" they said.

Yesterday, we heard from several riders who reported they had been asked their average speed target when signing up for the event. Riders were reportedly able to put down speeds in excess of 22mph, which some feel was disingenuous considering, having paid, they may no longer be able to ride at their target speed.

After all of that, RideLondon is seemingly back to what many believed they signed up for...

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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29 comments

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tramontane34 | 1 year ago
0 likes

"It will travel at a pace determined by the conditions and what is happening on the road"...

So the driver will evaluate on the fly what pace he deems acceptable ? A car drivers perspective of a safe pace is very different to that of a group of pace line riders working hard.

Personally I'd ask for a refund on the basis that the pace of the ride is now going to be determined by a car driver and that the terms of sale did not explicitly state that at the time of sale.

Alternatively just filter undertake the car ....

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Global Nomad | 1 year ago
1 like

ha ha ha aha haha haaamdlsanfharw 9t'v jgkn.......

this is what a professional organisation does when looking after 20,000 riders and similar numbers of spectators on one of the biggest events in the calendar..any other typos, or errors in the guidance we think they made??

maybe they forgot they were doing bag transfers too...

maybe they forgot to add the page with the map about tower bridge finsih and logistics ...

 

 

 

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flybywire | 1 year ago
2 likes

..so very 2010's 

gravel sportif is where it's at 😉

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Awavey | 1 year ago
2 likes

Update incoming, sound like sense has prevailed and it was just an error in the guide book....  the car will travel at a pace determined by the conditions and what is happening on the road, but you still arent allowed to overtake it

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GMBasix replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
2 likes
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AlsoSomniloquism replied to GMBasix | 1 year ago
2 likes

Yep, easy to typo the rather long sentence to 22mph, afterall they sit close together on the keyboard. 

Could also have been predictive text? 

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Hirsute replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago
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"The speed limit of the safety car is to ensure the safety of our participants."

Must have a faulty keyboard installed for that predictive text !

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
2 likes

Try it on your phone.

Type out "The speed limit of the safety car is to" and when you get to that part, it auto changes the "to" to "22mph"!

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brooksby replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
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Awavey wrote:

the car will travel at a pace determined by the conditions and what is happening on the road, but you still arent allowed to overtake it

Will it stop at traffic lights?  3

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
4 likes

It has to because someone was adamant that when the road is closed for an event, all road rules still apply. That is why Formula 1 cars never do street racing events in a UK city. 

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brooksby replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago
0 likes

Was that Someone?  ie. he who must not be named?

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Hirsute replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
1 like

'rct' whoever they are.

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Rendel Harris replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
4 likes
hirsute wrote:

'rct' whoever they are.

More importantly "Richie Butte" also, the "muppet" man.

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massive4x4 replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago
1 like
AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

It has to because someone was adamant that when the road is closed for an event, all road rules still apply. That is why Formula 1 cars never do street racing events in a UK city. 

That got changed a few years ago, it used to be the case that you needed an act of Parliament to suspend the rules of the road even in the road was closed. They had one in the 80's for the Birmingham Superprix which had F3 and Touring Car Racing

Now it is a council power to suspend road traffic rules. Coventry Motorfest was the first big event to take advantage of this.

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SurreyHiller | 1 year ago
1 like

I saw a premonition of what may happen on one a few years back.  

Quite a few waves back, 20 miles in, chap on his own on a mountain bike decides he needs to use the toilets on the right and moves over towards them. 

A chain of about 10-15 riders then fly through the decreasing gap at 25mph+

Really close to a very nasty crash.   Can see that happening throughout the ride.

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EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
2 likes

To put it bluntly: the very fastest riders will be doing from between 8 - 130mph less than is normal for Essex roads. 
 

Nice.

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Gkam84 | 1 year ago
8 likes

The whole "As is customary at major sportives" falls flat on it's face when you then cite the 22mph limit. I've worked in major sportives and I've also been a lead car driver for some. We are normally told to go at the pace of the leading riders, keep them in sight, but don't let them draft.

So as an example, if you are going up a climb, you can whizz on to the top and as the leading riders hit about 3/4 of the way up, you start on the descent, because you know they are going to be faster than you, once at the bottom, regulate your speed until they are in sight again and carry on. I normally try for around 100/150m in front depending on the route. 

It's the same being the broom wagon, never be right up the last riders arse. If you see them up ahead, that's good, if you get too close, just stop and have a 5 minute break. 

The ONLY way they could possibly make this work is by having a lead car with every single wave, limited to 22mph. Otherwise, as I've already seen, people are changing their waves back to a later start time and they'll be linking up with faster riders and still going round in fast times, just at the danger to everyone else who's on a leisurely ride (maybe charity riders in a slower group).

I notice you haven't covered other things in this report though. There appears to be no bag drop this year. Previously, your bag would be loaded and transported to the finishing area, which also seems to have been done away with. So unless you have someone meeting you at the finish, you've got to figure out logistics to get home in full kit.

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Global Nomad replied to Gkam84 | 1 year ago
1 like

lets hope this is what they are actually planning

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Gkam84 replied to Global Nomad | 1 year ago
2 likes

No, I believe it's a firm 22mph limit, you can get to the car, but you cannot pass it. So everyone is now changing their waves until later on to avoid being held back by a car.

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Awavey replied to Gkam84 | 1 year ago
2 likes

That's how I read the guide "those riding at the front of the event must not pass the vehicle" certainly doesnt sound like it would adapt to riding conditions and merely be an advanced lead car for closures.

Amusingly the cabbies are kicking off about it "illegally" driving at 22mph in 20mph zones, which of course includes Victoria Embankment for one.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Gkam84 | 1 year ago
1 like

I think it wasn't covered as the front car is what caused the initial issues. 

The end area was a concern I had. The advertised finish is on Tower Bridge, with nothing mentioning how to get to a rest area or back to the "event" area. Now I was going to be proceeding back to Sidcup anyway as that was going to be my Base area, but anyone who needed to get back "North of the River" didn't seem to have anything catered for them. Unfortunately as my bike got stolen last week, those are no longer a problem for me.

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Global Nomad replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago
1 like

sorry about your bike....also noted that there was info and maps about start but nothing about finish - where are those 20,000 riders going to go. very little space around Tower Bridge for anyone - not clear if those roads to the south are also closed or if everyone is immediately dumped into traffic....

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eburtthebike replied to Gkam84 | 1 year ago
3 likes
Gkam84 wrote:

There appears to be no bag drop this year. Previously, your bag would be loaded and transported to the finishing area, which also seems to have been done away with.

Maybe the driver of the pace car will take your bags?yes

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brooksby | 1 year ago
6 likes

That tweet from Mark Oliver kind of sums it up IMO:

Mark Oliver wrote:

Just to check this. You are running a closed road cycle event, where the speed limit on cyclists is slower than the speed limit on days when roads aren't closed. For 'their' safety....

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Awavey | 1 year ago
2 likes

They need to properly address for whom they are making it a safety call, because for the majority of riders who wont be used to riding in big groups with much stronger riders passing them repeatedly, it will create more problems and likely far more crashes than if they just let the faster riders pace off the front.

They wont of course as I think for a while runners who've dealt with London Marathon Events as an organisation have rarely had any good words to say about them.

And I suspect this is really part of some time management for road closures, to alleviate all the complications for access on closed road course.

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Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
2 likes

Its wierd.  Was there a 22mph "safety car" on the Surrey routes? 

If not whats changed?  Same organiser (LME) to my knowledge. 

I wonder if it Essex Councils/Rozzers - possibly linked to 'elf and safety.

I guess technically as long as the safety car sets off early enough not even a fast rider will catch it.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
1 like

There is that. No one has mentioned when it is setting off. It could be just a reverse broom wagon that sets off at 4am with first riders setting off at 6am to ensure that the cyclists hit the roads closed at the times it is marked as closed and no one at the front would ever see it unless they are very fast, or there is a problem with roads. (Sabotage, etc)
 

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Global Nomad replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
0 likes

they would have to leave at least 30 mins ahead then if they stick to the 22mph limit - the idea of a safety car is fine I think for most people, to check and clear the road ahead, but the specification and parameters of how it is driving is what is casuing an issue. Being too far ahead negates the safety aspect, being too slow negates the safety aspect. if they said they would lead out the front of the race to check the course is clear, i think everyone would have less of an issue (presuming it was paced to match the front riders). 

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ads-b replied to Global Nomad | 1 year ago
2 likes

Would make more sense to leave 20mins ahead and keep at the pace of the fastest rider if it was to clear the road ahead 

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