Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

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

"A safety car will travel at the front of the event at 22mph. Those riding at the front of the event must not pass this vehicle for safety reasons"...

UPDATE: In a statement released on Tuesday 17th May, RideLondon 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".

Any early starters at RideLondon hoping to set a fast time may find themselves stuck behind an event safety car, which will travel at the head of the event at 22mph (35.4km/h).

The news was revealed in the event guide emailed to entrants over the weekend, and has been criticised by some riders taking part who took to social media to express their disappointment at the decision.

RideLondon event guide 22mph safety car

Due to closed roads, a relatively flat route and the large number of people taking part, RideLondon lends itself to faster riders posting quick average speeds boosted by drafting and the number of groups and chaingangs that form on the road.

This was expected to have been even more so the case this year, with the event debuting its new Essex route, which has less climbing than the previous Surrey edition.

> Is Essex ready for RideLondon? Police defends silence over road safety issues

However, early starters hoping to complete the 100-mile event in four and a half hours or quicker have been left disappointed that the news was not communicated sooner.

A road.cc reader tipped us off about the safety car, saying it "seems ludicrous to me and my friends who have places".

"Event managers do not set a speed limit on a marathon. It's closed roads and a fast weekend club run goes faster than this even on open roads and stopping and starting at junctions," road.cc reader James told us.

"I can see from a safety point of view the importance for many riders not used to riding in a group, however those in the first wave will more than likely be used to this and will have to brake on any downhill, making the ride less safe for them."

Another entrant posted the news on social media, saying: "A 22mph speed restriction on a flat(-ish) closed road RideLondon route sounds like the most horrific mass pile-up waiting to happen. I would love to understand what went through the head of whoever risk assessed that idea.

"Just to make things even more ridiculous, 100 miles at 22mph = ca. 4 1/2 hours. Yet when filling in the online registration form when signing up there was nothing to stop entrants putting down a sub-4 hour target finish time.

"The first few start waves will contain plenty of riders who will comfortably be able to cover the 100 miles in under 4 1/2 hours, so it won't be long after the start before the riders in wave A will be joined in the bunch behind the safety cars by riders from wave B, and so on.

"It sounds like just the sort of thing a focus group of non-cyclists would come up with."

Others asked why the news was only being communicated now: "Care to explain why you have disclosed this now when a lot of people who have averaged higher mph in the previous editions have paid up to expect to ride speeds above this? Now contemplating not going."

Another wrote: "Is this legit? Seems like an awful idea and really should have been disclosed before people entered."

We have contacted RideLondon for an explanation on the decision, but have not heard anything at the time of publishing.

In March, Essex Police defended its silence over its RideLondon 100 plans after concerns over an apparent lack of road safety engagement prior to the event, citing traffic policing cuts and pointing to ongoing Vision Zero work to eliminate road danger. 

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.

Add new comment

76 comments

Avatar
TeamVCRT | 1 year ago
3 likes

Good news everyone.  RideLondon have released an announcement backtracking on the 22mph speed limit.  The safety car will travel according to "conditions on the road" (in other words, will stay ahead of lead group).

This is a welcome development and credit due to them for clarifying and apologising.  I think it's important to make people here aware, so that fast riders do not head back into wave Z and create unnecessary friction and congestion on the day.  See you near the front!  1

Avatar
Recoveryride replied to TeamVCRT | 1 year ago
1 like

Yep, this was their response to my email.

Avatar
Shades | 1 year ago
0 likes

Only experience of these sort of events was London to Brighton many years ago.  I drove a support van first year and noticed that anyone wanting to cane it down to Brighton were in the lead groups.  Took part the following year with a relatively slow family group that started at a sociable time; was immediately apparent that due to the mass of riders you just had to go with the flow.  Sense that Ride London has developed the same way; anyone wanting to hammer it round the course (like the earlier years of the event) should go elsewhere.  Guess they could let the lead groups go for it but then if everyone behind can't behave themselves (ie go with the flow) then it'll just attract bad press.  Victim of it's own success perhaps, depending on your perspective.  A mass participation/celebration of cycling isn't a race.

Avatar
Hirsute | 1 year ago
5 likes

Twitter Pete Smart

"This has got me thinking. Why don’t we have orange safety cars permanently driving around at or below the speed limit? 20 in urban areas, 70 motorways etc. Illegal to overtake them. Save lives, reduce stress. I’m going to patent it. (Wouldn’t apply to closed road sportives!)"

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
1 like

*snark* In urban areas these rolling road blocks are called "cyclists".

We'd need one in front of every car though.  So why not make it really small and even closer?  Say on the dashboard right in front of the driver... or indeed even smaller and in the software (colour can then vary...)  Of course for maximum (lack of) points this would also need to vary (downward) with temporary road restrictions, with time of day, conditions etc.

Oh wait - that would cost manufacturers extra be unsafe!  Because as courts accept sometimes you have to accelerate for safety.  That somehow means we can't limit speeds (don't tell the lorry drivers).

Avatar
Hirsute | 1 year ago
4 likes

I would seem the ban hammer has come down - is John Stevenson in the building?

 

Avatar
Dnnnnnn replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
2 likes

I noticed the number of comments seemed to be decreasing!

Avatar
Recoveryride | 1 year ago
4 likes

Totally ignoring the  merits (or otherwise) of a safety car, and by extension a speed limit, it strikes me that this is a material change to what was advertised. With that in mind, if those who have entered aren't happy about it, I think they'd have reasonable grounds to ask for a refund.

Avatar
Awavey | 1 year ago
1 like

Seems like some of the Essex locals arent so keen on the event happening either,not exactly confidence inspiring that they are still having access conversations like these only 2 weeks from the event maybe this is the issue trying to minimise the total time closures are in place https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0c72tqp

plus parts of Essex get 3 days of various road closures to cater for the Ride London classique taking place.

Avatar
AlsoSomniloquism replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
1 like

The same stories were happening within similar time frames for all closed road sportives. I remember the Velo South (which was cancelled on the day due to weather conditions) having stories of a court order being sorted to stop it 2 weeks beforehand. 

There was even one person complaining they had to leave the night before now to get their daughter to an interview at Birmingham Uni on the Sunday that she had to attend and couldn't miss. So essentially if the cycling wasn't happening, they would have been relying on the journey being ok on the day for such an important event. And should have been thankful that they went the night before has the bad weather closed lots of roads on the day. 

Avatar
TotalLoss | 1 year ago
6 likes

It really isn't worth entering closed road events like this in the UK. Almost any event on mainland Europe will be better, easier to enter and get a place in and not milked for all they are worth by the organisers flogging charity places.

Avatar
jn46 | 1 year ago
2 likes

Pure speculation but I wonder if the reasons for the speed restriction are more to do with public perception of the event being safe, so it can continue yearly, rather than any faux safety concerns. Essentially it's an event run by an events company that will be making a profit. Any event like this attracts huge public criticism for inconvenience caused, so it's probably more important to appease the Essex councils and residents rather than the entrants (the majority of which the speed restriction will cause no issues). Wonder if this restriction was always intended but not publicised so it didn't scare the faster entrants away.
I feel for those who want to ride fast and set times, but there are 100mile time trials if you want to do it properly, where you don't benefit from the draft. It is essentially a participation event aimed at people to complete, not race.

Avatar
Awavey replied to jn46 | 1 year ago
2 likes

if thats so they should clearly state it, especially as people who signed up to this have had this sprung on them only two weeks out from the event.

and given the number of charity places still on offer I dont think its exactly a sold out event, and no-one is going to be fooled signing up for next year, so how exactly is this a profit making enterprise ?

Avatar
NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
3 likes

When did Kermit and Miss piggy invade the comments section?

Avatar
AlsoSomniloquism replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
2 likes

I think the one shouting muppet is the PBU we thought you were as you joined at a similar time of his last ban. 

Avatar
NOtotheEU replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago
4 likes

I kinda miss being called Nigel 😄

Avatar
BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
0 likes

You are certainly as thick as Nigel 

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 1 year ago
3 likes

Unless you're subtly appreciating OurFormerNige's ability to consistently yank people's chains even after becoming notorious ... I disagree.  Just having a different viewpoint (and not trolling) doesn't correlate with lack of intelligence. Others on this thread are already illustrating "contrarian lacking comprehension".

Avatar
mark1a replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 1 year ago
3 likes
Lukas wrote:

You are certainly as thick as Nigel 

You sound nice. 

Avatar
sockpupp3t | 1 year ago
3 likes

It really seems like this is a poor choice. 
 

even if they want to limit the speeds, then choosing 25 or 26mph would have affected only a few riders, while making little difference to the safety of the riders, marshalls, pedestrians.
 

After all the vast majority of our road network is apparently safe at 30 for all users. 

Avatar
paulrattew | 1 year ago
2 likes

22mph isn't particularly fast. Frankly, on a flat course like this I would be expecting to be averaging comfortably over 22mph even if the road's weren't closed once out of London. That wouldn't even be pushing particularly hard - just comfortably a comfortably fast easy century. With closed roads the usual factors slowing people down are removed, so even the London sections will be fast. 22mph is open road club run pace for many. 

It would be interesting to understand how the 22mph limit was determined. It's slow enough to be well within the capabilities of a large portion of the riders who will be taking part even on open roads, which makes me think that they haven't really put much consideration into it.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
2 likes

Thing is I don't get what's changed. They managed to successfully run the Surrey 100 for 10 odd years with no 22mph safety car and a bag drop.

What's changed?

Avatar
Shannonball | 1 year ago
4 likes

IMO the risk sits with the less experienced slower riders, not the more skilful faster riders. The team of 100 safety marshals will never address where the risk truly sits. The several detrimental effects on rider safety and the reasons are really well set out here in the comments. As the organisers asked entrants what their expected finish time would be (sub-4hrs was an option) and informed us 2 weeks before the event about the speed cap, I'd say this is grounds for getting your money back.

Avatar
a4th | 1 year ago
3 likes

On a serious note, I'm guessing the average speed limit is almost certainly an insurance requirement. A 20-30,000 person open entry cycle event where a number of people have died or suffered life changing injuries in recent years is going to be prohibitively expensive to ensure unless you can demonstrate you are doing everything you can to reduce dangerous behaviour. Not great but if you want to race or take part in a time trial this sort of event isn't for you.

Avatar
sean1 replied to a4th | 1 year ago
2 likes

Accidents tend to happen when riders are more bunched up.  If anything this speed restriction will increase risk as a large group of riders will form behind the "safety" vehicle.

Ride London had a big crash a few years ago which happened mid pack due in part to the large volume of riders at that point.

 

Avatar
stonojnr replied to a4th | 1 year ago
3 likes

Then its being insured by people who don't understand the risks, as IME on closed road sportives, and even open road ones, its when riders are bunched up that touches of wheels occur, and people can be brought down, often ending their ride on the spot, even at walking pace.

It's much safer to let riders spread out and find their natural pace.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to a4th | 1 year ago
2 likes

Genuine question - have there been life changing injuries from Ride London before?

I though most the deaths were heart attacks and were in line with stastical probability. 

Avatar
mark1a replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
2 likes

Coma resulting in rider death from a crash in 2016, and then in 2017 a pedestrian died from injuries sustained after being by a participant. Plus the other health related fatalities you refer to. 

Avatar
TeamVCRT | 1 year ago
4 likes

Please take a moment to complain to the the organisers:

Online - https://www.ridelondon.co.uk/help/contact-us

By phone - 0207 902 0200

and on Twitter (@RideLondon)

They need to hear the widespread concern about just how dangerous this well-meaning but deeply idiotic proposal is.  They haven't thought through the unintended consequences of riders who quite understandably will take matters into their own hands by the hundred. Word is spreading rapidly, it will spread further in the pens on the day, fast riders will just move backwards into later pens or dawdle at the start line. This will exacerbate congestion (already a concern), which will make crashes and injuries more likely. 

"It's not a race" is a tired and irrelevant line. You don't need to be in a race to ride quickly, for many that is the whole point of closed roads events.  Training rides aren't races but you don't set arbitrary speed limits on those.  22mph is painfully slow for a flat route.  I know the organisers want to encourage non-cyclists, women etc and discourage trained club riders from taking part in Ride London, but they need to be realistic and accept that quick riders will slip through the net and get places anyway. Endangering them on the road is not the solution. 

Vélo Birmingham had its problems, but they nailed this aspect.  Two motorbike escorts plus a lead police motorbike out front, letting the front group set the pace, which was around 25mph on a rolling course.  No problems, no dodgy moments.  Where were the crashes and the fatality?  Way way back in the congested middle.

Avatar
stonojnr replied to TeamVCRT | 1 year ago
1 like

we started in the first wave at Velo Birmingham and whilst we maintained a comfortable 17mph average to the first stop, so not at all keeping up with the really quick riders ahead, the rider who died was only ahead of us by about 20mins, and it wasn't congested at that point on the course.

Pages

Latest Comments