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Telegraph journalists told "check your research" after front page claims cyclists hit 52mph chasing London Strava segments... despite that being faster than Olympic track cyclists

"Clearly they've found a bad GPS glitched segment and taken that as hard fact": Newspaper ridiculed after reporting that London commuters are cycling to work faster than Tour de France sprinters...

"52mph in a 20 zone... Lycra lout cyclists are creating death traps all over Britain."

That is the news sat proudly atop The Telegraph newspaper's front page this morning, the promo for an in-depth analysis of Strava segments across London and the respective speeds reached to achieve their fastest times. However, as many people have since pointed out online, the speeds cited in lots of the paper's examples appear not to be the feat of unsuspecting cycle commuters who should really be ditching the suit and tie for a summer challenging Mark Cavendish at the Tour de France, but rather just the result of dodgy GPS data.

The feature centres around a segment on Chelsea Embankment, Tite St to Chelsea Bridge, where the Telegraph claims a cyclist (who probably "felt that was a commute well spent") had covered the 630-metre segment at 52mph (84km/h), evidence "cyclists are turning UK roads into death traps". 

What the feature does not appear to question or fact check is why a London cyclist on their way to work would be faster even than what six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy says was his fastest ever speed, 80km/h achieved on an optimal indoor velodrome in the keirin, a track cycling event where riders slipstream behind a derny to achieve faster speeds.

On another cited segment the newspaper alleges a cyclist smashed past Lambeth Bridge at 46mph (73km/h), hitting a max speed of 52mph, despite the average speed for their ride being 16mph (25km/h). A third claims a rider, whose power meter (a calibrated device giving an accurate measure of how much power a rider is putting through the pedals) reports he averaged 204w, but had taken the fastest time at a speed of 42mph (67km/h).

According to Bike Calculator, an 80kg cyclist riding a bike weighing eight kilogrammes (on a perfect summer's day with no wind) would have to hold 2,500w to ride the earlier Tite St to Chelsea Bridge segment at 52mph.

As one cyclist on social media responded to the article, "If you can ride through London at 52mph, please contact your local professional bicycling team. They may be interested in your skills."

Others pointed out the "GPS glitches" apparent in the segments used, Chas Pope telling the newspaper: "You might want to check your research on the cycling article you've splashed on your front page. Virtually all of the fast times on the Strava
segments you chose have GPS glitches".

Political reporter at The Guardian, Peter Walker, called the story "my absolute favourite anti-cycling news story of all time".

"But congrats, I suppose, to the Telegraph for opening a new (if entirely fictitious) front against cyclists: being able to travel at 52mph on the flat," he wrote on social media.

The story raises concerns about cyclists racing Strava segments putting pedestrians and other road users in danger, the story coming days after the ride-sharing app reminded the public that it already has a feature to flag segments as "hazardous", removing the leaderboard.

Strava was commenting to road.cc in light of calls from the Royal Parks to remove a segment in Regent's Park following the death of a pedestrian in a collision with a cyclist back in 2022. The rider involved will not face prosecution as the Metropolitan Police deemed there was "insufficient evidence for a real prospect of conviction".

The case, thrust into the spotlight since a recent coroner's inquest, reignited the discussion about cycling, the government now moving forward with introducing tougher legislation to prosecute cyclists who kill or injure through dangerous or careless cycling.

Commenting on the discussion around segments, Strava told us: "We are aware of the tragic cycling incident which occurred in London's Regent's Park in June 2022 and our condolences go to the victim's family.

"At Strava, safety of our active community and those around them is a priority, and we have community standards that note that 'sports happen in dynamic environments that we share with motorists, pedestrians, other people, equestrians, pets and wildlife'. Strava expects those in our community to 'prioritise everyone's safety and enjoyment of our shared resources and respect the law'. The behaviours related to this incident violate Strava's 'community standards'.

"At the end of last week, we received a request from Royal Parks to discuss the cycling route segment where the incident occurred. The ability to flag a cycling route segment as hazardous already exists in Strava. Anyone can report a segment that they would deem as hazardous. If segments are flagged as hazardous, achievements are not awarded for that segment and leaderboards are disabled. Any Strava community member who cycles on that same route segment will receive a warning of the hazards on that segment."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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109 comments

Avatar
Mr Hoopdriver replied to AidanR | 2 months ago
6 likes

I mentioned 'numbers' instead of speed so ipso sent me a response saying 'what numbers do you refer to' so I sent them back a whole list of quotes from the article etc.

I got the impression that nothing will be done if they can't connect 'numbers' with 'speed' which I also mentioned.

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AidanR replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 2 months ago
0 likes

That doesn't fill me with hope!

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wtjs | 2 months ago
10 likes

Congratulations Nazigraph! You have now achieved Hyper-Junk Press status, and may hold your head up high when meeting your mentors at DM, DE, Sun etc.

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BadgerPants | 2 months ago
7 likes

It's not "Dodgy GPS data".   It's not GPS data at all:  The fast rides are all virtual rides that haven't been flagged as such.  There's a workout called "London City Trip" on the Tacx app, and all but one of the top 10 rides on the "Tite St to Chelsea Bridge" segment follow this route exactly (24.7km long).  Just goes to show that Tacx is a bit generous with the virtual speed.   I doubt it's been done maliciously or to win KOMs.   It's just people haven't figured out that they need to flag these rides as virtual to Strava.

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hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
15 likes

Imagine studying journalism and then the high point of your career is writing for the Torygraph and just making up shit so that angry pensioners can moan about it.

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Rendel Harris replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
7 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

Imagine studying journalism and then the high point of your career is writing for the Torygraph and just making up shit so that angry pensioners can moan about it.

Do Telegraph journalists study journalism? From the general standard of the paper, and certainly the op-ed sections, I assumed that the only necessary qualification was that daddy was at school or university with one of the senior management.

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the little onion | 2 months ago
11 likes

So, either the Telegraph journalists are either:

- so ignorant of human physiques and aerodynamics that they think that cyclists can actually do 52mph on the flat

- so prejudiced that they believe that dangerous cyclists must be doing something dangerous at all times

- so cynical that they know it isn't in any way true, but publish it anyway.

 

Which one is it?

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to the little onion | 2 months ago
9 likes

All five (There will be at least two more that I haven't thought of yet).

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PeteSkedaddle replied to the little onion | 2 months ago
6 likes

Or number 4: They are a typical journalist who does zero research. Read ANY article in a mainstream paper or website you have a little bit of knowledge on and I absolutley guarantee you, you'll find at leats two factual errors.

It's too bad when this laziness results in changing public opinion.

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john_smith replied to the little onion | 2 months ago
0 likes

I am sure that if the wind is strong enough 52 mph on the flat is doable. The journalist was probably just assuming the cyclist was aided by a tornado or microburst.

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Shermo | 2 months ago
11 likes

Great, can't bloody win!

Schrödinger's cyclist...
We are simultaneously too slow and causing drivers to overtake dangerously and also too fast and risking the lives of every child in the country.

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Pub bike | 2 months ago
8 likes

I tried for years to go over 50mph down mountains in the Alps on my loaded touring bike not really believing it was possible.  I found the place where I thought I might actually do it - an 18% gradient 2km long almost straight stretch of road in Austria on the eastern side of the climb to Kuhtai at a place called Greisen. With a lot of frantic pedalling, breathing and gear shifting I took my chance.  My old-style bike computer using a magnet on the wheel recorded 54.2mph max speed.  A one off.

Shame on the Telegraph though - no cyclist has ever done that speed in central London and the editor knows it.  Motorists on the other hand can be witnessed doing that speed alarmingly often.  A 6.3l bi-turbo struggles to drive slower than 52mph, and there are plenty of vehicles with engines like that with such excess power on London streets.

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kingleo | 2 months ago
9 likes

Cause of Pedestrian Deaths 2022 UK

cars 258,   LGVs 42,  bus/ coach 20,  motorbikes 11,  BICYCLES 0

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Rapha Nadal replied to kingleo | 2 months ago
0 likes

Shouldn't that read as "BICYCLES 1" given that the death in 2022 is what has prompted this who-haa?

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stonojnr replied to Rapha Nadal | 2 months ago
2 likes

it doesnt get counted in those stats, as the she died 2 months later, it was something else the Telegraph moaned about in their reporting claiming the real figure of cyclists causing deaths must therefore be much bigger and was being hidden

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Surreyrider replied to stonojnr | 1 month ago
2 likes

But that cn apply to vehicles too - and they already caused 258 deaths that year.

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stonojnr replied to Surreyrider | 1 month ago
0 likes

Absolutely, but the clowns at the Telegraph don't consider that a problem.

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Hirsute | 2 months ago
13 likes

Driver swerved to avoid 52mph cyclist

//pbs.twimg.com/media/GNxN4iWW0AAGlKM?format=jpg&name=small)

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bensynnock replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
0 likes

It doesn't count. That's an electric car /s

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andystow | 2 months ago
4 likes

What a bunch of grasses. I bet they also took those cyclists' photos without their consent, too.

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stonojnr replied to andystow | 2 months ago
4 likes

nah they photoshopped them, if they were doing 52mph theyd look much blurrier

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Sedis | 1 month ago
15 likes

A couple of days ago I was riding at 27 m.p.h. in a 20 m.p.h. zone (freewheeling down a steep hill.)* when I was overtaken by a taxi like I was standing still. I'm pretty sure they were doing at least 52 m.p.h.

*on my way to work 

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john_smith replied to Sedis | 2 months ago
6 likes

But taxis drivers are professionals. They know what they are doing and they drive responsibly. Anyway the taxi probably had somewhere important to go. Some people actually need to work, not like bone-idle lefty slacker cyclists messing around in their silly lycra on their childish bicycles all day. Maybe if you actually got a job and did some real work for a change you'd be able to afford proper transportation too.

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brooksby replied to john_smith | 2 months ago
1 like

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giff77 replied to john_smith | 2 months ago
0 likes

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Breathe

🤣🤣🤣🤣

Deeper breath

🤣🤣🤣🤣

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Clem Fandango | 2 months ago
8 likes

Cyclists; Holding drivers up whilst riding dangerously fast, since the 1800s.

Just like that time the Alliance of British Drivers (no me either) gotcha'd cyclists using Strava data. Just that the data they chose came from the Tour of Britain....

https://www.reddit.com/r/ukbike/comments/49p1p0/association_of_british_d...

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bloodylazylayabout | 2 months ago
9 likes

52mph!! Sluggard. I once reached 134.9 mph according to my GPS. Even topped 80mph walking

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Hirsute replied to bloodylazylayabout | 2 months ago
7 likes

I managed about 60kph in the last 1km of a walk as I forgot to press stop before getting in the car.

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
3 likes

And what is the Secretary of State for Transport doing about that?!

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Hirsute replied to chrisonabike | 2 months ago
7 likes

Banning cyclists and pedestrians in central London. They are both hazards that should be removed for the hard working, tax paying motorist.

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