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“Discriminatory” council urged to “change car brain mindset” after cyclists banned from entering recycling centres on bikes; ‘Interesting’ Highway Code takes; Cyclists blast sports reporter for filming “unacceptable” group ride + more on the live blog

It’s finally February, and Ryan Mallon’s here to celebrate with more bike-related shenanigans on Wednesday’s live blog
01 February 2023, 09:16
Recycling Centre (Love Essex)
“Discriminatory” council urged to “change car brain mindset” after cyclists banned from entering recycling centres on bikes

Essex County Council has been accused of introducing “discriminatory” measures against cyclists after it announced that, as part of a new trial booking system for recycling centres in the county, people on bikes will be asked to leave them at the gates.

The council revealed at the start of this week that a new booking system will be tested at all ECC recycling centres from 13 March, in a bid to “help manage waiting times, reduce congestion, and improve the customer experience”.

> Cyclists banned from Hereford tip during coronavirus outbreak

While Blue Badge holders, pedestrians, and cyclists will not be required to book a slot at the skip, Love Essex nevertheless confirmed that “cyclists visiting recycling centres are asked to leave their push bikes at the pedestrian gate and should not bring them into the site”.

‘Why?’, I hear you cry.

Well, because “there are no cycle paths for them to safely travel on the pedestrian walkways”, apparently.

The rather questionable policy was condemned on Twitter last night, with one cyclist describing the bike ban as “discriminatory” not only to cyclists, but also to “those with disabilities or mobility issues, as well as those with cargo bikes or trailers”.

“We have every right to cycle into the site like every person driving,” wrote Twitter user 2 Wheeled Wolf.

“I’ve taken refuse to the recycling centre for years without incident like I did last week. I suggest you change your car brain mindset on this as we have to cycle on the roads to get there and there’s no more risk cycling on your sites with drivers.”

Other cyclists were just as baffled by Essex County Council’s ‘no bikes at the tip’ policy, and in response shared their own, more pleasant experiences at recycling centres in other parts of the country.

Pedalmania tweeted the following, altogether more inclusive and Highway Code-worthy advice from Rugby:

While others highlighted the enjoyable side of riding your bike to the tip:

01 February 2023, 10:57
Motorists and their, ahem, ‘interesting’ Highway Code interpretations

With the often confrontational and sometimes toxic online conversations between cyclists and motorists making headlines in recent days, this confident (and rather misguided) attempt to interpret the Highway Code caught my eye while scrolling this morning:

For those of you foiled by Twitter’s weird layout, the post reads: “Actually the Highway Code states you have to give way to overtaking vehicles. Cyclists are not above the Highway Code.”

However, as another user noted, that’s not exactly what the Highway Code actually says:

That latest motoring hot take prompted reader Ian Spencer – who’s weighed in on the whole ‘riding in the middle of the lane’ thing before on the live blog – to share some rules from the “Highway Code, according to drivers who haven’t read the Highway Code” (available in all good, imaginary bookshops):

Ian’s certainly been busy this morning (good lad), but can you think of any more carefully-followed rules from the Bad Drivers’ Highway Code?

01 February 2023, 13:25
“I’m not gonna run them over, but get off the road!”: US sports presenter blasted by cyclists – including Jonathan Vaughters – for posting video of “unacceptable” group ride

US-based sports presenter Jake Reiner – the son, incidentally, of This is Spinal Tap actor and writer Rob Reiner – experienced what he called “one of the wilder social media days I’ve had in a while” after posting a clip of a group of cyclists riding in front of him on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California.

Reiner, who works as a sports anchor for Los Angeles-based and CBS-owned KCAL News, claimed to have spent “five minutes” driving behind the cyclists, and captioned the clip: “This is unacceptable”.

The presenter’s stance on the group ride was supported by fellow sports host Ashley Brewer, a regular on ESPN’s SportsCenter, while Reiner also indulged in a few questionable replies to other anti-cycling tweets:

Unsurprisingly, the clip – and the circumstances in which it was filmed – attracted the attention of Cycling Twitter, including some familiar faces from the live blog:

Helpfully, Reiner clarified that he was never tempted to hurt the cyclists, he just believes that they shouldn’t be on the road: 

Ah, that’s that cleared up then…

Even EF Education-EasyPost manager Jonathan Vaughters took a break from dreaming up zany kit releases to get involved, with some pertinent reminders for his country’s sports reporters:

And some broader reminders, too: 

I’m sure… 

01 February 2023, 16:49
Racing roundup: Biniam Girmay lays down marker for spring classics, as Arnaud De Lie makes it two from three for 2023

Spring classics contenders, watch out: Biniam Girmay is coming for you.

After a sensational debut season in the pro ranks, which saw Girmay pick up breakthrough wins at Gent-Wevelgem and the Giro d’Italia, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty’s 22-year-old Eritrean sensation has certainly hit the ground running in 2023.

After a second and a third in Mallorca last week, Girmay secured his first win of the season – and his first leader’s jersey in a European stage race – at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana today, surviving the day’s main climbs before blowing away his rivals on the uphill drag to the line to Altea to lay down an ominous marker for the rest of the season.

And it wasn’t even close – when Girmay launched his sprint with almost 300m to go, he simply left Jumbo-Visma’s 21-year-old powerhouse Olav Kooij and Movistar’s Iván García Cortina (along with half of the disorganized Spanish squad, who followed close behind) trailing in his wake.

The cobbled classics are set to be spicy this year…

And speaking of young riders laying down a marker, Lotto-Dstny’s 20-year-old sprinting sensation Arnaud De Lie continued his meteoric career trajectory at the Etoile de Bessèges this afternoon, securing his second win from three race days in 2023.

The precocious Belgian, who won’t even be able to order a beer in America until March, followed former world champion Mads Pedersen’s attack on the brutally steep ramp to the finish in Bellegarde, before easily dispatching the Trek-Segafredo rider, along with AG2R’s Benoît Cosnefroy, in the final 100 metres for a stunning win.

Cycling’s fine young things clearly show no signs of slowing down this season… And doesn’t it feel good to almost have too much racing to watch again?

01 February 2023, 16:21
“What happens if I’m taking a bike to the tip?”: Talking rubbish in the comments section

Well, there’s been plenty of rubbish spouted on today’s live blog (even more than usual, I know).

Here’s a selection of your thoughts on the extremely exciting topic du jour – taking your bike (or not) to the tip:

eburtthebike: “I’m confused, even more than normal: ‘Cyclists visiting recycling centres are asked to leave their push bikes at the pedestrian gate and should not bring them onto the site’ and ‘Please note, any resident that parks outside and attempts to walk waste in will be refused entry.’

“One rule for cyclists and the opposite rule for drivers; highly consistent.”

delthebike: “The most dangerous traffic you'll encounter on your tip trip is not the traffic on the site, typically with a 5mph site limit, it will be the 20 to 40mph roads you have to navigate to get there in the first place.”

Martin73: “Sounds like Essex Council is promoting active travel to me. That short walk from the entrance to the bins will do cyclists the world of good. Probably best to not treat it like a training ride though, turn off Strava and leave your SPDs at home.”

HoarseMann: “At least they are letting pedestrians use the tip. In Milton Keynes, unless you have a car, you can't use the tip. The booking form asks you for the numberplate of the vehicle you plan to use – no booking, no access!

“There's even a ‘no pedestrian access’ sign on the entrance [below], yet once you drive through the gates, you can get out of your car and walk about. No wonder there’s a fly-tipping epidemic in the city.

Milton Keynes tip (credit - HoarseMann)

Born_peddling: “The local authority where I’m at hides behind the excuse ‘vehicles only’ as they have plates, but the CCTV cameras were provided to read the newer QR code stickers for van/trailer users. They even attempted to have an old fella arrested because ‘he was trying to subvert the system by using the QR code system for his cargo bike and trailer’!”

Festina: “My local tip (South Gloucestershire) you can turn up whenever by car but if you walk or cycle you have to book an appointment which will require two days’ notice. Council build everything around a car mentality.”

The little onion: “My personal frustration is going to pick up a parcel from the post office depot - all the ones within a 15 mile radius of our house have ample car parking, but absolutely nowhere to lock up a bike. Usually you are told to lock them against a railing 100 yards away, thus blocking the pavement slightly.

“Why can we plan for ample car parking, but not even think about crappy Sheffield stands for bikes?”

Bringing a fridge to the tip (credit - kamoshika)

Who says you can’t bring a fridge to the tip by bike? Not reader kamoshika, anyway.

And finally…

mattw: “What happens if I am taking a bike to the tip?”

hawkinspeter: “Just leave it outside and let them figure it out.”

01 February 2023, 16:08
(Retro Raleigh) Bikes on Strike

Spotted by’s roving Londoner Simon this lunchtime on Regent Street:

Bikes on strike
01 February 2023, 15:21
Road dogs

The European road racing season may still be in its infancy, but we’ve already had our first worrying case of unsupervised, and I imagine anxious, dogs making their way onto the course as the peloton passes.

Our canine friends appeared as the riders made their way off the descent of the Coll de Rates, the popular training climb and mythical Strava segment near the Costa Blanca, with over 50km to go on the opening stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

Thankfully, it seems that no four-legged pets or two-wheeled pros were hurt during the impromptu mid-race incursion. 

01 February 2023, 14:53

Saudi Arabia’s Azzam Alabdulmunim here, getting a little help from the commissaire’s car as he made his way back to the peloton at his home tour this afternoon (and after a particularly sticky bottle from the team car too):

01 February 2023, 14:23
U23 world time trial champion Søren Wærenskjold takes first pro win at Saudi Tour

Uno-X’s promising Norwegian Søren Wærenskjold demonstrated his uphill sprinting prowess with a stunning late surge to take the first professional victory of his young career on stage three of the Saudi Tour.

With the punchy finale to Abu Rakah proving too much for race leader Dylan Groenewegen, stage two winner Jonathan Milan briefly appeared to have the measure of all the other fast men as he launched his sprint with 250m to go.

However, 22-year-old Wærenskjold, who took the U23 world time trial in Wollongong last year, proved he had the speed and the power to overhaul the Bahrain-Victorious sprinter in the dying metres for a breakthrough win.

“It’s fantastic, I’ve waited for this for some time,” the Norwegian said at the finish. “I’ve been good in the U23 class, but I haven’t managed to take a pro win yet, so this is really fantastic.”

And if a sprint at the end of a long slog through a desert wasn’t enough to sort your cycling fix (to be honest, I’d be worried if it was), two – yes two! – of the traditional European stage race curtain raisers are kicking off this afternoon, the Étoile de Bessèges and the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

Thank God it’s February – bring on the road racing!

01 February 2023, 12:47
Tortec Reflector Mudguards
Fancy one day leading out Sam Bennett? Bora-Hansgrohe and Red Bull launch global talent scouting programme

In the latest iteration of ‘The X Factor, but with cyclists’, Bora-Hansgrohe has launched its new talent spotting programme, at the end of which two promising racers will be awarded contracts at the German squad’s feeder team, as well as a Red Bull partnership deal.

The ‘Red Bull Junior Brothers’ scheme, according to Bora-Hansgrohe, aims to seek out “the next generation of professional road cyclists”, by creating a pathway for young riders all over the world to enter the pro ranks.

Sam Bennett, 2019 Vuelta a España (PhotoGomezSport)


The programme is open to U19 male riders – so you have to be born in 2006 or 2007 (which I’m sure makes us all feel very old) – who can sign up and log their rides on Zwift or Strava before 31 May.

The top performing riders, judged on their logged rides and subsequent video application, will be invited to a training camp in August.  

The chosen two will then be awarded contracts for Bora’s junior team Auto Eder and given Red Bull athlete partnership deals (which I assume includes the funky helmets worn by Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert).

“This is the first time that Red Bull is involved with a project in road cycling globally, and I am proud that they are doing this together with Bora-Hansgrohe,” says team manager Ralph Denk.

“In addition, the programme itself is also a milestone for us in terms of scouting. Through the Red Bull Junior Brothers, we can search for talent worldwide and even reach those who might not otherwise take part in races at all.”

So, if you’re a junior racer and fancy one day riding alongside Sam Bennett and Aleksandr Vlasov, here’s your chance

01 February 2023, 12:15
Team is back!
01 February 2023, 11:37
“How does writing a few extra lines in a book that the majority of drivers haven’t read in literally decades positively effect behaviours?”: The Highway Code changes, one year on – a case study

While we’re on the subject of the Highway Code and how drivers interpret (or just completely ignore) it, West Midlands Police’s Mark Hodson – one of the co-founders of the pioneering cycling safety initiative Operation Close Pass – posted a lengthy thread this morning on the success of last year’s much-discussed updates.

To mark the one-year anniversary of the changes, Hodson assessed how one of the updates – that motorists should now give way to pedestrians at junctions – has positively contributed, or not, to the behaviour of motorists.

Here’s what he had to say:

“How does writing a few extra lines in a book that the majority of drivers haven’t read in literally decades positively effect behaviours?

“Well, let’s look at one particular part of the changes, the priority/right of way given to pedestrians at junctions. Now it’s a ‘should’ rule, not a ‘must’, so there are circumstances where a driver who thinks it is not safe to give way to the pedestrians could justify not giving priority, but that obviously is on an evidential basis and most likely will be due to another offending driver’s behaviour... tailgating.

“So, I monitored a junction over the last three months to see if the new rule was effective. This is the junction [below], perfect as it has excellent all-round visibility so pedestrians can be easily seen.

“The minor road has speed cushions to slow approaching traffic, meaning awareness should be high from slowing drivers and the pedestrian refuge highlights the fact that pedestrians will be crossing at the location.

“The main road is a 30mph limit with speed camera signage keeping speeds low – well, “lower” – and lastly the drivers turning right off the main road have a filter so there’s plenty of opportunity to wait there until the junction is free of pedestrians.

“Now it doesn’t look very busy on the photos and unless the school run is on it generally is quiet, again making it perfect to assess driver behaviour around the new rule.

“So over three months, just over 200 interactions between drivers and pedestrians were monitored by myself at varying times of the day, usually whilst walking the hounds or going to the local shop where drivers could and should have given way to the pedestrian present as per the now-year old rule.

“Only 11 drivers gave way. Interestingly on seven of those positive interactions the pedestrian was walking a dog.

“But I’m fairly sure that if you did this monitoring two years previously the results would be roughly the same – the new rule is ignored or not known by the vast majority of drivers apart from the those eleven who were most likely considerate drivers who would give priority to the crossing pedestrian rule change or no rule change.

“So it's safe to conclude that wholesale driver behaviour has not been improved by the rule change, the few extra lines in the book didn't work...

> Highway Code changes: Cycling UK calls for long-term public awareness campaign to help produce a "mindset shift" on British roads

“So how do you change the careless and inconsiderate offending behaviour in contravention of the rule being regularly exhibited?

“Firstly the initial launch from the Department for Transport was underwhelming to say the least, the rule needs a lengthy high priority educational campaign to raise awareness to the point of no excuse.

“You then follow that up with a bespoke enforcement campaign akin to Operation Close Pass, where in the first 12-month phase educational alternatives, by way of a ten minute roadside input into the changes and why they are important, is given. Only then will you see the change in behaviour desired by the rule change in the Highway Code.

“Or you could introduce regular retesting… but that’s a thread for another day.”

01 February 2023, 10:27
‘When your bins are more secure than your cycling infrastructure’
01 February 2023, 09:54
Intermarché pulls a Harry Redknapp on transfer deadline day

It was only ever going to be a matter of time before Intermarché-Circus-Wanty’s social media manager took time off from celebrating the Belgian team’s ascent to the top of the UCI rankings to delve into everyone’s favourite yellow and freezing journalist-themed day of rumours and fax machines:

I can just imagine the former world champion leaning out of the window of his Range Rover, telling a drenched reporter, ‘There’ll be no more deals today, I say. I’m away for a cuppa’…

via Gfycat

Rui Costa 4

 Spot the difference…

Ryan joined 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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