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Bike shorts in January? Cold cycle lane clip sparks clothing debate amid motorist meltdown over “Lycra clad speedsters” riding in “wrong lane”; London “world’s slowest city for drivers” study slammed; “Disrespectful” cyclotourists + more on the live blog

Is it the weekend yet? What, it’s only Wednesday? Are you sure? And on that disappointing bombshell, Ryan Mallon’s back to glass crank his way through the middle of the week live blog

SUMMARY

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10 January 2024, 09:08
Cycleway 4 in January (Greenwich Cyclists, Twitter)
Bike shorts in January: A good idea? Cyclists debate January clothing choices in cold cycle lane clip – while motorists have meltdown over ‘dark’ cycling kit and overtaking riders in “wrong lane”

To layer up, or not to layer up, that was the question raised by a brief clip of yesterday’s morning commute on London’s Cycleway 4, thanks to the presence of a tough/foolhardy [delete as appropriate] cyclist making his way to work with his knees firmly on show as the temperature barely nudged above zero.

With the mercury rapidly plummeting this week, the clothing choices of the cyclists around us can certainly divide opinion.

And while we’ll never tell you what to wear while on your bike (it’s up to you at the end of the day), I’ve always been in the ‘more layers the better’ camp – and, in my wilder, youthful days, have been known to express derision towards the ‘hard men’ in the group ride steadfastly intent on donning shorts as ice glints in the background (wearing shorts throughout winter is not a personality trait, alright?).

Anyway, off my soapbox I go, and back to Greenwich Cyclists’ clip, which the OP captioned with “Bit nippy at 2C. Kudos to the guy in shorts.”

Others, such as Clare, were also impressed by our Le Col shorts-sporting friend’s attire:

And Pablo even said he “saw a guy in a t-shirt on his bike today”. I’m cold just thinking about it.

However, others weren’t as impressed. “Saw two or three in shorts on my way in this morning. Far too cold for me to be doing the same!” wrote Clarissa.

“Yes and, er, no,” road safety guru Bob Davis replied. “The only people I have known who went out with uncovered knees at temperatures below 5 Centigrade developed knee problems.”

“Steep learning curve for a few gloveless Lime users yesterday,” added Guido.

However, since the clip was posted on Twitter, we also had the usual hordes of commenters moving the conversation away from the important stuff – like whether shorts in winter is a good idea – and criticising instead the cycling on display on Cycleway 4.

“Oh yes indeed passing the cyclists decked out in black, they’ll be finishing work before it gets dark,” Nigel chipped in with the obligatory dark clothing remark.

Meanwhile, most of the other anti-cycling snoopers were intent on criticising the decision by a number of the riders to overtake the FedEx delivery cyclist.

“Why are cyclists riding on the wrong side of the cycle way? Cyclists coming the other way (correctly) had to move out of the way,” said Tony.

“Is that bad cycling in an oncoming cycle lane?” asked Ian, while Oliver wrote: “Some pretty impatient cyclists there including the camera crossing hard white going on the wrong side and almost clipping oncoming just to get a few yards ahead.”

“And ‘kudos’ to you for showing all the cyclists who don’t know how to ride on the left of a two-way bike lane, but would scream if a car did the same thing,” added Xuan.

“Look at how they use their own cycle lines,” said Lucian (and I assume he meant ‘lanes’). “Close passes, dangerous overtaking, inconsiderate, wrong side, almost head-on collision. Then they take this onto the real roads and always claim that it’s the motorists that are the danger.”

Finally, the very observant Ged wrote: “If car drivers are supposed to give cyclists 1.5 metres when they pass so the cyclist feels safe, shouldn’t cyclists also give 1.5 metres? I think if I was out cycling and one the lycra clad speedsters hurled past me too close I would feel very unsafe.”

Yes, because those two things are exactly the same… Can’t we just have a nice debate about cycling shorts for once?

10 January 2024, 16:58
naked bike ride.jpg
“People need to stop gatekeeping what others wear. They’re not your legs”: Reaction to the great shorts debate

Turns out people can get quite riled up by a tongue-in-cheek blog story about cyclists in shorts, can’t they? I know, I know, it’s the internet in 2024, I really should know better by now.

“People need to stop gatekeeping what others wear. If someone is comfortable in shorts then let it be. They’re not your legs,” Gaz wrote on Twitter, that renowned breeding ground of thoughtful, conscientious debate.

Even those bike riding naturists, the Free Wilders got involved, which was an interesting turn of events, to say the least. “We are cyclists and body freedom campaigners,” they said.

“Wear what you’re comfortable wearing and accept us when it’s warm and we wear nothing on our tandem bike.”

Fair point!

Free Wilders naked LEJOG ride (Grant Murchie, Twitter)

> Naked tandem couple hit by driver in Scotland make it to Land’s End

However, others were less concerned with gatekeeping and freedom of choice as they were about freezing tendons.

“Unlike muscles, tendons have no direct blood supply. In cold weather they can stretch and snap. Keep your knees warm,” said Adespoto.

Meanwhile, Robert Davis agreed with Gaz’s initial comment “in principle”, but added “I would note that the only people I have known who regularly did long rides in sub-five degrees with knees uncovered developed knee problems.

“A lot of newbies (blokes especially) are used to school football with shorts and think that’s the same with cycling, not realising that there is a thing called ‘wind chill’.”

In the blog comments section, IanMK said: “I was actually lectured on the subject of knee problems by an old pro I cycled with on a cold April morning. He actually said that just because it was spring didn’t mean that I should have my knees out on a ‘training ride’.

“He actually set the temp at 15°C. I did go and buy some knee warmers and I still pretty much stick to this advice.”

2023 Castelli Endurance 3 bib shorts

Ah, a knee! Put it away!

While brooksby brought up another potential issue related to clothing choice on the way to work: “Now the weather has (finally?) got cold, I've had my own sartorial problems. I had my heating fixed before Xmas, so my house is properly warm.  And my office is properly warm. But the journey in between is bloody cold.

“Obviously I can take a layer off when I reach the office, but if I dress up for the journey I’m sweltering before I've left the house.”

And on Facebook, Igenlode had a similar problem: “I was out on Sunday and had to start stripping off as per usual once I hit the uphill – I'm currently cycling in shirtsleeves *under* a coat, with the option to open the coat/take off gloves in order to regulate body heat. With a heavy bicycle it's amazing how much sweat you can work up.”

Also, on Facebook, at least Dave took the story in the manner it was intended, writing “spot the northerner”.

Yes, that’s more like it.

Anyway, here’s the bottom line – wear whatever you want on your bike. Even wear nothing, if that’s what you fancy.

And never – ever – listen to some smartarse writing a tongue-in-cheek story on a cycling live blog…

10 January 2024, 12:09
20mph sign (CC licensed by EdinburghGreens via Flickr)
“Are TomTom really advocating for 50mph limits in built-up areas?” Study claiming London is the “world’s slowest city for drivers” slammed

A recent study from Sat Nav company TomTom – which claims that London is the world’s slowest city for drivers, apparently due to the widespread use of 20mph speed limits – has been fiercely criticised by active travel campaigners and politicians, who have branded the study’s findings “misleading” and “disingenuous”.

According to TomTom’s analysis, journeys of 10km in central London took an average of 37 minutes and 20 seconds last year, the longest time of the 387 cities, from 55 countries, assessed.

“London really is the slowest place in the world to drive a car,” TomTom’s Stephanie Leonard said.

“Especially in the core city centre, you don’t have maximum speed limits of 50mph or higher, it’s a maximum of 20mph. You don't have the infrastructure for driving very quickly.”

Ah yes, it’s the lack of 50mph speed limits that are the main reason everyone’s not buzzing around London in their cars. Makes sense…

TfL 20mph limit

Naturally, TomTom’s rather shaky analysis has been skewered by people who actually know a thing or two about what they’re talking about.

“It’s that time again when private traffic companies disingenuously mix up correlation and causation to secure headlines,” West Midlands Cycling and Walking Commissioner Adam Tranter tweeted this morning in response to the study.

“Are TomTom really advocating for 50mph limits in built-up areas? Consistently lower speeds aid traffic flow and reduce congestion. 20mph saves lives.”

Replying to Tranter’s tweet, Rebecca wrote: “It’s partly thanks to TomTom that every single side street and through road is now a dangerous ratrun. So TomTom can go twizzle on themselves.”

> "Far more pleasant for walkers and cyclists": 20mph speed limit analysis hailed "astonishing", with drivers' journeys just 45 seconds longer

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This study is misleading as it only includes analysis from a very small part of the city centre, not the whole of London.

“Roadworks are the biggest cause of congestion in cities, which is why the mayor’s infrastructure co-ordination service is working with boroughs and utility companies to reduce delays caused by roadworks, helping to save London road users over 1,250 days of roadworks since 2019.”

“We disagree with this analysis of road speeds and believe it is not representative of London as a whole,” TfL's director of network management and resilience Carl Eddleston added.

“This report only looks at data collected up to 5km from the centre, regardless of the city’s overall size and density, which means that fair comparisons with other cities cannot be made.”

10 January 2024, 16:27
Mark Beaumont and Davy Zyw organise Edinburgh ride for Doddie Aid

If you’re knocking about the Scottish capital this weekend, make sure to pop down to Holyrood on Saturday at noon with your bike.

Because, as well as taking in the majestic scenery (and the not-so-majestic Scottish parliament), there you’ll be able to join round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont and author Davy Zyw for three fun laps around Arthur’s Seat – all in the name of Doddie Aid, a virtual mass-participation exercise event that kicked off on New Year’s Day and raises funds for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, the late Scottish rugby hero Doddie Weir’s motor neurone disease charity.

Now that sounds like a great – and worthwhile – way to spend a weekend in Auld Reekie.

10 January 2024, 16:09
Go Outdoors aims to resolve national shortage of cycle mechanics by offering apprenticeships to store staff
GO Outdoors x Activate Apprenticeship in Bike Mechanics - 6

> Go Outdoors aims to resolve national shortage of cycle mechanics by offering apprenticeships to store staff

(Featuring some insightful contributions from our regular live blog commenters – cheers!)

10 January 2024, 15:54
For the day that’s in it: 15-minute city pioneer Carlos Moreno announces he’s set to lecture at Oxford University on the controversial and misrepresented urban planning concept

Hmmm, I wonder if any government ministers will keep 29 February free for an informative trip to Oxford?

10 January 2024, 15:27
Orange Bikes - credit Orange bikes4
“This is not the end for Orange Bikes”: Popular mountain bike manufacturer releases statement after filing notice of intention to appoint an administrator

Four days after the news broke that pioneering mountain bike manufacturer Orange Bikes has filed its intention to appoint an administrator – a development itself emerging just weeks after the company’s racing team was wound down, citing the current “uncertainty” in the bike industry – the Halifax-based brand this morning a released a statement on Linkedin, assuring customers that “this is not the end for Orange Bikes”.

“We appreciate all the kind words and encouragement we’ve received from our loyal customers and fans. It’s heartwarming to see the continued support and passion for Orange Bikes,” the statement said.

“While we can’t provide many details at the moment, we want to assure you that this is not the end for Orange Bikes.

“We are committed to delivering high-quality bikes and maintaining our strong presence in the industry. Thank you again for your support, and stay tuned for more updates from Orange Bikes.”

> Orange Bikes - the story of Britain’s most iconic bike brand

10 January 2024, 14:54
Julian Alaphilippe (Zac Williams/SWpix)
Julian Alaphilippe set for Giro d’Italia debut this season – and confirms he will miss the Tour de France

While most of the focus come May will be on Tadej Pogačar’s first crack at the Giro d’Italia, as the Slovenian aims to secure the first Giro-Tour double for 26 years, another one of the sport’s biggest names is also set to make his Corsa Rosa debut this year: Julian Alaphilippe.

In an interview with L’Équipe ahead of the Tour Down Under, the two-time world champion confirmed that he will target stage wins at the Giro this year, after a spring campaign focused on Strade Bianche, Milan-Sanremo, and the Flemish classics, as part of his desire to “change” things up.

Julian Alaphilippe (picture credit ASO, Alex Broadway, SWpix.com)

(Alex Broadway/SWpix.com)

However, the 31-year-old’s revamped schedule means he won’t be lining up in Florence for the start of this summer’s Tour de France and will therefore miss out on Soudal Quick-Step teammate Remco Evenepoel’s long-awaited debut at the race.

“It’s by no means a punishment or a non-selection,” Alaphilippe said of his decision to target the Giro rather than ride in support of Evenepoel’s GC hopes at the Tour. “Doing the Giro has been at the back of my mind for some time now.

“The question was more to do with ‘when shall I decide to go?’ and I thought ‘why not this year? Looking at [races in] Australia, the classics, and the Giro, I felt like a change.”

Julian Alaphilippe wins Tour de France 2020 Stage 2 (copyright Cor Vos, SWpix.com)

(Cor Vos/SWpix.com)

The flamboyant Frenchman – who counts six stage wins, a mesmerising spell in the yellow jersey, and a King of the Mountains title among his list of successes at the Tour – also said that when he suggested the idea of racing the Giro to Patrick Lefevere, the team boss agreed, apparently claiming that he did not want to see Alaphilippe sacrificing his Tour de France by riding purely in the service of Evenepoel.

“It’s neither my remit nor my full worth to do that,” Alaphilippe said, before noting that he would have had no problems working for Evenepoel – as he did during the Belgian star’s successful tilt at the Vuelta in 2022 – and that the decision was based purely on a desire to streamline the team’s goals in both races.

“It’s my decision,” he insisted. “I designed my programme and it was confirmed by the team so that way we’d go for stage wins in the Giro and then the GC [with Evenepoel] in the Tour.”

10 January 2024, 14:24
‘Alright Pogi, can we just make it through one training camp ride without you popping a wheelie and dropping us? Cheers mate’

Rumours that Pogačar is intent on wheelieing his way around the Giro d’Italia this year remain unconfirmed. 

10 January 2024, 13:42
“Crackpot conspiracy theory” led to government slashing active travel funding

A “crackpot conspiracy theory” that misrepresents the urban planning concept of the 15-minute city led to the government slashing funding for active travel and pledge to review measures aimed at curbing the use of private motor vehicles, it has emerged.

The Guardian’s Peter Walker reports that documents obtained by the Transport Action Network (TAN), which has brought a legal challenge to the swingeing cuts imposed by Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt last year, reveal that conspiracy theories were partly responsible for the change in tack by the government. 

Criticising the “absurdity” of ministers being “swept away by hysteria about 15-minute cities, at the same time that other government departments were defending them”, TAN’s director Chris Todd noted that the “shocking revelations show Rishi Sunak was more concerned with crazy conspiracy theories than helping people travel safely and cheaply”.

Cyclist and Palace of Westminster (copyright Simon MacMichael)

Read more: > “Crackpot conspiracy theory” led to government slashing active travel funding

10 January 2024, 12:44
No, I don’t know what’s going on at Groupama-FDJ’s team presentation either

Ah, professional cyclists, always the most fashionable and smooth of sporting stars. That snazzy blazer, white t-shirt, jeans, and white trainers combo – a very French chef’s kiss.

Though surely they could have managed to put together a stage big enough for a handful of spindly climbers and Marc Madiot? Or make sure their new Wilier bike could stand up on its own without the help of Stefan Küng? And why did it take place in what appears to be the abandoned basement of a new university? So many questions…

10 January 2024, 13:12
What were the best road and gravel wheels of the year, I hear you ask? Well, wonder no more, as the road.cc Recommends Awards committee has all the answers…
10 January 2024, 11:45
“This is enabling active travel”: Council praised for swift clean-up of flooded bike routes

While last week’s live blogs tended to focus on the slow, lethargic response from some local authorities when it came to dealing with the plethora of flooded cycle routes across the UK, over in Worcester – where one cycle path is under water an astonishing 20 days a year on average, according to the local cycling campaign group – the council has earned praise for its swift clean-up operation.

> “I can’t help but feel that the response would have been much swifter if it had been a road”: Cyclists bemoan flooded bike routes – and delayed response from authorities – as Storm Henk hits UK

According to Bike Worcester, last week’s Storm Henk-induced bike path cleaning took place “just hours” after the roads were dealt with, and the group’s chair Dan Brothwell tweeted this morning: “HUUUGE thank you to Worcester City Council, Malvern Hills District Council, and WCC Highways for the prompt cleaning of the paths following the recent floods, notably riverside and Hams Way Bridge.

“This is enabling active travel.”

Nevertheless, despite the good reactive work from the council, Bike Worcester also noted that “while the routes are great for a safer route from the south of the city, they're the first to close when floods occur.

“If Worcester City Council are to meet the aims of their ambitious Active Travel Plan by 2030, we need better infrastructure that doesn’t spend so much time underwater.”

But at least cleaning the paths is a start I suppose…

10 January 2024, 11:19
Now That’s What I Call a Cycling Kit: Canyon-Sram unveil the jersey of the year
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Canyon Bicycles (@canyon)

10/10. No notes.

And, thankfully, no boring, indistinguishable-from-a-helicopter blue and white variation (I’m looking at you, Bahrain, Decathlon, Soudal Quick-Step, Israel-Premier Tech, Alpecin, Jayco, Groupama-FDJ, Movistar – I’m sure Rob Hatch is buzzing at the prospect of telling all those teams apart…).

Instead, Canyon-Sram’s look, as ever, is what all cycling kits should be – bold, brash, and cool. Oh, and with black shorts, too.

10 January 2024, 10:36
Swiss cyclists' bikes confiscated for riding through national park (Department of Conservation, New Zealand)
Mountain biking in national park “condemned”, as “disrespectful” cyclo-tourists have their bikes confiscated while riding on restricted trail

Over in New Zealand (like Scotland, but further), two Swiss cyclists have been criticised for “disrespecting” the fragile environment and cultural significance of the country’s Tongariro National Park, after they were filmed riding their mountain bikes through the restricted Dual World Heritage site.

Located in the central North Island, the Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand and includes three active volcanoes and a number of religious sites sacred to the Māori people. Under the park’s laws, it is an offence to use any vehicle, including bikes, off-road in the park.

But in November, two Swiss tourists were filmed by bemused hikers on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – deemed one of the world’s best one-day hikes – riding their mountain bikes through the park.

The oblivious tourists’ bikes were subsequently confiscated by the Department of Conservation (DOC), who returned them after the weekend, and the pair were fined $400 each, reports Stuff.

Cyclists' bikes confiscated for riding through national park (Department of Conservation, New Zealand)

DOC Tongariro operations manager George Taylor told reporters that to get to the point where they were filmed, the cyclists had to pass signs warning mountain biking was not permitted in the area, as well as climbing hundreds of steps and pass numerous walkers, while not encountering any other person on a bike.

Taylor also said their ride was “an affront to those working to protect the fragile environment and cultural significance” of the Crossing, and that they “deliberately disregarded the rules and clear communication of those”.

“Bicycles on walking tracks can damage sensitive alpine environments, present a safety risk to trampers [hikers], and are generally disrespectful of this taonga national park,” he said.

The DOC added that the tourists booked their trip through the crossing and would have “received confirmation emails containing safety and cultural information to perhaps avoid their embarrassing mistake”.

Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro spokesperson Te Ngaehe Wanikau added: ““The use of mountain bikes on a track created solely for pedestrian use, places both the users of the crossing, and the unique environment of Tongariro at risk.

“Ngati Hikairo ki Tongariro condemns mountain biking and any other non-pedestrian activity compromising the safety and well-being of people and Tongariro.”

10 January 2024, 10:25
Your morning Near Miss of the Day

For those perpetually perplexed drivers, such as this morning’s batch of Cycleway 4 etiquette critics, still struggling with the difference between being ‘close passed’ by a cyclist and a motorist, here’s a handy reminder…

Read more: > Near Miss of the Day 886: Fast close pass at pinch point – but driver only gets warning letter due to stretched police resources 

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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69 comments

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IanMSpencer replied to IanMSpencer | 4 months ago
3 likes

I won't bore you with quoting any further pokings at Rocky, but we have now established that his health expertise (& he only talks what he knows about) asserts that cycling is bad for anyone over 50 and it is still the case that nobody over 50 can cycle above walking pace. We should all be out walking and pushing weights down the gym apparently. Oh, and cycling is bad because you eat.

 

Avatar
IanMSpencer replied to IanMSpencer | 4 months ago
5 likes

The great thing about Twitter is that the more illogical they are, the more they reveal. We share the roads with these people.

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Hirsute replied to IanMSpencer | 4 months ago
3 likes

Freeman of the land nutter as well.

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brooksby | 4 months ago
2 likes

On "Bike shorts in January: A good idea?" - now the weather has (finally?) got cold, I've had my own sartorial problems.  I had my heating fixed before Xmas, so my house is properly warm.  And my office is properly warm.  But the journey in between is bl00dy cold.  Obviously I can take a layer off when I reach the office, but if I dress up for the journey I'm sweltering before I've left the house 

Avatar
tootsie323 replied to brooksby | 4 months ago
0 likes

I'm going to sound like a bit of a dick saying this but, hell, let's go for it anyway:

Turn off your heating an hour or two before you leave home / office and don't turn on your heating at your destination before you arrive.

(I'd guess that everyone else who lives / works there won't be on board with this idea!)

Avatar
brooksby replied to tootsie323 | 4 months ago
1 like

The rest of my family complained when I set the heating to come on later.

Avatar
andystow replied to brooksby | 4 months ago
2 likes

I just put on my top layers right before I leave, other than a short sleeved base layer, and take them off once I get to my desk. I'm dressed to be a little cool in the first mile. I've never noticed a problem being too hot before I go out the door, but I am removing layers as fast as I can at the end of the trip.

Avatar
Steve K | 4 months ago
6 likes

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/jan/10/shift-from-15-minute-cit...

It's particularly great to see that it's important you can walk or cycle safely, but only if that doesn't inconvenience drivers.

Avatar
HarrogateSpa replied to Steve K | 4 months ago
5 likes

Yes, reallocating road space is essential if quality cycle networks are to be created.

With luck it should be less than a year before the current rabble are booted out of government.

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