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Do lower speed limits make you feel safer?; Cycling Mikey claims texting motorist assaulted him; Plant with the Pidcocks; Dowsett's new deal; Wacky bike sculptures; Westminster weirdness; Memorial for Devon’s ‘Mr Cycling’ + more on the live blog

It’s Thursday on the live blog! And after Dan’s storming lead-out yesterday, Ryan Mallon will be hoping he doesn’t get boxed in during the final sprints of the week…
13 January 2022, 18:15
Mars-Flandria
Throwback Thursday (is that still a thing?) - I need a Mars bar...

That’s it for today folks – I’ll see you all tomorrow for the last blog of the week (hurrah!).

While we’ve had our fill today of useless speed limits, angry texting drivers, and pointless parliamentarians, here’s something light to kick off your Thursday evening.

Following yesterday’s news that Prendas Ciclismo will restock its retro jersey collection, I decided to take a look back at our ‘Full Kit Ranker’, a poll held by road.cc in 2020 to decide the greatest pro cycling kit of all time.

I was shocked – shocked I tell you – to discover that this little beauty (worn with distinction and style by Roger de Vlaeminck and in replica form by yours truly, with ever so slightly less distinction and style) wasn’t even included on the final shortlist of 16 kits, robbing us of an Undertones reference or two in the process.

Roger de Vlaeminck

The 2004 US Postal kit did, however, make the cut. Postal, really? A travesty. Now who can I have a word with?

13 January 2022, 16:53
More nonsense at Westminster

There have been plenty of serious, potent questions asked this week in the House of Commons. This query from the Conservative MP for Bosworth Luke Evans, however, is not one of them:

Needless to say, Evans’ question has went down on Twitter about as well as a Downing Street “work meeting” at the height of lockdown:

And finally, this cracker from road.cc's own Simon MacMichael: 

Replying to Dr Evans’ question, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Transport Wendy Norton said:

“Rule 59 of The Highway Code already says that cyclists should wear a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened. It also recommends they should wear light-coloured or fluorescent clothing to help other road users see them in daylight and poor light, as well as reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark. Rule 66 says that cyclists should use their bell when necessary to signal to other road users that they are nearby.

“Changes to The Highway Code are due to come into effect later this month which will clarify and strengthen this advice. 

“The Department has established a working group of key organisations to ensure that these changes are disseminated as widely as possible and understood by all road users. Our well-established THINK! campaign will ensure that as many road users as possible are aware when the changes come into effect, and will also highlight the importance of cyclists following the strengthened advice.”

Maybe they should just stick to organising more work meetings…

13 January 2022, 15:51
Ken Robertson funeral (via Devon Live)
Over 200 cyclists gather to honour the memory of Devon’s ‘Mr Cycling’

Over 200 cyclists from all over the south of England descended on the Torbay Velopark in Paignton yesterday to pay their respects to one of Devon’s most-beloved cycling figures, Ken Robertson.

Members of Mid-Devon CC rode behind his hearse as it completed two laps of the velopark, the creation of which owed much to Ken’s life-long passion for the sport.

Ken suffered a heart attack while on a ride with clubmates just before Christmas. He was 85.

Involved in the sport for over 70 years, Ken organised Mid-Devon’s Dartmoor Classic sportive since its foundation in 2007. He was also the tenth longest-serving member of the national committee of the Road Time Trials Council, a position he held between 1981 and 2001. Fittingly, a time trial in Ken’s memory was held on 27 December.

Ken continued to clock big miles on his bike well into his eighties, riding over 200 miles a week, and to celebrate his 84th birthday last year he rode 84 miles for charity.  

His funeral service was reserved for family and close friends only, but was broadcast live for those gathered at the Queens Hotel in Paignton.

13 January 2022, 15:31
Omicron: more positive cases than an Italian Pro Conti team...
13 January 2022, 14:57
Do lower speed limits mean safer roads? Reader’s reaction

I asked earlier if lowering the speed limit on certain roads would make you feel safer on your bike. Here is a selection of your comments:

Lower speed limits won't help at all.  Drivers ignore existing ones.  Just the other day my daughter said that she had a man raise a middle finger to her to express his dissatisfaction that she had crossed the road too close in front of him.  He was doing 45-50mph according to her, and she misjudged his speed as it is a 30 limit.

She is 15 years old, crossing the road outside her village school.

People like him don't just need a ban, they need a punch in the face.

Do (most) motorists take any notice of lowered speed limits? Fairly recently the road through my (urban) village had the speed limit cut from 30 to 20. When I drive along it at 20 I am always tailgated; when I ride through at 20 or a little over, I am invariably (and, given the traffic lights, pointlessly) overtaken.  

The only situation I see people sticking to a reduced speed limit is on the motorway, in an average speed check roadworks section.

Possibly one of the biggest impacts of smart motorways could be the collisions prevented by the years of heavily enforced speed limits whilst they're being constructed!

We're confusing "ignore" with "obey". The majority of motorists won't obey a speed limit but they do take notice of it as one of the factors that decides their speed. Just as they might cruise at 80 on the motorway (when they think there are no cameras etc), so they'll drive at around 40 in an urban 30 limit – and around 30 in a 20 limit. They also take cues from other things, of course, one of the biggest of which is other drivers.

Speed limits by themselves aren’t really the determining factor that make you feel safer. I often feel safer on some (note not all) 60mph roads more than I would on a 30mph road, because it's about volume of traffic, traffic mix and how that traffic interacts with you.

Yep, what makes me feel safer are careful drivers. You can still have a scary pass at 40mph.

Reducing the speed limit moves the odds more towards serious injury rather than death. Beneficial, but hardly encouraging.

13 January 2022, 14:43
“Wait to be escorted”… eh?

The only time I’ve ever seen anyone escorted with their bikes was outside the pub after the annual Christmas club run…

13 January 2022, 14:23
Julian Alaphilippe wins Fleche Wallonne (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
Alaphilippe to start season at Tour de la Provence

Australian national championships, new kits, riders announcing their schedules… the 2022 road season is nearly here folks! All we need is a quick blast of ‘Wheels in Motion’ and we’re good to go (controversial opinion klaxon – that theme tune is probably the thing I’ve missed most about the Tour Down Under’s Covid-forced hiatus… ducks for cover).

It seems that Julian Alaphilippe is nearly ready for the new season as well. The world champion announced today that he would begin his second year in the rainbow stripes at the Tour de la Provence, which kicks off on 10 February.

The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider also debuted at the four-day stage race last year, and was his usual frisky, flamboyant self on the way to second place behind Colombian Iván Sosa, then riding for Ineos.

Alaphilippe will then head to Italy to race Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo, before tackling April’s Ardennes classics, where he will be hoping to finally break his duck at Liège–Bastogne–Liège. The world champion has finished in the top five of La Doyenne four times in his career so far, and will be hoping to improve on last year’s runners up spot behind Tadej Pogačar.

“Liège–Bastogne–Liège will be the biggest goal in the first part of the year”, said the French fan favourite. “It is a race I love and hopefully I will be up there again, fighting for victory.”

13 January 2022, 12:55
Chichester to Emsworth proposed cycling and walking lane (Image - National Highways)
More active travel routes on the way

Good news! Councillors in Caerphilly and Chichester have backed plans for new active travel routes in their respective areas.

In Caerphilly, there are plans to install 135 miles of walking and cycling routes throughout the county borough. The proposals will be funded by the Welsh government and followed in-depth consultations with local schools, charities and community groups.

A six-mile walking and cycling path along the A259 between Chichester and Emsworth has also been approved by Chichester District Council.

While a majority of those consulted supported the proposals, local cycling groups worried that the new shared-use paths – which will be segregated from traffic on part of the route only – will not help reduce speeds on the road or encourage people to ride their bikes.

13 January 2022, 12:04
Camden bike sculpture (via Direct Line)
Old bike parts = art?

A new sculpture, crafted with reclaimed bike parts, has been installed outside Camden Town Station.

The massive artwork, named ‘Bi-High-Cycle’ for some reason, was designed by Bristol-based mechanical sculpture expert Jason Lane and launched by insurance firm Direct Line to highlight the 1,100 bike thefts which take place across the UK every day.

The installation includes broken parts from 45 different bikes, which incidentally is the same number of bikes stolen on average every hour across the country.

I quite like it. Not sure I would have it in my living room, but it’s better than most of the stuff you see on Etsy…

13 January 2022, 11:36
Alex Dowsett agrees new long-term deal...

Congrats Alex and Chanel! 

13 January 2022, 11:21
30mph sign (licensed CC BY 2.0 on Flickr by Michael Coghlan)
Do lower speed limits make you feel safer on the roads?

Last month Shetland Islands Council initiated a trial lowering the speed limits of roads south of the island’s only town Lerwick by 10mph.

The aim of the trial, which is to last 18 months and will see a number of roads reduced from a 60mph limit to 50mph, is to assess the impact lower speed limits have on the use of active travel.

The council’s environment and transport committee chairman Ryan Thompson said that “only then will be see if these reductions have made any significant difference.

“Shetland has seen a substantial increase in active travel during the Covid pandemic, so it would be wrong not to do everything we can to encourage this.”

However, Lerwick Community Council chairman Jim Anderson told a meeting this week that he was not convinced that lowering the speed limit would encourage people to walk or cycle more.

Anderson also said that new cycling infrastructure was impractical unless “a lot of money was stumped up”, a stance which was criticised by a fellow councillor as “depressingly unambitious.”

What do you think? Do lower speed limits actually make you feel safer when cycling on the roads?

13 January 2022, 10:43
Plant with the Pidcocks

 He may be used to pulling up trees when he’s racing, but off the bike Tom Pidcock has pledged to plant them.

Way back in October 2019 (remember then? That’s about four lifetimes ago…), Pidcock raised £4,000 by selling off his old kit.

He planned to use the money to plant as many trees as possible in a bid to offset his carbon emissions accrued during the racing season.

In December 2019 his mum and girlfriend planted 250 trees at the cyclo-park in Gravesend. Tom was told by his coach, however, that he couldn’t help out with the planting due to the threat of injury. Typical cyclists, eh? Maybe some of you could use that excuse when you’re asked to bring the tree down from the attic next Christmas…

Anyway, Pidcock announced yesterday that his family would be planting 500 more trees at the cyclo-park this Sunday, and called for volunteers to help out. So if you’re near Gravesend and free at the weekend, you can do your bit to nudge pro cycling’s environmental impact in the right direction.

Unfortunately Tom won’t be there – he has the small matter of an Ineos training camp on this week. Anything to get out of some work…

13 January 2022, 09:31
Cycling Mikey claims he was assaulted by texting motorist

Mike van Erp, better known by his online alter ego Cycling Mikey, has established himself over the past few years as the king of London’s helmet camera users.

Motivated by his experience as a teenager when his father was killed by a drunk driver, he has reported close to 1,000 law-breaking motorists to the police since 2006 and has proven a particular thorn in the side of those intent on using their phone while driving.

Mikey’s camera has even picked up a few famous scalps along the way, including ex-boxer Chris Eubank, film maker Guy Ritchie and footballer Frank Lampard (coming to a court near you soon).

However, last night it seems one driver – filmed while sending a WhatsApp behind the wheel – took exception to the two-wheeled videographer’s methods:

Luckily no damage was done to Mike’s camera, so hopefully the enraged driver will have his day in court. 

13 January 2022, 09:35
Is it Friday yet?

Anyone else’s Thursday morning feel like this? Just me?

Irish cyclo-cross championships (image credit - INPHO)

This particular photo, taken at last week’s Irish cyclo-cross championships, in many ways encapsulates the beautiful brutality of existence – that harsh, relentless but ultimately evocative give-and-take between man, machine and nature.

Or maybe it just tells us that cyclo-cross is really hard…

Ryan joined road.cc 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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