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Cyclists divided over video of van driver failing to wait for father and child on busy road; Thibaut Pinot: “The first thing I’ll sell is the turbo trainer”; Police target red light jumping cyclists; Why don’t you use cycle lanes? + more on the live blog

Hopefully it will be a lucky Friday the 13th on the live blog today, as Ryan Mallon’s back for one last roundup of the latest cycling news and views before the weekend
13 January 2023, 09:23
Van driver and cyclist pass on busy London road (Lauren O'Brien, Twitter)
“When you turn roads into car parks you put other road users at risk”: Cyclists divided over video of van driver failing to wait for father and child on busy road

It seems as if the ‘motorist versus child on bike: who should give way?’ debate is becoming something of a monthly occurrence these days.

The first few weeks of November, for example, were dominated by the viral clip of a driver refusing to stop before narrowly passing an oncoming five-year-old cyclist, which sparked a hotly contested debate that made it all the way to Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 show and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer (I know, who hasn’t been Chancellor lately?) Sajid Javid.

Viral video debated on Jeremy Vine show (screenshot Twitter video/ @azb2019)

> Viral video of driver refusing to stop for five-year-old cyclist debated on Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 show

And then, a month later, another strikingly similar video popped up on the live blog, this time depicting a taxi driver ploughing straight ahead as a young cyclist passed… and on a school street too.

And now, as we enter January’s sluggish middle section, and just like clockwork, we’ve been treated again to another round of viral video déjà vu.

Posting the following clip of a van driver and cyclist (with a child) narrowly passing each other on a London street made narrow by the two lines of parked cars, safe cycling campaigner Lauren asked: “Should the van have waited here and given the father and child more space? That would have been the safest thing to do.”

The video has, inevitably, divided opinion – though this time even amongst cyclist themselves.

While several commenters were critical of the motorist’s driving…

… Others questioned the cyclist’s actions, or reckoned that the situation was well-negotiated by both:

Some, however, including Lauren herself, noted a separate, and perhaps more pertinent, in-built safety issue responsible for creating stand-offs like the one in the video:

13 January 2023, 17:31
“One of those give and take situations”: Readers react to van driver failing to stop and narrowly passing cyclist

This morning’s clip, featuring a cyclist and a van driver passing each other on a narrow street (which is one-way for motor vehicles and bidirectional for cyclists), has divided opinion in the comments as much as it did on Twitter.

Here’s a selection of some of our readers’ thoughts on the topic du jour:

mitsky: “I face this (without the child), as do most cyclists, on a daily basis. I don't mind if the driver is very slow/cautious but have reported ones who don't slow down or are aggressive/closer than I'm comfortable with.

“The way I look at this clip and most situations is: imagine the centre of the road have broken lines marking the two way lanes. In that case the driver of the vehicle that has to cross the line (due to the parked cars) needs to give way to the vehicle (cyclist) that doesn't.

“This can easily be seen to be the case here. Even without the lines on the road, the van driver is straddling the middle of the road. I appreciate that this case has been declared as one way and two directional for cyclists but the same principle should apply for safety.”

Van driver and cyclist pass on busy London road (Lauren O'Brien, Twitter)

Awavey: “For me the cyclist has passed a better gap (whilst clearly aware of the oncoming van) that they would have been advised to use, then everyone is happy and passes no issue.

“This is one of those give and take situations I feel, and I can assure you I’m one of those riders who will ride at cars in prime and head on at drivers who refuse to yield and drive past gaps they could fit in these situations normally. This one I wouldn’t have.”

HarrogateSpa: “Apply the hierarchy of road users. The driver can do the greatest harm, so has the greatest responsibility to take care, and should cede priority.”

Secret_squirrel: “Video starts too late for full context, but from what we can see the van was already passing parked cars, so the initial decision to proceed or dive in seems to be on the cyclist.  Hard to tell if the two gaps the van might have used were useful at all.

“My general feel is that both could have been more accommodating. Deffo nothing like as clear cut as the earlier viral incidents.”

Jimmy Ray Will: “I think the van is OK here. Both van and cyclist were well established in the road, so it’s hard to say if anyone had priority. Although, the cyclist isn't encroaching on the van's 'side' of the road and is the more vulnerable road user, so you would have to argue they are in the driving seat.

“However, both cyclist and van driver had opportunities to pull in. The cyclist had the first and more significant space to pull in to, but elected not to do so. That to me signals that the cyclist was comfortable with the space available and the van driver was OK to proceed as they did.”

Right, that’s it – I’m away for a quick blast on the turbo trainer (forgive me, Thibaut Pinot). Have a good weekend, everyone!

13 January 2023, 16:58
Set your alarms…
13 January 2023, 16:37
World Mountain Bike Chariot Racing Championships
World Mountain Bike Chariot Racing Championships cancelled due to lack of numbers

Well, that’s my weekend ruined.

The world mountain bike chariot racing championships – which is every bit as mad as it sounds – was set to take place tomorrow in its traditional home of Llanwrtyd Wells, the purported smallest town in Britain.

The annual championships, described by the organisers as “Ben Hur with mountain bikes”, see teams of two cyclists (usually in silly clothing) race around the town’s Manor Adventure Centre – all while dragging along their mate, sitting proudly in a special Roman-style chariot.

And if you don’t believe me, here’s a video of the 2021 event:


Unfortunately, the organisers have been forced to cancel the championships this year due to a lack of entries and the prohibitive costs of running the event.

“Owing to a lack of people entering the chariot racing this weekend, it has become unviable for us to run the event, so regretfully it will not be taking place as advertised,” the Neuadd Arms Hotel, which helps run the event, posted on its Facebook page.

“This also applies to the toga party in the evening as well.”

Now I’m really annoyed.

The organisers continued: “We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause if people have made arrangements, but we can't afford to run events at a loss in the current economic circumstances.”

Hopefully, the championships will return, in all their mad Roman glory, in 2024. They better – as I promised Dan we’d enter a team…

13 January 2023, 15:48
Bath’s bicycle mayor says Kidical Mass ride removed from climate festival by council because “it is considered a political event”

Saskia Heijltjes, who was appointed in October 2021 as Bath’s first bicycle mayor, claimed this week that Bath and North East Somerset Council removed a Kidical Mass ride from a climate festival last Autumn because it was deemed a “political” event.

Heijltjes tweeted yesterday that she was asked during a talk at the University of Westminster’s Active Travel Academy if the local authority supported and helped promote Kidical Mass, which sees families ride together to campaign for safe streets.

“The answer is ‘no’,” she wrote. “The ride was deemed ‘political’ and therefore removed from the council's Climate and Biodiversity festival.”

As Heijltjes notes, a Kidical Mass ride was originally slated to form part of the festival in late September and early October, advertised by the council as a “collaborative programme of events that showcase, inspire and connect organisations, residents and communities across Bath and North East Somerset”.

However, it was later removed by the organisers because, Kidical Mass says, “it is considered a political event” and policed under the category of “protests and marches”.

Kidical Mass Bath, on the other hand, say they are “an apolitical, community-led campaign, and will continue to demand the council deliver what they promised for residents.”

13 January 2023, 15:18
Bradley Stoke 'Look out for cyclists' sign (James Taylor)
Meanwhile, in Bradley Stoke…

Banksy has turned his attention to active travel, it seems... (Or should that be SaxoBanksy? I'll get my coat.) 

Bradley Stoke 'Look out for cyclists' sign (James Taylor)

Cyclist James, who captured these images of the new sign (compete with expertly positioned googly eyes), hopes it will help to improve the attitudes of motorists in the South Gloucestershire town, especially after he was on the receiving end of this shockingly close overtake – while dressed as Santa, I may add – on the approach to that very roundabout last month:

13 January 2023, 14:31
Clevedon’s “driving lane for drink drivers” ridiculed, as local Conservatives play anti-cycling bingo with comments about “high speed lycra clad cyclists” posing a danger to children

The ongoing work to improve active travel in the Somerset seaside town of Clevedon has once again made the headlines this week, with the new one-way street for motor vehicles along the promenade – featuring “wobbly lines” designed to reduce speed – ridiculed in the national press for turning the town into “Balamory from hell”.

North Somerset Council’s plans to improve Hill Road and The Beach in Clevedon include the creation of a bidirectional cycle lane, new cycle parking provision, widening the pavement along the seafront, and building parklets outside cafés.

However, the scheme, which is currently close to completion and received majority support following a public consultation, has been the subject of a long, high-profile campaign, led by Tory MP and former cabinet minister Liam Fox, aiming to see it scrapped.

> Ex-cabinet minister Liam Fox protests against planned seafront bike lane funded by government money

The current backlash against the new road layout on the seafront – which has been converted to a one-way street to allow for the installation of the bike lane – has seen its wavy lines labelled a “driving lane for drink drivers”, while others have dubbed it “ridiculous” and a “snake lane”.

North Somerset Council says the wavy lines are “a design feature to reduce the potential abuse of parking at these locations and help make the road feel narrower, which is a technique used to slow traffic speeds.”

“A wavy line provides uncertainty to the driver and is proven to help reduce unwanted parking,” a council spokesperson said.

Nevertheless, the storm in an antiquated tea cup has allowed the opponents of the scheme to renew their campaign with a fresh wave of petitions claiming the unusual layout will make the seafront more dangerous and harm businesses.

> Controversial cycle lane roadworks blamed for “killing Christmas trade”

“A vast amount of public money is being spent to solve a problem which does not actually exist,” says local MP Fox about a road on which a cyclist sustained critical injuries in a collision involving a driver in September 2020.

“We do not have major road safety issues on Clevedon seafront at present, despite it being a Victorian amenity. We will, however, have safety issues in the future as a result of the incompetent plans of the current North Somerset Council.

“The project is not popular, not safe, not affordable, not properly consulted upon and not necessary. It damages historic amenity, will disadvantage visitors, especially the elderly, will disrupt local trade and impede access to local residents.”

While safety, access, and local trade are all at the top of Mr Fox’s priorities, somebody needs to tell his party, who used the controversial wavy lines to indulge in a spot of anti-cycling bingo concerning the apparent danger posed to children by “high speed lycra clad cyclists”:

13 January 2023, 13:22
Britain’s most flooded cycleways, round two

Yesterday saw the start of the most anticipated competition of the year (and no, I don’t mean the Recommends awards) – the Official Live Blog Flooded Cycleway Cup!

On Thursday’s blog, Dunham Massey in Trafford, Greater Manchester, made a strong start, roaring ahead with no fewer than three underwater sections.

> “This doesn’t work as an active travel route whilst underwater”: Is this Britain’s most flooded cycleway?

But it faces stiff competition from Bristol’s infamous ‘Lawrence Hill Lido’ (put forward by reader hawkinspeter), which was in the news last week for its spectacular Olympic swimming pool-like depths, the result of a damaged pipe caused by, the council says, a tree root ingress.

But what about an outsider like the NCN 6 in Northampton? A victim of regular flooding when the adjacent River Nene is high, reader Martin Baker reckons it could go all the way.

NCN6, Northampton (Martin Baker)

Of course, the season is still young, and there are plenty of flooded cycleways for us to wade through before we crown a river- I mean winner…

Keep sending us your local favourites!

13 January 2023, 12:39
“Can we expect a valet service?” Former pro mountain biker charged £75 to bring bike on ferry

‘Ow much?

According to former pro mountain biker and Active Nation commissioner for Scotland Lee Craigie, Brittany Ferries did at least get back to her, with what could charitably be described as a load of old cobblers.

“Like most major transport companies today our pricing changes with demand and so naturally during peak periods, or on sailings where demand increases, our prices can vary,” the company said.

“There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration when different passenger types travel on a ferry and there is an additional fee for a bicycle over a foot passenger fare.

“For instance, cyclists have a separate check-in and route through port, requiring different facilities than foot passengers.

“Once on board, garage space is allocated for bicycles, reducing the space for other vehicle types, and there is a member of crew who will be assigned to directing and safely storing the bicycles for transit, which of course takes additional time over a foot passenger or even a car.”

Of course…

13 January 2023, 11:56
“Ensuring the safety of all vulnerable road users”: Dublin police fine 16 cyclists in operation targeting red light jumpers and bikes without lights

Gardaí in Dublin city centre carried out an operation earlier this week targeting cyclists jumping red lights and riding without front and rear lights – and issued fines to 16 cyclists in the process.

A tweet from An Garda Síochána’s traffic team said that the operation was about “ensuring the safety of all vulnerable road users”.

As Sticky Bottle pointed out, just before Christmas it emerged that only 71 drivers had been convicted in 2022 of dangerously overtaking a cyclist.

Needless to say – just like a similar cyclist-targeting operation carried out by the Met in Hackney last year – the Gardaí’s attempt to protect vulnerable road users divided those on Twitter:

> Police in Hackney catch 18 red light jumping cyclists in 90 minutes 

13 January 2023, 11:26
Quick, someone ring Netflix, Geraint has come up with a title for their new show

Well, at least it would still be better than ‘Tour de Force’ or something like that…

13 January 2023, 10:38
Pinot battles to third on the stage to Mende at the 2022 Tour de France (Zac Williams/
Thibaut Pinot: “The first thing I’ll sell is the turbo trainer”

It’s fair to say that Thibaut Pinot’s announcement yesterday that he plans to retire at the end of 2023 has sent the cycling world into a period of mourning.

And it’s easy to see why. Throughout the 2010s – a decade dominated by the relentless, robotic rhythms of the Sky train in the grand tours – Pinot stood out as one of the sport’s great, lost romantics who, like the French heroes of the increasingly distant past, raced on feel and with (dare I say it) panache. And who, most importantly, appeared human.

> Thibaut Pinot announces he will retire from cycling at the end of 2023

That caricature of Pinot as cycling’s last romantic (and, despite all the teary abandons and photos with his goats, it is still a caricature) stems from the Groupama-FDJ rider’s striking relatability and understand that there’s life beyond racing your bike – something underlined by his plans for the future, as told to L'Équipe in their cover story on the 32-year-old’s retirement.

“The first thing I’ll sell is the turbo trainer,” Pinot told the newspaper. Very relatable.

“Cycling’s taken up a third of my life,” he continued. “I want to focus on my other passion – animals and nature. I’ve always wanted to use what nature gives us to make things, honey, grow fruit and vegetables. I’ll open a guesthouse. Do some trail running & cross-country skiing, which’ll help my hyperactivity.”

Thibaut Pinot wins on the Tourmalet, 2019 Tour de France (A.S.O./Thomas Maheux)

On the way to victory on the Tourmalet at the 2019 Tour (A.S.O./Thomas Maheux)

Reflecting on his dramatic abandon at the 2019 Tour de France, when he appeared on the cusp of ending his country’s then-34-year drought at their home grand tour, Pinot once again illustrates why he’s not Chris Froome, or  Tadej Pogačar.

“If I’m able to live the life I dream of, it’s also because I didn’t win the 2019 Tour,” he says.

“My life would have changed too much, which is why I have no regrets. I never wanted to have the life of a champion. I would have become a public figure, really famous, and I didn’t want that.”

While Groupama-FDJ boss Marc Madiot – in typical Madiot fashion – reckons Pinot’s 2019 Tour was his “unfinished symphony”, the Tour of Lombardy winner’s main goal for 2023 will swell the heart of every cycling romantic: the Giro d’Italia.

“Even though I've only raced it twice, the Giro is the most beautiful race for me. I can’t finish my Giro story with an abandon in an ambulance,” he says.

A love for the Giro and a hatred of turbo trainers? Again, a man after my own heart.

While Pinot’s announcement this week has prompted fans and the media to reflect on a cycling life less ordinary, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of drama, goat photos, and battered car panels left to nourish our romantic urges throughout 2023…

13 January 2023, 09:58
Why don’t cyclists use the cycle lanes? Part 2,967

To be fair, I’m not sure all the parked cars were included in Sustrans’ designs for the recently opened cycle lane in Enfield… 

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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