The Royal Parks Police says they have received “several” reports from female motorists who claim to have been harassed and abused by male cyclists in London’s Richmond Park, the site of regular tension between people on bikes and drivers often using the park as a handy short cut to beat the capital’s traffic.
However, in a post on social media yesterday, the parks police noted that the motorists in question are authorised to drive on closed roads in the park open only to cyclists and permit holders.
We have had several reports from female motorist's who are authorised to drive on the closed roads in #RichmondPark of abuse and harassment, including banging on the vehicle and throwing water over the car, by male cyclists,as they believe incorrectly that they are not authorised pic.twitter.com/ZdX9keE2NU
— Royal Parks Police (@MPSRoyal_Parks) October 2, 2023
The allegations of harassment and abuse include “banging on the vehicle and throwing water over the car” by “male cyclists” who “believe incorrectly that [the drivers] are not authorised”.
“This behaviour is not acceptable and has caused upset, anxiety, and fear,” the parks police said. “Please be aware that permit holders are authorised to use the closed roads. We conduct regular checks on vehicles to ensure the drivers are authorised.”
Responding to the allegations, one social media user who regularly cycles in Richmond Park wrote: “It’s absolutely unacceptable behaviour. Not excusing, but I have noticed quite a few allowed drivers don’t display their permit.
“There are occasional drivers cutting [through the park] without a permit and driving dangerously and it might have came from it. Please advise permit holders to display.”
However, another Twitter user replied: “These cyclists don’t know about the permits even when they’re on display. The problem isn’t displaying permits. The problem is the cyclists.”
Of course, these recent allegations aren’t the first time this year that tensions have arisen between cyclists and motorists in Richmond Park.
In April, we reported on the blog that a road layout change in the park – designed to provide pedestrians with a safe, segregated walkway across a bridge – instead resulted in queues of traffic and reports of motorists “literally driving at cyclists”, with cycling campaigners branding the new layout “unusable” and claiming it “increases the danger for people cycling”.
That furore came just two weeks after plans to introduce a 10mph speed limit on a section of Richmond Park were heavily criticised by local cyclists, who claimed that people on bikes will be unable to comply with the proposed restriction while riding downhill.
“It seems unlikely that many cyclists will be able to comply with this restriction descending the hill, even if they try to,” Richmond Parks Cyclist wrote on social media at the time. “Speed differentials are likely to increase and the road is likely to become more hazardous.”
As dark clouds continue to swirl over the future of Soudal Quick-Step, as the Belgian team lurches ever closer to a merger with Jumbo-Visma, 23-year-old sensation Ilan Van Wilder provided something of a balm to his worried colleagues, outwitting and outriding a stellar field at the Tre Valli Varesine to take the first one-day win of his career and become the first Belgian to win the Italian semi-classic since none other than Eddy Merckx in 1968.
With part two of the Pog and Rog in Italy show reduced to a stalemate during a ding-dong battle on the final lap around Varese (the Slovenian duo were forced to settle for fourth and fifth on their last outing before Saturday’s Tour of Lombardy), Van Wilder definitively emerged from teammate Remco Evenepoel’s with a well-timed attack from a world-class group of favourites with 10km to go.
As the chasers – which included, alongside Pogačar and Roglič, Enric Mas, Aleksandr Vlasov, and Richard Carapaz – stalled, Van Wilder built up an insurmountable gap that was more than enough to hold off a late, futile Carapaz attack and secure the most important win of the promising Belgian’s career.
And while to many onlookers, Van Wilder’s win represents a final rage against the dying light for a team that has dominated cycling for two decades, and whose roots stretch back even further, for the 23-year-old himself, it presented an opportunity to voice his concerns about the rumoured merger with Jumbo-Visma.
— Cycling out of context (@OutOfCycling) October 3, 2023
“It’s been a difficult few weeks for us,” Van Wilder said after the stage. “So this victory is really for my teammates and our staff, to show we don’t agree with all this s***, and that we want to continue Soudal Quick-Step. We are strong enough. And I hope it will be like this.”
Van Wilder’s victory and post-race interview – a rare instance, perhaps, of words perfectly complementing actions – came just hours after WielerFlits reported that only six of Soudal Quick-Step’s current squad will make the jump to the new merged outfit, should it come to fruition.
That news, and the devastating impact it would have on the team’s staff and riders, prompted Eurosport commentator to post on social media: “This is not a merger. It’s a bloodbath, if true.”
Whatever happens this winter, Ilan Van Wilder’s Tre Valli Varesine, and his thoughts afterwards, won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
After days of confusing interviews and cringe-inducing conference talks, the government finally officially published its ‘Plan for Drivers’ yesterday evening – and it’s everything you imagined (or dreaded) it would be.
“There’s nothing wrong with driving,” the document begins. “Most of us use a car and, for many, life would not be liveable without their car. For those in rural areas, it is a lifeline. A car can hugely expand the independence of a younger person, as well as keep older people connected to key services and their families.”
Today we’ve launched our Plan for Drivers – 30 new actions we are taking to help put motorists back in the driving seat.
— Department for Transport (@transportgovuk) October 2, 2023
But what about walking, cycling, and public transport?
“Walking, cycling, and public transport are necessary in a multi-modal transport system and we support their continued growth, but they are not the right choice for everyone’s journey.
“Being pro-public transport does not mean being anti-car. The easy political choice is to vilify the private car even when it’s been one of the most powerful forces for personal freedom and economic growth in the last century. Used appropriately and considerately, the car was, is, and will remain a force for good.
“It is not right that some drivers feel under attack.”
Ah yes, because it’s motorists who are most in danger out on the roads, that’s right.
The document goes on to say that the government will “explore options to stop local councils using so-called ‘15-minute cities’, such as in Oxford, to police people’s lives” (I’m sure the conspiracy theorists will be delighted), and that it “will restrain the most aggressively anti-driver traffic management measures”.
“We will make it clear that 20mph speed limits in England must be used appropriately where people want them – not as unwarranted blanket measures,” it says, before noting that the government “will take steps to stop councils profiting from moving traffic enforcement”.
Needless to say, after Cycling UK and National Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman criticised Rishi Sunak’s new “proudly pro-car” over the past few days, the plan hasn’t gone down too well with those people tasked with encouraging cycling and walking throughout the UK.
We believe the most effective plan for drivers will be to get right behind the Government’s own Gear Change plan.
Here's why 🧵👇 pic.twitter.com/UfvYwWfXTl
— Adam Tranter (@adamtranter) October 2, 2023
In a joint letter to the prime minister, Ed Clancy, Dame Sarah Storey, Adam Tranter, and Simon O’Brien – the active travel commissioners for South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, and the Liverpool City Region, respectively – argued that the “most effective plan for drivers will be to get right behind the government’s Gear Change plan”.
“There are some very real challenges in local transport and a key one is ensuring the existing road network does not suffer huge congestion, bringing disbenefits to communities and to the economy,” the commissioners say.
The letter continues:
Every extra person enabled to walk, cycle, or take public transport for their journeys frees up limited road space for those who really need to drive. The length of the UK road network has increased by just over two percent over the last 17 years… In towns and cities, we cannot knock down buildings or cut down trees to make more space for growing car ownership. Put simply, we need to be more efficient with the roads we already have.
[The Prime Minister is] right when he says that many people rely on their cars but this shouldn’t be confused with their aspirations; time and time again, representative polling reminds us that people do indeed want freedom of choice when it comes to transport.
The freedom of choice for mobility in our areas is best provided through high-quality active travel and reliable public transport networks.
The letter also stressed the importance for Sunak not to “vilify” the concept of 20mph zones – which “help support safe walking and cycling to school” – while also calling on the government to provide an update on its consultation to ban pavement parking.
The active travel commissioners also questioned Sunak’s reference to “local consent” in his Plan for Drivers, arguing that “while consultation can bring out strong voices on either side, it should be noted that active travel schemes are broadly popular when polled”.
“We stand ready to help deliver local transport networks that provide people with genuine choices about how they travel,” the letter concluded.
Each year in Greater Manchester, 250 million journeys of 1km or less are done by car. If even half of these were possible to walk or cycle, that improves the roads for everyone including drivers. Read more 👇🏻 on the letter I’ve co-signed with my fellow Active Travel Commissioners https://t.co/B0Eft898gX
— Dame Sarah Storey (@DameSarahStorey) October 2, 2023
“This will make life easier for those who drive,” Tranter said of the commissioners’ recommendations on Twitter, “and create nice places where people want to live, work, and visit.”
Meanwhile, three-time Olympic champion Clancy said: “Time and time again, people tell me that they want the freedom of choice when it comes to how they travel. Choices that are made possible through the provision of quality active travel infrastructure and public transport networks.
“As Active Travel Commissioner, it’s my role to help improve South Yorkshire’s active travel network. But, to provide genuine choice, that must be based on decisions by local people.”
“Each year in Greater Manchester, 250 million journeys of 1km or less are done by car,” added Paralympic legend Storey. “If even half of these were possible to walk or cycle, that improves the roads for everyone including drivers.”
However, not everyone was convinced with the commissioners’ apparent desire to frame active travel improvements through the lens of making motorists’ lives easier.
“I understand the sentiment, but we shouldn’t be re-issuing our targets by making them a positive for drivers,” wrote one Twitter user.
“It should very much be a by-product of better active travel. I feel like we’re bowing to an out of touch PM with this kind of phrasing. We need to call it how it is.”
Meanwhile, Lucy Jones summed up the general reaction from people who ride bikes to the language deployed by Sunak during his latest vote-grabbing scheme: “We’ve had a number of female cyclists killed on the roads of London in the last few months… there is no war on motorists. Quite the opposite.”
It’s one thing cycling almost 200 miles over five days to raise money for charity. It’s quite another to finish riding your bike and then start climbing the biggest mountain in Wales the next morning. Especially when you’re still in primary school.
But that’s exactly what Phoebe, an eight-year-old cyclist from Somerset, accomplished at the weekend, during an epic charity ride to raise money for a homelessness charity.
Starting at the Severn Bridge on Wednesday, the star of the future – who prepared for her charity ride by training after school most days and putting in some big weekend sessions – spent the next five days cycling a whopping 300km across Wales to Snowdonia National Park.
As she completed her mammoth cycle – which has so far raised over £2,300 for Arc, a Somerset charity that provides supported accommodation for people in need – Phoebe underlined why she’s my favourite to win the 2040 Tour de France Femmes, pulling off a proper pro celebration as she crossed the finish line:
Watch out, Pfeiffer Georgi…
And if that wasn’t all, she then hopped off her bike, got some sleep, and climbed all 3,560 feet of Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) the next morning through the wind and rain!
A councillor in Bolton has caused controversy for his response to people pointing out that another cyclist has been hit by the driver of a vehicle on a busy route where cycle lane wands were removed.
Greater Manchester Police have said they arrested a man on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs after a cyclist was injured in a collision on Chorley New Road on Friday, the A-road route out of Bolton where two cyclists were killed last year, those fatalities coming since cycle lane wands were controversially removed in 2021.
With the latest collision pointed out to Conservative councillor Andy Morgan, he penned a lengthy reply describing it as an “accident” that “is regrettable but no orca wand would have prevented that happening” – and that the infrastructure was “overwhelming rejected” by local residents in an act of “democracy”.
The route of the 2024 Tour de France won’t be officially unveiled until 25 October, but that doesn’t mean the rumour mill is out of action when it comes to speculating what towns, climbs, and chalets will appear on our screens next July.
One of the first rumours out of the blocks for next year’s Tour – which will begin with a historic Grand Départ in Italy and end with another historic finale in Nice – concerns the inclusion of the Champagne region’s gravel roads, a feature of the chaotic stage four of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes.
Remco Evenepoel, look away now.
According to L’Est Éclair, stage nine of next year’s men’s race will start and finish in Troyes, taking the riders deep into the vineyards and over the rolling white roads of the Côte des Bar, a renowned wine-making corner of Champagne.
While the Tour Femmes’ foray into gravel covered 13km of white roads, it is currently unclear how significant a challenge next year’s stage nine could be – though if it rains, we could be in for a remake of that epic muddy gravel stage of the 2010 Giro d’Italia which, ironically enough, was partially responsible for creating the modern legend of the Strade Bianche one-day classic.
The short, steep, stoney slope at the top of the La Planche des Belles Filles has been used twice in recent years, though the last time a dedicated gravel section was used at the Tour was back in 2020, on the Plateau des Glières, where nothing much happened, except eventual third-place finisher Richie Porte suffering a puncture.
Let’s hope for more racing action on next year’s stage nine…
— Team dsm-firmenich (@TDSM_Firmenich) October 3, 2023
British road race champion (and road.cc Podcast guest) Pfeiffer Georgi’s superb 2023 ended with a flourish on the cobbles and open roads of Belgium today, as the 23-year-old dug deep to outsprint Christina Schweinberger to take her fourth victory of the season at Binche-Chimay-Binche.
After her DSM-Firmenich team split the race to pieces in the crosswind-plagued final kilometres, Georgi set a blistering pace on the tough cobbled drag to the finish in Binche, ostensibly acting as a lead-out for her sprinter Charlotte Kool.
However, with Kool unable to follow the wheel of the flying British champion, Georgi found herself temporarily alone at the front as the road flattened off towards the finish, with only the Austrian Schweinberger able to latch on to her wheel.
As the Fenix-Deceuninck rider – also experiencing her own breakthrough year on the pro scene – took over at the front, Georgi was able to muster enough strength to overhaul Schweinberger in the final 25 cobbled metres for yet another stunning, if slightly surprising (at least to the British champion herself), victory on Belgian soil.
“I’m really happy and a bit surprised,” Georgi said after the race. “The team did an amazing race. We came with a plan to split it in the crosswinds and we tried all day and on every lap.”
After ending her breakthrough season on a high, the 23-year-old from Berkeley will be heading into the winter full of confidence ahead of next year’s spring classics campaign. Is a big performance at Flanders and Roubaix on the horizon?
The famed Class of 1990 has lost yet another member, as Nacer Bouhanni joins Peter Sagan, Thibaut Pinot, and Tom Dumoulin in the retirement lounge, the combative French sprinter announcing yesterday that last Thursday’s Circuit Franco-Belge was his last race as a professional.
The 33-year-old – who took 70 wins during a successful if slightly tumultuous 13-year-long career, including three stages apiece at the Giro, Vuelta, Paris-Nice, and Dauphiné, as well as the points jersey at the 2014 Giro – has spent the past year and half struggling to regain his fitness and speed after fracturing his first cervical vertebrae in a horror crash at the 2022 Tour of Turkey.
— Team Arkéa Samsic (@Arkea_Samsic) October 2, 2023
“After my serious accident last year that cost me a severe fracture of my cervical cord and a lot of rehab, I became a shadow of myself,” the Arkéa Samsic rider said in an Instagram post announcing his decision to retire.
“I fought body and soul to try to get back to my level in vain. Life decided differently. I’ve been seriously contemplating this decision for several months.
“I started cycling at age six, and it quickly became a passion. 70 victories, ups, downs, beautiful and not so beautiful encounters, joys, disappointments, but I’ll keep only the best.”
With every Conservative MP and their dog lining up to label 15-minute cities “sinister” and an attack on our civil liberties, by placing the local shop within walking distance (how dare they?!), the originator of the concept has described Rishi Sunak’s conspiracy theory-inspired stance as “unacceptable”, and urged the prime minister to “pull himself together”.
“The 15-Minute City story machine is at it again, and this time from the voice of the British Prime Minister. What a sad world we live in!” Carlos Moreno, the Paris-based urbanist who coined the term back in 2015, told Forbes’ Carlton Reid.
Moreno told Reid that the government’s attack on the concept “raises deep concerns” and signifies “a baffling step back for a nation facing, like all others, the major challenges of this century, primarily the climate emergency”.
I would like to thank @carltonreid of @Forbes for his article on British Prime Minister @RishiSunak's attacks on the 15-Minute City.
At such a high level of responsibility, it is unacceptable to repeat conspiracy theories.
I solemnly ask him to pull himself together#CitiesForAll https://t.co/x7n4ANwWAU
— Carlos Moreno | IAE-Paris Sorbonne (@CarlosMorenoFr) October 2, 2023
He continued: “Whether it's about urban speed restrictions, dedicated bus lanes, LTNs, leniency towards road infractions, or decisions urging cities to stop adopting the 15-Minute City model, these stances overlook the pressing issues of [climate change].”
“Last spring, my family and I faced harassment, including death threats, from conspiracy theorists fuelled by false information.
“Associating the 15-Minute City again with so-called liberty-restricting measures is tantamount to aligning with the most radical and anti-democratic elements of this movement.”
Calling on Sunak to “reconsider his stance” and “avoid rash statements”, Moreno also posted on Twitter yesterday: “At such a high level of responsibility, it is unacceptable to repeat conspiracy theories. I solemnly ask him to pull himself together.”
The Cambridge route features a segregated cycle lane and other upgrades, but leaves the pavement as narrow as 90cm in some places, raising concerns about access for disabled people and risk of collisions involving cyclists using the adjacent cycle lane.
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) October 2, 2023
Now that’s savage…
Unfortunately, Fulham’s inept back line ensured that this brilliantly cutting football/cycling crossover tweet was quickly out of date last night, but it did cap off a stunning performance from Soudal Quick-Step’s social media manager, who provided the team’s followers with a wonderfully in-depth history of Legnano during the quieter moments of yesterday’s Coppa Bernocchi:
We have 100 kilometers to go at the #CoppaBernocchi, which will once again conclude in Legnano – the only town other than Rome mentioned in the beautiful Italian anthem. Legnano is the site of the famous battle that took place in 1176 between the Lombard League headed by pic.twitter.com/T31KiQiOIf
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) October 2, 2023
Someone’s definitely making the case for keeping their job if and when this whole Jumbo-Visma merger saga reaches a conclusion…
More from the government’s Plan for Votes – sorry, I mean Drivers (I promise we’ll talk about something else in a minute)…
At the Conservative conference yesterday, transport secretary Mark Harper decided to cast off any aspersions that he belongs to a serious government by jumping deep into the conspiracy well and referring to the concept of 15-minute cities – you know, the schemes which try to ensure that all your local necessities are within a 15 minute walk or cycle – as a “sinister” attempt by local councils to “decide how often you go to the shops, and that they can ration who uses the roads and when, and that they police it all with CCTV.”
Why did a government minister suggest local councils will be able to decide how often you can go to the shops at the Conservative conference today? @AndrewBowie_MP, Minister for Nuclear and Networks at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, explained on #BBCPM pic.twitter.com/NIWCQakFBo
— BBCPM (@BBCPM) October 2, 2023
On BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, it was left up to Andrew Bowie, the minister for nuclear and networks, bless him, to defend Harper’s stance. So, what did Bowie come up with?
“There are proposals out there for 15-minute cities, and I think people are worried that this is an infringement on their liberties, on their freedoms, on their ability to choose where they go to access services. We do not want local authorities dictating to people that they must choose to access those services within 15 minutes of their house,” Bowie said, while impressively maintaining a straight face.
However, he did add: “Of course, we want more services locally and close to where people live. And that’s an eminently Conservative thing to support.”
But, we’re going to ditch all our Conservative beliefs and principles with a transparent attempt to stir up controversy and woo conspiracy theorists in a desperate bid to stay in power. Well, he didn’t say that bit, but you know what I mean.
“But we’re not going to dictate to people that that they must only access a service, or go to the shops, with 15-minutes,” he actually said. So, same thing really.
When the presenter pointed out that the Conservatives were basically “pretending” and “making up” concerns about 15-minute cities, and “spreading conspiracy theories”, Bowie limply doubled down, pointing out that those very theories were popping up on the doorsteps and on online forums, so they must be extremely real.
Of course, Bowie and Harper aren’t the first Tory MPs to engage with the conspiracy-laden opposition to 15-minute cities – and judging by the state of political discourse at the moment, they won’t be the last…
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.