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"Paint is not infrastructure": What's the point of unsegregated cycle lanes?; Star Trek: Retired US track cyclist becomes a NASA astronaut; Cav contract confirmed (+TDF doc); Mandatory helmet at TTs reaction; How to wrap a bike + more on the live blog

It's Tuesday and Dan Alexander is here for your second live blog of the week...
07 December 2021, 16:36
"Paint is not infrastructure": What's the point of unsegregated cycle lanes?

Loads of you got in touch with your thoughts/observations/opinions on painted bike lanes after Jo Rigby's video of six drivers cutting across one in 25 seconds...

On Facebook, Matt Reeve said "on the whole, they are inconvenient and unsafe"...

"These lanes are what, 1-1.5m wide? When riding through them, the whole width isn't usable, usually due to drains, poor quality road surface at the edge or general debris. If any more than the outer 50 per cent is usable then it's probably in the top 10 per cent of these lanes in my area. This means that the rider is pushed closer to the passing traffic. There's also the issue of these lanes stopping where it's most inconvenient (e.g. large junctions), and having sections where left turning traffic has priority. On the whole, they are inconvenient and unsafe."

Andy Moos added: "Solid painted white lines mean cars MUST NOT cross, but we don’t actually enforce it so come on over. Broken lines mean there’s some paint on the road. Then there’s the weird, we’ve drawn a picture of a bike every 20metres, it’s probably the outline of the last cyclist to die here but park your car over it anyway."

Gareth Olley commented: "As a regular commuter, I find these commuter lanes more dangerous than none at all. Whilst within a lane, traffic passes regardless as they see the line as a separation/barrier, where as soon as the ‘lane’ finishes most traffic gives you more room as suddenly they’re sharing their lane. It all comes down to attitudes and these are much harder to fix!"

Under here rjfrussell wrote: "It all depends, doesn't it? If they are properly wide, they probably do help to keep most cars further away from the cyclists most of the time. Some are definitely worse than nothing. There are plenty that are so narrow that, in an effort to do the 'right' thing and stay within them, I end up cycling much too close to the gutter. The worst are the thin strips on fast roads, where they encourage close/ unsafe passes because, 'if the bike is in the cycle lane then i can pass, even if I am doing 40 mph, even if there is traffic coming the other way, and even if, at best, i am leaving way less then 1.5m for the pass'."

07 December 2021, 15:49
Deceuninck-Quick-Step tease Tour de France documentary
07 December 2021, 15:37
Bad news for the Tour of Britain? Rumours Tour Down Under could be rescheduled ahead of September World Championships
Daryl Impey wins 2018 Tour Down Under.png

A Belgian news report has suggested the Australian races — Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race — could be held in September 2022 ahead of the UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong, New South Wales. Neither race has been held since 2020, and have again been cancelled in January.

However,  Eurométropole Tour race organiser Louis Cousaert told Belgian newspaper La DH Les Sports that he heard whispers the Aussie races might be held in September instead.

The move would make sense from a perspective of allowing riders extra time to acclimatise to the time difference in Australia ahead of the world championships, although races like the Tour of Britain, which benefit from the world's best sharpening their form ahead of the big goal, could see reduced quality fields. All wild speculation at this point, of course...

07 December 2021, 14:50
Police search for cyclist who collided with six-year-old boy on scooter, fracturing his skull
Stamford Road, Blacon (Google Maps)

Police in Chester have appealed for a cyclist involved in a collision with a six-year-old boy on a scooter to come forward. The cyclist did not stop at the scene of the incident in Stamford Road, Blacon just before 5pm on Thursday 2 December, which left the boy in hospital with a fractured skull.

The Chester Standard reports the boy has since been released from hospital. Police Constable Nicholas Watts said: "This collision left a little boy with fractures to his skull and eye socket and he is now recovering at home, however these injuries could have been a lot worse.

"We know that the Stamford Road area would have been busy at this time of the evening and a number of enquiries, including CCTV, are under way. We would urge anyone with dashcam footage or anyone who may have witnessed the collision to get in touch with us. I would also like to take this time to appeal to the cyclist themselves to come forward to assist us with our enquiries."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Cheshire Police on 101 quoting IML 1146694 or report it via

07 December 2021, 14:23
How it started... How it's going... pro cyclist NASA edition

Best joke we've seen so far was about Christina Birch's commitment to altitude training... 

07 December 2021, 13:49
Reaction to compulsory helmets and lights at all Cycling Time Trials' events – including hill climbs

Plenty of reaction knocking about to Cycling Time Trials' announcement that front lights and helmets are to be compulsory at all its events...

Jimmy Ray Will commented on our story: "I kind of got rear lights... a lot of TTs are on dual carriageways, and often very early in the morning. Even though you can counter argue that dual carriageways offer loads of space and unrivalled line of sight, etc. etc. the speed differential is such that forcing the use of a rear light can be seen as a responsible action.

> Helmets and front lights to be compulsory on all Cycling Time Trials events – including hill climbs

"I struggle more with front lights... this to me seems more pandering to paranoia and the notion that cyclists are hard to see. In daylight at least, as someone with average eyesight, I never struggle to see cyclists on the road. 

"Helmets I am on board with, up to the point of hill climbs. I'd love to know how many accidents (total and then numbers leading to head injury) have happened during a hill climb event in the past few years. Or is this about mitigating risks on the way back down the hill (post event) or when cycling to the start?"

FishandChips said: "An excellent decision on both counts.  The front light rule in particular should have been brought in at the same time as rear lights. I have marshalled at numerous TTs and agree riders are quite often very difficult to spot head-on, and that's when I'm looking out for them. As for the helmet rule, I've yet to see anyone not wearing a helmet at our club organised TT events, so making it mandatory is hardly a chore for the riders."

On Facebook, Teak Head Al commented: "I've often been tempted by hill climbs but if they think I can't ride up a hill without landing on my head I'll have nothing to do with it."

In fairness, it didn't seem to slow national champion Tom Bell down too much...

The bright sparks are already wondering how far they can push it in the name of performance gains...

07 December 2021, 12:28
The best bike products | recommends episode 10

Some handy lunch break viewing...

07 December 2021, 12:26
The sassy swerve...
07 December 2021, 12:09
Cav contract confirmation: Manx Missile officially stays with Quick-Step for another season

The news we brought you last week has finally been confirmed. The first whispers of Cav signing a new contract with the team to be known as Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl from next season started almost as soon as the season finished. Now, a couple of months on, it's finally confirmed... 

> Mark Cavendish to stay at Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl for one more year

"I am incredibly proud and happy to have agreed a new deal with Deceuninck – Quick-Step," Cav said "One year ago, when I came to the team, I did not hide my admiration for what this team does and how happy I was to be back here. I knew from my first time here that this squad has a unique family feeling, and it is a culture that remains to this day.

"The last 12 months have been phenomenal and the support that I have had from the team and the staff has made me very emotional at times. I am really looking forward to making some more special memories together over the next 12 months."

07 December 2021, 11:14
Riding a star Trek or Planet X? Retired US track cyclist becomes an astronaut
Christina Birch (Image credit: NASA)

In today's dose of totally normal news, 11-time US national champion Christina Birch has joined NASA as one of ten new astronaut candidates. It's the space agency's first intake for four years, but includes the retired track cyclist who most recently won national titles in the team pursuit and Madison in 2018.

Birch's cycling career followed her time at the University of Arizona and Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she earned two bachelor's degrees in mathematics and biochemistry, as well as a Ph.D in biological engineering.

As per NASA's press release, the ten candidates will report for duty in January to start two years of training, including operating and maintaining the International Space Station's complex systems, training for spacewalks, developing complex robotics skills, safely operating a T-38 training jet, and Russian language skills.

After the training period Birch could be assigned to missions that involve performing research aboard the space station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, as well as deep space missions to destinations including the Moon on NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

"Each of you has amazing backgrounds," Pam Melroy, former NASA astronaut and NASA’s deputy administrator, told the candidates. "You bring diversity in so many forms to our astronaut corps and you stepped up to one of the highest and most exciting forms of public service."

Birch's partner, and the first person to ride a sub-four minute individual pursuit, Ashton Lambie shared the news on Instagram...

07 December 2021, 11:01
Your relationship with bikes, through the years...
07 December 2021, 10:22
"Shop early for kids bikes," says UK bike brand... but is it too late for Christmas already?
Isla Bikes 31st Jan delivery.JPG

On the topic of bikes for Christmas, check out our tech feature from yesterday about the bike manufacturers warning against leaving it until the last minute...

07 December 2021, 09:29
How to wrap a bike

Perhaps the more pressing question is 'how to buy a bike in time for Christmas?'... but for argument's sake let's say you've already got that bit under control. How do you wrap it? I'd be keen on keeping it in the box or not bothering at all...but I'm lazy, and you probably don't want to spend Christmas morning setting up said bike once it's out the box...

> Christmas gifts for cyclists under £50: special cycling stocking fillers and affordable presents for cyclists

Thankfully, Decathlon has this video with a creative method for making it look good and a little less obvious that the lucky person is about to unwrap a bicycle...although having given it a watch, you might want to do this before you stumble in from the pub at half eleven...

07 December 2021, 08:41
What's the point of unsegregated cycle lanes? Cllr Jo Rigby shares footage of six drivers cutting the corner over a newly painted bike lane

I'm sure the council is very happy with its new set-up: a shiny resurfaced road and some sharp new lines for giving cyclists a safe space to ride their bikes. No need for a separate lane with a physical barrier when you've got white paint...

But this video from Wandsworth councillor Jo Rigby demonstrates the problem with paint — there's nothing to stop drivers crossing the line, as all six in the this 25-second clip did to varying degrees. Some clipped the paint, others took the Max Verstappen racing line, all would have hit or been dangerously close to hitting a cyclist riding in the lane.

Cllr Rigby said she offered to cycle the route with a Conservative counterpart to show the places where it could be improved "but he is not allowed to do this as I’m not a Conservative cllr."

Independent journalist Jon Stone commented: "Looks like a case where physically segregating it would actually reduce speeding around the corner as well as it would prevent drivers from taking the line."

Others chipped in with pictures of their local painted lanes not doing much good...

Do you feel confident cycling in painted cycle lanes? And are they actually better than nothing? 

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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