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“These cyclists, never respecting pedestrian crossings”: Group of pro cyclists narrowly avoid hitting elderly woman with walking aid on zebra crossing during one-day race

Team Storck’s Ole Theiler collided with the woman’s mobility aid, while fellow breakaway rider Michal Schlegel pulled off a spectacular save to avoid a nasty – and bizarre – crash at the Rund um Köln

In a bizarre scene that will no doubt mistakenly help fan the flames of hostility in the most vociferously anti-cycling corners of the internet, the breakaway at today’s Rund um Köln one-day race narrowly avoided what would have been a nasty collision with an elderly pedestrian who had wandered across a zebra crossing – despite the road being closed for the race.

With around 115km of today’s Rund um Köln remaining, the woman – seemingly oblivious to the fact that one of Germany’s biggest bike races was taking place – was halfway across the pedestrian crossing just as the seven-strong escape group emerged from a roundabout.

A number of riders were able to move sharply to avoid the bewildered and stunned local (who seemed to be unaware of the racers until they were level with the zebra crossing), though both Team Lotto Kern-Haus’ Mauro Brenner and Caja-Rural’s 28-year-old Czech rider Michal Schlegel, especially, were forced to showcase some expert bike handling skills to narrowly jink either side of the pedestrian.

Ole Theiler wasn’t so lucky, however, the 21-year-old German hitting the woman’s walking aid with his back wheel, knocking it from her hands and dragging it along the road. While the pedestrian appeared to lose her balance in the collision, both her and Theiler remained, rather miraculously, upright following the bizarre incident.

Fortunately, the race’s finale in Cologne proved much more formulaic and pedestrian-free, as Team DSM-Firmenich’s Casper van Uden comfortably outsprinted Biniam Girmay and Louis Blouwe for the young Dutchman’s second win of the season.

Nevertheless, the rather odd near miss sparked some criticism of the race organisation on social media, with some fans describing the lack of marshals stationed at the roundabout and crossing as “terrible course safety”.

“Who let that elderly person even start crossing the road there when there is a group of fast-moving cyclists approaching? Where are the race marshals? A roundabout junction like that must have a marshal!” wrote Mary.

Breakaway group narrowly avoids hitting elderly woman on zebra crossing (Rund um Köln)

However, others noted the difficulties of policing and safeguarding every local in the vicinity of the riders, especially those seemingly unaware of a race even taking place in their area.

“Despite a live road race going on some pedestrians presume that if they go on crossing race will obey normal rules of road,” said Sean Clancy. “I have had to place marshals at crossings to prevent pedestrians walking out in front of race.”

> “Cutting it a bit fine on Buchanan Street”: Riders narrowly avoid crowds crossing the road during Glasgow world championships

The issue of pedestrians using crossings during races – despite the road in question being closed – has become an increasingly common concern in recent years, with a number of oblivious locals spotted availing of the infrastructure during the first time trial of this year’s Giro d’Italia, while riders were hurtling towards them at 50kph.

And at last year’s UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow, delays in ushering spectators and pedestrians across the road at some predetermined but congested crossing spots led to a few near misses with oncoming racers on the city centre circuit.

During the junior men’s road race, one group, including Ireland’s Seth Dunwoody, turned the corner onto Buchanan Street only to be faced with crowds covering the width of the road, with only the frantic attempts of the marshals – and some short sprints from local shoppers – securing just about enough room for the group to squeeze through.

Junior riders narrowly avoid crossing crowds at Glasgow worlds (Andrew Learmonth)

That close organisational call came just hours after France’s Julie Bego, the surprise winner of the women’s junior race after a brave solo ride, made her way around the final left hander, only to see – not the finishing straight or the roar of an appreciate crowd – but a line of pedestrians again crossing the road, in a chaotic cycling version of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover.

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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14 comments

Avatar
levestane | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

The changes that age brings in physical and mental abilities can be cruel and often not accomodated well (if at all) by society. The marshalling may well have worked for most folk, but vulnerable people need better help.

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Paul J | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Wow, that was some save by the Caja Rural rider - Michal Schlegel? - that looked like he had /both/ wheels locked up at one point. And he still managed to have the reactions to unlock the front at the last millisecond to steer around the lady.

Amazing reactions from a number of riders there.

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Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
20 likes

What is depressing is that you can know with absolute certainty that this clip will be showing up on social media, in the Heil etc for years to come as "terrifying moment lycra-clad thugs ignored traffic laws to terrorize elderly woman on zebra crossing", accompanied by a plethora of comments from knuckle-draggers insisting that the law states pedestrians have priority even on a closed road.

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captain fantastic replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

so a cycle race is more important than a human life.

Especially that of a pesky ped getting in your way

 

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Hirsute replied to captain fantastic | 2 weeks ago
19 likes

What on earth are you on about? Did you understand a word of the story or the post you replied to ?

Bring back the post count, as this looks like your first post.

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hawkinspeter replied to captain fantastic | 2 weeks ago
10 likes
captain fantastic wrote:

so a cycle race is more important than a human life.

Especially that of a pesky ped getting in your way

Maybe they should have closed the road for the race?

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Rendel Harris replied to captain fantastic | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

QED.

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polainm replied to captain fantastic | 2 weeks ago
1 like

So, the 'right' to drive wherever one  wants is more important than a human life.

Especially that of a pesky cyclist getting in your way. 

Same issue with spectators crossing the Nurburgring. 🤦🏻

 

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StuInNorway replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
9 likes

Oh those comments all started ages ago as soon as the clip first hit Xitter.
When confronted with the fact it was a closed road event, most of the whiners simply doubled down and "what-about"'d 

I was out watching Tour of Norway in Stavanger yesterday and every junction, every access road (camp site for example) everywhere a conceivable conflict could occur was taped off and marshalled. Once the poleton passed and the tail car went by people and drivers were directed across the route until they returned for the next lap.
Even better when our home rider from Stavanger took the stage in the last 5m.

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OldRidgeback replied to StuInNorway | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

If only the road had been closed for a car race then everything would've been fine. Oh.....

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Stephankernow replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

What is depressing is that you can know with absolute certainty that this clip will be showing up on social media, in the Heil etc for years to come as "terrifying moment lycra-clad thugs ignored traffic laws to terrorize elderly woman on zebra crossing", accompanied by a plethora of comments from knuckle-draggers insisting that the law states pedestrians have priority even on a closed road.

Yet again you look down your nose at the " working class" who the hell do you think you are?
That lady could have been injured! Oh she just working class collateral damage.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Stephankernow | 2 weeks ago
6 likes
Stephankernow wrote:
Rendel Harris wrote:

What is depressing is that you can know with absolute certainty that this clip will be showing up on social media, in the Heil etc for years to come as "terrifying moment lycra-clad thugs ignored traffic laws to terrorize elderly woman on zebra crossing", accompanied by a plethora of comments from knuckle-draggers insisting that the law states pedestrians have priority even on a closed road.

Yet again you look down your nose at the " working class" who the hell do you think you are? That lady could have been injured! Oh she just working class collateral damage.

What a peculiar comment, you appear to be assuming that by "knuckle draggers" I mean the working class, which reveals rather more about your prejudices than any supposed ones of mine. "Knuckle dragger" means a person who behaves in stupid and loutish manner, generally motivated by a selfish desire to protect their own interests, of whom there are numerous examples amongst every class: I would characterize Boris Johnson, for example, as a knuckle dragger, Donald Trump the same.

"Yet again you look down your nose at the working class" - where else have I supposedly done this, and is your evidence for that accusation as stupid as it is here?

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Legin | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

I've had previous in Germany; in the Berlin Velothon an elderly lady crossed in front of a club group on a downhill section, bringing down about 15 riders, they had no chance of missing her. It really was one of the worst incidents I have witnessed.

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cqexbesd replied to Legin | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I wonder if the answer is you can only close roads when you have enough marshalls? For some definition of enough that is presumably more than in these two incidents.

That will makes things even harder for closed road events which is very unfortunate but if these incidents really are common...?

I would think that tape should also work in a lot of places - but then I've never tried closing a road.

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