Our top stories of the week included the council that’s given up on its residents walking and cycling, Chris Boardman wading into the helmet debate, M&S going up against the likes of Rapha with a cycle clothing offering and the laughing van man who tried to ram a club run off the road.
Click on any headline to read the story in full and join in our reader debates in the comments section.
Bodmin Council: getting more people walking and cycling’s unrealistic so let's build a bypass instead
We kicked off the week on Sunday with the news that Bodmin Town Council has resigned itself to the idea that its townspeople won’t be able to shift significantly to walking, cycling and public transport.
It’s desirable for them to do so, it said, or the town centre might well die, and its residents choke on poison air, but never mind - the best option really is to create a northern relief road to bypass the town.
One local chipped in: “About time someone in authority admitted that once you've bought a car and are spending hundreds of pounds a month on VED, insurance, servicing, and most of all depreciation, you're not going to leave it at home and stand at a bus stop for 10 mins to spend another £2.50 per day getting to work.”
Monday saw British Cycling’s policy advisor and general big cheese Chris Boardman saying the helmet debate should just be put to bed [wouldn’t that be nice? - Ed] and get across the message that helmet use is one of the least important cycling safety measures.
Helmet chat is a deterrent to cycling at all, says Boardman, only going to emphasize the dangers of riding.
Talking to road.cc at the London Bike Show, Boardman said, “I think the helmet issue is a massive red herring. It’s not even in the top 10 of things you need to do to keep cycling safe or more widely, save the most lives.”
“It’s a bit like saying ‘people are sniping at you going down this street, so put some body armour on,’” he said.
Government encouragement to wear helmets was therefore “a big campaign to get people to wear body armour, by the people who should be stopping the shooting.”
Sad news on Tuesday that IAM Cycling rider Kristof Goddaert had been killed after being run over by a bus, following a fall from his bike in Antwerp.
Some local suggestions were the the 27 year old might have got into trouble around some old train tracks, and the driver of the bus travelling behind was unable to avoid him.
A professional since 2007, Goddaert joined the Swiss professional continental outfit IAM Cycling last year following three seasons at AG2R-La Mondiale.
In a statement, IAM Cycling general manager Michel Thétaz said: "We first think of his family and loved ones to whom we offer our sincere condolences and assure of our support in this terrible ordeal.”
Rapha, Vulpine, M&S. Urban cycling chic’s a growing market, and perhaps no-one should be surprised that on Wednesday, Marks and Sparks got in on the action.
The High Street giant describes the new trousers as ‘Tapered Water Resistant Cycling Chinos’ though there are very few other details about the cycling features on Marks and Spencer’s website - in fact they were only spotted by an eagle-eyed road.cc forumite - so perhaps they need to take some branding tips from the big boys, not to mention a bit of styling advice for the promo pics.
Made from water-resistant cotton with two percent Lycra to give some stretch, but the big game-changer here could well be the price: just £39.50 for trousers that look normal, but are comfy on the bike. As you’re so fond of reminding us in the comments, a pair of Rapha jeans retails at around £150.
Ever seen a ‘stay back’ sticker on a lorry and felt a little bit aggrieved? Turns out you’re not alone. On Thursday we brought news that cycling and road safety organisations have called on Transport for London to remove the offending ‘Cyclists Stay Back’ stickers from its vehicles and to tell operators such as Hackney cab owners not to attach them.
The main gist of the argument is the implication that cyclists are second-class road users who should defer to motor vehicles, but there’s a four point manifesto against them too:
- The ‘cyclists stay back’ wording is not acceptable for use on any vehicle, because of its implication that cyclists are second-class road users who should defer to motor vehicle users. It also undermines the responsibility of drivers of such vehicles to use their nearside mirrors as required by the Highway Code in Rules 159,161,163, 169, 179, 180, 182, 184, and 202. Non-use of nearside mirrors is associated with a significant proportion of incidents where cyclists are hit by motor vehicles.
- It is not appropriate to have stickers aimed at cyclists on the back of any vehicle smaller than a heavy goods vehicle.
- Stickers are appropriate on the rear of high-cab lorries, because of these vehicles’ blind areas, and the resultant danger to other road users.
- Stickers on lorries should be worded as warnings rather than commands, with appropriate graphics.
Sobering news on Friday, when a van driver who laughed as he deliberately drove at a group of cyclists was jailed for six months.
Joel Reece Morris drove his white Transit van on the wrong side of the road at the 20-rider group “for fun”, swerving back to his side of the road moments before a collision.
Many of the riders fell off their bikes as the group stopped, believing they were going to be hit.
Morris will have to take an extended driving test before being allowed to drive again following a six month ban.
After the incident he stopped and as riders approached him to get his registration number he reversed with his tyres screeching as his passenger gave them a V sign.
On Saturday we were contacted by a rider from the 24-rider club run , who said: “We were all riding sensibly on the the correct side of the road.
“Joel Reece Morris came from a junction and saw us. He crossed the white line and drove at us probably intending as a laugh -- he and his passenger were gesticulating and laughing. The intention was there to run us off the road and if it hadn’t been for one of the ladies on the ride at the front, Nicky Fairhurst, shouting for us to take evasive action I think it would have been a very serious incident."
“It all happened so fast,” he said. “I wasn't even aware that he was coming across the white line until Nicky Fairhurst, who was in front of me, swore in her best Anglo Saxon and swerved and was only just missed by him.
“We didn't have time to be frightened, but with 24 in our group 2 abreast, length of the run — 12 bikes long — would be around 100ft on the road. It was the middle or end riders who were more aware and had time to be frightened.”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.