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Are ‘petrolheads’ safer drivers around cyclists?; Jeremy Vine tells drivers: “Their safety is more important than your punctuality"; Drones - the future of cycling on TV?; Should TT bikes be banned?; Cav hits the deck in Oman + more on the live blog

It’s Monday (and apparently Valentine's Day too, who knew?), so start your week off right by joining Ryan Mallon for more news and views on the live blog...
14 February 2022, 18:00
What do we want? Safe cycling!

Here’s a story to warm your cold, cynical heart this Valentine’s Day.

It may have been miserable and wet in Galway yesterday, but that didn’t stop hundreds of cyclists getting on their bikes to demonstrate their support for new, safe cycling infrastructure.

Galway City Council is meeting today to discuss the future of the proposed Salthill Prom Cycleway, a new temporary bike path located in the seaside resort just outside Galway city.

While councillors voted almost unanimously in favour of the cycleway last year, a campaign opposing the plans has led many in the council to waver in their support for the project, which would cost €1 million to install.

Yesterday’s mass group ride was organised by Galway Cycling Campaign in a last-ditch attempt to convince the council to go ahead with their plans for safe cycling for all ages in the area.

With a seemingly endless line of cyclists, from toddlers to pensioners, shouting “What do we want? Safe cycling! When do we want it? Now!” – how could they disagree?

14 February 2022, 17:05
Bikejacking: four men on mopeds attack cyclist

Yesterday we reported that Nicolas Roche, who is currently training in the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin, fears that he could be a high-profile target for bikejackers operating in the area. 

The former DSM and Sky rider, who retired at the end of 2021, is staying in Dublin while he competes on the Irish Dancing With The Stars (an update for all those interested – he’s still going strong midway through the competition, just like the good old days at the Vuelta).

Roche told the Sun that he was concerned that he would be targeted by bike thieves who reportedly "knock cyclists over" before they "throw the bike into the back of their van and drive off".

It seems that these bikejackers are also working elsewhere – last week it was reported that a cyclist in his sixties was attacked by four men on mopeds in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. 

The thieves stole the man’s bike before fleeing in the direction of the town. While the bike was later recovered, the victim required hospital treatment for his injuries.

Investigator Linda Bunton said: “This was a violent and completely unprovoked attack on a vulnerable victim, who was left requiring hospital treatment. Thankfully, his injuries were not serious.

“I am appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident to please come forward as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information can contact Investigator Bunton directly via email at linda.bunton [at] herts.police.uk.

14 February 2022, 16:12
Tekkers...
14 February 2022, 15:46
Chris Froome Factor Hanzo TT - 1
TT bikes and public roads: should we ban the time trial ‘arms race’?

Chris Froome’s call for time trial bikes to be banned from professional cycling for safety reasons has sparked quite the debate, among fans and fellow pros alike.

On Saturday, Froome made the case on his YouTube channel that all time trials should be raced on road bikes, with the four-time Tour de France winner arguing that it is not safe to train on time trial set-ups on open roads, and that removing "aerodynamics, time in the wind tunnel, and basically the funding that goes into a project" would make the discipline fairer.

One road.cc reader got in touch to support Froome but, rather than focus on the safety aspect of the British rider’s argument, instead insisted that banning TT bikes from all cycling races, from WorldTour level to the local Thursday night club 10, would re-instil a more egalitarian racing environment.

He wrote:

I agree totally with Chris Froome’s stance on TT bikes.

I would go further... Ban them on all public roads, thereby forcing all riders, including club riders, to ride road bikes.

Nowadays it’s an arms race, with the rider who can afford the fanciest, most extreme bike who often wins.

When I raced in the 1970s, it was only road or track bikes, no tri-bars. This would make time trials much fairer.

The influence of triathlons has, in this way, been negative to the sport.

What do you think? Have TT bikes skewed the results of both pro and amateur races? Would banning them result in a level playing field, where the strongest rider wins?

14 February 2022, 15:25
Nasty crash for Cav in Oman

Ooof.

Mark Cavendish’s flying start to 2022 took a hit today, with the Manx Missile crashing heavily during the penultimate stage of the Tour of Oman.

The QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl rider, who took his first win of the season on the race’s second stage, hit the deck after a touch of wheels towards the back of the pack, but doesn’t appear to have suffered any serious injuries.

"I am lucky that my injuries seem to not be too bad and I was able to get on my bike, with just some bruising and external abrasions,” Cavendish said after the stage, which was won by Jan Hirt atop Green Mountain.

Cav will be hoping he’s fully recovered in time to challenge for the win tomorrow, in what promises to be a nailed-on sprint at Matrah Corniche.

Cavendish’s impressive come-from-behind victory on stage two – on only his second race day of the year – marked his best start to a season since 2013.

14 February 2022, 14:48
Spain’s own Strade Bianche: riders take on 40km of gravel roads at first ever Clásica Jaén

This year it seems as if Spain looked across to France and Italy, and the plethora of gravel-based races and stages taking off in those countries in recent years, and said, “hold my beer”.

Following this month’s controversial gravel stage of the Tour of Valencia, today marks the inaugural edition of Andalusia’s very own Strade Bianche: the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior.

Like Tuscany’s modern day classic, the Clásica Jaén – Spain’s first ever professional sterrato race – centres on eight off-road dirt sections (totalling 40 kilometres) and long, leg-sapping climbs. A tough finishing circuit, ending in the hilltop town of Úbeda, includes a six-kilometre stony, gravel climb with gradients reaching 12 percent.

The favourites include Astana’s Miguel Angel López and Alexey Lutsenko, Lotto-Soudal’s Tim Wellens, and Lachlan Morton, EF Education-EasyPost’s gravel specialist. Britain’s Conor Swift, winner of the equally off-road Tro Bro León last year, will also fancy his chances. Remco Evenepoel, unsurprisingly, is missing this one out.

It promises to be a spectacular race, and you can watch it live on GCN at 3pm.

14 February 2022, 12:04
‘Boy racers’ less likely to endanger cyclists, says officer behind Operation Close Pass

Are so-called ‘petrol heads’ more conscientious drivers? Well, that’s the view of Mark Hodson, one of the two officers who devised West Midland Police’s pioneering Operation Close Pass

In a Twitter thread posted this morning, Hodson claimed that during his close pass initiative – which led to a 20 percent reduction in the number of cyclists killed or injured on roads patrolled by the force – motorists who could be described as ‘car enthusiasts’ were less likely to commit offences.

Hodson says that these drivers took great pride in their cars and standard of driving, and had experience of being a vulnerable road user in their youth, either on bikes or mopeds, so therefore took more care when driving.

The officer then pointed out that motorists aged over 50 were more likely to commit dangerous overtakes on cyclists, as they hadn’t received any training since their driving test and in most cases had gone decades without being a vulnerable road user.

However, Hodson also claimed that in both instances, offenders represented the “odd one” in a sea of safe and courteous drivers.

“Across the spectrum of drivers you find lots of people who are part of the solution, not the problem,” Hodson wrote.

He also observed that there were similarities between the “odd idiot in a nice car” and the “type of person who rides the 5K bike at the weekend in the same manner (there's one in every club)”.

Incidentally, this idea of a ‘crossover’ in mentality between certain types of obsessive cyclists and drivers was pointed out in an opinion piece written for road.cc by a ‘reformed petrolhead’ in November 2020. 

However, while our blogger AJ agreed with Mark that "as with cycling, there's always a subset of drivers who are twats”, he crucially noted that “the difference is that a cyclist rarely kills anyone except themselves with their twattishness."

The reaction to Hodson’s thread was also somewhat divided:

What do you think? Do motorists who take greater pride in their cars drive better? Or is there a correlation between high performance vehicles and dangerous driving?

Also, any ideas on what a ‘mophead’ could be?

14 February 2022, 13:09
The most controversial cyclist since Big Tex?

We all love it when a big name from another sport endorses the joy and freedom cycling can bring. Just not when it's this guy...

I reckon the mouthy nightclub brawler (sorry, cage fighter) must be up there with Riccardo Riccò in the list of ‘terrible ambassadors for cycling’.

Not sure what’s going on with that front wheel either.

14 February 2022, 12:56
2022 Peaty's Bike Cleaning Kit - 1
Peaty’s introduces Bicycle Cleaning Kit and Bamboo Cloths

Still putting off cleaning your bike after the weekend’s club run? Well, Peaty’s has the perfect Valentine’s present for your beloved machine.

The Wrexham-based company has launched a new Bicycle Cleaning Kit plus cloths made from organic bamboo.

Peaty’s Premium Bicycle Cleaning Kit is made from 100% recycled plastic and comes with an aluminium carry handle.

It comprises: 1 x 1 litre Loam Foam1 x 500ml Foaming Degreaser1 x 60ml Link Lube All-Weather1 x Bog Brush1 x Drivetrain Brush, 1 x Bamboo Bicycle Cleaning Cloth (see below), and 1 x Wham Heavy Duty Box with removable parts tray.

The price is £74.99.

Bamboo Bicycle Cleaning Cloths are available separately. The bamboo fabric is said to be durable and highly absorbent as well as being naturally hypo-allergenic, antimicrobial and antibacterial.

2022 Peaty's Bamboo cloths - 1

Peaty’s says that it hasn’t chosen microfibre cloths because they can leak tens of thousands (even millions) of tiny microplastics into washing machine water waste which eventually makes its way into local waterways.

A pack of three cloths (two grey and one blue, 32cm x 32cm) is £14.99

Peaty’s products are available from www.silverfish-uk.com.

14 February 2022, 11:30
Drone or no drone?

Is this the future of bike racing on TV?

On Saturday, during the Superprestige cyclocross race in Gavere, a drone swooped down onto the course to film European Champion Lucinda Brand en route to her nineteenth win of the season.

The footage it captured is certainly spectacular, following race leader Brand as she showcased her own stunning skillset, swooping, diving and accelerating around the course.

The UCI commissaires, however, didn’t agree and within minutes the drone was grounded, abruptly ending its debut broadcast.

According to UCI regulation 1.2.065, “the use of drones is prohibited above the course and within 10 meters from the course.”

Brand took to Twitter after her win to praise the “amazing footage” shot by the drone, while her Trek Baloise Lions team manager Sven Nys said that the drone images “added value for our sport. If you want to innovate, this is the right direction.”

Others pointed out the speed at which the UCI acted to ground the drone, from an organisation not often associated with getting important things done quickly:

What do you think? Could immersive drone footage like Saturday’s herald the future of live race coverage on the telly?

14 February 2022, 10:18
“Their safety is more important than your punctuality": Jeremy Vine's message to drivers

As we saw on Friday’s blog, pedalling presenter Jeremy Vine has experienced enough questionable driving and close calls during his daily commutes in London to be in a position to offer some sage advice to motorists.

And, as we saw on Twitter over the weekend, he’s not shy when it comes to doling out pearls of cycling wisdom to sceptical car users.

First, this pithy response to impatient drivers:

And this informative video, aimed at those motorists who – when reading the Highway Code’s 1.5 metre rule – can’t seem to tell the difference between overtaking and filtering:

Here, the broadcaster lampoons the opponents of cycling infra – like former Cabinet minister Liam Fox – who claim that they’re simply trying to protect [insert town name’s] ‘lovely ambience and views’:

 Finally, the Radio 2 presenter and Strictly Come Dancing alumnus tries to solve that age-old riddle: should cyclists ride on pavements?

 Quite the busy Valentine's weekend on the Twittersphere for Jeremy, then.

Oh, before I forget – the Vinester sent one final bike-related tweet on Saturday, which highlighted the virtues of a particularly interesting and always funny cycling live blog…

I suppose he can’t be right all the time, can he?

The cheque’s in the post Jezza!

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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45 comments

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
1 like

The drone footage is fun but not earth shattering, not something I'd think now I've seen I can't live without. However, without wanting to be an H&S wuss, I'd have serious reservations about safety: the drone seems to be flying at a height of about six feet at some pretty good speeds, any mishap - human error, loss of transmission or electrical or mechanical malfunction - and you've got a fair chunk of material flying into the crowd at head height. Covered props or not, that's got the potential to do some really serious damage.

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Rome73 replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
1 like

That was exactly my thought! As I was watching the footage I wasn't watching the cyclist,  I was too busy thinking 'that thing is going to veer of and smack someone in the face'. Great skills by the 'pilot' though. 

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philhubbard replied to Rome73 | 2 years ago
1 like

It could be worth testing if you think of the amounts of accidents in the last few years from race motorbikes, cars and who can forget the helicopters blowing spectators, riders and crowd barriers all over the shop. 

Even if it can just provide a bit more coverage in certain races to remove some of the race traffic

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Grahamd replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
0 likes

There will be always be some risk in covering cycle racing, whether it be from fans, camera bikes, team cars or helicopter down drafts. I feel the risk from small drones is probably lower than most of these so I feel they deserve more consideration.

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marmotte27 | 2 years ago
7 likes

"‘Boy racers’ less likely to endanger cyclists, says officer behind Operation Close Pass"

So what? Even if they are, I do not want to depend on anyone's whims or goodwill for my safety.

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brooksby | 2 years ago
1 like
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hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
0 likes

brooksby wrote:

They're running the Tour de Bristol again this year, apparently.

https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/features/bristols-biggest-b...

https://www.stpetershospice.org/support-us/join-our-events/tour-de-bristol/

Excellent! I really enjoyed that when they ran it years ago before it got changed into IIRC Sky Ride which dropped all the longer distances and made it mainly family/kid focussed.

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ktache | 2 years ago
9 likes

German anti car art in the evil guardian https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2022/feb/14/klaus-staec...

At the bottom is a link to anti car Dutch art, and one for some fine bicycle architecture.

Damn that anti bicycle guardian.

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hawkinspeter replied to ktache | 2 years ago
4 likes

ktache wrote:

German anti car art in the evil guardian https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2022/feb/14/klaus-staec...

At the bottom is a link to anti car Dutch art, and one for some fine bicycle architecture.

Damn that anti bicycle guardian.

My favourite is:

//i.guim.co.uk/img/media/b9c8d089cc86762f93f22ca32b0573bc3e7e5464/0_0_1240_1748/master/1240.jpg?width=880&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=2abce9583a7e91654ed128767705af28)This model is particularly good in traffic jams

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brooksby replied to ktache | 2 years ago
1 like

 I liked "Perspektive, 1987. The text reads: ‘Car from the perspective of a traffic victim.’"

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Awavey | 2 years ago
3 likes

Well my understanding of the term "boy racer" was someone who drove in a fast aggressive manner, that to me does not correlate with being safe around cyclists.

And which has been my experience too, the incident that triggered me to get a camera way back to record my rides and try and get some of these close passes prosecuted, was after a group of boy racers in their little Vauxhall Corsa tried to ram me off the road.

Maybe the calibre of boy racers is better in the West Midlands, but take a ride to the Essex coast and you'll soon encounter plenty of the worst ones.

And FWIW I firmly believe the boy racers of today in their weird Fast & Furious custom cars graduate to be the slightly middle aged Audi, BMW, Mercedes & VW drivers of tomorrow.

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Mungecrundle replied to Awavey | 2 years ago
2 likes

Isn't "boy racer" as meaningless as "lycra lout"?

I'd tend to agree that younger drivers with properly modded cars, not the ones which have been ruined by bodged attempts at drilling holes in the exhaust and fitting the wrong suspension, are usually quite serious about keeping their vehicles collision free and have often gone down the moped route as their earliest possible opportunity of gaining a driving licence.

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Awavey replied to Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
2 likes

It may well be, but it was Mark Hodson who used the term in the point he was making.

But if he simply means in general car enthusiasts that would just be at home on the vintage car London to Brighton run as a custom car fest at Santa Pod, then he shouldn't use the term boy racer or even petrol head, as that definitely isnt the style of driver he means.

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HarrogateSpa replied to Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
1 like
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mdavidford | 2 years ago
9 likes

Seems an odd conflation of 'boy racer' and 'car enthusiast' there. I don't think they really mean the same thing.

Personally, my feeling is that the majority of people who pass ridiculously close is probably in the 50-70 bracket. The 'boy racers' are more likely to be 1.5m away. But they're also more likely to be doing a lot more than 30mph while they're doing it, which sort of cancels out and makes them as bad as each other.

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HarrogateSpa replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
2 likes

My most recent experience of a boy racer was him trying to bully his way past me on a residential street with parked cars on both sides.

So while boy racers may give space when there is space, do they have the patience to wait until it's safe to overtake? No.

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ktache replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
2 likes

Young males in overly powerful cars seem over represented in overtakes on blind righthand corners and brow of hill/humpback bridges for me. And with obvious oncoming vehicles on straight roads too...

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chrisonabike replied to ktache | 2 years ago
1 like

These entitled young men have been endangering other road users for too long.  Time to put a stop to this mayhem and ban teenage males (from driving)!

Or at least bring in some harm minimisation:

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MidlandMark | 2 years ago
0 likes

Mark Hodson, have you got any actual stats for this?

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Secret_squirrel replied to MidlandMark | 2 years ago
0 likes

You'll have to shout louder. He's on Twitter.

FWIW since it's based on direct observations I trust his anecdata more than most.

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Dogless | 2 years ago
6 likes

Worst driving seems to be middle aged people in fancier cars who I often think have no idea what they're doing. There's also the 'angry bald man actively trying to kill you' and 'delivery driver who pulls out/across your path at speed with no pause or indicating'. The latter is the one I see most frequently.

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David9694 replied to Dogless | 2 years ago
2 likes

Which will get me killed - driver malevolence or their stupidity/ incompetence? Are they all that different? 

I doubt it's provable either way by statistics, but I sort-of take Mark's point about drivers who are really interested in their car and their driving, as opposed to those who really aren't, at least until they're close enough to receive a slap the side. 

The stupid variety are mainly just annoying, eg faffing about in the middle of the road, but somehow I should be apologising to them...

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Dogless replied to David9694 | 2 years ago
2 likes

Yeah, see what you're saying. Of late, I'm noticing a lot of people who don't appear to know how wide their vehicle is attempting to squeeze through gaps that aren't there. Again, older people in expensive cars. I actually think the standard of driving has generally gone up, I'm certainly experiencing more safe passes, but the dangerous passes are as bad as ever, if not worse. It's like the increase in cycling and awareness of the safety of cyclists has had the desired effect for some people (waiting, giving room when passing etc) and for those die hard anti-cyclists it's made them even worse.

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Simon E replied to Dogless | 2 years ago
2 likes

Dogless wrote:

Worst driving seems to be middle aged people in fancier cars who I often think have no idea what they're doing. There's also the 'angry bald man actively trying to kill you' and 'delivery driver who pulls out/across your path at speed with no pause or indicating'. The latter is the one I see most frequently.

IME the lack of space or consideration given to cyclists, speed etc are linked with the value and size of the vehicle. The worst, most entitled drivers are big, expensive SUVs - Range Rover, X5 etc and the usual 'fancy' German marques.

Drivers in small hatchbacks are noticeably slower, more patient and seem to need much less road space to accommodate their ego while getting from A to B.

There are exceptions to any generalisation. I don't encounter many 'boy racers' while out riding. Speeding in 30mph on a busy road near a ped crossing and junction to some shops and P&R seems to be popular across the board. I'd like to see the local safety partnership take up residence and snag some of the fuckers doing 40 and 50+ down there.

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wtjs replied to Dogless | 2 years ago
0 likes

'angry bald man actively trying to kill you'
If we're going for generalisations, Bearded Bloke in BMW is definitely guilty. If he hasn't offended against you, then he's either intimidated other cyclists earlier or he's near home

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jollygoodvelo | 2 years ago
7 likes

I'd assume that 'mopheads' is an autocorrect for 'mopeds'.

As a petrolhead and cyclist, I think there's a lot in the theory that 'we' (in both senses) are less likely to endanger vulnerable road users.  The most dangerous drivers I see (in both modes) are the ones who simply drive as if their trip is the most important thing, there's no-one else on the road and they can do what they like.  It's the school run mums and dads, the van drivers hurrying to their next job, the Ubers playing with their phones.

You know the great thing about waiting patiently behind a cyclist on a country road? Clear road up ahead!

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IanMK replied to jollygoodvelo | 2 years ago
1 like

It does seem intuitive that people that count "driving" amongst their hobbies would be more aware of their rights and responsibilities in pursuing that hobby. Unfortunately, I have cycled near Silverstone on events days, including a Sportive last year, and it's not true. Plenty of close passes, although this might also have an element of the JV "If you don't like being late, leave home earlier".

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OldRidgeback replied to jollygoodvelo | 2 years ago
3 likes

I find that boy racers are often very aggressive in their hopped up Vauxhall Corsas and are very likely to shout abuse. 

If there's a category of vehicle driver you can more or less guarantee to drive with consideration it'd be people in classic older vehicles.

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TheBillder replied to OldRidgeback | 2 years ago
2 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

If there's a category of vehicle driver you can more or less guarantee to drive with consideration it'd be people in classic older vehicles.

Yeah, but you can get a nostalgic lungful of the smell of unburnt petrol or burnt oil (or both) all too often. Some things have improved on the roads.

Actually, now I've used a plural I'm not so sure of much else that's improved.

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brooksby | 2 years ago
12 likes

Jeremy Vine wrote:

Dear drivers sitting behind cyclists in the middle of the road: their safety is more important than your punctuality. If you don't like being late, leave home earlier. Thank-you

This!  Oh, a thousand times, this!  4

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