Imagine complaining endlessly about the state of your local pothole-infested road (as we all do), only to ride down it one day to find Rod Stewart, shovel in hand, fixing the road himself.
That’s what happened two days ago near Harlow in Essex, when the Maggie May singer enlisted a few of “the boys” to help him repair one of the worst roads I’ve ever seen.
In his Instagram post, Rod said the road had been covered in potholes “for ages” but “no-one was bothered” to fix it.
“People are bashing their cars up. The other day, there was an ambulance with a burst tyre. My Ferrari can't go through here at all,” he said.
While Rod’s intervention would surely be welcomed by local motorists and cyclists alike given the state of the road (even if we all don’t have a Ferrari to drive into potholes), Lee Scott, an Essex County Council member responsible for highway maintenance, warned members of the public against following the Faces singer’s lead by taking “matters into your own hands”.
“People must always report potholes to the council and we will fix anything that's dangerous,” Scott said.
“All road repairs have to be done to a professional level or the person doing it could become liable for any problems or accidents.”
I wonder if Rod will enlist Ronnie Wood to help clear any Debris, so people don’t Shake, Shudder, Shiver on the way to Miss Judy’s Farm… [ed – Right, that’s enough now]
A pub landlord’s decision to place barriers on a newly constructed – and controversial – shared pedestrian and cycle path in Harrogate has divided opinion both in the comments and on Twitter.
Here is a selection of some of your thoughts:
I'm with the landlord on this one.
Constructing a bike path right outside doors that open on to it creates a hazard for cyclists and pedestrians.
The fencing in the picture has been installed to give a safety box immediately outside the doorway - you see the same arrangement at stations and in warehouses where there is a risk of vehicles coming into conflict with pedestrians.
The council should have removed 3-4 parking spaces (shock horror / insert incredulity in this space) and then moved the bike path further away from the pub door.
Whatever the rights and wrongs he doesn't have the right arbitrarily to close off part of a cycle path because he thinks it's wrong, any more than I would have a right to ride on the pavement because I think there should be a cycle path there.
It's unlikely to result in injury. Those cycling fast will stay on the road.
I agree the cycle track should have been built where the parking spaces are. Most of the time the bar owner's liveried vehicle is parked there as an advert. I suspect he would oppose the removal of the parking spaces.
Those who object to this cycleway rarely come up with constructive alternatives – they just don't want it at all.
My main take would be that shared paths are a bit rubbish.
Why doesn't the landlord just advertise as a "cycle-through" pub and reap extra passing trade?
I love bike lanes, but I think I agree with the publican on this one.
— Alastair Humphreys (@Al_Humphreys) March 14, 2022
Combined cycle & ped footpaths are always a compromise. They are OK for slow young family type cycling but fast A to B cycling should be on the road even though it is less safe. Peds shouldn't be put in danger by bikes, bikes shouldn't be put in danger by cars. One day maybe!
— James Sansome (@_James_Sansome_) March 14, 2022
Tbf, you can partly see their point. The doors to pub open directly out into the path. They should have, perhaps, designed it with a raised path at that point - something to make pedestrians and cyclists aware
— Alex White 🇺🇦 (@AlexAlexjwhite) March 14, 2022
The root cause of the problem is the poor design of the shared space. These barriers look like they will help reduce the chances of a collison as someone steps out the pub. Designers should have factored that into the design.
— Laird of Langtoun. (@LangtounL) March 14, 2022
if only they'd nicked his free parking space for a proper one!
— Katy (@TheBlueUlysses) March 14, 2022
And finally, the Pub Landlord himself, Al Murray, dropped by for a pint and to deny any involvement:
Not on this occasion
— Al Murray - DKMS.ORG.UK 🇺🇦 (@almurray) March 14, 2022
That’s it, the @DWTSIRL adventure comes to an end after 10 weeks. What a journey it has been.
Thanks @KarenDWTS for been such a good dance partner & pushing my limits week after week. Thanks to everyone who supported me during the show. 🙏. pic.twitter.com/yu3Bbo3Shw
— nicholas roche (@nicholasroche) March 14, 2022
Don’t mention the J word, don’t mention the J word…
It’s been quite the journey (ah, dammit) for Nicolas Roche on Dancing with the Stars, Ireland’s version of Strictly Come Dancing, over the past ten weeks.
From a shaky start to sophisticated tangos and standing ovations, with a bout of Covid thrown in too, the former Sky and DSM rider surpassed all expectations to reach last night’s quarter finals.
However, all good things must come to an end, and despite recording his joint-highest score of the entire series (three sevens from the judges), Roche was sent packing, losing out to gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer Ellen Keane in the dance-off.
As a consolation, one of the judges described Roche’s second attempt at the foxtrot as one of the most improved dance-off performances he'd seen on the show. Not bad.
That result meant he finished the show in a very respectable sixth place, just one place lower than his best ever GC position at the Vuelta, fifth in 2013 (yes, I am comparing a grand tour to a celebrity dance competition…).
After his elimination, Roche thanked his professional partner Karen Byrne and described his experience on the programme as “an incredible journey” (another one!).
“When I was told about the show, I straight away agreed and I have no regrets. It’s been a life-changing experience that will help me towards my next goals as well.
“I enjoyed every single moment – almost every single moment! The highs and lows – that’s what is so special about this show.”
He later wrote in his diary for the Irish Independent that “I was never going to be Patrick Swayze, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat”.
Fair play Nico. Now for me to find something else to do on Sunday nights now…
Enjoyed Nicholas sooo much. He really improved but his awkwardness every week cracked me up. Will miss him! Also, how mutch fun is Lorraine having this year? All the judges are loving life. #DWTSIRL #dwts
— Ré (@PinkEye31033312) March 13, 2022
Fame at last…
Yesterday was a big day for Near Miss of the Day, as one of the close passes featured in our regular series made its way to the Express, of all places.
In an article titled ‘Highway code changes: Driver banned for six months for not giving way to cyclist’, the Express gave its take on Saturday’s NMotD 733, which featured a motorist driving his way to a six-month ban for failing to give way to a cyclist at a roundabout.
Focusing on the driver’s six-month ban and “heavy” fine (rather than the poor driving itself), the article is framed in the context of the Highway Code changes, despite the incident in question taking place in April 2021, nine months before the revisions came into force.
“It comes around a month after Highway Code changes were made that put cyclists near the top of a new road users hierarchy,” the article states.
“The aim of the changes was to improve safety on the roads for more vulnerable users.
“However, there was controversy over the updates as cyclists road [sic] several abreast and down the middle of the road.
“Many drivers said they weren’t aware of the rule changes or what they meant.”
Referring to road.cc, the Express said that “cyclists on the same forum have recently said they actually feel most drivers have improved their behaviour since the changes.
“However, the forum’s Near miss of the day series has now reached number 732, and the title of the previous instalment was “Some drivers are just a**eholes”.”
The article also doesn’t contain any footage of the incident described, despite it being readily available on YouTube. Instead, readers were treated to a stock image of an angry cyclist and a photo of club riders appearing to ride three-abreast.
All publicity is good publicity, I guess?
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) March 13, 2022
The packed racing schedule, with Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico drawing to a close, as well as Ronde van Drenthe taking place on Saturday, meant that the past weekend was one for settling on the sofa and staying there.
(Unfortunately, I had plans all weekend. But that’s what the record button is for I suppose…)
At Paris-Nice, history almost repeated itself for Primož Roglič after the Slovenian was put under intense pressure by second-place Simon Yates during the race’s final stage in the mountains around Nice.
While Yates appeared to have conceded the race to Roglič after the Slovenian’s imposing victory on the Col de Turini on Saturday, the British rider’s explosive attack on the final ascent of the Col d’Eze looked for a while like it was going to be the race-winning move, as the Jumbo-Visma rider momentarily wilted under the pressure.
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) March 13, 2022
However, Roglič was able to avoid a repeat of last year’s final stage loss to Max Schachmann – not to mention his last gasp defeat to compatriot Tadej Pogačar at the 2020 Tour – thanks to one man: Wout van Aert.
The Belgian put in spectacular shift to pace his team leader over the top of the Col d’Eze and down into Nice. While a snood-wearing Yates took an impressive stage win, the green and yellow van Aert and Roglič tandem limited their losses to just nine seconds, to ensure the Slovenian victory in an enthralling finale to the Race to the Sun, remarkably his first stage race win on French soil.
— pro cycling trumps (@procycletrumps) March 14, 2022
After clinching the GC, Roglič praised his teammate, describing van Aert as ‘half human, half motor’, the same compliment he gave Rohan Dennis earlier in the race (perhaps given the unsubstantiated rumours that used to swirl around Roglič’s bike, best to stay away from the motor comparisons, eh Primož?).
The illness that swept through the Paris-Nice peloton – combined with a tough race – meant that only 59 riders finished in Nice, the lowest number of finishers at the race since 1985.
Apart from a few heart-in-mouth scenes on Saturday’s snow-lined descents, things were a lot less dramatic at Tirreno-Adriatico, where Tadej Pogačar once again showed that he’s the best in the business, winning the race for the second year in a row with what is fast becoming a trademark long-distance move.
With Remco Evenepoel already suffering early in the stage, losing minutes by the end, Pogačar attacked a group containing Jonas Vingegaard, Mikel Landa, Richie Porte and Enric Mas – which wasn’t hanging around itself – with 16km to go on the steep Monte Carpegna (training ground of Marco Pantani).
Another insane attack from Tadej Pogačar 🚀
— Velon CC (@VelonCC) March 12, 2022
By the finish, the UAE Team Emirates rider had put over a minute into Vingegaard and a rejuvenated Landa, with Mas crashing and Porte unclipping on the treacherous final descent.
While Pog has downplayed his chances at Milan-Sanremo this Saturday, his performances at Tirreno and Strade Bianche surely make him one of the favourites for La Primavera. Maybe only van Aert can stop him?
🇸🇮 Primoz Roglic: "I'll do domestique work for Wout van Aert at Milano-Sanremo. We'll have to be well placed at the foot of Poggio. Or maybe even on Cipressa... Tadej Pogacar will be at the start, but with that guy you never know what will happen." https://t.co/AmCUUejoAD
— Domestique (@Domestique___) March 14, 2022
At the Ronde van Drenthe, Team DSM’s Lorena Wiebes recovered from a late puncture to sprint to the win, beating world champion Elisa Balsamo and Lotte Kopecky in a dramatic end to an attacking finale which saw Jumbo-Visma’s Anouska Koster only caught in the finishing straight.
The big winner of the week, however? Alex Dowsett, for one particular reason:
Tirreno Adriatico done. Top 5 in the TT, Giacomo 2nd today after a solid leadout and I didn’t get pee’d on in the peloton so that rounds off a pretty successful week I’d say.
— Alex Dowsett (@alexdowsett) March 13, 2022
— Pint_size_cyclist (@biker_tiny) March 13, 2022
This is the kind of content we want to see on a Monday…
Last week on the blog we featured Tom Pidcock’s special Super Tom kit, complete with cape, designed by Bioracer in honour of the Ineos Grenadiers rider’s cyclocross world championships victory – and his trademark flying celebration, of course.
It seems that Tom, and his choice of attire, is already inspiring cycling’s next generation of superheroes.
Yesterday, four-year-old Daisy Adams from Bristol – with the help of a telephone box (remember those?) – transformed into her own bike riding superhero, with the perfectly executed celebration to match.
It’s not the first time that Daisy has demonstrated her supernatural powers. When she was just two, she cycled 45 miles in 12 days to raise more than £4,400 for the stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands, in honour of her sister Lily, who died of a heart defect when she was just 45 minutes old.
In November 2020, she cycled from Bristol to Bath and back again, racking up an incredible 34 miles in six hours.
And last June she showed off some impressive tekkers on the rollers as she learned to lift her bottle from the cage and get food from her back pocket while riding.
Now that’s a proper superhero. Just don't reveal her identity...
Business owner who protested that the Otley Road Cycle Path would lead to a collision between cyclists and pedestrians, exacerbates the problem by blocking off half of the path with barriers 🤷♂️https://t.co/2PVPggJ8F8 pic.twitter.com/AqIA5O3ozr
— Harrogate Cycle Action (@cycle_harrogate) March 13, 2022
Now, if I believed that a cycle lane had the potential to cause collisions between cyclists and pedestrians, I probably wouldn’t then block half of it with barriers, but that’s just me.
The landlord of a Harrogate pub located on the new Otley Road bike path, however, has done just that, with ad-laden barriers now protruding into the lane like it’s the finishing straight of a small Belgian one-day race.
The new cycleway on the Otley Road, which at points morphs into a shared path with pedestrians, has been somewhat controversial since funding was secured in 2017, with complaints focusing on the potential dangers for walkers and the narrowness of the path in certain areas.
Last month, the Harrogate Residents Association wrote to North Yorkshire County Council to argue that the new route is “very dangerous and there could be an accident”.
“The creation of these paths has been hugely expensive and disruptive. Now, all pedestrians of differing ages and disabilities have to share the path with cyclists and electrics scooters,” the letter said.
In January, Charlie Tinker – the owner of the aforementioned pub – said that the shared path was a “disaster waiting to happen” as cyclists would come down the hill past his establishment “at speed”, and that the council’s apparent refusal to address the issue “absolutely stinks”.
Many local cyclists have agreed with criticisms of the path, including its narrowness, the potential dangers of sharing with pedestrians, and the amount of space still afforded to motor traffic on the road (note the ample space for car parking in the above image).
However, Tinker’s decision to place barriers outside his business (reportedly to act as a refuge from flying cyclists for punters as they leave the pub) has been criticised by one Twitter user for restricting “possibly one of the few sections that was wide enough”:
Althought to be fair, many Cyclists will not use it anyway due to.. well there being pedestrians and being downhill and HC changes offering Cycling protection. pic.twitter.com/EzJEhiMFw2
— Mark Hook (@Hookademus) March 13, 2022
But pedestrians coming down the path on the left have to move to the right to avoid the sign, putting them in the path of cyclists coming down the hill. Would be better if @northyorkscc had made the path wide enough to have proper separation between cyclists and pedestrians
— Ian 5 Spot (@Ian5spot) March 13, 2022
As a driver, it’s ironically better due to the widened Harlow Junction.
Sadly it’s also may possibly turn people who were backing improving pedestrian/cycling infrastructure to now reconsider if this is the example of things to come.
— Mark Hook (@Hookademus) March 13, 2022
Maybe it would be best to build the cycle lane down that bit of road which is only used for car storage rather than on the pavement?
— Bloke on a bike in Harrogate🚴 (@Ians70wm) March 13, 2022
Last week Harrogate District Cycle Action, the group behind the original tweet, raised a number of concerns about the Otley Road cycleway, including aspects of the path which need “immediate improvement”.
The group, which campaigns for a network of safe cycleways in and around Harrogate, says the new path “is far from the high-quality scheme that it had hoped for and that is needed if we want to see significant shift in journeys from cars to bicycles.
“The scheme was designed before the current good quality national design standards were introduced (LTN1/20) and there has been little willingness to adopt good practice from elsewhere in the absence of these national standards.
“The cycle path width is very narrow and many areas are shared with pedestrians which is far from ideal.”
The group continued: “The design is heavily constrained by the need to avoid removing the mature trees along Otley Road. It should be noted that at least eight trees were removed for the carriageway widening at Harlow Moor Road junction for motorists and only a single tree is planned to be removed for the cycleway design.
“The design for the corner of Harlow Moor Road has yet to be completed with purchase of Yorkshire Water land enabling the path to be substantially widened here.”
Harrogate District Cycle Action concluded that the Otley Road scheme represents a failure on the part of the council to “create a fully segregated, safe path for cyclists”.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over two weeks ago, the cycling community has rallied together to show its support for the Ukrainian people.
Yesterday, triathlete Giles Brook decided to raffle off his Cervélo P5 time trial bike – an updated version of which was ridden to a 1-2-3 at Paris-Nice by Jumbo-Visma last week – in aid of Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, which aims to provide food, water, shelter, healthcare, and protection for the two million people forced to flee their homes due to the war.
A £10 donation – which the Disasters Emergency Committee says is enough to provide emergency food for two families for one month – will buy you one “ticket” for the raffle.
The bike itself is decked out in the classic Cervélo colours and features Shimano Dura Ace Di2 time trial shifting, a Rotor 3D crankset, and Walker Brothers deep section wheels. It will be fully serviced before the lucky winner receives it. Not bad for a tenner.
“It sits in the garage, deserves being on the road, someone somewhere would love riding it and the money is going to a good cause,” Giles said on Instagram.
Details on how to enter the draw, which closes on Sunday, can be found in the above Instagram post.
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.