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“The AA aren’t advising people not to drive”: Cyclists react to British Cycling’s state funeral advice; Drivers blast lorry-drafting cyclists; Riding primary: more harm than good?; NI minister “reneged” on active travel; Kangaroos + more on the live blog

It’s Wednesday, London is one long queue (what’s new there?), and Ryan Mallon is here with all the latest cycling news and views on your middle-of-the-week live blog
14 September 2022, 15:49
MVDP vs. Girmay, the second leg

A not-very-aero but still brutally effective Mathieu van der Poel renewed his springtime rivalry with Biniam Girmay, beating the 22-year-old Eritrean on the uphill drag to the line at this afternoon’s Grand Prix de Wallonie.

While both MVDP and Girmay look in ominous form ahead of next week’s road worlds in Wollongong (those two and Van Aert for the rainbow stripes? Now that’s a mouth-watering prospect), Dylan Teuns’ strong late attack – sniffed out in the closing metres, after breakaway companion Gonzalo Serrano sat on the wheel – proves that the new Israel Premier Tech rider will be one to watch out for in the upcoming autumn classics.

Meanwhile, at the Tour of Slovakia, 22-year-old Brit Ethan Vernon added to yesterday’s prologue win with a sprint victory in the yellow jersey, ahead of Gleb Syritsa and Giovanni Lonardi.

Not too shabby for the Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl neo pro, who took his maiden professional win at the Volta a Catalunya in March.

14 September 2022, 15:24
Primary position: Does it do more harm than good?

Does riding in primary position – i.e. “in the centre of the leftmost moving traffic lane for the direction in which you wish to travel”, according to cycling skills manual Cyclecraft – do more harm than good?

> Monday moaning: Why don't cyclists stick to the left of the lane?

Well, transport planner Dermot Hanney thinks so, and argued on Twitter this morning that pushing cyclists in general to adopt primary position on the roads only helps create friction with motorists and could potentially discourage less confident cyclists.

Here’s what he had to say:

Hanney’s Twitter thread kicked off a rather interesting debate on the pros and cons of primary, featuring a wide variety of opinion on the subject:

What do you think?

14 September 2022, 14:56 makes Grieve Watch
14 September 2022, 13:53
Cavehill Road, Belfast (credit - Sustrans)
Sinn Féin minister “neglecting Northern Ireland’s future” and “locking us all into a fossil-fuelled dark age”, says Cycling UK

Cycling UK has criticised Sinn Féin MLA and Minister for Infrastructure, John O’Dowd, for appearing to renege on a pre-election pledge to introduce an Active Travel Act in Northern Ireland.

In the run-up to May’s Northern Ireland Assembly election, the cycling charity sought pledges from all candidates to support investment in cycling, walking and wheeling through the implementation of an Active Travel Act. This campaign secured the support of 53 percent of the elected MLAs, including Sinn Féin’s O’Dowd, who took over the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) role following the election, replacing the outgoing SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon in the devolved executive.

Cycling UK says that such an Act, mirroring similar ground-breaking legislation in Wales, would enshrine a commitment in government policy to enable more cycling and walking.

However, in a letter sent to Cycling UK by O’Dowd’s office last month, the minister pledged his commitment “to consider taking forward legislation to support active travel, not to an Active Travel Act per se.”

While the Assembly is currently in deadlock due to the DUP’s opposition to the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol, since taking office O’Dowd has approved two new road building projects and has guaranteed funding for a Greenway Project established by Mallon.

He has also decided to launch the third consultation in the space of a year concerning a trial cycle lane on the Limestone and Cavehill roads in Belfast, viewed by active travel advocates as key to delivering a proper cycling network in the city. However, those campaigners have been highly critical of the DfI’s approach to the project, which they say has been needlessly delayed through repeated consultations which fail to yield any new information.

In a statement released today, Andrew McClean, Cycling UK’s spokesperson in Northern Ireland, said: “Minister O’Dowd, who is responsible for our roads and the way we move, is dithering and locking us all into future car dependency. In rejecting his pre-election promise of support for an Active Travel Act he is neglecting Northern Ireland's future as he locks us all into a fossil-fuelled dark age.

“Across Northern Ireland, we’re facing the burden of a cost-of-living crisis with driving an expensive necessity for many. Making cycling and walking more accessible gives us all a choice, a choice to make cheaper, healthier and more environmentally friendly trips for those local essential journeys.

“It’s baffling the Minister and his department can’t see the short and long-term benefits of encouraging more cycling and walking.”

While Cycling UK says they recognise that the current impasse at Stormont has made it more difficult to ensure progress on cycling and walking issues, the charity claims that active travel is still being ignored to the detriment of the residents of Northern Ireland. 

“To date Cycling UK has received flimsy excuses as to why the Minister is doing nothing to help people travel cheaply,” said McClean.

“He’s signed off on new road schemes, so the very least he could do is begin scoping or beginning the consultation process on an Active Travel Act.”

14 September 2022, 13:25
Set your alarms…

Hands up, who’s going to attempt to watch every minute of every race?

No one? No one at all?

14 September 2022, 12:34
“Astana’s biggest win of this season”

Vino’s anonymous rap crew have only picked up two victories outside Kazakhstan in 2022, so will surely take any win they can get this year.

I’m not sure the Grammys ever got back to them, mind you…

14 September 2022, 11:40
“A classic case of ‘wear helmet, cannot think’”: Drivers criticise lorry-drafting cyclists

We’re heading across to Singapore this lunchtime, where a group of cyclists were filmed getting a sneaky draft from a lorry on the West Coast Highway, one of the Southeast Asian country’s major arterial roads:

Unsurprisingly, as the video was posted on Facebook, the drafting/foolhardy [delete as appropriate] cyclists have drawn the ire of some angry keyboard-wielding motorists.

One Facebook user blasted what he deemed “cyclists’ entitlement these days”, writing: “Lorry brakes, all bang on the lorry and get injured. Later they’ll ask for compensation from the lorry company.”

Another commenter described the situation as a “classic example of ‘wear helmet cannot think’”.

“Peanut brain, even my dog knows to never follow behind big trucks or containers,” typed one, while another said they would have “no sympathy for them when they get crushed”.

For those of you earnestly clutching your bingo cards, a Facebook user (not Grant Shapps) argued that it would be “fair for all drivers” if cyclists were forced to have number plates, so they can be summoned “next time they tailgate behind a vehicle or cycle dangerously”.

Someone was going to mention number plates at some point, even in Singapore where, incidentally, the country’s Senior Minister of State for Transport, Chee Hong Tat, ‘pulled a Shapps’ last year by suggesting that cyclists could require licences following a review of cycling safety laws

14 September 2022, 11:18
AbsoluteBlack or AbsoluteCharred?

Ah, now we know why AbsoluteBlack’s new disc brake pads (featured on yesterday’s blog) cost so much, it’s all starting to make sense…

Proper engineering, that.

14 September 2022, 10:52
“Go do Worlds in Australia they said, it would be fun they said…”: Kangaroo takes out cyclist

First swooping magpies, now kangaroos targeting cyclists – No wonder Tom Pidcock didn’t fancy racing the road worlds in Australia this year…

While most cycling fans responded to the video by speculating (jokingly, I may add) about whether the potential of animal attacks was the real reason behind the absence of some top names from this month’s Wollongong worlds, one Spanish-speaking Twitter user noted the reckless nature of the kangaroo’s attempted overtake, where he pointed out that “the 1.5m distance was conspicuous by its absence”…

14 September 2022, 09:44
niki terpstra 2020 - via total direct energie website
Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra announces retirement

Niki Terpstra, the winner of the 2014 edition of Paris-Roubaix and the 2018 Tour of Flanders, has announced that he will retire from professional cycling at the end of the season.

However, the 38-year-old TotalEnergies rider, who made the announcement on his Instagram page, has hinted that he will continue racing in 2023, perhaps in a different discipline.

“At the end of this season, I will retire from professional road cycling,” he said in the video.

“Ever since I was eight, I’ve been obsessed with cycling. I imagined cycling in the big races. I’ve managed to cycle them all and be victorious at my dream races.

“My career is filled with extreme highs and lows and, with everyone who has supported me, family, friends, fans, we can be proud of what we’ve achieved. I still love cycling and I will continue doing that but in a different way.”

After turning pro with Milram in 2007, the Dutch cobbled classics specialist spent the most successful years of his career in the colours of Belgian team Quick Step, where he enjoyed a spectacularly successful 2014 season, winning the Tour of Qatar, Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix.

Despite another stunning year in 2018, which saw him take the E3 Harelbeke-Tour of Flanders double in the spring, Terpstra left Quick Step for TotalEnergies, where he failed to live up to his past successes despite the full backing of the French squad.

14 September 2022, 09:25
‘Why don’t cyclists use the cycle lanes?’, part 1,386
14 September 2022, 07:56
“The AA aren’t advising people not to drive”: Cyclists react to British Cycling’s state funeral guidance

As you all probably know by now, British Cycling moved swiftly yesterday evening to remove a somewhat controversial piece of advice, placed on its website shortly after Queen Elizabeth II’s death on Thursday, which “strongly recommended” that all cyclists in Great Britain should avoid riding their bikes during Monday’s state funeral.

The national governing body’s rapid U-turn on Bank Holiday leisure cycling – which only came after a furious online backlash, of course, and doesn’t apply to extremely disrespectful club rides – has nevertheless failed to appease cyclists across the country, many of whom believe that the “damage was done” following the initial ‘advice’.

> British Cycling removes advice telling members not to ride during funeral for Queen Elizabeth II

To kick things off this overcast Wednesday, I thought I’d round up some of the reaction to British Cycling’s mark of respect/PR disaster.

Under our story yesterday, reader Mark Skinner summed up the general feeling within the cycling community to the governing body’s advice, writing: “I’m looking forward to the RAC's ‘guidance’ telling motorists not to drive.”

eburtthebike concurred, describing British Cycling’s decisions as “utterly absurd, complete twaddle and well beyond their remit. 

“This is just pandering to the jingoistic populist patriotic DM reading elements in society and will gain absolutely no respect from anyone. 

“The Queen was the patron of Cycling UK and they have made no such comment, so I'm grateful I'm a member of them, not BC.

“Has the RAC or AA suggested that nobody drive at those times?”

Steve K, alluding to the viewpoint that the advice was based on the potential for backlash against cyclists seen riding outside on Monday, asked: “Surely anyone who might be hostile to cyclists riding at the time of the funeral will themselves be inside watching the funeral, so unaware of any cyclists out and about?”

On Twitter, where one user memorably described the advice as “worthy of the Stasi”, the reaction was as equally bemused:

And, finally, on a lighter (if slightly obvious) note:

Ryan joined 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.

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