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Cargo bike campaign addresses the classic cyclists "pay no tax" myth; Reaction to former health minister's "anti-driver" rant; Stevie Williams wins Flèche Wallonne; SRAM tea-Tap and Shimano tea-i2; Pro cyclist rain jacket fiasco + more on the live blog

Welcome to the Wednesday live blog, Dan Alexander will have all your updates, news, reaction and more from across the cycling world

SUMMARY

17 April 2024, 15:17
Cargo bike campaign addresses the classic cyclists "pay no tax" myth

It's a tale as old as time (or as old as social media, at least). Cargo Revolution, a campaign "celebrating pioneering businesses who are adopting cargo bikes" and encouraging others to "join the zero emissions revolution", posted a fairly inoffensive tweet about the sun being out so why not hop on a bicycle for your next journey? Shocking, I know...

Naturally...

Fair play to the Cargo Revolution, displaying admirable patience, and offering an educational reply: "Cyclists pay tax when they buy their bicycle, their tyres, their brake pads and their shoes. All of this pays for upkeep of roads (and hospitals, schools etc.) Drivers pay an additional charge called Vehicle Excise Duty, which is based on the emissions their vehicles produce." Not to mention council tax which if I'd known I was exempt from, as a cyclist, I would have cancelled years ago...

A couple more for the (taxed) road?

Anyway, on the somewhat related money topic, here's Money Saving Expert's Martin Lewis offering some pedal-related advice earlier today...

17 April 2024, 16:24
Shimano patents hint at fully wireless groupsets
17 April 2024, 16:15
Katarzyna Niewiadoma wins Flèche Wallonne ahead of Demi Vollering and Elisa Longo Borghini

Katarzyna Niewiadoma added Flèche Wallonne to her palmares this afternoon, dispatching Tour de France yellow jersey Demi Vollering and an in-form Elisa Longo Borghini on the ferocious top slopes of the Mur de Huy.

Picking up on our earlier talk of clean sweeps, if Niewiadoma can win Liège–Bastogne–Liège she too will complete the Ardennes set, having won Amstel Gold Race back in 2019. Not all in the same year, granted, but still a puncheur's paradise.

17 April 2024, 15:33
Near Miss of the Day 900: Police offer "suitable advice" to driver who squeezed between cyclist and oncoming campervan in dangerous close pass
17 April 2024, 14:28
A British clean sweep in the Ardennes? Stevie Williams lands another huge win, this time smashing up the Mur de Huy to win Flèche Wallonne

Nice quiet week for Israel-Premier Tech, nothing to think about other than racing bikes... ah...

> Michelle Froome deletes social media account after Muslims “drain on modern society" rant, as pro-Palestine activists call for protests against Israel-Premier Tech

The British men are looking at the prospect of an Ardennes clean sweep this week, just the very minor task of overcoming a certain Tadej Pogačar at Liège–Bastogne–Liège this Sunday. After Tom Pidcock's Amstel victory, Wales' Stevie Williams joined the party at Flèche Wallonne, launching a devastating Valverde-esque attack on the steepest slopes to win fairly comfortably.

Some performance from a man having a year to remember, including a Tour Down Under stage win and GC success.

Following on from Pidcock becoming the first British man to win Amstel Gold Race (Nicole Cooke took the women's race in 2003), Williams is the first British man to win Flèche Wallonne (Emma Pooley having won the women's edition, in addition to Cooke's triple success at the race). Based on the week so far, we may as well all lump on Tao Geoghegan Hart, Simon Yates, Ben Tulett, Williams and Pidcock this weekend... before watching Pogačar leave us penniless...

17 April 2024, 14:03
"A good day to be a retired pro cyclist": Miserable Flèche Wallonne weather + rain jacket struggles

It looks like a rather cold, sodden peloton will decide Flèche Wallonne on the Mur de Huy, unless the most predictable race in cycling decides to go off-script in the next few kilometres. If not, at least we've got the women's race afterwards for a second shot at entertainment.

Anyway, back to the rain...

And on the subject... disgraceful scenes...

17 April 2024, 13:17
Wout van Aert's first bike ride since classics-ending crash (and it's a new bike day)

Downsides of being a pro cyclist: big crash risk, likely to sustain serious injury at least once during career.

 Benefits of being a pro cyclist: bike sponsor who can cheer you up with new bike day on your return.

Wout van Aert new bike day (Strava)
 
17 April 2024, 13:02
"Speeding" lorry driver who killed cyclist blamed low sun – but cyclist's terminally ill wife says she doesn’t want to see motorist jailed
17 April 2024, 11:49
Cycle bridge expected to be closed until June due to "safety" concerns over surface
Laira Cycle Bridge (Plymouth.Gov.UK)

Plymouth's Laira Cycle Bridge is expected to be closed for "safety reasons" until June. Part of National Cycle Route 27, there are "concerns relating to the integrity of its surfacing", Plymouth Live reports. Ongoing essential maintenance will be carried out in the coming weeks, cyclists and pedestrians able to cross via the Laira Bridge Road and its pavement.

"We have closed this cycle bridge due to concerns relating to the integrity of its surfacing," Plymouth Highways said. "We appreciate that this closure is causing inconvenience and we apologise for this. It will be reopened as soon as corrective works are complete."

A spokesperson from Pymouth City Council added: "The Laira Rail Bridge walking and cycling route has been closed temporarily for safety reasons as some of the floor panels of the bridge became loose a few months ago. Interim repairs were carried out, but further damage was suffered during high winds so it was decided to keep the bridge closed until a more substantial repair solution could be designed.

"We have now carried out a full survey and are working with contractors on a long-term fix to the bridge's deck plates and non-slip surface, as well as the lighting. Scaffolding is expected to be erected mid-April and, weather allowing, we hope work will be complete by the end of June."

17 April 2024, 11:45
Remember that mono-strapped Canyon helmet? We've tried out a prototype, and it's unlike any other bike helmet we've used before
17 April 2024, 11:14
Somerset village seeking £50,000 of community funding to build new cycling route

A village in Somerset is aiming to raise £50,000 of community funding in a bid to create a new walking and cycling route that avoids the fast and busy A378 (below).

A378 Somerset (Google Maps)

Residents in Curry Rivel want to create a route to nearby Langport, a journey currently made using the fast-moving A-road or a narrow pavement beside it. Tony Greenway of the Curry Rivel Active Travel Group told the BBC that he's "always thought this village needs a proper connection to Langport".

"The A378 is a horrible road — it's busy, it's noisy and the pavements are rubbish. Over the last two years, we've just been walking our way through treacle trying to get something started," he explained.

Proposed active travel route (Curry Rivel Active Travel Group)

Volunteers have cleared a stretch of overgrown land where the first 200 metres of the route could be created, but the group needs to raise a minimum of £50,000 to make the project a reality. Somerset Council has offered to help, committing £10,000 from its active travel budget, as well as a further £65,000 for improvements elsewhere in the village.

A council spokesperson said the potential route "would be an excellent addition to the active travel network in Somerset and our team is working with the parish council on how this can be delivered".

The headteacher of Curry Rivel Primary School, Alison Pook, has backed the project, stating that it will "increase safety for all" if there is a "decrease [to the] use of cars used to drop-off and pick-up, which causes congestion around the green and the parish car park".

17 April 2024, 09:37
Time to climb: Flèche Wallonne's savage Mur de Huy awaits

It's the second race of the Ardennes week triple-header — leg-shredding gradients galore as the world's best tackle the iconic Mur de Huy. As a reminder, here are the best of Zac Williams' snaps for SWpix from last year's race...

Mur de Huy Flèche Wallonne 2023 (Zac Williams/Swpix.com)
Mur de Huy Flèche Wallonne 2023 (Zac Williams/Swpix.com)

Any hill that does this to Tadej Pogačar is one to be feared...

Tadej Pogačar after Flèche Wallonne 2023 (Zac Williams/Swpix.com)

Just the four ascents of the 1.3km climb that averages 9.8 per cent for the men this year, the women will tackle it twice, still two times too many for my liking. Finishing with the famous, brutal ramp to the finish in excess of 20 per cent, it's a hill-climbing dream for those of us watching on the telly... less so for those involved, unless your name is Alejandro Valverde or Anna van der Breggen, of course.

17 April 2024, 09:28
Michelle Froome deletes social media account after Muslims "here to take over" rant, as pro-Palestine activists call for protests against Israel-Premier Tech – despite team distancing itself from "comments made by third parties"
17 April 2024, 09:13
TeaTap or Tea-i2? How to make a brew...using a rear mech

Sometimes you've just got to take a minute and reflect on how far humanity has come...

What next? Using a disc rotor to chop up your fruit and veg? Oh, wait...

17 April 2024, 08:54
The Dutch (cycle) school run stops for no amount of sogginess
17 April 2024, 07:37
"How the hell can you complain about that?": Cyclists pick apart former health minister's "out of touch" outburst at "anti-driver" plan to promote safe cycling and walking

Let's remind ourselves of what Thérèse Coffey said yesterday about a proposed £5 million active travel scheme in her constituency "to make Woodbridge's streets better-connected and more people-friendly" (how dare they!)...

Woodbridge active travel project (Beta Streets/Suffolk County Council)

The former deputy prime minister and health secretary, who served the roles during Liz Truss' flying visit to No.10, was unimpressed by the idea for a 20mph zone, shared-use paths, modal filters and footpath improvements, calling it "anti-driver" and saying it "fails to deliver and antagonises".

Instead, the former minister for health suggested, the money would be better spent providing cycling proficiency courses at local schools, improving crossing points for pedestrians and cyclists, and repairing road and pavement surfaces.

Woodbridge active travel project (Beta Streets/Suffolk County Council)

Cue the comments...

Orpington Cyclist took issue with the part where Ms Coffey suggested cycling proficiency courses at local schools would be a better destination for the money, calling the suggestion, very eloquently... "bollocks".

"There is no point in additional cycling proficiency if it isn't matched by safer routes for children to cycle on," they pointed out.

stonojnr: "I'd love to know what she thinks is anti-driver about these plans.

"Two modal filters, daren't even call them LTNs anymore, on minor roads, a kind of cycle route which may be a very local local desire line route, it does nothing for cyclists trying to pass through Woodbridge, an improved pedestrian/cycling crossing of the very type she's espousing, and some 20mph limits, again on minor residential roads and around schools, exactly where you need them. It's not exactly groundbreaking cycling infra, just a few more signs, bit of paint and a couple of extra bollards, how in the hell can you complain about that?"

Woodbridge active travel project (Beta Streets/Suffolk County Council)
Woodbridge active travel project (Beta Streets/Suffolk County Council)

chrisonabike added that Ms Coffey's suggestions of how to spend the money are "pretty much the 'encouraging cycling' of the last decades in the UK".

"It involves 'soft' measures*, seeks to divide things between walking and cycling ('let them fight over scraps') and additionally seeks to divert some of the little funding provided away from active travel to motoring (fixing the potholes). In fact merely getting more people choosing to walk or cycle is actually a boon for ... other drivers!  Those who are 'pro-car' should be welcoming this (see e.g. frequently supportive and sensible communications from the president of the AA).

> Drivers should welcome cycle lanes, says AA president

"*e.g. that do helpful things like training children — but then not providing any place for them *to* cycle, or addressing the fact that cycling is still seen as a children's recreational activity by many adults [...] 'Fails to deliver' would be a good description of the kind of 'active travel support' she's proposing. We know this, because we've been doing it (or not doing nearly enough) for decades."

Oh, we did get a couple of replies (on Twitter obviously) agreeing with Ms Coffey, one from Ian in Ingleton in *checks notes* the Yorkshire Dales. Good to get the local view. Time for a post-Coffey coffee...

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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16 comments

Avatar
don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
3 likes

Great win from Welshman Stephen Williams!

Avatar
eburtthebike | 1 month ago
5 likes

Cycle bridge expected to be closed until June due to "safety" concerns over surface

Shades of the notorious cheese-grater bridge in Bristol, one of a series of bridges over the docks there which wasn't only not fit for purpose, it was actively dangerous, being made of stainless steel which was slippery when wet and a surface with bumps with holes in, hence the name. 

The first three new bridges over the docks were disasters, despite being on cycle routes, but they finally got it right with the fourth.  Well, they did get an enormous amount of flak for the first three, but why oh why oh why did it take four attempts to get it right.

I think I've still got a copy of my article in Local Transport Today from a couple of decades ago, pointing out that bridges, even those on cycle routes, appeared to be designed by morons who literally didn't have scooby about designing for cyclists, and that they didn't appear to be checked by anyone who did know even the basics.

Avatar
Hirsute | 1 month ago
11 likes

Out earlier in the car, NSL very windy.

Cyclist on my side, so I slow, then another cyclist the other way going 25 mph with a driver in play. I decide to stop instead of making it any worse and the divvy driver pushed through. I hope the cyclist had a camera, as that driver needs remedial lessons. Absolutely bloody clueless.

Avatar
Hirsute | 1 month ago
4 likes

"Tells me a lot about your cycling. I’m speaking as the winner of a County wide safe cycling award from 1974. In the 50 years since I’ve been riding regularly and applying the techniques I learnt then. No need to report close passes, take avoiding action or whine about motorists."

Patronising, ignorant and fails to listen !

(not directed at me)

https://twitter.com/MGIFOTB/status/1780174242237108587

Avatar
brooksby | 1 month ago
6 likes

Anyone seen this one?

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/651786

Quote:

Lifetime driving ban for convicted Drunk or Drug drivers.

Make it law that anyone convicted of Drink or Drug driving offences to have their driving privileges taken away from them for the rest of their life. There is no excuses to get behind the wheel of a car intoxicated either through alcohol or narcotics. There should be zero tolerance.

We believe that convicted drunk or drugged drivers pose a severe threat to public safety endangering lives. This strict measure could serve as a deterrent, discouraging offenders and reinforcing the gravity of the consequences associated with impaired driving. By permanently removing their driving privileges, society sends a clear message about the zero-tolerance stance toward reckless behaviour that jeopardises the lives of others. This proactive approach aims to create safer roads.

Created by Neil Carney

Deadline 15 June 2024

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
8 likes

brooksby wrote:

Anyone seen this one?

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/651786

Quote:

Lifetime driving ban for convicted Drunk or Drug drivers.

Make it law that anyone convicted of Drink or Drug driving offences to have their driving privileges taken away from them for the rest of their life. There is no excuses to get behind the wheel of a car intoxicated either through alcohol or narcotics. There should be zero tolerance.

We believe that convicted drunk or drugged drivers pose a severe threat to public safety endangering lives. This strict measure could serve as a deterrent, discouraging offenders and reinforcing the gravity of the consequences associated with impaired driving. By permanently removing their driving privileges, society sends a clear message about the zero-tolerance stance toward reckless behaviour that jeopardises the lives of others. This proactive approach aims to create safer roads.

Created by Neil Carney

Deadline 15 June 2024

Can't say that I agree with that.

It's missing the point that the reason we don't want impaired drivers is due to the safety issues, so it seems arbitrary to pick on just a few substances that can cause impairment and ignore other ones (e.g. prescribed tranquilisers aren't illegal yet are likely to cause a major problem with driving - they usually mention it on the label). There's also non-substance impairments which would also be ignored by the change.

I'd much rather that driving privileges were taken away from people when they exhibit very poor driving skills for any reason - the point is the safety and not whether or not a particular drug is classified as illegal or not.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
5 likes

Yup - plus "more punishment" also doesn't address the point that punishments need to be enforced.  ("Crucifixion? Ah, no. Freedom. Freedom for me. They said I hadn't done anything, so I could go free and live on an island somewhere.") It's a) quite unlikely you're going to get nicked for driving while banned and b) if you do the standard punishment seems to be ... another ban.

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
9 likes

Are you suggesting what we really need is a wider review of road traffic offences and penalties...? 

Avatar
brooksby replied to OnYerBike | 1 month ago
10 likes

There's an idea.  We could call it a "Comprehensive Road Traffic Law Review", or something like that anyway.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
4 likes

brooksby wrote:

There's an idea.  We could call it a "Comprehensive Road Traffic Law Review", or something like that anyway.

Avatar
HLaB | 1 month ago
8 likes

Thankgoodness she wasn't health secretrary for long if she can't see the link between health and active travel.  I'd hate to be the one who breaks it to her that smoking can cause cancer!

Avatar
lio | 1 month ago
11 likes

Taking a break from voting to pump raw sewage into the Deben is she?

Woodbridge is already blighted by entitled SUVs driving through the main shopping street.  Nothing like coming out of Honey and Harvey's to the smell of stale diesel fumes.

Meanwhile Kesgrave up the road has some of the best cycling infrastructure in the country and the highest number of kids cycling to school as a consequence.

Coffey has zero good ideas and the sooner we can vote her out the better.

Avatar
Surreyrider replied to lio | 1 month ago
8 likes

A fag smoiking, clinically obese former Health Minister should probably welcome some active travel...

Avatar
stonojnr replied to lio | 1 month ago
0 likes

an example of Kesgraves "best cycling infrastructure in the country" https://maps.app.goo.gl/GsCMbzDUTPdq59qS9

Avatar
sheridan replied to stonojnr | 1 month ago
0 likes

stonojnr wrote:

an example of Kesgraves "best cycling infrastructure in the country" https://maps.app.goo.gl/GsCMbzDUTPdq59qS9

Your point being?  That old lane (now closed off as is obvious in the link you posted) was built thirty five years ago or more.  On the other side of the road is the new lane which goes under the road, meaning the children of Kesgrave High School don't have to navigate the roundabout.

Avatar
stonojnr replied to sheridan | 1 month ago
0 likes

That "old lane" as you call it, is 1) very much open, some misguided cyclists still use it. I used it once, vowed never to again and I block ride through that roundabout on the road instead.

And 2) was built no more than 10 years ago, use googles history and you can see how it used to look.

The 'new lane' on the other side of the road is simply part of a wide path built years before the newbuild estate in the 80s grew around it.

Carlton Reid claims its one of the 1920 cycle paths and he might be right as the surface is about 100 years old. And all they did to it was add a blue cycle sign, made it a shared path, that's your best cycling infra in the country.

And its shared with drivers bored of queuing on the access roads, its got alot of hidden driveways that drivers don't check for cyclists, lots of side roads drivers dont check for cyclists, Jeremy Vine would be overflowing with content if he rode it.

If thats the best we can do, seriously no wonder cycling will never ever amount to anything in the UK.

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