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Criticism floods in for BBC's "one-sided" LTN piece "fuelling culture wars"; The usual anti-cycling letter to local paper gets unusually well-informed replies; Count the cars; Hangar rents rise; Cobbles are back + more on the live blog

It's Wednesday and Dan Alexander is here to take you through the middle of the week on the live blog...
17 March 2021, 20:16
Behind the scenes at Strade Bianche with Team Qhubeka Assos

The embargo has just lifted, so we're here with a late blog update to share this cool vid from Africa's only World Tour team. Enjoy before scrolling down and facepalming at today's rather one-sided coverage about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods courtesy of Britain's foremost public service broadcaster... 

17 March 2021, 14:05
Criticism floods in for BBC's "one-sided" LTN piece "fuelling culture wars"

The controversy over the BBC's LTN report has rumbled on this lunchtime with the broadcaster coming in for plenty of criticism on social media. Adam Tranter described the report as "one-sided" and "devoid of any fact-checking" as well as sharing a thread noting the numerous problems with it. The BBC's Environment Editor Justin Rowlatt shared the piece this morning with the comment "my inbox is already filling up" and described the video of the man's swearing rant, included in the report, as "brilliant".

Tranter continued his criticism of the piece, noting it didn't include any of the widely available data on LTNs, and instead focused on "anecdotes an uncorroborated video clips". One of the people interviewed for the piece replied to Rowlatt's tweet saying he "deeply regrets taking part". Mark Eccleston said: "We spoke at length about the environmental, health and safety benefits of LTNs for everyone. Yet you focused on the single heated exchange I had with my neighbour. The issue deserves more science and less sensationalism.

"I’d spoken at length about the health, safety and environmental benefits of LTNs. But of course they just wanted two neighbours arguing in the street. A bit depressing really... this was the environment unit and they still used anecdotes instead of the science."

17 March 2021, 17:31
Ludovic Robeet wins Nokere Koerse, Cav crashes out of contention

A big win for Ludovic Robeet and Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles. The big news behind was that Mark Cavendish crashed out with six kilometres to go, before his teammate Jannik Steimle suffered a serious looking fall too. No news on either yet but Cav did at least finish the race...

We'll keep you in the loop with news and reaction to Cav and Steimle's crashes when we hear more...

17 March 2021, 17:01
On the forum: what's your ideal gear ratio for a few days in the Alps?

We expected some bragging when we shared one of our forum posts asking for gearing advice for a trip to the mountains. We should have expected the smart-arses and comedians too... there were too many 52x11 and hidden motor jokes to count!

John Kirkham-Herrera said: "Boris Bike for me. In fact if you've not hit the alps on a Boris you're not really a cyclist (p.s. only use the bottom and third gear for inclines of 10% and more)"

Nick Bell added: "Lower gears are like condoms; I’d rather have one and not need it, than need it and not have one." Brilliant.

17 March 2021, 10:49
BBC slammed for MP's unchallenged claim that LTNs are more contentious than air strikes on Syria

The BBC has been criticised for a video report on LTNs that featured Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq saying the schemes are more contentious than air strikes on Syria, Brexit and coronavirus. The report also used a video from a woman who said LTNs had made it impossible for taxi drivers to drop her off at her door, forcing her to walk home alone.

London Assembly Member Caroline Russell called the report "really extraordinary". "The BBC are listening to loud voices and not looking at the evidence or reasons why boroughs, encouraged by government, are disrupting satnav enabled motor traffic take over of our city. Hint: to reduce danger, clean up the air and improve health," she continued.

17 March 2021, 15:48
Lovely tribute to Mark Reilly from blogger Jo Burt
Mark Reilly (via Reilly Cycle Works on Facebook)

Long-time blogger Jo Burt, the artist and illustrator behind the much-loved Mint Sauce mountain-biking sheep cartoons, knew Reilly well, having been a regular customer over the years, with both based in Brighton. Here's his tribute...

It’s terrible having a frame builder that lives in the same town as you. Mark has designed and built several frames for me over quite a few years, the single speed town bike that’s been in almost daily use for nearly two decades, the magenta road bike, the deliberately twitchy MTB, the single speed cyclo-cross bike, the “like a cyclo-cross bike but with bigger tyres before Gravel was even a thing” bike that was ridden to the Bespoked bike show in Bristol the day after it was built, the bike-fit that took a lifetime of his experience and three minutes of my time to create the most like-a-glove bicycle I’ve ever owned …

Mark knew about bikes, he’d been dong them all his life, he knew what worked and what didn’t and when it came to chatting about dimensions and geometry he was very diplomatic about any ideas you might have but you’d always listen to him in the end, because he knew. He also had an eye, that eye that craftsmen have after years of hands-on experience and he couldn’t help himself when it came to making a beautiful machine. It was also a pleasure, a privilege and a learning experience to hear his views about bikes especially when at a framebuilding show where he could spot genuine craftsmanship versus a nice paint job covering a multitude of sins at 50 paces.  

While I will miss meeting Mark on the odd occasion and cheerfully talking bollocks about bicycles it is through his bikes that he will be remembered by me and countless others. It may be a cliche but he will live on in the miles and adventures his bikes go on and I’m pumping up the tyres on his orange one now.

Here's the full story...

17 March 2021, 15:07
Line of Duty star Martin Compston's exercise bike whipped him into shape for upcoming season

Line of Duty fans will be happy to see Martin Compston back on their screens this weekend for the next instalment of the police drama. The actor who plays the AC-12 Detective Inspector Steve Arnott says a two-week regime of "water, soup and the exercise bike" whipped him into shape after gaining a few lockdown pounds.

"I asked our lovely costume designer to leave Steve’s suits in my room so I could try them on as they were all tailored. That was a really tough day – I was bursting out of everything! I didn’t realise how the suits were quite so tailored to my original shape! I thought quarantine was going to be wine and pizza, but it was water, soup and an exercise bike for two weeks! I was chuffed to get out of it," Compston told the Glasgow Times.

17 March 2021, 17:20
Army veterans in Warrington to receive training to tackle bike crime

 Members of an armed forces veterans charity will be offered training to help maintain and protect bikes following a rise in thefts in Warrington. Funded by the police and crime commissioner Davide Keane's Community Police Fund, the training sessions will aim to upskill veterans, helping them with bike maintenance and bike marking.

The plan is to then offer their bike marking skills to the public free of charge. PCC David Keane said: “It is great to see how many veterans are being supported by the hub in Orford. Many of our armed forces veterans report feeling isolated or lonely after leaving the military and projects like this help us to ensure they can connect and build relationships with people in their local community.

"Not only will we help the veterans to improve their mental wellbeing, the project will also enable residents to gain access to free services which are vital to making our communities safer. Bicycle marking alone won’t stop thefts but it will help to raise awareness and reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim, as thieves will know the bike is protected and marked."

17 March 2021, 13:05
Cycle hangar rents to increase by a third in Lewisham from next month
Lambath Cycle Hangar - image via Cyclehoop_com.jpg

London news online reports that the cost of using a cycle hangar in Lewisham is set to increase by a third after Lewisham Council withdrew its subsidy. Cyclehoop, who provide the hangars, notified users that the cost will increase from £45 to £60 per year after the council removed the £15 subsidy from next month. Councillor Sophie McGeevor said the move was due to a lack of government funding.

A spokesperson for DeptfordFolk told the news site they're "shocked with Lewisham Council’s commitment to sustainable travel going low thanks to the news that secure cycle hangers go up in price." A trustee of the London Cycling Campaign also called the decision as "totally misguided".

17 March 2021, 12:53
Charlie Quarterman delays return to racing from concussion

Today's Nokere Koerse comes too soon for 22-year-old Charlie Quarterman who hasn't fully recovered from a concussion sustained in a crash at Omloop-Het-Nieuwsbald. However, there will still be plenty of British interest on the cobbles in Belgium with Mark Cavendish looking for his first win back at Deceuninck-Quick-Step and Jake Stewart hoping to go one better than his second place at Omloop. Young talents from the track Ethan Hayter and Matt Walls are also racing for Ineos Grenadiers and Bora-hansgrohe respectively. Owain Doull, Matt Holmes, Alexander Richardson and Chris Lawless complete the British contingent at the semi-classic which has just over three hours left.

17 March 2021, 10:36
Trades on bikes
17 March 2021, 10:11
Count the cars in the cycle lane

 Aberdeen Cycle Forum raised the issue of cars parking in the city's cycle lanes by sharing 24 photos of motorists using the space, designated for bikes, to park their motors. The forum has called on the council to enforce parking restrictions to remove the risk and inconvenience to cyclists.

In a series of tweets they wrote: "We've heard from multiple cyclists in regard to the Streets for People schemes remaining around the city not being enforced. Vehicles parked on cycle lanes and driving against traffic direction on one-ways have been reported to us and in turn to the council multiple times, to no avail.

"Parking on a mandatory cycle lane is not only illegal and a risk and inconvenience to cyclists, it has also affected other road users such as buses, as they didn’t have enough clearance to drive through. This is caused by flaws in the designs used (e.g. paint is not segregation) and a near-total lack of enforcement. The Council needs to do better, for the current Spaces for People schemes and any future projects."

17 March 2021, 08:47
The usual 'road tax' letter to local paper gets unusually well-informed replies
Diglis Bridge Worcester (picture credit Henry Harbord/Sustrans).jpg

Let's kick today's blog off with a textbook 'road tax' letter sent to a local newspaper by Keith Sayers from Worcester. He told the Worcester News that "financially it doesn’t make sense with undoubtedly tougher times ahead" to build another cycle bridge in Worcester. Keith suggests "the money could be put to better use. We have people using foodbanks, for instance. Or maybe implement a cycle tax to pay for such extravagance?"

We've been here before with this sort of logic in local press but to the credit of the Worcester News' readership there was a string of well-informed comments to set Keith right...

crazytattoo asked the outrageous question: "Why would you want to introduce a cycle tax? Surely its better to encourage people to cycle - what would happen if a tax was introduced, more cars on the road?" Steady on crazytattoo that seems a bit extreme...

Next, some divine intervention from 'Christ on a bike': "Cyclists also drive cars and pay income tax. Surely someone of your massive intellect could have figured this out. And they're not bridges exclusively for cyclists you moron. You don't even live in Worcester so keep your nose out. Jesus F*cking Christ on a bike." 

The answer is 42 had a go at changing the story's headline: "Perhaps 'Grumpy Worcester bloke hates progress' would be a better headline?" Don't mind me saving that one for later.

ToriesOut added some closing sensibleness: "There will be more pedestrians using it than cyclists. Are you going to tax pedestrians too? Cyclists might use the roads but they don't put the wear and tear on them that other vehicles do. Then there's the whole point of encouraging people to use bikes rather than polluting our city. Why am I even responding to this lunacy?!"

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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