Kensington MP supports "more cycling” but not through Kensington… Shocker! Police say you CAN drive somewhere to exercise; Should speed limits be cut to ease NHS burden? You have your say; Tour of Flanders: Lockdown Edition; Arnie + ponies + bike +more

Today's live blog with Alex Bowden (daytime) and Simon MacMichael (evening)...
02 April 2020, 15:56
richmond park footage screenshot - via Simon MacMichael.PNG
Campaigners ask for Richmond Park to be reopened to cyclists

On Friday, Royal Parks announced that cycling would be banned in Richmond Park due to the numbers of cyclists who had been riding through.

A Royal Parks spokesperson explained: “It is necessary to suspend all cycling in Richmond Park to protect public safety and ultimately help keep this vital green space open for everyone. Cycling is still permitted in the other Royal Parks, where there is no current evidence of congestion.”

Campaigners including London Cycling Campaign have written asking for the decision to be reversed.

The letter sets out a series of measures that could be taken to ensure responsible cycling, including adding relevant signage, making trails one-way for cyclists or restricting and controlling the numbers riding in the park at peak times.

You can read the full letter here.

02 April 2020, 15:31
Speeding and the burden on the NHS – your views

Regarding the BMJ’s recommendation that the Government immediately lower speed limits to reduce the burden on the NHS, it’s fair to say that the most commonly-held opinion among you guys essentially boils down to, “Why bother changing the speed limits when you aren’t enforcing the ones you’ve got?”

Beyond that, quite a few of you do think that people’s driving has deteriorated.

In the comments, Eton Rifle suggests that, “Whilst the roads are indeed far less busy with motorised traffic, the remaining vehicles do seem to be driven by a disproportionately high number of dickheads.”

There have been similar comments on Twitter.

But the feeling on seems to be that enforcement would have a bigger impact than any temporary change in speed limits.

That said, Keith tweeted us to point out that the Isle of Man recently imposed an island-wide 40mph limit to reduce the burden on its health service.

Police there report that so far it is being observed well by motorists – perhaps because driving within the speed limit is being highlighted as an important measure.

There’s been a bit of overtaking above the speed limit, according to 3FM. Police point out that overtaking probably isn’t really necessary when everyone’s only travelling at 40mph anyway.

02 April 2020, 14:36
Conservative MP for Kensington against CS10

"I have received a vast amount of correspondence from constituents on the CS10 proposal," writes Felicity Buchan MP, "the overwhelming majority of which has been critical of this scheme."

The first reason she lists is that 'air quality would further deteriorate'.

Fair to say not everyone was convinced by her reasoning…

02 April 2020, 14:31
Laverock (via YouTube)
Slow TV is really catching on in Leamington

Regarding the story further down the page about Sky engineer Andrew Laverock, who’s been filming his morning rides for those in isolation…

peted76 writes in the comments: “Yay go Leamington! I saw that bloke pop up on facebook the other day on a local group and thought.. who would want to watch that.. then found myself strangely mesmerised by a video he posted... it's particuarly odd as there's nothing new to me about any of the places, it's literally my local patch..  I'm not the only one it seems, there's a ton of really postive comments from non-cycling people saying how his videos are really helping them. From Royal Leamington Spa Cycling Club, we tip our hats, chapeau!”

02 April 2020, 14:12
Bike Punks youth project withdraws plan to offer deliveries on e-bikes

The Tweeddale Youth Action (TYA) group's Bike Punks project has abandoned a plan to offer deliveries on e-bikes during the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson told the Peeblesshire News the hope had been to make a contribution through the provision of the cargo e-bikes.

"However, as the trustees continued to reflect on the evolving situation, they came to the conclusion that people’s health and well-being was paramount and that they were not prepared to be responsible for putting anyone at risk.

"For this reason, the decision has been taken to withdraw the offer of the cargo e-bikes.

"Trustees were disappointed that the service would not now be provided but hoped that the public would understand that protecting the health and well-being of staff, volunteers and young people has to be the number one priority.”

TYA hopes to restart its e-bike delivery service later in the year.

02 April 2020, 13:56
Speed camera sign (CC licensed by DPP Law via Flickr)
Have you noticed more speeding motorists during the lockdown?

Earlier today, we reported how the BMJ is recommending that the Government immediately lower speed limits to reduce the burden on the NHS.

That would make sense even if everyone were behaving normally, but earlier this week North Yorkshire Police reported a rise in ‘opportunist drivers’ caught speeding.

“We're seeing a worrying trend here,” commented Gary Digva, a director of automotive tech specialists Road Angel.

“It isn't just the 'opportunist' drivers that the North Yorkshire Police Force flagged, there are actually far more 'accidental' speeders.

“The network is quieter, which one might think would lead to fewer accidents, but there is an issue with overconfidence that comes in and perhaps a more casual style of driving.

“Think about driving at night on a quiet motorway compared to the rush hour. Fewer cars around you alter your sense of speed and your concentration because it appears safer.”

Digva says that is a false sense of security both from the point of view of safe driving and the ease with which a driver can accidentally start to speed.

“Roads may well be quieter but as we like to remind our customers those speed limits are there for a reason. Yes, sometimes it is due to expected traffic flow and congestion which is less the case right now but it can also be due to road conditions, difficult terrain, blind bends or hidden dips.

“Right now the need to be aware of your driving and your speed is greater than ever. There may be fewer vehicles but there are more pedestrians getting exercise where they can and it is essential that drivers do not see these quieter roads as an opportunity to flout the law.

“Now more than ever we must all be speed aware as we do our bit to ensure an already overstretched frontline is not unnecessarily burdened.”

So, readers – have you noticed more speeding motorists?

02 April 2020, 13:21
Snake Pass (licensed CC BY-SA 2.0 by Paul Anderson)
Police say you CAN drive somewhere to exercise (but don't go far)

We don’t want to present this as a green light to drive up to the Lake District or anything, but new police guidance clarifies that people should NOT be punished for driving a “reasonable distance” to exercise.

In recent days social media posts from police forces across the country have often implied that people have been ignoring the rules about avoiding non-essential journeys.

Derbyshire Police used drones to highlight people exercising in the Peak District, while police in North Yorkshire even went so far as to set up checkpoints to stop people and enquire about their destinations.

The Guardian reports that new guidance issued by the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) advises officers stopping vehicles that enforcement actions such as arrest or the issuing of a fine should only be used as a last resort.

“Use your judgment and common sense,” it says. “For example, people will want to exercise locally and may need to travel to do so, we don’t want the public sanctioned for travelling a reasonable distance to exercise. Road checks on every vehicle is equally disproportionate.

“We should reserve enforcement only for individuals who have not responded to engage, explain, and encourage, where public health is at risk.”

02 April 2020, 13:01
Thief took NHS worker’s bike from outside hospital

Depressingly, we’re reporting on this kind of stuff daily at the minute.

A woman who works in the surgical management team at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle emerged from work on March 26 to discover that her bike had been taken.

Investigating Constable Graeme Newton told the Metro: “This is a disgusting crime. Given the current lockdown, the thief would have known there was a very high chance the bike belonged to a key worker.

“This was the victim’s chosen transport to and from work and she was crushed to discover, after her long shift, that someone would be so cruel as to steal her bike knowing it was likely how an NHS employee got to and from work.

“The theft of another person’s transport to work is always a selfish crime but to steal from an NHS worker in the midst of a pandemic is shameless.”

02 April 2020, 11:22
Throwback Thursday - De Ronde 2019

Seeing as we'll probably only get a virtual Tour of Flanders this year, we thought we'd have a look back at one of the biggest surprises of last year.

Despite showing glimpses of form the year before, not many would have picked Alberto Bettiol at the startline.

This behind-the-scenes film from Rapha shows the emotion of winning one of the biggest bike races of the year.

02 April 2020, 11:15
Christian Prudhomme at 2014 TdF presentation in Leeds (picture credit Welcome to Yorkshire -
Tour de France won’t take place without fans, says Prudhomme

Last week ASO was reported to be considering staging the Tour de France without fans. Race director Christian Prudhomme has now said this won’t happen.

Speaking to Sports Auvergne, he said: "The Tour de France is fervour, it's enthusiasm, it's smiles above all. We have to find those smiles.”

Speaking about the prospect of the race not taking place, he said: “It’s the health situation in the country that matters.

“I only wish one thing – that the Tour de France will take place this summer. Not for the Tour de France, but if it does not take place, it would mean that the country is in a catastrophic situation.”

02 April 2020, 10:41
20mph sign (CC licensed by EdinburghGreens via Flickr)
Should the Government immediately lower speed limits to reduce the burden on the NHS?

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has recommended an emergency reduction of all national speed limits to 50mph, and to 20mph in urban areas.

The publication argues that while the public it working to “flatten the curve” of covid-19 and the NHS is exploring all options to increase its capacity, the nation is “missing a trick” by not also working to lower the baseline demands placed on the NHS.

“In England alone there are around 35,000 non-fatal admissions to hospital every year related to road traffic accidents; more than one in 10 of these are serious and likely to require intensive support, including anaesthesia and surgery.

“Evidence from around the world shows that lowering speed limits can lead to major reductions in injuries. In Canada, for example, lowering the speed limit from 40km/h to 30km/h was associated with a 28% decrease in pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions and a 67% decrease in major and fatal injuries.

“This measure would be particularly important in supporting those who follow government advice and avoid non-essential use of public transport in order to maintain social distancing. We therefore suggest that the government urgently explore an emergency reduction of all national speed limits to 50mph, and to 20mph in urban areas.

“These policies are already supported by the Road Safety Management Capacity review, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

“We expect that the public would support this proposal for a limited time period if it was communicated appropriately in relation to the current NHS emergency.”

02 April 2020, 09:47
Tour of Flanders: Lockdown Edition start list

Predictably Belgian - which is as it should be.

De Gendt's a bit of a surprise though. Unusually for a Belgian, he's never really shown much interest in the Classics.

02 April 2020, 09:23
De Ronde
Tour of Flanders: Lockdown Edition

Not an April fool. Unless they’re a day late.

The real Tour of Flanders has been postponed for the time being. However, they’re going to run a one-hour virtual edition this Sunday.

“In a closed tour reserved exclusively for professional cyclists, 13 pros will be competing during the last 32 km of the Tour of Flanders – on their home trainers.”

Further details will burble out via social media in the next few days. We’ll keep you posted.

02 April 2020, 08:47
Arnie chases his ponies on his bike

Speaking a couple of weeks ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger said that getting out on his bike was, “the only way I’m leaving the house.”

Here he is chasing his ponies, Whiskey and Lulu, because “they need exercise too.”



Whiskey and Lulu need exercise too

A post shared by Arnold Schwarzenegger (@schwarzenegger) on

“We cannot control the virus but we can control our fitness,” he says.

A brief history of Schwarzenegger on a bike

02 April 2020, 08:37
Leamington cyclist filming his early morning rides for those stuck indoors

Sky engineer Andrew Laverock has been filming his leisurely morning exercise rides for the benefit of those in isolation.

"I thought that people who are stuck at home due to the virus would be able to enjoy some of the beautiful sights our lovely town has to offer,” he told the Warwick Courier.

"Spring is in the air, the flowers are blooming and I just wanted to bring the local outdoors to people’s screens.

"I’m trying to get around all the local parks and canal towpaths and I’ll keep posting new content so stay tuned."

02 April 2020, 08:11
Astana pro Davide Martinelli "the happiest man in the world" delivering food and medicine

Astana’s Davide Martinelli has volunteered to deliver food and medicine in his home town of Lodetto in Brescia.

Lodetto doesn’t have supermarkets or chemists, so Martinelli’s heading into nearby Rovato on his bike to pick stuff up for the elderly and vulnerable.

He says the efforts were started by a cousin of his and some friends.

“I have heard various stories that touched me about people who are unable to travel to our capital and who have solved their problems thanks to these volunteers.

“Over the years I have received so much from my community, but I have hardly had the opportunity to repay it because of a life that often leads me to be away from home.

"I am very attached to Lodetto, a community of just over 1,500 people, where unfortunately there is neither a chemist nor a grocery store. I thought it was a chance to make myself useful and repay the many people who have always supported me over the years, and to help those who need it right now.

“I have a bike, two legs – now not very trained – and a backpack and nothing more. Today I had the honour of being able to go to the chemist to collect medicine for an elderly couple.

In total 30 minutes and about 10km – nothing special for an athlete, but when I delivered them to their door – obviously with the necessary precautions (mask and gloves) – I felt a thank you, which still echoes in my head.

“I am the happiest man in the world, cycling is beautiful, everything is beautiful, but being useful to others is priceless.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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