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Resident says new bike hangars are “useless” – as motorcyclists keep blocking them; How not to do cycle parking; “This will take some getting used to”: Geraint’s new glasses; Katie Hopkins v Active Travel; Tour de France wildcards + more on the live blog

It’s Wednesday (yep, just checked, it’s definitely Wednesday), and Ryan Mallon’s back with more cycling news and views from 2023 on the live blog
04 January 2023, 10:29
Brighton cycle hangar (credit - Brighton Active Travel)
The saga of the Brighton and Hove bike hangars continues: Resident says hangars are “useless” – as motorbike owners keep blocking them

One of the big live blog hitters of late 2022 is already making a storming return to the charts in 2023...

Yep, that’s right, Brighton and Hove’s new bike hangars are back in the news!

As avid readers of the live blog will know, 60 hangars, one of which can house up to six bikes in a space that would otherwise be occupied by a single car, were first introduced in July as part of Brighton and Hove City Council’s plans to install 150 of the storage units across the city by spring 2023.

While Robert Davis, the co-chairman of the council’s environment, transport, and sustainability committee, said that the hangars have proved extremely popular and that residents “have wanted them for a long time”, they haven’t managed to avoid some pro-car, NIMBY controversy, however.

Cycle hangar in Norfolk Square, Brighton (credit - Laura King, Facebook)

In November, we reported that one of the hangars, in Norfolk Square, caused outrage after eagle-eyed motorists noticed that it appeared to be straddling two car parking spaces, with one resident arguing that the unit’s positioning was either a result of “sheer incompetence or the continuing war by Brighton and Hove City Council against motorists”.

> “It’s absolute madness”: Brighton motorists claim cycle hangar is “deliberately” taking up two car parking spaces

A few days later, another resident took to the local press to declare that she does not want one of the “giant ugly objects” outside her house (as one councillor pointed out, she wasn’t referring to “Range Rovers that are half parked on the pavement”).

And now, after a well-earned Christmas break, the bike hangars are back making headlines – but this time, one resident has complained that cyclists aren’t able to access the units thanks to inconsiderate motorbike owners.

The anonymous local told the Argus that the council should do more to prevent motorbikes and mopeds blocking the bike hangar in Denmark Villas, Hove.

“They have introduced a cycle hangar there but the way that motorbike parks means it’s unusable,” the local said.

“It would appear that the council can’t do anything about it and remove the moped. I’m not a cyclist, I have seen people use the hangar but they’re not going to be able to get in to that hangar if the motorbike is in the way.

“Parking permits holders have to pay £175 a year for the privilege of parking, cyclists also pay for bike hangars but people on motorbikes can park where they like.

“We all have to pay. If a car parked on the pavement there, you are guaranteed it will be taken away or a ticket issued.

“It is out of order for motorbikes to park on the pavement. But you bother to put a cycle hangar in there and you allow a bike in front of it, it means the hangar is useless, it can’t be used. You’d think you would be able to penalise someone for obstructing the entrance to a cycle hangar.”

Responding to the complaint, a spokesperson for Brighton ad Hove City Council said that parking attendants do not have the power to penalise motorcyclists who park on pavements unless they are parked adjacent to double yellow lines, zig zags, or bus stops, but that one attendant did warn one motorbike owners against parking in front of the bike hangar.

“We’re obviously very disappointed that motorcyclists would choose to park their bikes in such an unreasonable manner,” the spokesperson said.

“In this instance one of our parking attendants actually met the motorcyclist and explained that they shouldn’t be parking there.

“We hope this will be the end of the matter. If it continues, we will report it to the police for their attention.

“We have been lobbying central government for powers to tackle pavement parking, similar to the powers that have existed in London since the 1970s. The Department for Transport carried out a consultation on providing these powers to councils outside London in November 2019.

“We have been told that the government has reviewed responses to this consultation and will be making an announcement about powers to tackle pavement parking for councils outside London in the near future.”

04 January 2023, 12:30
“How not to do cycle parking, London style”: Cyclists blast Battersea Power Station bike parking

This Twitter thread, exploring the new bike parking facilities at recently redeveloped Battersea Power Station, has caused quite a stir this morning.

For those of you, like me, who are yet to visit the new ‘bike hub’, it’s worth a quick tour, courtesy of cyclist Jim:

It’s safe to say that Jim’s quick online tour hasn’t exactly provoked a wave of enthusiasm for the facilities or those who put them in place.

Ely Cycling Campaign described the bike parking at Battersea Power Station as “the tragic story of a well-funded cycle project being spoilt by obstinate developers who are unwilling to look at best practice”.

“This is what you get when you put someone who doesn’t cycle in charge of designing your cycling facilities,” said John, while Carole called the facilities “pretty poor”.

“Another example of how new developments – whether commercial, retail or residential – get cycling provision so wrong, so often,” said the Shoreham-By-Cycle group. “Commercial landlords: Speak to your local cycling group *before* finalising design and installation!”

Eeva had some other tips for developers tasked with installing bike parking provision: “Don’t be original, just put up some Sheffield stands, attached to the floor permanently, not with bolts that can be unscrewed in seconds. Also ramps, ffs.”

Finally, Gaz wrote: “So much money, and still so damn poor. Bad or no bike parking is a barrier to enabling cycling as transport. This is so dismal.”

What do you think? Money well spent or another case where cycling and cyclists sit at the bottom of the list of priorities?

04 January 2023, 09:09
Geraint Thomas, 2023 Ineos Grenadiers kit (CAuldPhoto)
“Well… this will take some getting used to”: At least one Geraint Thomas is happy about the Ineos Grenadiers’ new eyewear partnership

I know the new year is supposed to be about fresh starts and all… But I feel like British eyewear brand SunGod’s new partnership with the Ineos Grenadiers may take some processing.

And that’s before we even begin to imagine the effects of such a profound and all-encompassing change on 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and his beloved white Oakley Racing Jackets, now sitting forlornly gathering dust on the Welshman’s bedside table, wistfully reminiscing about sunnier days on Alpe d’Huez or (less sunny days) in the Arenberg Forest.

Last month, you may recall, Ineos announced that they will be ending their 12-year association with Oakley, in favour of a new, unspecified but “long-term” deal with SunGod.

“INEOS Grenadiers is a performance-led team, so we pride ourselves on working with the most forward-thinking, agile and performance-driven partners – that’s why we’ve chosen SunGod as our new, long-term eyewear partner,” Deputy Team Principal Rod Ellingworth said at the time.

Geraint Thomas, 203 Ineos Grenadiers kit (CAuldPhoto)

It just doesn’t look… right (Credit: CAuldPhoto)

But it seems that veteran racer Thomas, as synonymous with the discontinued, turn-of-the-2010s-era specs as he is with the Tour’s yellow jersey or crashing in feed zones, may have to keep reminding himself to leave the Racing Jackets at home this year.

After getting the bug-like glasses surgically removed – though I heard that telegraph poles in the Alps can also do the trick (sorry, G) – Thomas, posting a video taken during the British team’s winter training camp in Mallorca last month, tweeted: “Well… this will take some getting used to.”

Judging by the photos and video of the Bahrain Victor- sorry, I mean Ineos Grenadiers riders showing off their new orangey-red kit, I have to say I agree with Geraint.

At least give him some white shades, for goodness’ sake.

Although, there is at least one Geraint Thomas who is delighted with the change…

04 January 2023, 17:01
Reader reaction: Bike parking, motorbike parking, and a Tour de France winner’s divisive accessories

It’s been another day of cycle hangars and sartorial elegance on the live blog, so here’s a selection of your thoughts on some of the stories of the day.

First up, reader Moist von Lipwig came up with a possible way to stop pesky motorcyclists blocking Brighton and Hove’s new cycle hangars:

If parking wardens can ticket motorbikes for parking adjacent to double yellows, can't the council just double yellow the road to the extent of the hanger and then write an exception for the hanger into the TRO?  Sorted. 

Hangar may have to be placed so the double yellows are visible I suppose, although they're not always visible from some types of vehicle stopped over them. 

You don't have to have a no parking sign for a double yellow to reduce street clutter but there’s no harm in having one to back up the double yellow for the 'I couldn't see them excuse'.

Although Fursty Ferret’s alternative solution requires a touch less bureaucracy: “Just push them over”.

Not that we would ever condone that kind of thing of course…

Meanwhile, hawkinspeter isn’t impressed with Battersea Power Station’s bike parking provision.

“I think with bikes and bike parking, designers get really excited as they can use all their expertise and outside-the-box thinking to fully optimise the storage of a standardised bicycle for a standardised human,” he says.

“However, bikes (and humans) have been around for ages and come in all shapes and sizes and abilities, so rather than optimising, they need to go for the lowest common denominator, which is usually the cheap, boring, practical Sheffield stand.”


Geraint Thomas glasses 2022 v 2023

Finally, we turn to the issue dividing every pro cycling fan at the start of 2023 – Geraint Thomas’ new glasses.

According to the results of this morning’s poll almost two-thirds of our readership, it turns out, are afraid of change, favouring G’s tried-and-trusted Oakley Racing Jackets look:

Geraint Thomas glasses poll

For reader Kapelmuur, it all comes down to the ability to spot a rider in a fast-moving bunch, lamenting in the comments: “My ability to recognise anyone in a peloton is minimal and now I will not even be able to spot the one rider I could identify with confidence.”

Over on Facebook, Kevin is taking the news pretty hard:

Geraint Thomas glasses Facebook comment

How about darts, Kev?

04 January 2023, 16:21
“Oooops”: Cyclist spotted riding along two motorways turns out to be wanted man

A cyclist who was spotted this morning riding his bike along two motorways has been arrested by police – after it turned out that he was wanted for failing to appear at court.

Cheshire Police have told the BBC that the 22-year-old was cycling on the M6 and onto the M62 via the Croft Interchange near Warrington at 5am today.

After “dozens” of motorists contacted the police after passing the man on the motorway, he was eventually stopped and later found to have failed to appear at Crewe Magistrates’ Court.

The North West Motorway Police tweeted that the man was “under arrest and en route to custody in Merseyside”.

A spokesperson for Cheshire Police failed to clarify whether the 22-year-old will face any action over his spot of motorway cycling, though he will be made to appear in court over an unrelated matter.

04 January 2023, 15:54
World darts champion Michael Smith and the bike crash that propelled him to greatness

If, like me, you were glued to the darts last night, you’ll know that St Helens-born Michael Smith stormed to his first world PDC world title against the fancied Michael van Gerwen, beating the three-time world champion 7-4 in sets at Alexandra Palace.

Lat night’s final that will also long be remembered for one of the most sensational legs of darts ever captured on tape, as Smith took out a brilliant nine dart finish after MVG missed his own tantalising chance at double 12.

What you may not know, however, is that ‘Bully Boy’ Smith arguably owes the skyward trajectory of his career to a bike crash when he was a teenager (of course I was going to get to bikes at some point!).

> How a stolen bike set Muhammad Ali on the path to greatness

Back in 2014, Smith told the St Helen’s Reporter that, while cycling to school as a 15-year-old, he crashed and broke his hip.

Just like how Muhammad Ali’s stolen Schwinn sent the future heavyweight champion down the boxing path, Smith spent his 16-week-long stint in crutches playing darts, and threw his first 180 during that time.

And if that wasn’t enough of a tenuous cycling-darts crossover, here’s that mind-boggling leg again (just because), complete with tweet-by-tweet commentary from cycling’s most well-known lover of all things tungsten, Ned Boulting:

04 January 2023, 15:20
Segregated cycle lane in London (copyright Britishcycling.org_uk).jpg
Green Party says government needs to “get serious about reducing traffic levels” following active travel funding announcement

The Green Party has criticised the government’s recent announcement that £32.9 million will be set aside to help councils across England build a network of cycling and walking experts, claiming that the new funding “doesn’t come close to delivering the active travel resolution we need”.

On Monday, Department for Transport (DfT) launched its scheme to create a network of active travel experts which it hopes will realise the government’s ambition of increasing journeys by bike or on foot, as well as giving local communities more of a say in shaping cycling and walking schemes.

Besides helping fund the creation of hundreds of new jobs throughout the country, the DfT says that the funding will also help councils train existing councillors and staff, as well as providing money for network planning and for public engagement exercises such as consultations.

> £33 million funding to help councils across England build network of active travel experts

However, the Green Party has responded to the funding by branding it a “drop in the ocean”, arguing that the government needs to be more ambitious when it comes to active travel.

“It is always welcome to see new funding to help develop world class active travel networks across England,” Bradford councillor and the Greens’ transport spokesperson Matt Edwards said in a statement. “Active Travel England wants 50 percent of trips in England’s urban areas to be walked, cycled or made by other active travel means by 2030.

“However, this goal is being undermined whilst our local councils continue to treat active travel as an afterthought. Retraining staff is a good place to start but the government needs to be much more ambitious.

“£33 million is a drop in the ocean when you consider the billions in the Department of Transport budget – £16 billion alone is allocated to just five road building schemes.

“Training new teams of experts is pointless without the funding to deliver the programme of schemes we need. The government needs to follow through and get serious about reducing traffic levels and boosting active travel by switching the billions earmarked for building new roads into investing in healthy walking, cycling and other forms of active travel.”

04 January 2023, 14:40
Who are you and what have you done with Egan Bernal?

2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal could have the element of surprise at his disposal this season when he attacks his rivals, who may not recognise the Colombian climber following his recent nose surgery.

Bernal, who is reportedly set for his first crack at the Tour since abandoning the race with back pain in 2020, underwent a nose operation in December to treat a deviated septum and to ease his breathing.

According to the Colombian new outlet SoHo, doctors said that the operation, known as a septoplasty, was not linked to the 25-year-old’s life-threatening training crash last January, but to earlier incidents from his racing career.

While the Ineos Grenadiers rider certainly hopes that the surgery will help him regain his nose for victory at the grand tours (I’ll get my coat), it seems that Bernal’s striking new look has led the cycling world down a Beatles-era conspiracy rabbit hole...

04 January 2023, 14:10
Bath launches bike hangar scheme

Now we just sit back and wait for the complaints from angry residents to roll in…

Should keep the live blog ticking over until Easter, I reckon.

04 January 2023, 13:19
Katie Hopkins versus Active Travel (obviously)

After yesterday’s blog featured Jordan Peterson’s head scratching take on LTNs, now it’s the turn of everybody’s favourite ex-Apprentice candidate Katie Hopkins to offer her keenly-awaited opinion on Oxfordshire County Council’s plans to introduce traffic filters on six Oxford roads in 2024… Yippee.

I’m starting to sense a pattern developing here – what is it about active travel and public transport that riles these outspoken right-wingers up so much?

Hopkins’ doomsday diatribe not only features a segment where the controversialist rather oddly sketched a completely useless diagram, but it’s – surprise, surprise – riddled with errors and outright falsehoods concerning the council’s plans.

As Oxford City Council pointed out in a tweet below the video, Hopkins simply appears to be perpetuating the misinformation being circulated about the council’s plan – which in reality includes the installation of traffic filters designed to encourage motorists to steer clear at certain times of popular city centre routes to be set aside for public transport and active travel – by linking it to an entirely different long-term plan from the council which aims to ensure that by 2040 every resident has access to essentials such as shops, healthcare, and parks within their ’15-minute neighbourhood’.

By linking those two proposals, opponents of the council’s traffic filter initiative are claiming that the local authority is instead planning to fine anyone who strays outside their local area (note that not once in the video does Hopkins mention the word ‘car’).

But I’m sure it’s perfectly natural for someone to confuse two separate schemes aimed at reducing city centre congestion and improving local services with a cunning plot to keep everybody confined to their own street… Easy mistake to make, I suppose.

> Joint statement from Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council on Oxford’s traffic filters

While Hopkins, Peterson, and their ilk claim that local authorities are attempting to control your every move, Oxfordshire County Council says “the reason we have proposed these changes is because – as everyone who lives and visits Oxford knows – the city has had awful congestion for decades. This is damaging both our economy and our environment, and is making the bus network unviable.

“Our aim is to reduce traffic levels and congestion, make the buses faster and more reliable, and make cycling and walking safer and more pleasant.

“Oxford needs a more sustainable, reliable and inclusive transport system for everyone, particularly for the 30 percent of our households who do not own a car.”

Right, no more Hopkins or Peterson for the week, I promise…

04 January 2023, 11:52
A travesty…
04 January 2023, 11:16
Cycling Twitter rejoices as Uno-X gains Tour de France wildcard

A ripple of euphoria swept across the cycling community this morning, as one of the sport’s most popular, attacking outfits, Uno-X, was granted a lucrative wildcard berth for this summer’s Tour de France.

Steadily rising through the ranks in recent years, the Norwegian squad has gained a devoted following thanks to its penchant for exciting, attacking racing – first witnessed at the 2021 spring classics – and development of young Scandinavian talent, such as the promising 23-year-old climber Tobias Halland Johannessen, who secured top tens overall this year at the Volta a Catalunya, Critérium du Dauphiné, and Tour of Norway, along with a stage win at the Etoile de Bessèges.

The hype surrounding the team even provoked a bit of an online clamour for Uno-X to be invited to last year’s Tour de France, though that final wildcard spot ended up in the hands of the now defunct B&B Hotels-KTM squad.

But good things come to those who wait, and Uno-X – including new signing Alexander Kristoff – will be at the Grand Départ in Bilbao on 1 July.

“We are extremely proud, humble, and grateful for the invitation. The Tour de France is the ultimate dream, and just being a part of this is a victory for the team,” said team manager Jens Haugland.

“We will be well prepared for this year’s edition. One of our long-term goals is to be able to fight for the top positions in the Tour de France in the future. We see no reason to think that this isn’t possible.”

The other wildcard spot at this year’s Tour goes to Israel-Premier Tech who, despite being relegated from the WorldTour in 2022, secured their invite from ASO off the back of a strong Tour last year, which saw Simon Clarke and Hugo Houle pick up stage wins.

As the highest-ranked ProTeams from 2022, Caleb Ewan’s Lotto Dstny and Peter Sagan’s TotalEnergies were guaranteed their spot at the Tour, with the 18 WorldTour squads filling out the bulk of the peloton.

One team disappointed this morning will be Euskaltel-Euskadi, who had hoped to roll back the clock to the 2000s thanks to the 2023 Tour’s Basque start, but it looks like we’ll have to wait at least another year for those famous orange jerseys to return to the Pyrenees in July.

04 January 2023, 09:48
Geraint’s new SunGods – a shade better?

Now that we finally have incontrovertible evidence that Geraint Thomas can, in fact, wear another pair of cycling glasses, I thought I’d gauge the cycling world’s opinion by conducting the first – and potentially most important – live blog poll of 2023…

Are the 2018 Tour winner’s new SunGod Velans a sartorial improvement on his much-loved, but divisive, Oakley Racing Jackets?

Geraint Thomas glasses 2022 v 2023

2010-2022 or 2023? You decide!

Super Survey

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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