Nick ‘Mr Loophole’ Freeman’s quip that reading the Highway Code should be a “legal requirement” has flabbergasted some of our readers familiar with the lawyer’s work.
“Is the world going completely crazy?” road.cc reader hutchdaddy asked. “The other week Jim Davidson said something sensible about roads... and now Nick "Loopy" Freeman does too.
“I think I need a lie down. I know, one swallow does not a summer make...”
Of course, poor Jim (who, televisually, is streets ahead of Forsyth – now there’s an outdated reference for you) was only complaining about motorists parking on his street and outside his home.
I wasn’t even sure redundant dinosaurs needed parking spaces, but I digress…
Back to Freeman, with Clem Fandango writing:
He was doing so well, I almost fell off my chair. Had to agree with him about re-testing HC knowledge when licences are renewed (and yes I am a driver).
But... ‘Pedestrians and cyclists have this sense of entitlement, and they’re now going to have the force of the Highway Code behind it, which will only increase this sense of entitlement. It seems to lack common sense. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to say to those who are most vulnerable ‘you have to share this responsibility as well?’
... I sort of see where he's coming from. I think. Maybe. (you can't just absolve yourself of any responsibility for your own safety). But he does seem to be spectacularly missing the point that driving is a privilege, poses significant danger to vulnerable road users and so when driving you do have a greater responsibility.
Does he really think that (with the HC behind us ) we're all going to throw caution to the wind and stride/cycle about like we're invincible and cars can't do us any damage? Seems also to have fallen into the trap of thinking that you are either a driver OR a vulnerable road user & never the twain shall meet - you can't possibly be both and therefore able to see it from both angles.
Oh well. Better than his usual registered tabard nonsense I suppose.
Picking up on Freeman’s point that cyclists and pedestrians have a ‘sense of entitlement’, AlsoSomniloquism said:
Sense of entitlement to stay alive?
Sense of entitlement to be able to travel to where they are going without having to divert massively or wait several minutes for a light to change for 30 seconds because other vehicles HAVE got to have right to not be interrupted too much in their journey?
Sense of entitlement to not have to leave the house dressed up like a Christmas tree because other road users just can see anyone if they are not?
Whilst I applaud what he has stated, he never went far enough as full practical test should be carried out when licenses are renewed etc. However, I also remember him blaming a pedestrian for daring to be crossing the road without wearing hi-viz when his client was driving at 50 in a 30.
Finally, cyclingpaul blamed the government who, despite road.cc’s excellent work, haven’t quite played their part when it comes to publicising the Highway Code changes:
“I keep wondering why I know these new HC rules, and then I realise I read Road.cc and other sites, whereas most motorists don't. I think the government information about the changes was absolutely woeful.”
Don’t worry, Paul, I’m sure Liz will absolutely smash it…
Now, this is how you reply to a Twitter troll arguing that cyclists riding slowly on pavements – for the ones at the back who might’ve missed yesterday’s story, it was a clearly marked shared use path – “should be subject to custodial sentences”:
It’s a shared path you plank. https://t.co/NZr3rnCGnE
— HullCycling (@CyclingHull) September 5, 2022
For anyone in need of some context on this Monday afternoon, here’s the full story:
While this morning we reported that Tom Pidcock had returned his plane tickets to Australia for this month’s UCI road world championships, citing mental and physical fatigue, another potential winner – and former world champion – Alejandro Valverde has been barred by his Movistar team from racing in Wollongong.
Movistar are one of several World Tour teams in danger of losing their place at pro cycling’s elite level, thanks to the UCI’s rather controversial introduction of a promotion and relegation system for 2023.
As anyone who pays attention to the various threads and debates that have engulfed Cycling Twitter in recent weeks, the soccer-isation of professional cycling by the UCI hasn’t been without its critics.
The recent spate of Covid positives at the Vuelta a España led to the withdrawal of top-ten contender Simon Yates, the leader of the relegation-threatened BikeExchange-Jayco squad, who were banking on the British rider’s points in Spain to keep them up.
Meanwhile, other teams have been accused of ‘gaming the system’ throughout the 2022 season by sending their riders to smaller, less prestigious one-day races that – critically – carry more valuable UCI points than single stages or minor GC placings in traditionally more important stage races.
The looming threat of relegation has prompted various squads, including Movistar, to ban their riders from travelling to Australia, where the prospect of jetlag could scupper the team’s hopes of picking up points during the closing stages of the season.
“They pay me to put together the best team, with the riders they deem appropriate, but this time it won’t be possible,” Spanish national coach Pascual Momparler told AS, when asked about the availability of 42-year-old Valverde, who is currently racing the Vuelta, the last grand tour of his long, successful and controversial career.
“We had a meeting on Friday to decide whether we would go to the World Championships or not and we finally decided that we will. Juan Ayuso and Marc Soler will be the leaders and we will try to form a team around them.
“It’d be nice if Valverde could take part in the World Championships alongside young riders like Ayuso and Rodriguez so they can learn from him.
“He would love to come, he has said so, but he does not have permission. The team is immersed in the fight for points. It’s the same with [Movistar’s] Alex Aranburu.
“Many teams are refusing to release their riders and this could be a catastrophe for many teams, including ours.
“The UCI has put everyone between a rock and a hard place. It’s going to be an unusual World Championships.”
Some way to claim your first win of the season!
— AJ Bell Tour of Britain 🇬🇧 (@TourofBritain) September 5, 2022
Team DSM’s Cees Bol broke a 546-day winless steak by narrowly beating Groupama-FDJ’s Jake Stewart – riding for Team GB – on the throw to the line in Duns.
With the remnants of the day’s breakaway reeled in on the descent of the first of the day’s three categorised climbs (though only after points hunter Matthew Teggart pipped the reigning King of the Mountains Stephen Bassett, who had emerged late from the peloton, in a thrilling duel to the top of Wanside Rigg), pure sprinter Bol was able to withstand a number of dangerous-looking attacks on the hilly run-in, including from Israel-Premier Tech’s new signing Dylan Teuns.
All over for the breakaway!@matthew_teggart and @adamlewis_95 - the last of the riders from our leading group - have been caught, but not before Teggart pipped @SKODAUK King of the Mountains leader @StephenBassett_ to maximum points at Wanside Rigg 👏🏻#TourOfBritain 🔴🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/ZhRr7sYOX3
— AJ Bell Tour of Britain 🇬🇧 (@TourofBritain) September 5, 2022
However, by the final kilometres, Team DSM appeared to have taken control of what was left of the peloton, only for Tour de l’Ain stage winner Stewart to get the jump on Bol following a perfectly timed lead-out from his GB teammates.
While Stewart looked to have the win in the bag for much of the closing 200 metres – using the available cycle lane as well, local motorists will note – Bol clawed his way back up to the young Brit, his last-ditch lunge at the line proving the difference in what was a desperately close photo finish.
— AJ Bell Tour of Britain 🇬🇧 (@TourofBritain) September 5, 2022
Red jersey Corbin Strong retained his race lead with a solid third place, while Tom Pidcock continues to linger near the head of the GC race, adding a seventh in a bunch sprint to his last-minute fifth yesterday.
It may have only been millimetres in it between Bol and Stewart at the line, but it was certainly enough for the big Dutchman’s long-awaited first win since the 2021 Paris-Nice.
Main image credit: Will Palmer/SWpix
Reading the Highway Code should be a legal requirement. And there should be an online test for motorists every time a licence is renewed and every time a new Highway Code is published. https://t.co/0EHTtHG2Ak
— Nick Freeman (@TheMrLoophole) September 5, 2022
Back in January, motoring lawyer Nick Freeman – known by his nickname Mr Loophole for his ability to clear celebrities of driving charges through technicalities (as well as his long-standing campaign to introduce IDs for cyclists) – predicted that the then-upcoming Highway Code revisions would cause “carnage” and warned that “our roads are going to be much more angry and much more dangerous.”
Speaking on the always well-informed Mike Graham’s talkRadio show (that was sarcasm, just to be clear, but don’t tell Laura Kuenssberg), Freeman argued that the changes – particularly the new hierarchy of vulnerable road users – were “well-intentioned but ill-conceived”.
“The whole point of this is to increase safety,” he said. “We’re all in favour of trying to make our roads safer. Safety doesn’t equal priority. I fear it is going to be carnage. Particularly for the most vulnerable people.
“Pedestrians and cyclists have this sense of entitlement, and they’re now going to have the force of the Highway Code behind it, which will only increase this sense of entitlement. It seems to lack common sense. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to say to those who are most vulnerable ‘you have to share this responsibility as well?’”
Fast forward seven months and it seems that Mr Loophole has changed his tune (kind of).
Tweeting this morning in response to the AA’s poll suggesting that over three-fifths of the group’s members hadn’t read the new changes, Freeman said that perusing the Highway Code “should be a legal requirement” and that “there should be an online test for motorists every time a licence is renewed and every time a new Highway Code is published.”
While there were fears circulating around the cycling community (probably) that Mr Loophole’s Twitter account had been hacked; alas, the lawyer let us all know that it was indeed him behind the phone by also tweeting: “The new Highway Code poses a serious risk to road safety – and that threat is compounded by the majority of motorists who have not yet read it. Many of the provisions of the Highway Code are advisory and they should be mandatory.”
Ah, we were so close...
We’re approaching the last 40km of today’s second stage of the Tour of Britain to Duns, in what must be much-welcome sunny conditions after yesterday’s grim slog through the Cairngorms.
The peloton – led by race leader Corbin Strong’s Israel-Premier Tech squad alongside Trinity Racing – has upped the pace considerably in the last hour and reduced the six-man breakaway’s advantage to less than a minute as we enter the final hour of racing.
Today’s break is an unusual one as it contains two brothers, Ribble Weldtite’s Charlie and Harry Tanfield, who, as we reported in May, were the victims of an intentional hit and run while training in Essex.
It’s also been a productive day for the sprints competition leader Matt Teggart who, despite some issues with his bike, has been hoovering up the intermediate sprints in a bid to increase his grip on the white sprints jersey.
Teggart’s presence at the front of the race during these opening two stages is somewhat historically pertinent.
In two days’ time it will be fifty years since Matthew’s grandfather, the legendary Northern Irish rider Noel Teggart, represented Ireland in the highly controversial Olympic road race in Munich, where he was ambushed by a group of Irish republican cyclists (banned from international competition due to their refusal to accept the political border in Ireland) and forced to abandon the race in tears.
The WiV SunGod rider will be hoping for a happier outcome and that the break can hold off the peloton – which has been impeded slightly by a crash at a pinch point – as they near a series of climbs which present an opportunity for Teggart to add another Tour of Britain jersey to his growing collection.
It may be almost seven years old, but this remarkable footage of a cyclist saving a drowning wild boar from a canal is doing the rounds again on the internet, so we thought we’d share it to brighten up your Monday:
To be fair, I’d never seen it before…
We’ve got some more Tom Pidcock news for you this morning, as the Ineos Grenadiers rider revealed after yesterday’s opening stage of the Tour of Britain that he has “pulled out” of the British team for this month’s road world championships in Wollongong – while also casting doubts over his ambitions for this winter’s cyclo-cross season.
The 23-year-old Yorkshireman cited the mental and physical fatigue of a long season racing multiple disciplines – as well as the lingering disappointment of his crash and subsequent fourth place at last week’s world mountain bike championships in Les Gets – as the main reasons behind his decision to withdraw from the GB line-up.
“Mentally, I couldn’t hack another build-up to Worlds. It’s all the way in Australia. If I want to target road Worlds I need to be 100 percent,” he told CyclingNews at the finish line at the Glensee Ski Centre yesterday.
“I was just dreaming of winning mountain bike worlds, so when that didn’t happen, I was a bit lost. Then trying to go and win road worlds, to me, would have been the hardest.”
Pidcock admitted that he had experienced a “difficult week” following the mountain bike worlds.
“It was pretty tough because I had prepared so well and everything seemed to be just going wrong. First, before the race and then in the race.
“It didn't matter what I did or how hard I tried to control things or get them back on track, something else went wrong. But then coming here, I felt more positive about racing.”
Tom Pidcock before the start of stage two of the 2022 Tour of Britain in Hawick (Will Palmer/SWpix.com)
By missing out on the worlds in Australia – where Ethan Hayter and Fred Wright are expected to lead the British team – the Tour of Britain will be Pidcock’s last race on the road before his attention turns to the cyclo-cross season.
However, the current ‘cross world champion is yet to commit to riding a full winter on knobbly tyres – or even defending his rainbow bands – and says he now wants to be “more selective” when planning his racing schedule.
“We need to make our plans for [the cyclo-cross season], I’m not sure,” he said. “There’s some uncertainty about the World Cup in Britain, but that’s obviously one big goal if that happens.
“I want to prepare properly for the Classics. I don’t know how much Hoogerheide suits me, it seems to be getting dryer and faster every year. If I’m going to beat Wout [van Aert] and Mathieu [van der Poel], it needs to be a good course.
“But in my head, I want to do less ‘cross. I don’t want to do the full ‘cross season, then road, then Tour and then worlds, you know? It drags on.
“So I want to be a bit more selective: whether that’s the first part of the season, with the European Championships and the World Cup in the UK, or the end of season with the Worlds, I don’t know yet.”
— La Vuelta (@lavuelta) September 4, 2022
Top-notch bike handling here from Trek-Segafredo’s 21-year-old former junior world TT champion Antonio Tiberi, who seems as if he’d be just as at home on the muddy fields of Flanders as he is on the roads of Italy and Spain...
This is what happens when a nice pair of Hunts go toe-to-toe with a motorist at a junction:
Not sure it’s supposed to look like that. pic.twitter.com/E82zE8G142
— Will Poole 🇵🇸🇾🇪🇺🇦🇬🇪 (@willpoole) September 4, 2022
Thankfully, the cyclist ‘escaped’ with concussion and a spot of bruising, though judging by the state of those wheels, it could have been a lot worse…
Got run into by a driver at a junction. Some bruising and concussion but could have been a *lot* worse
— Will Poole 🇵🇸🇾🇪🇺🇦🇬🇪 (@willpoole) September 4, 2022
Cycling Twitter was on hand to focus, as ever, on the most important things in life, such as the health of the bike (and the rider of course!):
The hanger and the mech cage are snapped…
— Will Poole 🇵🇸🇾🇪🇺🇦🇬🇪 (@willpoole) September 4, 2022
‘Just a little out of shape, sure you’ll be able to straighten it back up’ as the mechanic gives you a death stare 😂
— Kerry (@Kerry13_) September 4, 2022
I've got some T-cut you can borrow.
Seriously though, did a number on it didn't they? Guessing insurance will cover it?
— Andy Hill (@4ndyHill) September 4, 2022
Have you noticed your wheel is a bit out of true m8?
— Jean Bout (@_jeanbout) September 4, 2022
A yellow weather warning, a wrong turn off course, a delay in live TV coverage, a super-late nature break from the pre-race favourite, and a surprise stage winner…
Yesterday’s opening stage of the Tour of Britain through Aberdeenshire, won by Israel-Premier Tech’s 22-year-old neo pro Corbin Strong, was eventful to say the least.
Before the young Kiwi lived up to his name by outsprinting the Ineos Grenadiers’ Omar Fraile on the uphill drag to Glenshee Ski Centre to take his maiden pro victory, the peloton was forced to endure a stereotypically British day of racing, slogging through the wind and rain on their way west from Aberdeen.
The grim, blustery conditions and early downpour not only resulted in a plethora of black raincapes throughout the peloton, but a loss of live TV pictures, which were delayed for 90 minutes thanks to the wind at the finish line.
The lack of live coverage meant we missed Bora-Hansgrohe’s Marco Haller’s collision with a race motorbike (forcing the Austrian to abandon just 15 minutes into the eight-day race, as well as the bizarre moment the bunch strayed off course on the outskirts of Inverurie, 25 kilometres into the 180-kilometre stage.
“The organisers sent us the wrong way,” Ineos Grenadiers rider Magnus Sheffield told CyclingNews at the finish. “Fortunately, I was able to catch on as I’d just flatted on my front wheel. I was actually a bit happy I got to come back a bit easier.
“It was only three or four hundred metres, but it was really funny. I was coming through the cars and it seemed like everyone looked super confused.”
Back on the predesignated route, soon-to-be-retiring Alex Dowsett put in a sterling turn on the front in the thankfully improving conditions to reel in the day’s breakaway of Stephen Bassett, Matt Gibson, Martin Urianstad, Matthew Teggart and Jacob Scott, on the wind-ravaged slog to Glenshee.
In the final five kilometres, one of the pre-race favourites Tom Pidcock – that’s world cyclo-cross champion, Olympic mountain bike gold medallist and Tour de France stage winner on Alpe d’Huez Tom Pidcock to you – appeared to be struggling towards the back of the peloton, seemingly suffering after a day of foul weather and gritty Scottish roads.
While Strong proved the strongest (sorry), and took the race’s first leader’s jersey, Pidcock (who says he won't be travelling to Australia for this month's road worlds - more on that later) appeared out of nowhere to place fifth on the day, with his presence at the back of the bunch later attributed, not to sore legs, but to an untimely call of nature:
The reason Tom Pidcock was off the back with 6km to go at @TourofBritain? He stopped for a pee
— Andy McGrath (@Andymcgra) September 4, 2022
Pidcock confirmed after the stage that it was a number one rather than the full Tom Dumoulin that prompted his late chase back on to the bunch.
“I needed a pee,” he explained at the finish.
“I was supposed to be on Omar’s wheel, that would have been ideal, then maybe I would have won. A bit too relaxed, really.
“It was a big headwind, I just made a mistake and didn’t go to the front early enough. The Tour was my last race, the depth meant there’d be a lot of trains going up this massive road, here it just strung out.”
The riders will be glad to hear that there is no weather warning in place for today's stage in the Scottish Borders from Hawick to Duns. I'm not sure if the blue skies will last all week, however...
It’s now over seven months since the changes to the Highway Code, aimed at protecting vulnerable road users, came into force (I know, where has the year gone?).
Almost two months have passed since the government launched its latest THINK! road safety campaign to promote the revisions. The ‘Travel Like You Know Them’ campaign, billed as a summer-long publicity push, aimed to not only make people aware of the Highway Code changes but to shift the focus from vehicles on the road to the actual people making those journeys.
“’Travel Like You Know Them’ speaks to everyone who uses the road, with an emphasis on motorists and those who have a greater responsibility to reduce the risk they may pose to others, as per Highway Code’s new hierarchy of road users,” the Department for Transport said in July.
The DfT’s £500,000 publicity campaign followed criticism of the government’s roll-out of the Highway Code changes, with many arguing that the public were not made aware of the revisions and their new responsibilities on the road.
An AA poll carried out just days before the changes came into effect in late January showed that one-in-three of the motoring group’s members were unaware of the new rules.
So, seven months has passed and what’s changed?
Not much, if you’re looking at a new survey conducted by the AA.
Of the 13,327 AA members who took the group’s latest poll on the new Highway Code, 8,090 (61 percent) had not read the revisions.
6,972 drivers said that they had heard about the new rules, but just hadn’t read them yet (it has only been seven months after all), while 1,118 motorists were completely unaware of the changes.
Get them a road.cc subscription right away!
On the bright side, even if over three-fifths of the AA’s members haven’t read the changes, when asked to pick five correct statements from the new Highway Code from a list of ten, the majority of those surveyed answered correctly. Phew.
Tim Rankin, the managing director of AA Accident Assist, told the BBC that the group was “concerned that so many still haven't read the rules.”
He continued: “While we are pleased that many of the changes can be successfully recalled, we’d like more drivers to know the rules outright so they can keep themselves and others safe.
“It is in everyone’s interest to take every measure that helps avoid collisions and remove confusion from the road, so we urge those that still haven’t read the updated code to do so as soon as possible.”
Ryan joined road.cc 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.