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“Sheer incompetence or the continuing war against motorists?” Drivers claim cycle hangar is “deliberately” blocking two car parking spaces; Thieves caught taking hammer to Bee Bikes; (Don’t) paint the bike lane black; Froome plans + more on the live blog

It’s Tuesday, it’s sunny, and Ryan Mallon’s back for the second live blog of the week
08 November 2022, 09:39
“It’s absolute madness”: Brighton motorists claim cycle hangar is “deliberately” taking up two car parking spaces

Who knew that the positioning of a bike storage unit could provoke such an outpouring of grief and righteous indignation?

Well, that’s what’s happened in Brighton this week, as local motorists vented their anger and frustration at the placement of a new cycle hangar in the seaside town’s Norfolk Square.

The hangars 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.

“We’re delighted with the response we’ve had to our new cycle hangars. Residents have wanted them for a long time and this has been reflected in their popularity,” Steve Davis, co-chairman of the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said at the end of October.

However, the creation of 900 new secure bike parking spaces for residents hasn’t gone down too well with some drivers, who have complained on social media and in the local press about the sad, incomparable loss of two – yes, two – car parking spaces in Norfolk Square thanks to the new hangar.

A photo of the offending unit (below) was posted in a Brighton anti-cycle lane Facebook group with the caption: “Deliberately sited to remove two paid resident permit parking spaces”.

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

“2 parking spaces lost. Sheer incompetence or the continuing war by BHCC against motorists and parking permit payers??? WHY DIDN’T THEY PLACE IT IN THE SQUARE?” another Facebook user and resident, Bill Young, replied.

72-year-old Young later elaborated on his misgivings about the hangar’s position (presumably in a less shouty tone) in an interview with the Argus.

“It’s just absolute madness,” he told the local paper. “I don’t have a problem with the hangars, it’s just the fact that it takes up two parking spaces.

“It creates this hate between residents and car owners. I think it should be removed and put inside the square and that way there wouldn’t be a problem.”

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “All of these hangars are unnecessary and they all take up paid parking spaces on the streets.

“This hangar would only take up one space but the thing is they could have put it in a corner of the park.

“I think they are being used to take up car parking spaces. I think people will always take their bikes indoors, so who are these actually for?”

Hmmm, for some reason I’m not convinced that particular interviewee has been keeping up to speed with the live blog’s reporting of on-street bike parking in Hackney…

> Hackney Council blasted for issuing more “nonsense” nuisance notices on bikes parked on pavement

Responding to the complaints, a spokesperson for Brighton and Hove City Council told the Argus this morning: “We are aware of concerns relating to the cycle hangar in Norfolk Square and are investigating.”

08 November 2022, 16:54
“Can’t believe no-one’s pointed out the obvious solution: two bike hangars”: Reaction to Brighton’s car parking crisis

Today’s main story on the blog, about Brighton’s contentious overhanging cycle hangar, has certainly got people chatting in the comments section and on the soon-to-be dead bird app.

“The Cycle Hangar holds six bikes, so arguably it frees up four parking spaces, if residents do the right thing,” noted reader Legin (though I’m not sure that kind of solid maths work will catch on within the anti-cycling infra community).

While Rakia expressed little sympathy for Brighton’s residents and said that the new cycle hangar is “an eyesore”, Patrick9-32 responded: “Do you think a row of parked cars is anything but an eyesore? The bike shed is absolutely no uglier than a car sitting in that same space, we are just used to the cars so we don't see how ugly they are. What the shed does is allow 10 people not to have a car which overall massively improves the aesthetics of the area and makes it easier for those who keep their cars to park too. Everyone wins.”

Car Delenda Est also clearly isn’t a fan of Brighton Bill and the others complaining about the hangar, writing: “When you're so entitled you think it's your parking space rather than the council's, and you think your vehicle is the only valid road vehicle.”

“I would agree that if the hangar had been sited slightly further to the left, it might have reduced unnecessary conflict,” says OnYerBike.

“I would suggest the fact that the marked parking bay extend to partially block the path into the park is in itself a mistake – but judging from that photo the hanger could have been moved further left so as to not block the path but whilst still leaving (most) of the second parking space available.

“I daresay the Council knows better than Mr Young what the demand for the hangars is, and that if people are paying for permits to use the hangars, then I expect they will be using them. I find it telling that Mr Young thinks the public road is an appropriate place to store private motor vehicles, but not to store bicycles.”

Moist von Lipwig also noted that “literally opposite that bike hanger there’s a parking space dedicated to 4 motorbikes – any complaints about that reducing car parking? Or is it just transport without engines that is a problem?”

Finally, Argos74 agreed with Brighton’s motoring community that the whole thing was “absolute madness”, and came up with a simple, effective elegant answer: “Two bike hangars. That’s what it needs. Can't believe no-one’s pointed out the obvious solution.”

08 November 2022, 16:17
‘What’s wrong with down tube shifters?’

It seems that our latest feature on redundant bike technology hasn’t gone down too well with the lovers of all things retro (of which I count myself a proud member):

08 November 2022, 15:44
Italian ultra-cyclist hopes to cross Antarctica in 60 days

This time last year, ultra-distance cyclist Omar de Felice had just finished cycling the 2,000km from Milan to Glasgow, home to the COP26 summit, to demonstrate the bike’s potential as the vehicle of the future.

Next week, the 41-year-old will once again take on a 2,000km-long ride – but this time in slightly different conditions.

The Italian endurance rider will set off from Hercules Inlet, in western Antarctica, cycle to the south pole, before continuing on to reach Leverett Glacier.

If de Felice completes his journey, which he estimates will take around 60 days, he will become the first person to complete a coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica on a bike (two people have previously ridden the 1,250km from Hercules Inlet to the south pole but no one has ventured further).

> Britain's Maria Leijerstram becomes first person to cycle to South Pole

“I know that it will be a really hard challenge,” Di Felice told the Guardian this week. “I’m not sure I will be able to do so – because it’s very hard. But I just want to try, it’s an attempt. It’s a hard attempt, but why not try?

“I hope that I am ready for the most extreme adventure of my life,” says the Italian, who will be riding a customised Wilier fat bike, which has helped develop over the past 18 months, during his attempt.

“Everyone I speak with says I’m crazy, it’s impossible, the bike won’t go over because of the deep snow and the wind. It’s very hard for cycling – but I’ll just go and explore and find out for myself whether it’s possible or not.”

Di Felice, who will be pulling a sled carrying his tent, food, supplies and heaps of warm clothing as he rides alone, hopes his epic adventure will “raise awareness about climate change”.

“The bicycle is the best vehicle to tell the story of climate change and raise awareness about reducing our carbon footprint,” he notes.

“We can change the world if we use the bike every day. To go to work, to go to school, even to have some extreme journeys. My will is to show people that with the bike we can do everything – we can even go to Antarctica.”

Snow joke… (I’ll get my coat.)

08 November 2022, 15:00
Plans for Leicester-wide workplace parking levy scrapped

More car parking-themed news on today’s live blog, as Leicester City Council has confirmed that it is scrapping plans to introduce a city-wide workplace parking levy.

The scheme, a similar version of which has been operating in Nottingham for the last decade, would have seen firms with more than 10 car parking spaces obliged to pay £550 a year for each space.

However, the BBC reports that, following a consultation that garnered over 4,000 responses, the council has said that current economic situation has made the plans unviable.

Leicester’s deputy mayor, Adam Clarke, said scrapping the policy now means that the council “won’t have the funding needed to radically improve public transport”, but that it “will continue to focus on cleaning the air and reducing Leicester’s carbon footprint”.

“We could not foresee the political uncertainty and dire economic situation the country is facing today [when the levy was first proposed],” he said.

“We have concluded that we cannot implement a [levy] during this ongoing national cost-of-living crisis, which is causing such uncertainty and concern for so many people and businesses.”

Richard Taylor, from the trade union GMB (a firm opponent of the plans), welcomed the council’s decision.

“A workplace parking levy is a backwards and un-progressive solution to the problems Leicester faces, pushing the burden of Conservative government cuts to council budgets on to the working people that keep our city running,” Taylor said.

08 November 2022, 14:15
Pothole graffiti (supplied by reader)
Cycling UK calls for government to prioritise local roads, as figures reveal pothole injury victims paid £32 million by councils in last five years

Councils in England and Wales have paid out more than £32 million in compensation to people injured in pothole-related incidents in the past five years.

The Times has reported that between 2017 and 2021, in the 157 councils in England and Wales who responded to a freedom of information request sent to the 173 local authorities responsible for repairing the roads, 5,596 personal injury claims due to potholes and road defects were settled by the council, with an average compensation bill of £5,746 per case.

Staffordshire, Manchester, Northumberland, Derbyshire and Lancashire councils accounted for over half of the total bill, paying out £16.9 million over the course of 1,865 claims.

The figures, obtained by a FOI request from Lime Solicitors, also found that just one in four claims related to pothole-inflicted injuries were settled by councils.

“Potholes are a plague on our roads and, as our findings show, thousands of people are injured by them every year,” Peter Jones, the personal injury legal director at Lime, told the Times.

“Councils have a duty to keep highways in a reasonable state of repair. If they neglect to do so, they may be liable for any injury or damage caused.”

At least 425 cyclists have been killed or seriously inured due to poor or defective road surfaces since 2016, data from the Department for Transport has shown.

 “Hit a pothole when driving, and it could be an expensive trip to the garage, but cyclists could end up in the hospital or worse,” says Cycling UK’s chief executive Sarah Mitchell.

“British local roads have had more than a decade of underinvestment, leading to the poor state they’re currently in. With the government considering where its funding axe should fall, local roads, which are essential for everyone, need to be prioritised and maintained.”

08 November 2022, 13:19
Sonny Colbrelli’s Paris-Roubaix-inspired retirement tattoo

Back in the day they used to just give you a clock when you retired. But hey, it’s the 2020s now…

> "A risk that I cannot afford to take": Sonny Colbrelli retires from racing aged 32 after unstable cardiac arrhythmia diagnosis 

08 November 2022, 12:38
Council criticised for painting cycle lanes black (credit - Deirdre Alden)
(Don’t) Paint It Black: Birmingham City Council criticised for painting cycle lanes black, despite signs advising drivers to ‘think blue, let cyclists through’

It’s all gone black and blue at Birmingham City Council, where one councillor has questioned the colour of paint used on the city’s new cycle lanes.

Conservative Shadow Cabinet Minister for the Environment, Deirdre Alden – who, in 2014, described cycling as a “discriminatory mode of transport” and claimed that “women who wish to wear modest clothing are not going to cycle” – says that the use of black tarmac, instead of the more-expensive-to-maintain blue, on the recently installed bike lanes on the Priory and Edgbaston roads represents a safety concern for the city’s cyclists.

> Birmingham MP takes to the Commons to protest that cycling is not just for 'white young men'

“Birmingham Council uses the slogan ‘Think Blue, Let Cyclists Through’ in reference to the blue cycle ways introduced across the city,” councillor Alden wrote in a blog post at the weekend.

“However it’s now a year since I pointed out at Full Council that the tarmac on the Bristol Road cycle way in Edgbaston has faded to grey, and now the new cycle way installed in Priory Road and Edgbaston Road this summer wasn’t even blue to start with!

“Has Birmingham given up on blue tarmac for cycle ways?”

Raising the issue at a council meeting last week, Alden said that the new bike lane outside Edgbaston Cricket Ground, installed in time for this summer’s Commonwealth Games, was “only finished by the skin of its teeth basically – and I thought they would put the blue on afterwards.

“But we are now in November and it’s still not blue and since there are still posters around saying, ‘think blue let cyclists through’, it’s pretty pointless when the cycleway is not blue.”

> New Birmingham cycle lane turned into ‘VIP drivers route’ for Commonwealth Games

Responding to Alden’s concerns, the council’s minister for transport Liz Clements said: “I’m not aware of any policy decision to stop using blue tarmac but I will undertake to go and find out for you. I do know that maintaining a coloured surface like that is more expensive than the routine one, but I will check that out for you.”

08 November 2022, 11:59
“I think ‘covered’ is stretching it slightly…”

While Weymouth’s cyclists have largely welcomed Dorset Council’s decision to install new town centre cycle parking facilities, some have noted the apparent lack of security measures and visible CCTV cameras around the bike stands – while others questioned the extent to which the covered bicycle parking is, well you know, covered…

“That ‘roof’ serves absolutely no functional purpose whatsoever,” complained one Facebook user. “When it’s blowing a hoolie like it is right now, that’s not going to keep a single drop of rain off. What a monumental waste of money.”

08 November 2022, 11:24
Chris Froome (copyright Zac Williams,
“This season is going to be the year of truth,” says Chris Froome

When he’s not showing off his rocksteady percussion skills, four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome has spent the autumn weighing up his future as a professional cyclist – though the 37-year-old is adamant he’s not going anywhere just yet.

Speaking to Spanish sports paper MARCA at the recent ASO-organised Saitama Critérium in Japan, the Israel–Premier Tech veteran said that he has been encouraged by his progress in 2022, three years on from his career-threatening crash at the Criterium du Dauphiné.

A strong third place on Alpe d’Huez at this year’s Tour de France, behind winner Tom Pidcock, arguably marked Froome’s best showing on the road since his recovery from that horrific Dauphiné crash. However, a bout of Covid-19 hindered his form ahead of the Vuelta a España, while the former Sky leader’s season was abruptly curtailed when he was doored by a motorist on the way home from a training ride in September.

> Chris Froome doored on way home from training ride, sustains minor injuries

Despite 2022’s bumpy ending, Froome remains pleased with his progress in training and in races, and said he felt like a “neo-pro” this year after two stuttering post-crash seasons.

“If we talk about winning the Tour de France again, I am not thinking about that,” Froome told MARCA. “The dream is still there, but it’s difficult. I am only focusing on following the process.

“I am a person who likes challenges and the process,” he told the Spanish sports daily. “I am on that road and I am working toward it. I suffered a terrible crash that almost forced me out of cycling and I have managed to come back.

“Now things are different. This year I was motivated by some of my performances, but for different reasons, I didn’t have the opportunity to truly show where I am at.”

Chris Froome Tour de France 2022 (ASO / Pauline Ballet)

ASO/Pauline Ballet

The 37-year-old, who last secured the overall victory at a grand tour in 2018, at the Giro d’Italia, continued: “This year was the first year since the accident that I haven’t had any problems. From my comeback to now, it was like I was a neo-pro. Now I want to have simple challenges, like having a long period without any problems or targeting a stage win.

“After the accident, I feel like I am taking some steps. I don’t know how far I will get, but I am still motivated to keep improving.”

Turning to 2023, Froome said: “This season is going to be the year of truth. To really know where I am.”

08 November 2022, 10:58
The (other) Geraint Thomas strikes again…

But which Geraint is real and which one’s the parody? 

08 November 2022, 10:28
Bike thieves caught hammering GPS trackers off Manchester Bee Bikes

While angle grinders have proven all the rage for malicious bike thieves aiming for a quick – but not always discreet – getaway with some poor soul’s pride and joy, it seems that in Manchester the good old-fashioned hammer still has its place in the robbery game…

The above clip, posted on Reddit at the weekend, shows two young men attempting to forcefully remove the tracking devices attached to the city’s Bee Bikes – in a park, in broad daylight, as (the poster noted) dog walkers strolled on by and people played football.

The Reddit user who uploaded the clip says that he alerted police to the attempted theft.

The Bee Bikes scheme, run by Transport for Greater Manchester on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, was introduced as part of the city’s Bee Network in November 2021, three years after the privately-run Mobike scheme pulled out of Greater Manchester citing high levels of vandalism and theft.

In August, the Manchester Evening News reported that 58 of the 201 Bee Bikes active in Greater Manchester have gone missing since the scheme was launched, while there have been 306 incidents where bikes have been damaged and later repaired.

08 November 2022, 09:56
An American car in the Netherlands

And on the subject of car parking spaces…

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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