Concerning footage filmed at Sunday's Portsdown Classic road race in Hampshire showed the moment an impatient taxi driver apparently ignored marshals and drove onto the course, almost causing a collision with riders.
The footage filmed by Charlie Bailey and shared on his Instagram story showed an incident on the route during yesterday's National B-level race near Waterlooville, an event held, as is standard in the UK, on open roads with rolling road closures enforced by motorcycle outriders and event staff.
What a disgrace @Uber your driver chose to ignore the cycling outriders and the safety cars then pulls straight out in front of the lead riders in a cycle race because he had to wait 2 minutes whilst the race passed. A disgrace and such a danger to road users @HantsPolice pic.twitter.com/xCyTfCBGRu
— tim nisbet (@timnisbet) February 11, 2024
Posts from competitors and spectators on social media suggest the event was well run, no mean feat given the widely documented challenges facing race organisers in the UK, this incident apparently the result of one road user's impatience.
"Unfortunately you can't control every idiot on the road"
Explaining the situation to road.cc, the race's organiser Seb Ottley praised the event's staff for a "fantastic job keeping the riders safe", the incident the result of one "inconsiderate driver".
"It was an unfortunate event, the Motorbike National Escort Group and Accredited Marshals do a fantastic job at keeping the riders safe however unfortunately you can't control every idiot on the road," he told road.cc. "Luckily no one was injured or hurt by the inconsiderate driver and all riders got round safe and the race was a huge success."
Another source present also told road.cc the driver, seen in a car displaying taxi licence plates and Uber livery, "ignored the [motorcycle-riding] outrider" before "a car in the convoy stopped and made it clear that the race was approaching". Despite this, moments later the driver was filmed pulling out onto the course, metres away from riders, the sound of disc brakes heard as a collision was fortunately avoided.
"No criticism of the organisers this was a really well-run event," the spectator said. "Yes, the junction could have had a marshal, but if we need a marshal at every road then no road racing will take place in this country. In the end members of the public stood in the road."
road.cc also contacted Uber for this story, but had not heard back at the time of publishing. Footage of the incident re-shared on social media by another spectator Tim Nisbet, whose son Cormac was competing, received a seemingly automated reply from Uber's 'Support' account stating: "We take this very seriously! Please fill out the form by submitting the details of your concern. You can still submit your concern without an Uber account. We'll be in touch to help as soon as possible."
The Portsdown Classic is the new branding for the race previously known as the Perfs Pedal road race, current organiser Ottley stepping in after previous organiser Mick Waite announced in October it would not be continuing in 2024 due to the ongoing challenges of running races in the UK.
First-hand accounts seen on social media show Sunday's event, won by Sam Culverwell of Saint Piran, was popular with riders and spectators, and there has been plenty of praise for its organisation.
Former WorldTour rider Alex Dowsett was one of the riders to take part, the former Hour Record holder saying it was "great to see so many people out racing and spectating".
However, Dowsett also shared footage on Instagram of a major crash that happened during another part of the race.
"Hope everyone that went down is nursing scratches or less only, very lucky to not lock any brakes or be hit hard from behind," he wrote. "This was the win of the day for me, avoiding this whilst it happened in front, behind and to my left and right. I do have a tyre burn on my left calf though which is a little sore..."
Last March, we reported on safety concerns surrounding National B races in the UK, one team manager calling on British Cycling to do more to support clubs and organisers who host races. Those comments came after one of Jakes Hales' Ride Revolution riders was airlifted to hospital after crashing into the back of a stationary vehicle that had been stopped on the course at the Dulwich Paragon Wally Gimber Trophy in East Sussex.
The rider suffered "a really bad cut on his neck from when he went through the rear windscreen" which needed urgent medical attention to stem the blood flow.
Last month, British Cycling shared its elite road racing taskforce report recommendations for "reinvigorating" the flagging domestic scene.
Chaired by Ed Clancy, who also competed in Sunday's Portsdown Classic, the task force engaged with more than 250 people across the sport in the UK to consider the composition of the elite national calendar, the challenges facing the rapidly dwindling number of domestic teams, and opportunities to grow the reach and profile of local races.
The report focused more on promoting racing, rather than specific safety issues, and was published a week before British Cycling said it hopes to deliver the Tour of Britain and a women's edition in 2024, following uncertainty and its removal from the UCI calendar.
Dan joined road.cc 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 road.cc, 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.