Are Cyclists Racing on London’s Streets?

Are cyclists racing against each other on London’s streets? This was a question raised in a letter to the Daily Telegraph this morning (29/12/2015) by Gareth Hayton following previous letters about speeding cyclists putting pedestrians at risk. His answer was yes because he said if you go to the internet and search for “Strava segment Embankment” it shows you that cyclists are recording their times on the stretch of road along the Embankment from the City to the West End (part of the http://www.strava.com web site).

The “winner” in the Men’s category at the time of writing is Tom Moses with a time of 3 minutes and 9 seconds which it gives as an average speed of 58.7 kph (i.e. 31.7 miles per hour). Apart from the fact that there are several traffic lights and pedestrian crossings on that stretch of road, clearly Mr Moses is exceeding the 30 mph speed limit along that road.

These timings can be recorded automatically by mobile phone apps or GPS products and there are large numbers of recordings being submitted – for example there are 247,000 records on the Westminster to Millbank segment of the same road.

As the writer to the Telegraph said “Many cyclists are racing, not just on roads, but on paths and tracks throughout the country every day, with complete disregard to others“. This activity is of course illegal. Cycle races of any kind have to be authorised by the police, and as pointed out above, speed limits are obviously being broken. Note also that “cycling furiously” is a criminal offence under the 1847 Town Police Clauses Act or under the  Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and there have been past cases prosecuted under those laws.

So if you wonder why cyclists are often the source of accidents to both themselves and others, now you know. They may be competing to get into the record books!

Roger Lawson

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5 thoughts on “Are Cyclists Racing on London’s Streets?

  1. Is this a joke? The ‘top speed’ recorded by the bike you refer to was in a closed-street race. Utterly dumbass piece based on a stupid misconception.

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  2. Cyclists Racing on London Streets
    For all those of you who have commented on the article published on the ABD London blog and in our last Newsletter concerning cyclists racing on London streets, here’s an initial response. The article was based on an item in the Daily Telegraph and I don’t normally find it necessary to investigate or verify what the national quality press publish. It was also based on what was immediately obvious on the Strava web site mentioned in the article.

    I will look into the issue further but it is obvious just from an initial review that there is more to this story than meets the eye. I doubt that all the recorded segment timings published on that web site relate to formal cycle races where roads are closed.

    I will do a more comprehensive analysis of the facts and publish a further response on our blog, and in our next newsletter. But it will not probably be available until the coming weekend at the earliest.

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  3. Cyclists Racing on London Streets – 2

    Here is a comprehensive response to the complaints that I received on the article in the last ABD-London Newsletter concerning cyclists “racing” on London’s streets. The original article indicated that there was evidence that cyclists were recording their travel times on road segments in London on a web site named Strava, and that this might be encouraging “furious cycling” (a criminal offence) as cyclists effectively were vying with each other, or competing against their own past recorded times as recorded on that web site.

    The article was based on an item in the Daily Telegraph and I don’t normally find it necessary to investigate or verify what the national quality press publish. It was also based on what was immediately obvious on the Strava web site mentioned in the article.

    So for example if you go to the internet and search for “strava segment embankment” it gives you the times that have been entered by cyclists for the stretch of road along the Embankment in London. As reported in the original article, the top time present is shown as being by Tom Moses with a time of 3 minutes and 9 seconds (an average speed of 31.7 mph).

    Some time after the article was originally published a number of cyclists pointed out that Tom Moses is actually a professional cyclist and the time shown was recorded when he was riding in the Tour of Britain, and when the road was presumably closed to vehicular traffic. I acknowledge that this might have been the case, without examining that claim in detail.

    However, if you look at that page of the Strava web site you will see that there are “64,779” attempts by 5,964 people (as shown at the time of writing this note). It therefore seems very unlikely to me that most of those timings were made when the riders were competing in a formal cycle race on closed roads. Indeed some of them are clearly riders on “powered” bikes who would surely not be in any normal cycle race.

    So in essence, it might have been unfortunate that the facts about Mr Moses’ ride were omitted and I am now perfectly happy to report that now. However it does not undermine the main point of the article in that it is very clear from anyone who walks, cycles or drives in London that there are a minority of cyclists acting in a somewhat dangerous way both to themselves and other people. In other words, cycling at an excessive speed in relation to road hazards and other road users.

    In addition I would point out that although there are cases reported of car drivers racing each other (which are often prosecuted), if there was any web site set up to report driving times by car users, it would immediately be seen as positively dangerous and inappropriate. Why not for cyclists?

    One of the astonishing things about this matter is that there were a number of people who took it upon themselves to complain to me via email and on twitter in a most intemperate way. In essence suggesting that I was maliciously distorting the facts while not appreciating the dangers cyclists faced. Indeed they tended to ramble off into all kinds of complaints about car drivers. They even ignored the clear copyright statement on the newsletter where the article was published and reproduced it without permission which I suggest is somewhat symptomatic of the contempt shown by many cyclists to laws and regulations.

    Now you know the full facts on this matter, you can judge for yourselves whether there was information in the original article which should rightly have been brought to the attention of the general public. I still think there was.

    Therefore there will be no apology (as some “demanded” forcefully) for the content of the original article. This will also be the last comment I will make on the subject unless there is more information received. In other words, don’t send me your comments unless you have something new to say because otherwise I will ignore them.

    This note will be published in the next ABD London Newsletter which may not be for some weeks but the original article will not be removed or reissued.

    Roger Lawson

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