21 October 2018   |  Last Updated 24-07-2014 03:34

      BLOG: What can Le Tour De Yorkshire do for cycling in Britain?

      Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome have raised cycling's profile in the UK


      Cycling in Britain appears in the news more than it should. There are iften headlines about cyclists being killed on the road or stories about cyclists being shouted abuse at, many even wear helmet cameras just in case of an incident! 


      Road cyclists aren’t a favourite of motorists in busy cities like London and Manchester, and even smaller and more rural places like Lancaster.


      I started writing this post about how successful the first two stages of Le Tour De France was in Yorkshire, and whether it would go some way towards changing attitudes to cycling in the UK.


      I saved it as a draft and went out on my bike, came back and deleted it, changing the focus of the post, Why? Because nothing has changed what-so-ever.


      During a short loop of 22 miles, I was beeped at and shouted at more than once, including being called an “[effing] moron” just for cycling.


      The first incident was coming over a bridge at the beginning of Lancaster’s one way system. There were two of us riding single file and sticking to our left side of the road so cars could pass.


      Picture it if you can. Think of your stereotypical taxi driver, constantly drives over the speed limit, pulls out on cyclists and other drivers whenever he feels like it, and thinks he owns the road.


      He then beeps at us and shouts out of the window for us to “move out of the way.” Move to where? We were already as far into the kerbside of the road as was possible.


      To my delight, about 100yds ahead, the traffic lights turned to red and he stopped. So I did the obvious thing and acted like a first class prick: stopped about two metres in front of him and waited for the lights to turn to green. When they finally did, I rode very slowly in front of the car at about 13mph until he angrily sped off into the left lane.


      We carried on going up through town, and about half a mile from where the incident with the taxi driver occurred, we were called “f***ing morons” as we cycled up the one-way system, bearing in mind it has two lanes, nobody was in the other lane and we were again, riding single file and on the left side of the road.


      This one infuriated me even more because I couldn’t get revenge. However, it did fuel my anger enough to pedal up the Lancaster Royal Grammar School hill pretty quickly. I am still Queen of the Mountain on that category four climb.


      With over two and half million people lining the streets of Yorkshire to watch Le Grande Départ,  it was said that it was one of the best departs of Le Tour De France, and is likely that it will return to the UK in the coming years.


      The race director Christan Prudhomme said: “I can see the Tour in their hearts, and in their eyes. For that, I say thank you to everyone in Yorkshire who has made this Grand Depart so very, very special.”


      It was also noted that it wasn’t just local people that turned up to watch the professionals whizz past, people from all over the country came to watch. The peloton even had to stop part-way up Buttertubs pass due to the volume of people and lack of road space.


      After the success of London 2012, more people started cycling and realised the benefits of schemes like Ride2Work and used it as an incentive to cycle.


      Speaking in Cycling Weekly following the Games Mark Brown, Head of Ride2Work at Evans Cycles, said: “The big stat we had was of that from July to August we saw 150% increase in people joining from the same period in 2011.”


      When Le Tour came to Yorkshire more people certainly got out on their bikes as roads were closed to cars at 6am on the morning of the stages and the only way to get around was on foot or by pedalling.


      As I cycled up Buttertubs at 9:30 people were already getting themselves a spot on the hil despite the peloton not due to be passing until 2pm.


      The success of the Tour in Yorkshire was a celebration of cycling, and many turned up on their best bikes in their best club and team kit.


      London 2012 sparked enthusiasm and inspiration in many to take up sport, whether it was doing their first triathlon or playing football. The Games were a success due to the smooth running of the events, and also the support and interest of so many proud British people, proud to support Team GB and proud to have the Olympic and Paralympic Games in their country.


      If well respected events like the Olympics and Paralympics, Le Tour De France and so many others can’t change peoples attitudes towards cyclists, what will?


      My question is, with so many people from across the UK turning up to watch and support the Tour, as well as more and more of the UK’s population beginning to cycle themselves, why are cyclists still targeted on British roads?

      By Niamh Lewis


      Read more from Niamh Lewis at her blog


      Are you a keen cyclist who doesn't feel safe on the road? Or do cyclists get in the way of other road users? Have your say below>>>

      comments powered by Disqus