“Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands.” – Jeff Cooper : The father of the Modern Technique” of handgun shooting
Its the hot topic at the moment, everyones talking about it. Its sad that it took the death of a rider to put the subject to the fore, but after a chaotic first week of the Tour de France its back again. So I have spent some time over the rest day thinking what I would do.
The first thing that comes to my mind is road furniture. It seems that every bloody year we are welcomed by an ever increasing range of obstacles on the roads. More roundabouts, more bollards, more lampposts, kerbs seem to be getting higher and higher, and despite the fact that we can make a computer chip the size of a pea we still seem to be unable to produce a non-slip paint for roadmarkings. So..
Local authorities to be held to account for accidents and to be forced to work with race organisers to make races safer. Ive heard various figures bandied around as far as the benefits for cycle racing to the local economy ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars, to millions, so its time for local authorities that benefit from cycling to start investing money into the infrastructure of their roads. Rounded kerbs, removable bollards, less white lines, ways of covering up tramlines. And if local authorities cannot provide a safer environment then the UCI need to stop races from visiting these areas.
After races, meetings to be held with team representatives, race organisers, and local authorities to discuss the race and to agree measures, if required to be put in place for the following year.
Next stop, Vehicles. Frankly they are a bloody menace. And there seem to be more and more of them at races every year. Sponsors cars, vip cars, and more motorbikes than you see at a Hells Angels rally. It seems like every media student is able to arm himself with a camera, jump on a motorbike and get in everyones way.
So without further ado
All non-essential vehicles to be banned from races with immediate effect.
Essential Vehicles are:
Commissaries and race director
Neutral Service Car
Official TV Moto – Restricted to 4 motos per race – 2 for breaks, 1 for front of peloton and 1 for rear of peloton
Official Photographer Moto’s – restricted to 4 per race as with tv cars.
Yes, TV coverage wont be as good, but are we really willing to jeopardize rider safety for the sake of better tv pictures.
Ban all DS’s from driving the team car. One of the great things about the in car cameras earlier in the season is we got to see Director Sportif’s steering the car with their knees, radio in one hand, a drinks bottle for a rider in the other hand. Anywhere, outside of a cycle race this would be enough to get you banned from driving. All teams to have designated drivers, who must be in possession of an advanced driving certificate or its equivalent AND have attended a UCI approved driving course.
Next stop in my rant, Equipment. As technology has progressed bikes seem to be getting lighter, stiffer, and to the observer, more dangerous with every passing year. We never used to see wheels collapsing, forks broken, bikes torn in half, why now
An independent review into the design and safety of bikes, looking at all areas. Bike strength, flexibility, danger following impact, and if areas of weakness are found the UCI to force manufactures into adhering to guidelines laid out by the independent review board.
Either, Banning Carbon rims completely. Anyone who has ridden on deep carbon rims knows that a) they are a complete pain to ride in wind and b) they have the braking ability of a drunk ferret on an ice rink.
Standards to be set for 3 types of rim, based on their depth and material. And race organisers prior to every race or stage, nominating a set rim, dependent on surface, and weather conditions which the team must use for that stage.
Helmets. Like bikes they seem to be getting smaller and lighter with every year. Yet conversely we seem to be seeing an increase in facial and head injuries. An independant study to be conducted on the safety of all helmets, and that study to include the effect of impact at speeds over 40kph. If the study recommends improvement to helmet design then those improvements to be enforced by the UCI.
And this is the one that will be debated endlessly. Radios. The DS’s say they are critical for safety, and yet Brad Wiggins when interviewed after his crash said “All the riders were getting messages on their radios to move towards the front because of winds and there was chaos”
An independent enquiry to take place with a body from outside of cycling to look at the argument. Representatives from the UCI and Riders will be allowed to advise, but the independent review board to make a decision for once and for all.
The only one I am not going to comment on too much is smaller pelotons. I dont beleive they will make any difference. The peloton will still be five riders wide on narrow roads, there will still be riders battling for positions. Racing will still be chaotic, in fact with smaller teams whilst it might be more exciting I think it will be more chaotic.
Flat stages – All flat stages to have the gc timing based on the ten kilometre mark, so after that any riders wanting to contest the sprint can still do so, but GC contenders are free to ease up for the final ten kilometres of the stage and avoid accidents.
All accidents to be investigated and stricter penalties on riders who cause accidents through either stupidity, or over enthusiasm.
the funny thing is, a lot of these things remind me of Formula one that was forced to put multiple measures into place after the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna. They learnt. It seems cycling hasnt.