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Cycling and mobiles don’t mix: Peer calls for legal change after incident on way to Parliament

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A new call from Baroness McIntosh of Pickering has highlighted a loophole, where cyclists can still legally use mobiles while in the saddle – even though motorists cannot.

The former MP wants a law change so cyclists are prosecuted for the offence of using a phone – the same as car drivers. 

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Presently there is no specific offence for a cyclist using a phone, but a minister pointed out cyclists can be prosecuted for careless or dangerous cycling with fines of up to £2,500.

The peer says she has recent personal experience of being in danger from a cyclist using a mobile.  She claims a cyclist was on the wrong side of the road using their mobile phone with one hand, while she was attempting to cross over to the Houses of Parliament.

The Baroness’ plea follows Highway Code changes in January that introduced a ‘hierarchy of road users’ ranking the most vulnerable to harm, such as cyclists and pedestrians, and placing the greatest responsibility on car drivers for the safety of other road users – giving cyclists greater priority over vehicles at zebra crossings and junctions.

Lady McIntosh also asks why the code’s Rule 149 to ‘exercise proper control of your vehicle at all times’ bans mobile phone use yet does not apply to cyclists and e-scooter users. A further law banning handheld mobile use for car drivers came into effect on 25 March.

A leading cycling and motoring insurance comparison website, Quotezone.co.uk, hopes the new law on using mobile phones will come into effect equally across all road users.

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Greg Wilson, Founder of Quotezone.co.uk comments: “It makes sense to review mobile phone use for all road users given the zero tolerance approach to motorists brought into effect at the end of March.  We should embrace any and all efforts to make our roads safer and using a phone while cycling can be particularly dangerous. 

“If the phone is there to act as a bike computer it should be attached safely with a hands-free product such as a quad lock or bike-specific phone case but even then, with the rise in the volume of potholes over the course of the pandemic, cyclists need their full attention to cope with the unexpected

“Cyclist and bicycle insurance can help protect the bike riders and other road users by safeguarding their finances from claims, covering medical expenses, personal liability, theft and damage to property but it can’t keep people out of harm’s way.  We need to respect the new changes to the highway code and look out for more vulnerable road users, this new law should help take that further.

“Bicycle insurance isn’t a legal requirement at present like car insurance is, but it should be something every cyclist has before hitting the saddle and it isn’t expensive, especially when using a comparison site to compare providers. For those with a bicycle under £1,000 it can even be added to their home insurance as a specified item.”

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Cycling

Minister announces £50m investment to encourage cycle use

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Getting people out of cars and on to bikes is the aim of a £50m investment announced by Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters.

Speaking on a visit to Cardiff-based cycling charity Pedal Power, the Deputy Minister said the money would fund cycling routes and new facilities right across Wales.

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Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “This is a substantial investment and part of our commitment to making cycling easier so people cut the amount of journeys they take by car and travel in a way that is better for our planet.

“Getting people out of cars for short journeys and encouraging them to walk or cycle instead is a huge challenge for us, but one that has to be met if we are to reach our net zero carbon emission target by 2050.

“We need to make sure that we have the right infrastructure and routes in place so that people have the choice of cycling for their everyday journeys – we need to make the right thing to do, the easy thing to do.”

One organisation that is benefiting from this investment is Pedal Power in South Wales.

As part of a series of Welsh Government e-bike pilot schemes, the cycling charity received £0.21m for its ‘See Cycling Differently’ project which is aimed at increasing the inclusivity of cycling by offering a range of e-cycles.

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Thanks to the money received the charity has expanded its e-cycle fleet and is encouraging its users to cycle more.  

Jeff Mayle, Pedal Power use and Deputy Minister Lee Waters

Director of Pedal Power, Cardiff, Sian Donovan said: “Cycling is a fantastic way for everyone – all ages and abilities – to have fun, gain more independence and enjoy a sense of freedom which we know has provided a lifeline to many during the pandemic.

“We were delighted to receive funding from the Welsh Government to help us to continue to remove barriers to cycling so that it can be truly accessible and inclusive for all.”

As part of the investment announced today, all local authorities will receive a minimum of £500k with additional allocations having been awarded based on the outcome of a competitive application process.

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Carmarthenshire

Women’s Tour of Britain returns to Carmarthenshire

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The countdown is on before the world’s top women riders will race through Carmarthenshire as part of the Women’s Tour of Britain.

Some 108 cyclists will race through the County to the finishing line on top of the Black Mountain between Llangadog and Brynamman as part of the stage five event on Friday, June 10.

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The route will be starting from Pembrey Country Park at 10.45am and riders competing for the title will go through Pinged, Carway, Pontyberem, Horeb, Llansawel, and Llangadog.

A rolling road closure will take place along the 65-mile route which will come into action at 10.45am until 1.50pm.

Roads will be re-opened once the cyclists have passed through. A full road closure will be in place over the Black Mountain from 5am-5pm.

The event will be broadcast on ITV4 and across Europe with a helicopter camera crew following the race.

The Women’s Tour departs on Monday, June 6, and coincides with the final day of a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in the UK to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. The race will culminate with a prestigious finale six days later on Saturday, June 11.

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Pembrey Country Park previously hosted the Grand Départ of the men’s Tour of Britain as well as the overall finish of the Women’s Tour in 2019.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters said: “We are thrilled that we have again been chosen to host this top cycling event. Previous years have brought an immediate economic boost to the tourism sector as well as providing a great deal of positive media coverage.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Cycling

Cycling in the UK set to continue growing in 2022 – but where do you store bikes when they are not being used?

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A Welsh company has come up with a novel solution to storing bicycles as ownership soars over the pandemic.

According to the UK Government’s National Travel Survey over 47% of us own a bicycle. CyclingUK, a charity supported by Her Majesty The Queen, say that ownership has increased in 2022 due to the pandemic.

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This increase has been driven by more leisure time as well as a change in people’s priorities and their work-life balance. Add to this the emergence of new bikes, like electric bikes and gravel bikes, and the UK, along with most of Europe, has seen a massive growth in bike ownership.

That’s an awful lot of bikes and storing them is an on-going issue for most homeowners. People usually keep their bikes in their shed or garage, if they have one. For most families with children there may be 3 or 4 or more bikes to store and they often end up all leant up against each other. That not only means they stand a chance of getting damaged but people can’t get to the BBQ in the shed or park the car in their garage.

So where can you store bikes so that they are out of the way and protected from damage, especially if they are big heavy bikes, like ebikes?

One company claims to have solved this problem by hanging bikes on the wall using specially designed bike wall mounts.

Luis Prtak, founder of GearHooks explains that “most people keep everything on the floor which means that sheds and garages get full very quickly but people forget about the walls. If you can get stuff hung up, it clears the floor space so you can get into the area. It also stops expensive bikes getting knocked about and makes them easier to get out and ride”.

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The company manufacture everything from a single bike hook to a wall bike rack for up to 6 bikes. All of them will take any bike frame size, from a child’s bike to an XL adult bike and even Tandems. The hooks hold the bike by the front wheel and they will accommodate any wheel size from 20” on commuter bikes to 29” on road bikes and mountain bikes.

One of the biggest growth areas is in electric bikes. These allow people who have never cycled before, or who are unfit, to get into cycling without any distance, or hill, anxiety. Seasoned cyclists can just go much further, much quicker on an ebike. However, because of the electric motor and batteries, they are heavy and lifting them onto a hook on the wall can be back breaking.

The GearHooks individual hooks and racks are designed so that bikes can be hung vertically on the wall but you don’t have to lift them. You simple push the bike towards the wall, hold the brakes and step backwards which pulls the bike up onto its back wheel. You then release the brakes and roll the bike forwards until it hits the wall and you can then hook the front wheel.

Luis explains that “the most popular products are the wall bike racks that take 3 or 5 bikes. They will easily accommodate 5 road bikes or 3 bigger bikes like mountain bikes. If you have more bikes than that then you can mount one rail above the other so that bikes overlap. That arrangement will take 6 bikes but you can mount racks next to each other for even more bikes”.

Each rack consists of a 1 metre long rail, available in a range of funky colours, that fits to the wall with just 3 heavy duty wall bolts. Between 3 and 5 bike wall hooks can then be fitted, and adjusted, with just an Allen key.  If you ever need to add or move hooks, you don’t need to drill new holes.

The whole system is designed in North Wales and manufactured entirely in the UK. It is all designed for heavy duty use, indoors or outdoors, and comes with a Lifetime Warranty.

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