Rider and car (nearly) collide on the Koppenberg in the 1987 Tour of Flanders.

Rider and car (nearly) collide on the Koppenberg in the 1987 Tour of Flanders.

On Motors and Bikes: The Next Ride

by / / 67 posts

Every time I go riding, I know I subject myself to masses of cars and motorcycles, each of which has the potential to momentarily occupy the same space my bicycle and I are occupying, a physical impossibility that Nature will resolve via a messy process involving my death. I don’t know very much about the vehicles surrounding me or their drivers, apart from that they likely don’t know how vulnerable a Cyclist is, or how much longer it takes us to stop than it does them, particularly in the wet. I know that they don’t appreciate how fast a bicycle can travel, or that I likely can’t see or hear them coming up from behind, or that I don’t know whether they can see me at all or whether or not they will pull out in front of me even if they do. But I am certain that they don’t appreciate how lethal their vehicle is and I am even more certain that they are likely distracted; they might as well be pointing a loaded gun at me.

This reality comes with the territory of being a road Cyclist, and I accept that. I take every reasonable precaution I can to be safe, apart from not riding my bike in the first place; a life without Cycling on the road hardly seems like a life in the first place. I am also fortunate to have ridden as long as I have and that my experience has allowed me to develop a sort of sixth sense when it comes to recognizing which drivers are about to do something that will put me at risk. I accept the risk, I do whatever I can to control those factors I can, and hope for the privilege to return home safely and ready for The Next Ride.

I am terribly saddened by the death of Antoine Demoitie during Gent Wevelgem after being struck by a motorcycle involved with the race. I understand that motor vehicles are a part of the race, including for the purpose of providing live pictures for us, the fans. But I personally find it unacceptable that riders are being put at the same risk that we encounter on the street when we go out training. A bicycle race is already rife with danger; adding the risk of being hit by a car seems reckless.

I read Breaking the Chain shortly after it was first published. Apart from the shocking tale of drug use in the peloton, the story relays how many stimulants are used by the drivers in the following caravan. The notion that the bike race is packed to the gills with vehicles whose drivers are not only distracted and stressed out but are also intoxicated sends the imagination to dark, dark places. We will never be able to eliminate the risk of vehicles hitting riders, but we can certainly take measures to reduce their frequency. Race vehicles hitting riders isn’t new, but their occurrence have dotted race history with a frequency that makes the individual accidents noteworthy, the 1987 Tour of Flanders being a standout case. But it seems like every recent race involves an incident between a rider and a race vehicle, to the point that these accidents have even influenced the outcome of the race on several occasions. It all points to the fact that we’ve prioritized the publicity of the events over the safety of the riders. That prioritization is perverse and entirely in the race organizer’s control. It is time they take whatever measures necessary to minimize the risk to the riders who already stand to lose their lives without the help of the vehicles in the race.

On Sunday, Antoine was denied his Next Ride. Our thoughts and condolences go to his wife, family, and friends. Changing our approach to the motorcade will never bring Antoine back to life, but it can help us avoid repeating this tragedy. If the solution involves less live television coverage, then I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say I’ll happily give up the privilege of seeing the races live. I hope Antoine is the last rider to suffer his fate.

// Defining Moments // La Vie Velominatus // Musings from the V-Bunker

  1. @universo

    There are few days when I get an estranged feeling and I choose not to ride. There have been few moments when only a couple miles remain until home when the machine halts and I’ll call my wife – based on an eerie feeling. This happens with me perhaps 2 or 3 days out of the year. I never ignore the feeling to stop. If there is a good place that inspires a stop and the many voices of reason start speaking at that moment – then all I see are my kids and wife.

    Great minds think alike !

    I’m the same whereby a couple of weeks ago I chose not to ride a usual Thursday night loop after work for no other reason than “that feeling”. Weather was fine ( I still ride in #5 and #9 weather ), so it wasn’t that. My lights are exceptional, so it wasn’t that either .

    For what its worth, was it a journalist moto or a TV camera moto ?

  2. @Barracuda

    I believe it was a UCI Commissaire’s moto.

  3. @Barracuda

    Note that many/most motos in (smaller) races are not TV or photo motos but actually safety motos that leapfrog the peleton to signal dangerous spots, block traffic, herd spectators, etc. They prevent a lot of accidents but shit still happens. In the case of Demoitié even his team manager Van der Schueren who saw the accident happen does not blame the motard. (who apparently had 20 years of experience riding motos in bike races and is devastated).

    But there is always room for improvement and hopefully the right lessons are learned from the deaths of both Demoitié and Myngheer.

  4. Three deaths this weekend in cycling…. one at Wevelgem- Ghent —run over by a moto

    One via heart attack—- one via crashing into a guard rail— RIP all —

    Still highly bothered by the moto incident —-

    I agree with the premise in the article— fewer motors in the race peloton and no live coverage is a VERY small price to pay —- it’s not like this has not happened before… Sagan got bumped prior to this one — Can’t begin to fathom how or why we need these 850 – 1000 LB 300++HP machines out there with a 12-15 lb race bike frame and 165 lb rider!!!!!! SHIT!!!! it should be obvious!!!!!!

  5. @Buck Rogers

    oh shit yeh, those days i decide to stick to bike paths because i’d rather it be a tangle with a pedestrian on their phone than a driver on their phone.

  6. @Edwin

    @Barracuda

    Note that many/most motos in (smaller) races are not TV or photo motos but actually safety motos that leapfrog the peleton to signal dangerous spots, block traffic, herd spectators, etc. They prevent a lot of accidents but shit still happens. In the case of Demoitié even his team manager Van der Schueren who saw the accident happen does not blame the motard. (who apparently had 20 years of experience riding motos in bike races and is devastated).

    But there is always room for improvement and hopefully the right lessons are learned from the deaths of both Demoitié and Myngheer.

    Yeah, a crash right in front of a passing moto from what I heard. It all works if EVERYONE holds their line when these motos pass the peloton at speed. It’s racing so everyone can’t always hold their line, shit happens. The moto passing has to be slowed down at least. It is a tragedy and one that was bound to happen. It’s amazing Flecha and Hoogerland are still alive. Will anything change? That is the question.

  7. @elbarto

    @Buck Rogers

    oh shit yeh, those days i decide to stick to bike paths because i’d rather it be a tangle with a pedestrian on their phone than a driver on their phone.

    Bike paths or roads with cars…I’m not sure which is more dangerous. I think I’m more fearful of bike paths.

  8. I haven’t written anywhere else, but I love the community hiding here. I can have a vent and know it will be taken seriously or pasted with just as much etiquette.

    As a MOTO Commissaire in my day ‘job’ I found hearing of Antoine’s death deeply disturbing. I see at every race the number of media bikes increasing, while the number of MOTO commissaires is a fixed thing, and has been for world tour races for a long time, the amount of support vehicles and indiscriminate media bikes (and cars) is multiplying.

    Media used to have to be allowed the privilege of riding alongside the riders and the moto riders were very carefully chosen from professional riders (ex-police usually). Italy led the way with some serious rules on this shit.

    However with the increase of the media attraction to our holiest of sports, there is no real qualification for the pilots of media motorcycles. Eurosport live cameras (BMW K1300GT’s, with special fit-out) have very experienced riders and the boss of the bike cams this year takes no shit. The official bikes (usually numbering about only 6, but never at the same place in time or space such as the chalkie) are all qualified riders and hand picked, and have done this shit forever.

    The indiscriminate photo-media bikes are reproducing like rabbits and as you have seen, can sometimes number 3-4 around a breakaway or race leader. add to this the MOTO Commissaire, the neutral spares, the chalkie and a couple of team cars and race directeur, and you have a recipe for disaster. These poor bastards have enough on their minds (the peloton being among them) to have to start dodging cars like they are on the Champs-Elysée any day other than the last week of July.

    I formally call on ALL race organisers to limit the number of casual media bikes (those that aren’t sponsored TV cams, that give us our lovely live HD feed) to TWO, and never to be within a bidon chuck of any cyclist or each other. All of the rest of the cars have their shit together, but these ratbags (fucking paparazzi is what one can call them) just get in the way and cause grief.

    Do this and we should be fine, the odd unfortunate incident forthwith (you cant prevent everything). Right now it’s just mental out there and Roubaix will be mayhem unless the organiser steps in this week and cuts the approved course vehicles down to what is needed, and used in years past.

    As I said before I am deeply disturbed by what has happened, but it has been brewing for a while. We need to look at the realities of races and the roadspace, MOTO’s are the best way to monitor and control a race, and to take TV. I’ve had a lot of shit stacked on me from a great height in the past few days, my next job is Sunday week (!) so it will be interesting to see how the day pans out.

    Vive La Vie Velominatus!

  9. @Buck Rogers

    Well, well said Frahnk. So awful. So unnecessary. And for what reason? Deaths like these bother me so much.

    As for Jesper, this is the picture that always comes to my mind.

    Dude in the sunroof should be dragged out of the car and taught a lesson by a few Flemish fans on the side of the road.

    It’s the driver that should be dragged out. The guy wearing the OJA (Orange instead of Yellow) also got lucky that day. Seeing the footage, I can see how the car hit Jesper as he almost stalled in front of the car, but no way the driver should have driven on. I presume he got banned for ever.

  10. @ClydesdaleChris

    Thanks for the true insights. Best of luck, and stay safe.

  11. there’s just no room on these roads, there are so many moto’s in this race they are hard to count.

    the winning move comes at 34km, there is a 2km gap in coverage from 36km, when they go the V is just awesome, I can’t even begin to comprehend what that would have been like.

  12. @ClydesdaleChris

    Very well put, @ClydesdaleChris. Thanks. And very well written article, @Frank; thank you, too.

    RIP, Antoine. Stay safe out there, people

  13. @ClydesdaleChris

    Yes. Thanks for this post. Seems like the obvious solution to remove all non-essential vehicles. I hope the UCI see it too but logic and reason don’t always seem to be their strong suit.

  14. @ClydesdaleChris

    Chris, being a commissaire you will also recognise the problems we have with the trickle-down from GTs broadcast.

    The regulations are actually rather strict and stringent on the number and behaviour of the press and guest vehicles, ref UCI Articles 2.2.047-075 but the problem is that over time, the GT organisers has allowed more vehicles and the commissaires has not enforced the regulations. This trickles down to lower ranked events, unfortunately. Events where the structure is not prepared to “fight” the increased number of irrelevant vehicles; motos or cars.

    Valid licensing is already called for: Art. 2.2.050 “The organisers shall demand that press vehicles be driven by experienced drivers, familiar with cycle races and knowing how to manoeuvre. These drivers must hold the licence of a vehicle driver for a road event. Each press institution shall be responsible for the driving skill of the drivers it appoints.” but rarely enforced. If we did enforce this, we would – I believe – improve the safety aspect dramatically. I have done a handful of races where the licenses of these drivers did actually get checked. GP E3 and G-W U23 being some of them, BTW.

    We have way too many bikes and cars surrounding a bike race, that’s for sure. I, for one, will work on this for my upcoming assignments.

  15. @UHJ

    @ClydesdaleChris

    Chris, being a commissaire you will also recognise the problems we have with the trickle-down from GTs broadcast.

    The regulations are actually rather strict and stringent on the number and behaviour of the press and guest vehicles, ref UCI Articles 2.2.047-075 but the problem is that over time, the GT organisers has allowed more vehicles and the commissaires has not enforced the regulations. This trickles down to lower ranked events, unfortunately. Events where the structure is not prepared to “fight” the increased number of irrelevant vehicles; motos or cars.

    Valid licensing is already called for: Art. 2.2.050 “The organisers shall demand that press vehicles be driven by experienced drivers, familiar with cycle races and knowing how to manoeuvre. These drivers must hold the licence of a vehicle driver for a road event. Each press institution shall be responsible for the driving skill of the drivers it appoints.” but rarely enforced. If we did enforce this, we would – I believe – improve the safety aspect dramatically. I have done a handful of races where the licenses of these drivers did actually get checked. GP E3 and G-W U23 being some of them, BTW.

    We have way too many bikes and cars surrounding a bike race, that’s for sure. I, for one, will work on this for my upcoming assignments.

    Thanks @UHJ, you are clearly a man of the rules as well, so hopefully simply possessing a licence and a “She’ll be right” attitude won’t be considered the only pre-requisite. Sadly the poor MOTO rider could go nowhere but again, could that be a cause of too many vehicles? Only a proper investigation will tell.

    Thanks to all others for your responses, also.

  16. “hope for the privilege to return home safely”

    This should not be a privilege, this is a right.

  17. @Tim

    “hope for the privilege to return home safely”

    This should not be a privilege, this is a right.

    Exactly. Head on a swivel keeps me alive, but I can’t see every possible danger so it’s up to drivers to behave responsibly as well.

    It’s been a hard week. Myngheer had a heart attack on the bike (!). A collegiate rider died on a descent near where I live over the weekend as well – it can happen to any of us at any time. http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/crime/article68678227.html

  18. @Duntov

    Missed your post above before mine. But it bears repeating.

  19. It’s terribly sad but the more I read about this particular incident the more it seems to have been a freak accident that could have happened regardless of all the sensible suggestions made above. It was a race official bike and it happened after the riders crashed and fell, it wasn’t caused by the bike.

    In fact a woman in Dubai was killed at a recreational bike event two years ago in exactly the same way – touch of wheels in a cross wind, coincided with the group she was in moving out a little to avoid an obstacle, at the exact moment a group of motorcyclists came past at speed.

    It’s great to hear the views of ClydesdaleChris and UHJ and in general I also agree with the sentiment that there are too many vehicles getting too involved in the action, and I would have no issue with having less coverage.

    But as pointed out, it isn’t usually TV motos who are the problem, it’s the press photographers. Either you restrict the overall number or you allow a limited number of pool photographers so that shots have to be shared. Then everybody gets what they need and nobody feels pressured to get something nobody else has.

    That however would be a matter for the race organisers and owners, not the UCI, as it affects the commercial rights and licensing.

  20. Well said, Frank. Definitely agree that less coverage would be welcomed if it keeps the racers safe.

    Also, as much as it plain fucking sucks, yes, drivers have NO IDEA how vulnerable we are, how fast we’re going, and how their impatience could kill us. With that said, they SHOULD know better. There are plenty of things you don’t have to personally experience that you can still understand. Just because you’re not a road cyclist doesn’t mean you lack to ability to understand that, oh shit, it’s probably not fun for that guy on a super light bicycle with only some foam for protection if I run stop signs, drive with no lights on, and blow past him a few inches away, at 50 mph. I won’t hold my breath for drivers to suddenly wake up and chill out, but I can dream.

    Two pros dead, a collegiate grad student dead, and the former pro lost his arm last week. Ride defensively aggressive everyone.

  21. @Gianni

    @elbarto

    @Buck Rogers

    oh shit yeh, those days i decide to stick to bike paths because i’d rather it be a tangle with a pedestrian on their phone than a driver on their phone.

    Bike paths or roads with cars…I’m not sure which is more dangerous. I think I’m more fearful of bike paths.

    I hope I’m never forced to give up road riding out of fear of motorists. That said, if you just aren’t up for dealing with it…mtn. bikes and cross bikes are a great alternative. Also, riding at way off peak hours is very helpful. I’ll ride at 7 or 8 on Sunday, before even the church crowd is up. I’m usually heading in when the local uni. team is heading out, two abreast, on narrow roads and now with drivers impatient to get to church. No thanks. I’ll deal with rising early to avoid that.

    Actual cycling on a bike path would scare the hell out of me. Commuting to/from work, I LOVE not having to deal with motorists. I spend 90% of my daily commute on a mostly empty MUP. LOVE it.

    ClydesdaleChris. – Thanks for the insider perspective. I was going to ask what the heck a “chalkie” is…then I said, goddamn, you idiot. It’s very obvious. Funny term, but descriptive.

  22. My mapping skills have come along with my cycling effort. And it has added another level of calculating the ride. #1 goes where I go, just with different tires {25,28,30}

  23. @ChrisO

    But as pointed out, it isn’t usually TV motos who are the problem, it’s the press photographers. Either you restrict the overall number or you allow a limited number of pool photographers so that shots have to be shared. Then everybody gets what they need and nobody feels pressured to get something nobody else has.

    That however would be a matter for the race organisers and owners, not the UCI, as it affects the commercial rights and licensing.

    I’ll say straight away that I could be wholly wrong, but surely the number of vehicles surrounding the peloton is a safety issue and that is (should be?) the responsibility of the UCI? Say they mandate 8 (pick a number) motorbikes as the limit for a race of 150 riders, then the split between official bikes, TV and press could be down to the organisors.

    I also agree that this looks like a hugely tragic accident, not cause by inexperienced bike riders. I also think it has been an accident waiting to happen as there have been far too many motorbike/bike collisions in recent races.

    Sadly I don’t see the UCI doing much as they are currently fighting with FIFA to be recognised as the worst governing body in sport. In my opinion.

    David

  24. @davidlhill

    @ChrisO

    But as pointed out, it isn’t usually TV motos who are the problem, it’s the press photographers. Either you restrict the overall number or you allow a limited number of pool photographers so that shots have to be shared. Then everybody gets what they need and nobody feels pressured to get something nobody else has.

    That however would be a matter for the race organisers and owners, not the UCI, as it affects the commercial rights and licensing.

    I’ll say straight away that I could be wholly wrong, but surely the number of vehicles surrounding the peloton is a safety issue and that is (should be?) the responsibility of the UCI? Say they mandate 8 (pick a number) motorbikes as the limit for a race of 150 riders, then the split between official bikes, TV and press could be down to the organisors.

    I also agree that this looks like a hugely tragic accident, not cause by inexperienced bike riders. I also think it has been an accident waiting to happen as there have been far too many motorbike/bike collisions in recent races.

    Sadly I don’t see the UCI doing much as they are currently fighting with FIFA to be recognised as the worst governing body in sport. In my opinion.

    David

    I’m just thinking of it as realpolitik – the authority may well be with the UCI but the power is with the big race organisers like ASO and RSC. We’ve seen that again and again. Don’t forget how this all started. Races were publicity events for newspapers.

    They hold the commercial rights and if the UCI said “Only 4 press bikes per 60 riders” or something like that, the owners could say their ability to market and commercialise the race was being limited and who was going to pick up the tab.

    Whereas the owners could enforce a pool tomorrow if they wanted. Pools are not unusual – they often take place on government or charity events where there are only X seats on a plane, or where they are trying to avoid having 20 cameras trampling the flowerbeds.

    I’m not saying it isn’t possible with a dialogue between the UCI, organisers and riders but it requires common-sense and compromise on all sides so…

  25. Safety in bicycle racing is about what it was in Formula One in the 60s and early 70s. It took enough carnage and drivers dying (I still remember Francois Cevert’s crash at Watkins Glen in ’73 that caused Jackie Stewart — my all-time favorite F1 driver — to retire one race earlier than originally planned) before F1 took safety seriously. But it took a long time. It’s why you now see race tracks with so much runoff and “soft” safety barriers. If any of you saw Fernando Alonso crash at the opening F1 race in Australia this year, a crash like that would likely have been fatal not that long ago. It’s sad to say about our sport, but it’s probably going to take more tragic incidents like Antoine Demoitie (RIP) to happen before anything changes. ASO in particular seems very much wedded to an “old school” model for what the sport of cycling should look like.

  26. Race vehicles hitting riders isn’t new, but… the individual accidents noteworthy, … it seems like every recent race involves an incident between a rider and a race vehicle, to the point that these accidents…

    I wish you would use crash instead of accident, Frank.

    The use of the word “accident” sustains a situation in which injuries and death on our roadways, even when clearly attributable to driver error, are excused, through language, as an unavoidable consequence of having a traffic system. [velonews]

    https://pinboard.in/u:tedder42/t:crash-not-accident/

  27. The part I’ve never understood is that the photomotos seem to be free to thread as and when they please. I’d have thought that they should be allocated to “ahead” or “behind” and then have clear rules on what position they can take in splits.

    OK I guess they will often want to get ahead to take static shots and then jump back on to catch up but the timing of when they can thread seems to need policing as often they can be seen tooting horns to thread a massed peleton spread the full width of a narrow road. That always just seems to be asking for trouble and in such time they should not be allowed to pass.

  28. @Teocalli

    Reminds me of this video from last year’s TDF. 1:10-ish and Cav is shouting to let riders in front know that a bunch of motos are shoving their way up the verge. It’s sort of amazing that *more* riders don’t get hurt.

    https://youtu.be/HpJFUiwFi6k

  29. @Owen

    And those were Police motos with sirens – stealth mode photomoto in that sort of situation should not be allowed to pass.

  30. I am confused by discussions like this. First there is an acknowledgement that cycling, particularly bike racing, has risks. But then when those risks show themselves there are suggestions that the risks should not exist.

    Any time such an incident occurs it calls for an evaluation of the stayus quo to determine if things need to change. Some how, Kobelev’s death was the tipping point for requiring helmets. Why then and not after Casayelli’s! Who knows.

    Much of what I read here is about the beauty and freedom of cycling. Some of that comes from being inspired by the pros. To see the races vehicles are necessary. Should number of vehicles be looked at? Sure. But recognize they are there because there is a demand, and we are that demand. So is some of our reaction to this tragedy due to guilt? Maybe, but just know there is no way to erase the risks and In some ways isn’t it the risks they take that is intriguing? The pros know that, and we know that. Sadly some of the risks are not as romantic as decents down twisty cols…they are for motorbikes and press vehicles, but risks are risks.

  31. @Teocalli

    @Owen

    And those were Police motos with sirens – stealth mode photomoto in that sort of situation should not be allowed to pass.

    Seriously.

    @Ted G

    I am confused by discussions like this. First there is an acknowledgement that cycling, particularly bike racing, has risks. But then when those risks show themselves there are suggestions that the risks should not exist.

    Any time such an incident occurs it calls for an evaluation of the stayus quo to determine if things need to change. Some how, Kobelev’s death was the tipping point for requiring helmets. Why then and not after Casayelli’s! Who knows.

    Much of what I read here is about the beauty and freedom of cycling. Some of that comes from being inspired by the pros. To see the races vehicles are necessary. Should number of vehicles be looked at? Sure. But recognize they are there because there is a demand, and we are that demand. So is some of our reaction to this tragedy due to guilt? Maybe, but just know there is no way to erase the risks and In some ways isn’t it the risks they take that is intriguing? The pros know that, and we know that. Sadly some of the risks are not as romantic as decents down twisty cols…they are for motorbikes and press vehicles, but risks are risks.

    Seems to me there’s a quantifiable difference between “risk of impatient driver on regular street” and “moto in professional bike race who should know better.” Risks can be mitigated. In the case of a professional race, strict vetting and training of moto riders/drivers, reasonable numbers of motos allowed per event, strict limitations on passing/engagement with riders (how many times do we see a rider waving the moto out of his face?), etc should be the norm.

  32. even with the the limitations and regulations you suggest there is still the potential for tragedy no? We are all falable so there are no guarantees for safety. That begs the question of what is safe enough? Considering the number of professional bike races each year, the number of bike racers I each of those races, and the number of serious and/fatal incidents could it be that despite the risks, riders are more at risk is other parts of their lives then they are when they are racing bikes?

  33. @Ted G

    even with the the limitations and regulations you suggest there is still the potential for tragedy no? We are all falable so there are no guarantees for safety. That begs the question of what is safe enough? Considering the number of professional bike races each year, the number of bike racers I each of those races, and the number of serious and/fatal incidents could it be that despite the risks, riders are more at risk is other parts of their lives then they are when they are racing bikes?

    Nobody is asking for safety guarantees, just an examination of whether current practices pose an unacceptable risk in comparison to the benefit they provide.

    Circumstances and opinions evolve in sport as in life. What was acceptable 20 years ago is often not acceptable today and it is the duty of organisers and authorities to take part in that discussion.

    It’s incremental not absolute.

  34. We’ve already established that the poor moto driver in this tragic case was massively experienced, so it was just an awful confluence of events that couldn’t probably be averted no matter how many UCI licences, few outriders and/or official training was involved. @Ted G is right that we can’t possibly eliminate all risk, so a kneejerk reaction isn’t what’s called for here, more of a measured response.

  35. While the risk from motos is very clear and has been very thoughtfully discussed here, I also have real concerns about DS’s driving. I watched a ” top ten cycling celebrations” on Watts Eurosport recently and saw various DS/ team managers eating with one hand, operating the radio with the other and steering with their knees. This in addition to watching the dash mounted TV!

    Paolo Salvoldelli in a one to one profile stated that he had not fully understood how dangerous his sport was until he retired and found himself in a team car.

    it is both irresponsible and churlish of teams to be critical of moto pilots when they appear to demonstrate such a flagrant disregard for rider safety themselves.

  36. @ChrisO

    It’s terribly sad but the more I read about this particular incident the more it seems to have been a freak accident that could have happened regardless of all the sensible suggestions made above. It was a race official bike and it happened after the riders crashed and fell, it wasn’t caused by the bike.

    A view that is echoed in this article with Kristof Ramon in Cyclingtips.

  37. @gilly

    Paolo Salvoldelli in a one to one profile stated that he had not fully understood how dangerous his sport was until he rode into Frank Strack.

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

  38. @ChrisO

    @davidlhill

    @ChrisO

    But as pointed out, it isn’t usually TV motos who are the problem, it’s the press photographers. Either you restrict the overall number or you allow a limited number of pool photographers so that shots have to be shared. Then everybody gets what they need and nobody feels pressured to get something nobody else has.

    That however would be a matter for the race organisers and owners, not the UCI, as it affects the commercial rights and licensing.

    I’ll say straight away that I could be wholly wrong, but surely the number of vehicles surrounding the peloton is a safety issue and that is (should be?) the responsibility of the UCI? Say they mandate 8 (pick a number) motorbikes as the limit for a race of 150 riders, then the split between official bikes, TV and press could be down to the organisors.

    I also agree that this looks like a hugely tragic accident, not cause by inexperienced bike riders. I also think it has been an accident waiting to happen as there have been far too many motorbike/bike collisions in recent races.

    Sadly I don’t see the UCI doing much as they are currently fighting with FIFA to be recognised as the worst governing body in sport. In my opinion.

    David

    I’m just thinking of it as realpolitik – the authority may well be with the UCI but the power is with the big race organisers like ASO and RSC. We’ve seen that again and again. Don’t forget how this all started. Races were publicity events for newspapers.

    They hold the commercial rights and if the UCI said “Only 4 press bikes per 60 riders” or something like that, the owners could say their ability to market and commercialise the race was being limited and who was going to pick up the tab.

    Whereas the owners could enforce a pool tomorrow if they wanted. Pools are not unusual – they often take place on government or charity events where there are only X seats on a plane, or where they are trying to avoid having 20 cameras trampling the flowerbeds.

    I’m not saying it isn’t possible with a dialogue between the UCI, organisers and riders but it requires common-sense and compromise on all sides so…

    Exactly, it all boils down to the money-isue and who’s gonna pay.

    Based on the latest incidents I imagine the UCI will be considering setting up a limited number of vehicles/motos based on the event’s ranking and number of participants. In my view this seems to be the best solution for all involved; riders, organisers, commercial interests, couch-riders etc.

    @Teocalli

    The part I’ve never understood is that the photomotos seem to be free to thread as and when they please. I’d have thought that they should be allocated to “ahead” or “behind” and then have clear rules on what position they can take in splits.

    OK I guess they will often want to get ahead to take static shots and then jump back on to catch up but the timing of when they can thread seems to need policing as often they can be seen tooting horns to thread a massed peleton spread the full width of a narrow road. That always just seems to be asking for trouble and in such time they should not be allowed to pass.

    @Teocalli, please see my link to the UCI regulations further up in this discussion. They are not free to move around as they choose. But – as they are generally assumed to know their business (also ref regulations) – we rarely hold them back from moving what seems at random. During meetings we emphasise that they cannot pass a commissaire’s car nor the riders (bunch, escape whatever) unless they have a go ahead from the commissaire and most oblige to this, no problem.

    I should add that regulating this part of the race (motos and vehicles) is quite a daunting task and we do have the obligation to prioritise the race and riders over the motorised entities. And having them pass the bunch can be difficult. As commissaire I rarely know the exact nature of the route; narrow, wide, turning etc and it can hence be difficult for me to anticipate where to allow the passing. I have to rely on the locals in my car.

  39. Not to add fuel to the fire, but check this out. Cars are as much an issue as motos.

    http://www.steephill.tv/players/youtube3/?title=Enough+is+Enough+-+A+retrospective+of+moto+and+racer+incidents+before+today&dashboard=classics/gent-wevelgem&id=TsnZBUkjsx4&yr=2016

    Unfortunately it takes tragedies to see reforms enacted. (NFL head injuries and concussions). After the Skibby incident, cars were banned from the Koppenberg and rightly so. Helmets are now compulsory after Kivilev’s death. Most sports contain some element of danger, you can’t eliminate it. What governing authorities have the responsibility to do is eliminate or minimize the obvious sources of danger.

  40. @ChrisO

    @Ted G

    even with the the limitations and regulations you suggest there is still the potential for tragedy no? We are all falable so there are no guarantees for safety. That begs the question of what is safe enough? Considering the number of professional bike races each year, the number of bike racers I each of those races, and the number of serious and/fatal incidents could it be that despite the risks, riders are more at risk is other parts of their lives then they are when they are racing bikes?

    Nobody is asking for safety guarantees, just an examination of whether current practices pose an unacceptable risk in comparison to the benefit they provide.

    Circumstances and opinions evolve in sport as in life. What was acceptable 20 years ago is often not acceptable today and it is the duty of organisers and authorities to take part in that discussion.

    It’s incremental not absolute.

    The analogy with alpine skiing springs to mind as to the comment what was acceptable once is not acceptable now anymore: bumps are flattened to accomodate higher speeds when racing downhill, nets are put up 3-fold to stop the crashing, loose snow needs to be removed, helmets are mandatory, ski’s radii are changed to make them safer, backprotectors are I think also required but even airbags are now being successfully used to prevent skiers from sustaining life-threatening injuries to head or back. Yet the knee-ligaments of skiers remain the weakest body part and skiers accept that residual risk (even as an amateur!) openly and consciously. If I want to go off-piste, I run the risk of avalanches. If I however stay on the piste, then I would indeed expect that the risk of getting caught in an avalanche is zero.

    Any activity will have residual risks that cannot be mitigated, whether it’s as an amateur or a pro, if there are speed or other uncontrollable influences involved.

    On @Ted G’s comment whether non-pro-cycling activities are more dangerous: as a Life & Health actuary, I should know the answer. Although I do not know it from the top of my head, I would have an idea how to calculate the risk (nr of accidents divided by km’s ridden;this is how motoraccidents or airplane accidents are expressed as well). A simpler approach was to ask an underwriter whether we apply additional premiumloadings for life insurance for pro-cyclists, the answer to which was “no” assuming they are healthy.

  41. @UHJ

    Thanks for clarifying,

  42. @RobSandy

    @gilly

    Paolo Salvoldelli in a one to one profile stated that he had not fully understood how dangerous his sport was until he rode into Frank Strack.

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

    @Frank here is the next +1 badge wearer! Chapeau good man.

  43. @Oli

    We’ve already established that the poor moto driver in this tragic case was massively experienced, so it was just an awful confluence of events that couldn’t probably be averted no matter how many UCI licences, few outriders and/or official training was involved. @Ted G is right that we can’t possibly eliminate all risk, so a kneejerk reaction isn’t what’s called for here, more of a measured response.

    While this incident does appear to have been unavoidable, given the number of rider/vehicle incidents over the past 12 months alone (8 based on that cyclingtips article I posted above), I don’t think any form or review could be described as knee-jerk.

  44. @Teocalli

    @UHJ

    Thanks for clarifying,

    You’re most welcome.

  45. @ClydesdaleChris

    Such fantastic insight. Thank you for sharing!

    @RobSandy

    @gilly

    Paolo Salvoldelli in a one to one profile stated that he had not fully understood how dangerous his sport was until he rode into Frank Strack.

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

    Solid. Fucking. Gold. +1 badge!

  46. @Teocalli

    The part I’ve never understood is that the photomotos seem to be free to thread as and when they please. I’d have thought that they should be allocated to “ahead” or “behind” and then have clear rules on what position they can take in splits.

    OK I guess they will often want to get ahead to take static shots and then jump back on to catch up but the timing of when they can thread seems to need policing as often they can be seen tooting horns to thread a massed peleton spread the full width of a narrow road. That always just seems to be asking for trouble and in such time they should not be allowed to pass.

    And that’s my fear as well. They do WTF they like….

    FML I turn around and there’s a million* replies!

    @everyone, thanks for the positive comments. There has been a number of very similar thoughts to mine put forward here (which is encouraging and pleasant to see), but also mirrored from Kristoff Ramon, Mr Hair himself- Marcel Kittel and others I cant think of right now.

    And as for team cars- OMFG!

    I say lets take a step back, review the WHOLE race autobus and see if anything can be done to improve safety such as training, simple driving rules and limits on journalist vehicles.

    (*ok so I exaggerated)

  47. @ClydesdaleChris

    @Teocalli

    The part I’ve never understood is that the photomotos seem to be free to thread as and when they please. I’d have thought that they should be allocated to “ahead” or “behind” and then have clear rules on what position they can take in splits.

    OK I guess they will often want to get ahead to take static shots and then jump back on to catch up but the timing of when they can thread seems to need policing as often they can be seen tooting horns to thread a massed peleton spread the full width of a narrow road. That always just seems to be asking for trouble and in such time they should not be allowed to pass.

    And that’s my fear as well. They do WTF they like….

    FML I turn around and there’s a million* replies!

    @everyone, thanks for the positive comments. There has been a number of very similar thoughts to mine put forward here (which is encouraging and pleasant to see), but also mirrored from Kristoff Ramon, Mr Hair himself- Marcel Kittel and others I cant think of right now.

    And as for team cars- OMFG!

    I say lets take a step back, review the WHOLE race autobus and see if anything can be done to improve safety such as training, simple driving rules and limits on journalist vehicles.

    (*ok so I exaggerated)

    Chris, these insights are so helpful; we all watch from outside and while I’m (pleasantly) surprised that the tele camera bikes are not the issue, I am feeling very melancholy that our armchair quarterbacking doesn’t seem to be too far off the mark. I wish we were more wrong than that.

  48. @frank

    This week’s episode of the Cycling Podcast has coverage of this issue. They’ve an interview with a guy who pilots a motorbike for a photographer, and also with Mick Bennett, who runs both Tours of Britain. I’ve not listened to the whole thing yet, but one thing I have taken away is that it’s not a total wild-west out there: there are restrictions in place on what the photo bikes are allowed to do.

  49. @Gianni

    The two worst crashes I’ve had were in a bike lane (broken drainage grate…5 broken ribs), and on a bike path (dog took out my front wheel, I separated my shoulder on impact). I’ll take the road!

  50. Not 100% certain whether this has been mentioned/posted before (and if so; my apologies), but what Marc Madiot had to say on the matter also makes sense to me:

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/blogs/author/marc-madiot-blog-the-cyclist-is-the-centre-of-our-world/

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