The Alliance of British Drivers claims that cyclists are racing through the streets of London based on looking at Strava stats, but there's one thing they've missed


Cyclists riding too fast is one of the key points raised in the age old ‘motorists v cyclists’ debates, but the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) missed a key fact in their newsletter article on the subject.

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In a section of the March 2016 newsletter entitled ‘Are cyclists racing on London’s streets?’ the author refers to a letter written to the Telegraph in December stating that riders are putting pedestrians at risk by speeding on London’s streets.

The author of the letter advised people to look at the Embankment segment on Strava to see proof of speeding cyclists, which the ABD picked up on joyfully when noticing that the ‘winner’ of the segment is a chap named Tom Moses who completed the segment with an average speed of 31.7mph.

“Apart from the fact that there are several traffic lights and pedestrian crossings on that stretch of road, clearly Mr Moses is exceeding the 30mph speed limit along that road,” the newsletter reads.

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What they failed to notice, however, that the KoM was set on September 22, 2013 – the date of the London stage of the Tour of Britain – and that Tom Moses is a professional cyclist with JLT Condor.

Therefore, the roads were closed to traffic, pedestrian crossings were closed and traffic lights were ignored in the spirit of actual racing.

“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!” the letter goes on to say.

  • Roger Lawson

    Nothing to do with me. But maybe it was simply your
    unsympathetic comments.

  • Craig Poxon

    Dear Roger, can you please explain to me why I have been banned from your facebook group (I am also a car owner/driver) for pointing out the problem with your story and why you hid my comment? Thanks very much, Craig

  • Peter

    Yes, your concern for the poor cyclists practically drips off the page… If you’re truly concerned about cyclists’ safety, *once again*, drivers are by far the biggest threat, consistently killing over a dozen cyclists a year in London.

  • Roger Lawson

    You have missed the point. I was rather suggesting that cyclists are a danger to themselves by racing on London streets than necessarily to pedestrians, although certainly pedestrians find it disconcerting (particularly a person I spoke to a week ago who got knocked down on a zebra crossing by a cyclist).

  • Peter

    Statistically speaking, how much harm have these “cyclists acting in a somewhat dangerous way” caused? How many pedestrian deaths? Answer: about 1 per year. And how does this compare to cars? Answer: about 65 per year. That’s the reason people are upset with your “journalism”, it’s a blatant example of confirmation bias. The true menace pedestrians face in London are drivers, NOT cyclists.

  • Roger Lawson

    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

  • Ben

    Well they picked a bad example on that one. What about everyone else though? All pros? Could you be convicted of speeding on Strava data?

  • The Awakening

    The Alliance of British Drivers have voluntarily made themselves a ‘laughing stock’.

    This would be equivalent of any governing body portraying driving in Britain, by using the speeds of F1 drivers racing round Silverstone, during the British Grand Prix. Then suggesting that car drivers are causing many accidents on the roads in the UK, due to those speeds at Silverstone.

    Whilst that article has been printed and published, there will be many who read it, that will be influenced by that nonsense that has been written by ‘The Alliance of British Drivers’…

  • Craig Poxon

    By “item in the Daily Telegraph” and “article” he means letter (scroll down to Cyclist’s road races):…/Letters-The-Government…

    I could understand his reticence in verifying a paid journalist’s editorial, but a reader’s letter? And it is he alone the pulled out the example of Tom Moses and didn’t bother to check any further.

    Talking of paid journalists, thanks for the credit Stuart Clarke …. :-/

  • Choddo

    I looked at that segment. All the rides above 45kph (and that one is a one-off) are ToB or the London Tri. They should be aware that even mildly provoking anti-cyclist feeling in drivers is a stupid thing to do. Full apology needed I would suggest.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    Shouldn’t that be the ARBD? The Alliance of Retarded British Drivers?

    More laughable Daily Torygraph claptrap. I’m surprised they haven’t included Jeremy Corbyn on his bike.

  • richard

    Admission no omission.. Anyway the fact is you wernt on a highway as this post and my reply relates to. Yet you specifically question my reply that there are no speed limits for cyclists. The fact you were on royal park property when your incident happened has no real bearing on the original post
    . P.s I believe that the royal parks used to have specific by laws for cyclists until 2010 and now there official line is that there is no speed limit. But police are not always up to speed and often do the old “ticking off” when actually they can neither ,A prove an offence, or B prove the action is even an offence that has been committed one..

  • Stevo

    Why “admission”? It wasn’t any secret; I wasn’t aware that it was relevant when I wrote my first comment above. I don’t know if he measured my speed. I knew I was way over the speed limit.

  • richard

    Riding angry we often joke about it. “I wasn’t furious your honour I was happy to hit such speeds” ha ha

  • richard

    So by your own admission you were not on the highway at all…which is what this article related to ..and unless the police officer in question had speed equipment could he really have charged you? clearly not, just given you a word..

  • Stevo

    I wasn’t prosecuted, although I was in a Royal Park at the time, where, according to the road signs, the speed limit did explicitly apply to cyclists.

  • Peter Handy

    This was taken from another article, So I turned to the Metropolitan police, where spokesman Mark Ottowell confirmed the answer: “The legislation regarding speeding covers motor (or mechanically propelled) vehicles only.” .
    However there have been cases of people being stopped in Royal parks where limits have been set., Some advise on an article relating to cyclepaths, is that if you want to ride fast (over 18mph I think) then you should be on the road.
    However, [number two], You could be prosecuted for riding too fast under other laws, such as riding dangerously or carelessly.
    Despite it being said that ordinary commuters would find it hard to exceed the limit, it is quite easy on a down gradient, even on an old boneshaker. With the introduction of 20mph limits in some areas I can see more cyclists being stopped.

  • Stevo

    Surely the absence of a speedometer is irrelevant. I haven’t got a calibrated breathalyser in my car either, but that doesn’t mean I am allowed to drive when over the limit.

  • maprun

    I love his punchline:

    “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!”

    Great punchline, it must be right, if the Telegraph says so. Great “journalism”, create a none existent “fact” that supports your view of the world.

  • J1

    Riding like Bouhanni?

  • J1

    Sit down, shut up. Sit down, shut up.

  • Andy Harler

    I wonder how the Police would define ‘riding furiously’? Would that be attempting to pursue a car driver, who has just tried to ram you into a parked car?

  • itamer

    Glaringly obvious that the top 5 were all on the same day. That should have looked “off” and warranted a bit more investigation.

    There’s a segment I ride that in 500m goes through 3 dangerous intersections. I figured that someone is aggregating the data to show how SLOW cyclists are at certain times of the day. And if the cyclists are struggling you can be sure the drivers are too.

  • Adam Safford

    UK speed limits only apply to motor vehicles. There’s no requirement to have a calibrated speedometer on a bike, so how would you know how fast you’re going?

  • richard

    And have you been prosecuted? No as the speed limit applies to the vehicle on that road . Not the road itself. Police often try n enforce laws that don’t actually exist. The only legal definition for a cycling is cycling furiously.. Show me in the highway code the speed limits for a cyclist. The speed limits refer to specific vehicles om that road.. So that is why I would say that.

  • Stevo

    Why do you say that? Why wouldn’t the speed limit apply to cyclists? I have been stopped by the police for breaking the speed limit on my bike.

  • The speed limit is for motor vehicles not bicycles so a cycle can exceed 30mph as long as they aren’t riding furiously.
    Bikesy co uk,
    The Ultimate Cycle Bargain Finder.

  • barraob1

    More comprehensive analysis so you don’t you look like the mugs you are!

  • barraob1

    Ladies and gentlemen, stupidity in all its glory!

  • Dan Kenyon

    I got a response to my email! Here it is,

    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 published 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.

  • Dan Kenyon

    this is the email address of the head of the committee feel free to email and point out their epic mistake 🙂

  • Arthur Marx

    Keep on crying, ABD, keep on crying!

  • Graeme Foster

    I’ve heard of some car drivers flying around the streets of Monaco in Ferraris and Mclarens…total madness haha

  • richard

    And there is no speed limit for cyclists ..

  • That’s made my day! Priceless.

  • Yes because no car has ever broken the speed limit – what a bunch of knobs.

  • Toby

    Man alive that’s hilarious! 😀