Rider rubbish is becoming a sad by-product of cycling's popularity

Discarded gel wrappers, old inner tubes and air canisters are an unfortunate sign that cyclists are in the neighbourhood

Discarded tyre canister on Box Hill. Photo by Phil O'Connor/www.sportivephoto.com
(Image credit: Phil O'Connor)

Rubbish left behind by cyclists is becoming a problem in some areas of Britain. As cycling's popularity continues to boom, so does the amount of litter very visibly left behind by a minority of messy riders.

Energy gel and bar wrappers, discarded inner tubes and tyre inflation canisters are some of the items of rider trash commonly found at the roadside - and it's not helping to improve the profile of cyclists.

Cyclists have come under scrutiny in areas where local residents deem there to be too many riders using 'their' roads. Organised cycling events in the New Forest, Oxfordshire, Scotland and the Surrey Hills have even been subjected to sabotage by a minority of disgruntled residents, unhappy at the noise and disruption they say such events bring to their community. Petitions have been created to prevent or cap the number of cyclists using some roads.

>>> Dr. Hutch: sportive sabotage

It doesn't help, then, that some riders are visibly leaving their mark on the countryside by lazily chucking their rubbish away as they ride.

Twitter user @ClareD_ posted a photo of the 68 discarded energy gel wrappers that she collected from the roadside in a one kilometre stretch of the 2016 Velothon Wales event.

See more

During last year's Cycling Weekly Box Hill Original Sportive, someone had left a discarded canister of tyre inflation foam (and the foam itself) next to the side of the road on the picturesque spot of Box Hill.

The National Trust-owned area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, as well as being a beauty spot visited by thousands every weekend. The discarding of assorted crap at the side of the road - a private road, that gave permission for the event to use it - has any number of negatives. The canister and foam could pose a genuine threat to the wildlife and livestock on the downs, a danger to other road users and it looks awful.

Phil O'Connor of SportivePhoto told Cycling Weekly that he regularly picks up many discarded gel wrappers as he waits at the roadside to take photos of riders.

If riders manage to carry full gels, CO2 canisters and tubes, surely they can carry used ones back home, or find a rubbish bin.

Don't like messy, gooey rubbish in your back pocket? Then take a small plastic bag and put it all in there.

Squeeze the air out of a punctured tube and wrap an elastic band around it, then put it back in your pocket or saddle pack.

Don't give the anti-cycling lobby any more excuses to dislike cyclists. Take your rubbish home or bin it.

Thanks to Phil O'Connor/SportivePhoto for the use of the image.

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1