Matt Bostock has added his voice to calls for an urgent review of track barrier safety after a horrifying crash at the Lee Valley VeloPark on Sunday.
The Manx rider required hospital treatment after the terrifying incident which occurred during qualifying in the men’s 15km scratch race.
Bostock saw close friend Matt Walls thrown over the barriers into spectators and said that he is still suffering concussion symptoms. The 25-year-old told Cycling Weekly that safety measures need an urgent review after the shocking crash.
Bostock said: “I think it’s pretty obvious if you look at the barrier there, and how it’s designed that there are so many options for a terrible outcome. It feels like the design hasn’t really been thought through for a crash or an accident.
"Especially to protect the spectators who are sitting just a few feet away."
"If it’s not at least reviewed then it’s pretty criminal on their behalf," he added, "Obviously he [Matt Walls] was extremely lucky as it could have easily been a far worse situation.”
In the aftermath of the crash both former track sprinter Chris Hoy and five time Olympic champion Laura Kenny have called for better safety measures to be introduced, including potentially installing plexiglass screens at the top of the track similar to those in ice hockey rinks.
Bostock explained that he believes screens being fitted would be a sensible outcome from any potential review carried out by the sport's governing bodies.
He said: “I don’t see any issues with them [screens]. It could be a plexiglass or plastic screen or whatever else these things are made from, but obviously the spectators could still see through it. It wouldn’t affect the crowd or the racing or anything and would obviously be a lot safer for us all.
“I don’t see any reason why things can’t be better designed or more thought through so they’re altered. In London it’s literally just two metal bars about a foot apart and even if you don’t go over, if you get your arm or your leg or God forbid anything else caught then it’s a recipe for absolute disaster. This definitely needs to be reviewed and evaluated now.”
Earlier today, the Guardian reported that Australia is leading a group of cycling nations pushing for better safety measures to prevent a repeat of the horror crash.
AusCycling performance director Jesse Korf told the paper that Australia and other nations intended to lodge a proposal with the UCI about mandatory improvements to velodrome safety.
Korf said: “You’re not going to get to a point where you’re going to eliminate crashes from bike racing. But people going over a railing – that’s a different story in my mind.”
This afternoon, Stephen Park of British Cycling said: “After incidents of this nature it’s appropriate to review matters relating to safety… We’ll do everything we can to support conversations both nationally and internationally in this regard.”
"IT'S NOT A GOOD LOOK TO HAVE RIDERS FLYING OVER A BARRIER"
Bostock welcomed the move by AusCycling and explained that despite last weekend being a freak-accident, it was not one that cycling can afford to see happen again.
He said, “If something like this happened again somewhere in a few weeks time and nothing has changed then it’s neglect on our safety. Particularly if they don’t consider this [AusCycling’s proposal] and take into account what’s happened and try to fix it going forward.”
Bostock, who rides on the road for Wiv-SunGod, explained that one of his greatest concerns is spectators being frightened away from watching in the velodrome if a safety review isn’t instituted.
He added: “I was tagged in a social media post earlier in the week by a family who were there. I think it was two adults and a young child. They said they’ll never watch again in the velodrome because of the crash.
"I hope it doesn’t put many people off, but the few people on the front row might never come to the track again and tell other people that it’s dangerous. It’s not a good look really is it to have riders flying over the top of a barrier?"
While Bostock admitted that the aftermath of the crash won’t stop him racing on the track, he explained that seeing Walls fly over the barrier will play on the back of his mind.
“It’s definitely going to dent my confidence, especially if the barrier isn’t changed at the top of the track. That’s the main thing with it,” he said.
“It wasn’t anything that hadn’t happened to me before, but I think I will definitely be thinking in the back of my mind, what if I go over the top of the barrier and fly into some kids? Particularly if they don’t do anything about this before I race again.
"It’s a shame that when I’m racing I’ll be thinking, what if I go over the top of these barriers? I don’t think that should be an option you have to think about.”
Cycling Weekly has approached the UCI for comment.
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