Saturday, 23 December 2017

An ode for troubled Team Sky

THEY came from outer space, in their armada of expensive jaguars and huge posh shiny black buses

It was Team Sky, a British species racing clean, new kids on the block

They raised hackles by daring to lay bare their victory aims for Le Tour

At Agincourt, Henry’s long bow archers routed the French

At Le Tour, Team Sky boss Brailsford fired his dreaded marginal gains to achieve same

Armed with their science, their riders with alacrity overcame allergy,

To undo valour and

Control the peloton by stifling the romance of the escape until the last

Then with precisely timed attacks, carried off the prize

Championed first by Wiggins and four times by Froome

Who for good measure, repeated his feat in the Vuelta

And their crime?

To be smarter than the rest

          That was back then.  Now what?
      With the news this month that Disney is buying up chunks of Murdoch's empire, including Sky TV channels, there comes speculation about the future of Team Sky.   Are their days numbered? For no other reason than the new owners might have other uses for the £31m annual budget of a team whose success is now tainted by controversy.

As 2018 approaches and the team prepares for new and exciting challenges, the current  crisis surrounding their champion, five times grand tour winner Chris Froome look to rumble on.
This concerns Froome’s adverse analytical finding (AAF) from the 18th stage of the Tour of Spain three months ago which has added to Team Sky’s woes.
What now?  Will his first victory in the Tour of Spain be taken away from him? It came only a few weeks after his fourth Tour de France victory, a rare double setting him among the greats.
The test showed that Froome had twice the permitted level of the asthma medication Salbutamol.
He insists he only took the permitted dose.
According to David Walsh in The Sunday Times (December 17) anti-doping and pharmacology experts he has spoken to had “struggled to come up with any legitimate explanation for Froome’s elevated Salbutamol level.”
It is now up to Froome to explain how this occurred. Could the test have exaggerated the result, due to him not being fully hydrated? Are there other mitigating factors?  His team think so.
Whatever, this is more negative stuff heaped upon the Team Sky.
Personally, I don’t think the Murdoch family will be too concerned, unless it starts to affect the value of shares. They are well used to courting bother, seem to thrive on it.
They probably subscribe to the saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity. “There is only one thing worse than being talked about that is not being talked about.”
Disney may have a different ethical stance.  
I reckon - and I won't be alone in thinking this - Team Sky has unwittingly brought all this bother on themselves.
Murdoch has always courted controversy in his business dealings.  I mean his Fox News outfit is said to be purely a political front for the Republican Party in the US.
He seems to want to tinker with global affairs – he gets a kick out of it - and he makes big money while about it.
So he’s smart and so is Sky and it winds up his media rivals.  Just look at their sports coverage. It knocks the BBC and ITV's coverage into a cocked hat.
And Brailsford is smart. They are made for each other, Brailsford and Sky.
They both say they are going to do big things and they do them.  
This ethos seems to run through all levels of the company. 
I’ve found Sky's marketing people very quick on the uptake.
I’d once took a call from a travel consultant telling me that South West Trains had heard of a Sky family cycle ride bringing tens of thousands of people to west London.   SW Trains wanted a slice of the action - they would provide trains in and out of London. He asked who at Sky they should speak to.
I rang the Sky people organising the ride and informed them of SW Trains interest. They were immediately interested. So I gave them the contact. Within 10 minutes they had set the whole deal up, trains would be provided!
My telephone line at home, together with my broadband and of course the television satellite channels are all provided by Sky. I’d had Eurosport for years because I wanted the cycling coverage. I switched the rest after getting pissed off by BT when we lost our telephone and broadband. Not just us, all the houses in the road. They didn’t answer calls and when they did it took them eight days before the problem was fixed.
Sky has always been quick to respond to any problem and to fix it.  
I remember a TV aerial contractor telling me that health and safety rules meant ladders were last century and now we need to put up scaffolding so he could get to the chimney to affix a satellite dish.
The scaffolding would cost £1000!
Well, I didn’t have a thousand quid.  
I called Sky. Perhaps they had their own scaffolding!
Scaffolding? No need, they said.
Sky sent one man. He was smartly kitted out in dark blue and black overalls and looked like a climber about to tackle the North Face of the Eiger.  He only had the west face of our two storey cottage to scale.
He surveyed the roof from the ground, then methodically went through a check list of all his gear, his safety harnesses and hooks.  He donned a helmet and then climbed the ladder – secured to the wall - up to the roof, hoisting a second, roof ladder, up with him. He laid that over the tiles to the ridge by the chimney. 
He came back for the dish, strapped a small rucksack full of tools to his back and went back up, with a line securing him to each ladder in turn, then finally to a harness around the chimney, where he set about attaching the dish. There was no cost to me.
Here endeth an  interesting aside into my experiences of the workings of Sky.   
Back to the Team Sky enigma.
The press response to Team Sky’s issues has almost been as heavy as it was for Armstrong, the sporting cheat of the century who was running a clever doping programme for all of his seven Tour victories through to 2005.
All we know about Sky is that they’ve slipped into the grey area by providing Wiggins with a TUE (Theraputic Use Exemption) to allow him to take, legally, an otherwise banned steroid to treat his allergies.  And then there is the unresolved jiffy bag saga. What was in the jiffy bag?
A harmless medication, it was eventually claimed. But no record of this has been provided.  Brailsford and Shane Sutton were less than convincing in trying to explain this away. The laptop containing medical records stolen?
Suspicion remains. But there is no evidence, the trail has gone cold.  There can be no case to answer.
The Wiggins business was different. His TUE was for steroids to treat his allergies. It was said this drug would be like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It was known to enhance performance. Wiggins really should have been rested while taking this drug, say critics.  
So that’s a stain that won’t easily wash out. Now Froome, who suffers from asthma, like many athletes apparently, is also in the dog house for his higher than legal dosage of asthma puffs after a bad day on the Vuelta. He could face being banned and stripped of his title.   
It’s right the team be pulled up over these issues, but do they really merit pages and pages of reporting and speculation such as that which followed the Armstrong story - a major fraud involving not just the Texan, but teammates, too?
You have to conclude there wouldn’t have been half the fuss had Brailsford not continually boasted Sky race clean. On the other hand, he felt he had to keep repeating himself because cycling’s doping history was always being brought up by the media whose insinuation was clear.
So at the first sign of slippage, those TUEs for Wiggins, reporters jump on Team Sky.
The press, still wounded from being taken in by Armstrong for years think they’ve been had and so they have gone for Brailsford like wild dogs.
Brailsford is a brilliant operator – but when this Tour novice brought his new team to the world’s biggest stage race declaring he could win it, that upset many of the Tour regulars. Who did he think he was?
Such confidence came across as being cocky.
The master of marginal gains said he had no idea if the drug permitted Wiggins, courtesy of the TUEs, enhanced his performance when he won that historic Tour de France in 2012.
And then along comes Shane Sutton to muddy the waters by admitting on TV they moved into the grey areas to seek any gain they could.  
Too smart for their own good.
Here’s another gripe. The Team’s method in control racing shows their great strength, but it is getting boring because they hold everything back until the last.  In stage races it’s all become too clever and clinical. It was great when Team Sky first took a grip with that great victory by Wiggins in 2012. 
But I’ve got fed up watching this steam roller.
Froome, he’s a real talent and he’s risen to become a grand tour master, a relentless presence always there while his team set about weakening the rest …until the moment he chooses is right to attack.  Then the entertainment begins, as he takes off in that spectacular if ungainly way of his to put his rivals on the rack and take a few more seconds. Impressive. More marginal gains.  
It’s just that all this action now only ever comes in the closing kilometres, the last 30 minutes maybe, of a five-six hour stage.
We seldom get GC racing until near the end, save for the usual breakaway of non-GC guys doing their best. When they sometimes stay clear to the end I cheer. Otherwise, I groan.  
Thank God for Contador in the Tour of Spain, where his many gallant, lone brave escapes forced Sky to react.  Froome won, but it was Contador’s exploits which made the race.
For the best-ever analogy of the Sky method – albeit a horrible one - I refer you to Richard Abraham’s excellent piece in Procycling’s Review of 2017.
In his story about the Froome effect, he describes how Sky, the richest ever team in pro cycling, buys up the best talent, paying them enough to set aside personal ambition…. “and take the job of riding grand tours by shoving a pillow on the face of any opposition and holding it down until the struggling stops”.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

BRITISH CYCLING AGM: what next in their box of tricks?

British Cycling, famous as the UK’s top Olympic sport this Millennium, is desperate to restore its reputation tarnished by allegations of bullying and sexism which came to light 18 months ago.
In just over a week’s time, four months after springing that Extraordinary General Meeting on a sleeping membership on the final weekend of the Tour de France(!), they will take another step towards redemption when a new board of directors are elected at the agm at Crewe, Cheshire, on November 18.
But doubts remain that this will truly be a clean break with the past. A reliable source tells me there is the prospect that the “new” Board will remain under the control of a majority of previous Board members who were obliged to step down after their failure to manage the whole sorry episode which landed BC in the dog house in the first place.
Delegates are additionally concerned at the prospect that four new independent board members may bring undue government influence to bear on British Cycling at a cost to grass roots development as they establish policies to safeguard the welfare of elite riders and staff. 
For it was UK Sport who demanded these changes.
It is now four months since the controversial, hurriedly organised EGM in July sought National Council’s approval to make changes to the constitution, under threat of losing the £43 million Olympic funding if they did not bend the knee to their pay masters.
British Cycling was desperate to do as bid and after a lot of strife they got what they wanted and the vote was won.
But the orchestration of their campaign was breathless stuff. At the thought of possibly losing the vote, at the last minute they roped in Olympic hero Chris Hoy to make an emotive plea on their behalf.  It was masterful trick and it seemed to work.
But there was good news for the 10 England Regions when perhaps the most contentious issue of all was settled and National Council retained its democratic right to hold the balance of power.   The EGM granted an amendment, tabled by South East Region, to allow the England Regions a place on the new board.
The fact that the England Regions, comprising the largest membership of British Cycling, were not originally granted that place speaks volumes.  Scotland and Wales were represented. Why not England?
There had been a huge concern that without England having a place on the board, National Council, the voice of the grass roots, would effectively be silenced.
British Cycling without National Council would become like government without Parliament – Theresa May’s preference when taking decisions over Brexit - authoritarian.
Notwithstanding that the balance has been addressed, for some delegates British Cycling still needs to demonstrate the sport can continue to prosper, across all disciplines, for all members, and not just for the elite pursuing Olympic medals.
But in the light of a 37-page annual report which I understand makes scant reference to regional development, National Council may need more reassurance.
The new board is intended to form the basis of the new-look management structure demanded of all Olympic sports. They are all obliged to adopt UK Sport and Sport England’s new Code of Governance on condition of continuing to receive Olympic funding.
This code is to safeguard the health and welfare of athletes and staff, to nip in the bud any behavioural problems. Ours is not the only sport with a problem. Swimming is another.   In cycling’s case the new code has particular relevance to the allegations in the 2012 King report which revealed sexism and bullying allegations.
It made matters worse that the full contents of that report were kept from the board for some time and known only to two or three individuals at British Cycling, an issue which still remains to be cleared up.  
BC kept the whole thing quiet until compromised by a whistle-blower, Olympian Jane Varnish some 18 months ago, over her questionable dismissal from the Olympic squad.  It prompted other riders to come out in support, with their own issues.
It led to the Parliamentary Committee who looked into this affair to declare British Cycling unfit to govern. And while that may have vindicated, quite rightly, all who have been damaged by this affair, it was a hard blow to the morale of an organisation which has truly taken the sport to new heights these past two decades.
How to get back on track?
BC insist they have since addressed all of these issues!
It is to the make sure they do that UK Sport called for the changes in BC’s management structure that have caused such unrest. Many felt the changes called for went too far, too fast, and this is what drove Peter King and others, including former president and double world champion Tony Doyle to take a stand at the EGM in July.
King says of course all members want to see the Olympic success of British Cycling continue, but he is worried at what he sees is a huge disconnect between BC and the members. He is especially concerned that grass roots will be neglected as a consequence of the direction UK Sport is insisting upon.
For  it was King  - who coincidentally stepped in to rebuild the Federation in a big shake up 20 years ago, setting cycling on its revolutionary  medal winning course –  who argued for South East Region’s amendment to permit an England Region representative on the board.  
Subsequently, King has been nominated to become the England Regions board member and he hopes to influence others on the board to address the issues dearest to his heart.
This whole affair had witnessed heated exchanges both at the EGM and during the evening before, when in a move which disturbed many, British Cycling executives led by President Bob Howden, put delegates - already mandated by their Regions - under pressure to vote for the proposals because if they didn’t, BC would losing £43m funding and 225 jobs.  
No wonder that Doyle says he took a dim view of an email BC sent to National Councillors recently, warning against collusion… “To intentionally restrict the number of votes for other candidates and to gain a clear advantage in the voting process.”

The email pointed out … “such collusion is contrary to the spirit and intent of an election process ….”

Doyle wondered at the brass neck of this declaring that it is all very well to speak of  “spirit and intent” when BC employed questionable methods to  promote their agenda this year, both on the lead up to and on the eve of the EGM itself.

“Integrity and honesty was being ignored by BC and they forced their decision on the membership,” says Doyle.

Peter King for all his concerns remains optimistic, saying he is relieved that National Council will continue to hold management to account. 
“Yes, the ‘cycling family’ retains control,” he says.  “Of all the amendments I proposed this was the key one.  Out of a total of 12 on the board we will now have three directors nominated by the home countries and four elected by National Council.  There will be four independent appointed directors, one of whom will be the Chair, and the 12th director will be the CEO.” (Julie Harrington). 
The nominees are:
President: Rob Howden (seeking re-election, unopposed).
Chair: Jonathan Browning could be re-appointed.
Four non-executive directors (from the five nominated) –
Wendy Cull North West Region.

Graham  Elliott Eastern Region.

George Gilbert Eastern Region.

Dan Harris Central Region.

Richard Lodge West Midlands Region.

Marion Lauder – On-going appointment.
Alex Russell – On-going appointment.

Additionally, the following three nominations have been approved as non-executive directors:

Peter King, England Regions; Alasdair MacLennan Scottish Cyclists’ Union;

Nicholas Smith Welsh Cycling Union.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

£40k to save the Good Friday International Track Meet

Anyone got £35,000 to spare?

Can you stretch that to £40,000?

That’s what it will take to save the 115th edition of Britain’s most famous track meeting from being consigned to history. 

The Good Friday Meet, host to World and Olympic champions across the last century, “will not be held in 2018”,  it was announced last  week.

And yet promoter Graham Bristow, organiser since 1984, tells me he still has an option on booking the velodrome for Good Friday 2018.

If he can find a backer with £40,000 he can still put the event on, but time is moving on.

Otherwise, the SCCU simply can’t continue to incur the substantial losses of recent years.

It costs a few thousand to hire the track!

This is the longest running international track meeting in the land, the Southern Counties Cycling Union (SCCU) Good Friday meeting at London’s Lea Valley indoor track.

The event, established in 1903 and until a few years ago held at the outdoor track at Herne Hill in South London, has traditionally been funded by spectator receipts.

But the expense has outrun the income, and Bristow and the SCCU have pockets only so deep.

How ironic that this event be forced to close, with British cycling now the UK’s top Olympic sport. Britain has so many Olympic and World champions – Tour de France champions – all of them punching above their weight in the world’s biggest races.

It is especially ironic because at the Good Friday meeting, once considered the pinnacle of the British track racing calendar, National and local stars always got their chance alongside World and Olympic champions.

In fact, the Good Friday was for years ranked among the most important sporting events on the British calendar, always getting space in the quality national newspapers. The Press Agency (PA) would order copy from whoever was reporting the meeting for Cycling Weekly.

The website - - provides an illustrious list of  some of the world’s greatest track riders who have raced the Good Friday.  

They include, from France, Daniel Morelon, Florian Rousseau, Arnaud Tournant; from Germany, Michael Hubner, also Britain’s double hour record breaker and World pursuit champion, Graeme Obree. Also Tony Doyle, double Professional World pursuit champion, and Colin Sturgess, famed also for taking the World pursuit crown.  

National, World and Olympic champions include Germany’s Robert Forstermann, Christian Grassman, Lief Lampater and Nico Hesslich.
There was Australia's Stuart O'Grady Top home riders included Becky James, Jody Cundy, Sir Bradley Wiggins (Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton Andy Tennant and Ed Clancy, Jason Queally plus

Sean Yates and the King of British short-distance time trialling, Alf Engers.

Although the introduction of the indoor velodrome to Britain revolutionised how riders train and prepare, and have been key to Britain’s success this new Millennium,they came with a mixed blessing for outdoor track promoters like Bristow.

 “The Good Friday Meet suffered from the advent of 250m indoor velodromes, as the vast open spaces of Herne Hill appeared to be irrelevant to the development of the British Cycling squads who in earlier times would have attended.” explained Bristow, adding.  “Paradoxically there was never any problem with contracting foreign based stars to appear.”

For many top riders, Good Friday’s varied programme of events freed them from the pressure of conforming to the more rigid programme of the World Cup events, tailored as they are around Olympic qualifying races. 

And so released, they would delight the fans as they rose to the occasion in a medley of races, not just their particular disciplines.

But there was another problem for Bristow. Ironically, the transformation of Herne Hill from a rundown dilapidated facility to a fresh new

locally based community hub also created difficulties for the Meeting. 

The ongoing works rendered much of the site inaccessible to spectators and, with no end date in sight, the Meeting moved to the Lee Valley Velodrome in 2014.

The hope was that the event would return to its spiritual home.

But this was not be, Bristow told me.

“When the Herne Hill renovation was completed the committee considered returning to Herne Hill, but sadly, although it has new club house, the venue is no longer suitable for holding meetings with more than a few hundred spectators.  This, coupled with the ever present Easter weather uncertainties, means that such a return to South London is not an option.”

But times change, says Bristow wistfully. The huge rise in popularity of cycling has come with a twist. He reckons that many of today’s new fans who snap up the tickets come to only to see the Tour and Olympic celebrities and show little interest in the rest of the racing programme.

“They watch Wiggins race then disappear from the trackside.  Same when Hoy (both now retired) came on,  they’d come back in to watch him, then disappear again! They don’t appear to be interested in the racing itself.”

The Good Friday Meet has always been a big social occasion, where young and old acquaintances, fans and riders alike, renew friendships at the opening track meeting of the year.

Spectators were not only drawn by the promise of seeing both home and foreign internationals clash but also talented rising stars, both foreign and home grown, take on the names.  To thrill to the sound of big motors in the motor paced event, always a big draw.

And it would all come to the boil in the final event of the day, the Golden Wheel scratch race, a furiously paced bunched race carrying an eye watering £1000 first prize.

Tony Doyle, one of the Stars at the Good Friday International over the years, recalls some key moments for him.

“I first rode the Good Friday Track Meeting in 1975.  In the 10 minute pursuit I finished in 3rd place behind Alf Engers. I then rode & won the 10 minute Pursuit in 1978.

“In 1981 I rode a World Champions Revenge Match against Dutch rider Herman Ponsteen. I regularly rode the meeting during the 1980's and the meeting regularly featured many Pro Omniums with riders like Danny Clark and Stan Tourne. 

“In 1984 even Gary Wiggins (Bradley Wiggins’ father)  rode and I remember clearly meeting a young cheeky scoundrel, called Bradley.  I regularly used to get preview interviews with both Thames and BBC TV. I always got regular radio spots with Capital Radio and BBC.”

When the world’s best came for the Centenary Meeting

I still have my press pass from the biggest Herne Hill meeting of recent times, the SCCU’s Centenary Track Meeting on the 18th April, 2003.

It’s one of my valued souvenirs.

The place was packed out. British riders were beginning to make a big impact on the world scene.

This meeting boasted at least four current World champions, three of them British.

They was Chris Hoy, the World kilo and team sprint champion, his World team sprint champion teammate, Jamie Staff.

Chris Newton, World points champion; Sean Eadie, Australia’s World sprint champion.

There was Bradley Wiggins, a Herne Hill regular since he was eight years old, the 1997 junior world pursuit champion in his first season with a first division team, riding for the French outfit, Francaise Des Jeux. (A year later, Wiggo would stun us at the Athens Olympics, begin his march to greatness).

And there was multi-world medallist from Italy, stylish Roberto Chiappa,  another Good Friday regular.

Plus a host of talent to take them on. And it was a sunny, warm day, not a cloud in sight. A perfect day. Super racing. And fun, too, especially the celebration dinner that evening where I recall Wiggins the comic getting all tangled up in the coat hangers in the hotel lobby.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Dutch Heaven - UK Hell

ABOUT a month ago I was again reminded of Britain’s inadequate provision for cycling on the roads when I saw another great film celebrating Dutch cycling. It was provided by Cycling UK in their regular email to members.

Tens of thousands of people of all ages cycling on all manner of bikes, along superb cycling paths in towns and around. Cycling to work, to the shops, to school, cycling in pairs, hand in hand, with children perched on shoulders, or sat in trailers.

All going anywhere you care to mention and enjoying right of way across junctions. And not one cycle helmet in sight!
As for their cycle parking facilities at railway stations - well. It takes my breath away.

Brilliant, inspirational.

Utopia, whereas in Britain….Oh, GOD!

Other than some small well designed facilities, a few kilometres of segregated cycle route here and there, Britain’s roads are designed to process fast moving traffic with little thought of how vulnerable road users are to cope.  Let’s be blunt. The road system, especially at roundabouts, remains hellish.

The Dutch approach to providing safe conditions to encourage cycling is well known and I never tire of hearing about it.  Their work has become the benchmark by which transport planners in this country ought to at least try and emulate, but they don’t.  Instead, Britain’s lamentable progress to provide decent cycling conditions is a sad reflection of a very deep political and social divide.

There is simply not the political will to provide a decent integrated transport system in a country where the car is king/queen. 

Take the provision for cycle parking at main line railway stations, embarrassingly low compared to Holland.

Mind you, the Dutch are not without their problems! (I write with tongue in cheek.)  Provision for cycle parking at Utrecht, for example, simply can’t keep up with demand, according to The Guardian last month. 

Today at Utrecht’s railway station there are 6,500 parking spaces for cycles. How many? 6,500!

By the end of next year this will be an additional 6,500 spaces, doubling to 13,000!

How many?

It will be the biggest of its kind in the world.

Yet this huge provision for cycle parking – there is nothing like it in the UK - won’t be enough, say the Dutch cycling organisation Fietserbond.


13,000 bike parking spaces at one station not enough?

Correct. This is simply because so many more people are taking up cycling to get about town and country. In Utrecht cycle journeys have increased 40 per cent from five years ago.

In The Hague a bike park for 8,500 cycles is due to open next Spring. There is a 5000 bike park at Delft. Amsterdam plans to excavate a 7000 bike park beneath the waterfront.

There are a staggering 22.5 million bicycles in Holland – and 17.1 million people!

28 per cent of all journeys are by bike. In Britain, despite big increases in the numbers cycling, utility cycling remains at around *2 – 4 per cent.

You may wonder how it is cycle stats remain so low in the UK,  with such a big rise in numbers cycling in London and other cities, notably Cambridge. Well, according to a survey a few years ago the low overall percentage for the UK is due to a drop in cycling in rural areas.

However, cycle parking provision at UK rail stations is improving, but not fast enough, evidence all the “fly parking” – bikes left locked to railings all around the stations.

There was a “big” increase in cycle parking provision at some main line stations in Britain a decade ago, as a result of Labour Peer Lord Adonis promoting the idea.

I seem to recall transport minister Lord Adonis, himself a bike rider,  persuaded Leeds – with grand aid -  to put in a 300 space cycle parking hub at their main station.

 I think a few other stations may have followed suit.

Dave Holladay, an Independent Transport Specialist working for Transportation Management Solutions, who also advises Cycling UK (formerly CTC), provided me with latest information on cycle parking at London’s main line termini.

Back in 2002 there were 30 spaces on two platforms at London Waterloo, the busiest station in the UK.

 By 2010 cycle parking at London Waterloo had increased to 300 in 2-tier racks. Today there are 650 spaces. Not many when you consider Waterloo has close on 100 million people a year rushing through.

There were also 124 docking points issuing 500 Santander hire bikes every morning. The hire bike system is one of the truly successful cycle projects to date.

A number of years ago the total number of cycle parking spaces across all of London’s main line termini was put at about 1000. Holladay tells me this has since improved with some individual stations boasting 1000 spaces.

However, none of this parking is secure.

“No one has yet delivered secure parking, although with modern phone apps, q/r patches, or RFID cards the public are equipped to engage with automated systems,” says Holladay.

And yet there is a system available, he says, citing the one used in 1996 for the Portsmouth hire bikes. This is an unmanned secure entrance enabling user’s access to the bicycle storage area. - 

He tells me there has been a long promised bike hub at Waterloo.  Caverns exist under the station, including a massive and empty car park vacant since Eurostar services moved to St Pancras.

But he also tells me of poorly audited waste of public money on cycle parking at stations by some Train Operating Companies (TOCs)

It seems that just as Local Authority highway planners often engage with local cycling campaigners in their preparatory work, when they come to making final decisions they generally go their own sweet way, paying little attention to guidelines and building sub-standard facilities with limited appeal.

In providing for station cycle parking there is, I understand, often poor project preparation, resulting in building either the wrong thing or failing to properly survey the site. I know a man who can give me chapter & verse on the missing/misspent money.

Here follows the latest cycle parking scenario for London’s other mainline stations, besides London Waterloo, already detailed.

Euston is probably close to Waterloo’s provision, with some 600 spaces across five locations. 

At Paddington there is a compound for 400 bikes on Platform nine/10.  

Marylebone has just over 400, all on Platform four.

Victoria has cycle parking by a taxi rank and the bus station, also in nearby Hudson Place. 

At Liverpool Street, there are maybe spaces for between 100 and 200 bikes near the taxi road between One Bishopsgate and the station.  

London Bridge is being rebuilt and is chaotic at present

Fenchurch Street has minimal provision.

St Pancras has between 200 – 300 spaces in the car park, considered to be the wrong place!

Kings Cross has perhaps a couple of hundred on platforms one and eight.

There is also Brompton cycle hire. 

Santander provides 500 plus hire bikes at Kings Cross, as they do also at Waterloo, in addition to many locations across the West End and, I think, a few outside the central area.


According to figures provided by Cycling UK, a European Commission survey found

 only 4 per cent of UK respondents cycled daily, the lowest percentage of all EU 28 countries – with the exception of Cyprus, 2 per cent, and Malta, 1 per cent.

The figure is 43 per cent in the Netherlands; 30 per cent in Denmark and 28 per cent in Finland.

Some UK cities buck the trend. London has seen big increases in the numbers cycling. In 2015, there were 610,000 cycle journeys a day, or 23 million per year.

Other cities recording substantial increases in numbers of people cycling include Cambridge where 29 per cent of working residents cycled. Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield have also showed substantial increases.

Typically, the increase in cycling is more often than not due to personal reasons, such as avoiding costly public transport and/or disruption to services, rather than to any notion of improvements to infrastructure. 

AND FINALLY… funny quip of the week from Eurosport TV:

Scene: Tour of Spain. As one of Alberto Contador’s many valiant escape bids comes to a premature end, he looks back down the road to see the Team Sky express once again bearing down on him. Cue for Eurosport TV commentator Carlton Kirby to remark:  “The Sky train is now approaching….stand well back from the platform edge.”