Google cars might love cyclists more than humans

Google has released a new video showing how its self-driving car is being taught to cope with common road situations such as encounters with cyclists. We’d far rather share the road with a machine that’s this courteous and patient than a lot of human drivers

We’ve all been there. You need to turn across the traffic, but you’re not quite sure where, so you’re a bit hesitant, perhaps signalling too early and then changing your mind before finally finding the right spot.

Do this in a car and other drivers just tut a little. Do it on a bike and some bozo will be on the horn instantly and shouting at you when he gets past because you’ve delayed him by three-tenths of a nanosecond.

But not if the car’s being controlled by Google’s self-driving system. As you can see in this video, the computer that steers Google’s car can recognise a cyclist and knows to hold back when it sees a hand signal, and even to wait if the rider behaves hesitantly.

Later in the video we see the car waiting to turn right at a junction, the equivalent of a UK left turn. Not only does it wait for cyclists ahead of it to clear the junction, but it detects cyclists behind it and lets them through before making the turn.

Challenge Strada Bianca 700C 30mm tyres

These tyres look great but might be a tight squeeze in the touring frame ….

Challenge Strada Bianca tyre You’ll never guess what this Challenge Strada Bianca tyre is designed for. The Strade Bianche race uses the white gravel roads of Tuscany and this 30mm racing tyre is just what you need for that kind of thing. It’s a brilliant all-rounder that’s fast enough for nearly any road use, but with hugely improved comfort.

You’ll need a particular kind of frame to fit the Strada Bianca. Most endurance road bikes top out at 28mm tyres so you’re really looking at gravel racers, ‘cross bikes and their ilk. Ours went on our on-test Kinesis Tripster ATR which will handle tyres up to 40mm, so there was plenty of room.

Like all Challenge tyres they’re lovingly made by hand. These tyres use a slightly lower thread count (260TPI) than the 300TPI racing tubulars but it’s still high-quality stuff; most road tyres are 60-120TPI. The herringbone tread is hand-glued to the carcass and the whole thing arrives flat-packed.

Getting them on the rim for the first time is a fairly sweary experience as they’re not tyre-shaped like a moulded machine-made tyre. I managed to blow out a tube by not getting them seated properly. The longer they’re fitted for, the more shape they get.

Out on the road they’re fantastic. You can run them at hitherto-untried low pressures with little or no danger of flatting them on the potholes. I’m over 100kg and I was running them at 70-80psi a lot of the time. They roll extremely well and at 358g they’re not heavyweights. It’s not like sticking a set of Marathons on. These feel like race tyres, they really do, except loads more comfortable. If you want comfort on long rides but still want to go fairly fast, there are not many better tyres I can name.

Grip from the herringbone tread is good, especially on loose climbs where the suppleness of the casing and the extra width means there’s more rubber in contact with the ground at any one time.

I’ve also tested Challenge’s Paris-Roubaix tyre, which was decent but suffered from punctures. This Strada Bianca has a beefed-up puncture strip and I haven’t flatted them once. Running at a lower pressure tends to result in fewer flats from thorns and flints penetrating the tyre carcass anyway, and you can go pretty low with these. That and the extra protection make these a much better all-round choice than the narrower Paris-Roubaix rubber, if your frame will take them.

They’re about 90g heavier per wheel but it’s a weight penalty worth paying. They don’t have the all-out protection of a full winter tyre but they’re hardy enough for more than the summer. They’re certainly not cheap at £48 a pop, but that’s the only downside, really.


Big, comfy all-conditions tyre that rolls like race rubber.

Tanner Goods Saddle Bag

nice looking bag indeed

cork grips



Really digging the design of this saddle bag from Tanner Goods that I had previously noticed on their edition of Cielo builds. The double ring strap is a nice alternative to a buckle or toe strap, I imagine it holds the bag to saddle rails really well. With it’s heavy duty 10z canvas, 18oz twill, thick leather, and brass hardware it’s definitely not the lightest saddlebag around but it’d surely look great on a classic steel road or city bike. Check out the bag in the other two great colorways as well as Tanner’s handlebar and frame bags on their web shop.

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Scottish Road Share campaign steers presumed liability law towards Parliament

Cycling campaign group, Road Share, is drawing on expertise from organisations including CTC, Scottish Cycling and Pedal on Parliament as it steps up its campaign for Scotland to adopt a law of presumed liability against motorists involved in collisions with people on bikes.

Road Share’s Campaign for Stricter Liability is targeting the introduction of liability laws that would deem motorists automatically liable in incidents with cyclists, unless it can be proved that the cyclist was at fault.

As it stands, the UK is one of only five EU countries that do not have a presumed liability law in place, which are based on a hierarchy of road users, with the most vulnerable afforded the greatest protection.

Under the system there is a presumption of liability against a lorry driver involved in a collision with a car, for example, or against a cyclist involved in an incident with a pedestrian.

A petition calling for a change in Scottish liability legislation has been active since April last year and has attracted 5,500 signatures.

In order to focus its efforts on lobbying the Scottish Parliament for the legislation, Road Share has set up a steering committee.

The committee has been tasked with analysing the benefits of civil law reform on road safety while also lobbying MSPs for a Member’s Bill for presumed liability in traffic collisions to Holyrood in the near future.

According to Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald, the steering committee is made up of 14 individuals from a number of key cycling organisations, including CTC, Scottish Cycling, Cycle Law Scotland andPedal on Parliament which is coincidentally due to hold its third annual ride to Holyrood in Ediburgh this weekend to call for cycling-friendly Scottish roads.

Under the principle of presumed liability that Road Share wants to see introduced, in a collision between a car and a cyclist, the driver would be deemed liable and must pay full damages if the collision was unintentional by both parties and the cyclist cannot be proved to have been at fault in some way.

Similar laws operate in the majority of European countries, including in the Netherlands since the early 1990s.

Road Share references the continental cycling experience in a Q&A on its website where it cites strict liability laws as one of the contributing factors to the positive cycling culture in countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands.

It says: “Those of us who have cycled on the continent know that there is a very different relationship between motor vehicles and cyclists, one based on respect that was brought about in part by stricter liability.”

The campaign’s steering committee is to be chaired by national cycling charity CTC councillor Dr Chris Oliver, while other prominent Scottish cycling supporting councillors Frank McAveety and Jim Orr are due to join him.

The founder of  Cycle Law Scotland, Brenda Mitchell, who established the Road Share campaign last year, spoke to The Herald about the formation of the steering committee.

She said: “I am very pleased to see representatives from a number of different key organisations come together to work on this very important campaign.”

You can keep up with Road Share’s progress via its Facebook andTwitter feeds.

Who protects us from you?

Sad and true state of the car loving state apparatus and the car worship public

Hum of the city

We were hit at the intersection here, in front of the Conservatory of Flowers. We were hit at the intersection here, in front of the Conservatory of Flowers.

Today is the one year anniversary of the Sunday that a driver hit us while we were riding in Golden Gate Park. Last Thursday, Matt took our son to court to get a settlement from the driver’s insurance company for his injuries. It wasn’t much money, roughly equivalent to the cost of the ambulance ride to San Francisco General. We pursued the claim on principle, because higher insurance rates are the only consequence that the driver, Michael O’Rourke, is ever likely to face.

Last August, a bike commuter was mowed down by a truck in SOMA. Afterward Sergeant Richard Ernst of the SFPD showed up at her street-side memorial to claim that according to the police report, her death was her own fault. How he could possibly have known that is a mystery, because SFPD…

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Paris-Roubaix through a Holga lens

Lovely pics – classic torture


PR5 (1 of 1)

Crack o’dawn buses, festidious prep, feed stations, border roads and the cobbled quick step.


A brutal ride. A painful trip. A very enjoyable time. What else would keep people glued to a tiny screen pointing toward an open motorhome door? Event report to follow, but these shots, taken through a Holga pinhole lens, give a flavour of the iconic event. 

PR10 (1 of 1)

PR11 (1 of 1)

PR7 (1 of 1)

PR3 (1 of 1)

PR9 (1 of 1)

PR2 (1 of 1)

PR1 (1 of 1)

PR4 (1 of 1)

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another great looking mtb adventure Spain and Portugal

Happy, friendly Spanish clouds

The numbers certainly are impressive:  15 days riding, 1,200km covered, 28,000m climbed.  “The biggest mountain bike adventure in Europe” traverses the Iberian Peninsula from Madrid to Lisbon, covering high altitude plains, Roman Bridges, portions of a windmill park, and villages “seemingly stuck in the Middle Ages.”  Not enough?  How ’bout canyons, waterfalls, eucalyptus forests, and a swing by the westernmost point in Europe?

Touring sans luggage

Rated “very difficult” by its organisers, Madrid-Lisbon Mountain Bike can be ridden either as a professionally- or GPS-guided tour.  In both cases, accommodation along the route is in hotels and inns.  Meals, luggage and airport transfers, and mechanic support are also included.  For those who can’t commit to the entire fifteen days, either Spanish (8 days) or Portuguese segments (7 days) can be booked separately.  The guided tour is limited to twenty riders and runs from 14 to 28 June (13 to 27 June in 2015) and pricing is €2,750.

Ancient paths, modern riding

The self-guided option is a bit looser, including maps, GPS tracks, and telephone support.  In-event luggage transfer and airport transfers will be optional.  Dates for self-guided tours are flexible – between May and October – and pricing has not yet been set.   More on both options at

What’s keeping Brits off the bike? In a word: fear, says new study

< Continue reading “What’s keeping Brits off the bike? In a word: fear, says new study”