The UCI is the Law

The union cycliste international (UCI) is the governing body for professional cycling. They run and oversee the major races in the years calendar setting routes and rules as they go. From fairly recent actions it appears that they act quickly but not harshly in regard to how the race is covered and monitored.

Watching cycling racing is a unique experience for many reasons. Normally it is set to beautiful scenic background, covers hundreds if not thousands of miles over a number of days or weeks, has varying terrain and with hundreds of contenders on the course at one time with differing levels of ability things can get challenging for those watching at home as well as for all those involved.

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It is important for sponsorship, promotion of the sport and team ego that the race is televised. However the riders also have to be looked after with back up equipment and support. Add to this that you need medical cover as well as organisers ‘on the ground’. Moreover there are fans that stand on the track inches from the riders and before you know it a simple bicycle race becomes a logistical nightmare. So with TV/ photography cars and motorcycles, team cars motorcycles as well as feral pedestrians things inevitably have gotten messy in the past.

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There have been a small number of examples of ‘event’ cars riders, motorcycles colliding with riders and riders varying pace being a challenge for all involved. The UCI has set clear guidelines as to who has priority and where they should all be in regard to the front riders. But still there will always exists a risk that people can get seriously injured or possibly die following a mistake. Therefore strict rules are put in place to reduce that risk as low as possible. Reading them they make sense for a wider community of people and should be acceptable as normal practice on public roads and not just within cycling.

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Most commendable is their stance on drink driving, use of mobile phones and screens in the team and chase cars. Unique to policy setting the UCI have considered that the cyclists are the venerable road users and have based their ‘legislation’ around that fact instead of outside influences (like governments do). Add to the fact that they are not up for re-election and they can make the decisions that are best for the sport and the riders above any other reason clear decision making takes precedent.

There is a zero tolerance on blood alcohol levels for the driver that has to be a solid 0% at all times. Mobile phone use for the driver is prohibited and if caught using a device the team or rider for that driver will be disqualified. Any tablets or screen are only to be used by people in the back seats of the cars. Furthermore, following distances are outlined as well as driver behaviour. It has never been confirmed or suggested that any of these things have led to crashes happening however the UCI are aware that they add to the risk and therefore should be banned. They also uphold the values of the events and the reputation of the UCI.

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Following hundreds of thousands of road deaths attributed the drink driving and being distracted by tech devices in cars there are less strict rules in place on the national highways than that if you are driving in a UCI event. I consider all of the above reasonable and suitable measures for anyone driving a car in a cycling event or not. However as national law is more lax with open tolerances and graded fines amalgamated with variable enforcement the problems persists.

The UCI and cycling as a sport is in a unique position in that the races closely emulate a busy town or city street during a morning commute. Obviously there are some variables but on the face of it there is no other controlled space where you can see these influences play out in from of thousands of people. The UCI in that case is leading the way on stricter necessary rules for drivers to follow than the governments of the countries that the events are held in.

 

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