Analysis: Ban on throwing bottles could lead to safety concerns in waste areas

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All actions, even those done with the best of intentions, can have unintended consequences.

The UCI introduced controversial new rules on April 1, preventing runners from throwing bottles during races unless they are in a designated ‘litter’ area or pass them to a team member. . The board of directors insists the rule is as much a safety measure as it is an environmental one, to ensure that no one is injured by a capricious bottle toss and to prevent stray cans from slipping in the rider’s wheels.

However, the new UCI regulations could shift the problem elsewhere as supporters hunt these so-called “litter” areas to pick up a bottle.

As a result, at least one organizer is considering closing the areas to avoid a dangerous situation as fans gather in hopes of reclaiming a memento from their day.

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“We discussed that in the future we will have to close the litter areas as they could create a dangerous environment,” said Tomas Van Den Spiegel, CEO of Flanders Classics, which organizes the Tour of Flanders. VeloNews. “There’s a lot of nervousness around the feeding areas and the littering areas, and that’s something we’re looking at.

“I saw during Scheldeprijs a social media post from a relative who lived near a litter box and they had the dishwasher full of bottles, from each team. They said they were lucky enough to live near a litter box because all the kids want these bottles.

Although it was implemented with the admirable aim of reducing the amount of garbage left as a result of a cycling race, the UCI’s rule on throwing water bottles has proven to be controversial. Two weeks later, he was forced to change the penalties for rule breakers following an outcry over the disqualification of Michael Schär and Letizia Borghesi from the Men’s and Women’s Tour of Flanders.

Despite the wave of negative reactions, the UCI remained firm in its decision to maintain an almost total ban on the throwing of bottles. Apart from dropping it in a ‘litter’ area or passing it to a team member, runners can only throw a bottle if they pass it directly to someone on the side of the road – this is not a very practical option if you have your eyes on the end of a race.

After being kicked out of the Tour of Flanders, Schär posted a heartfelt post on social media about what it meant for him to receive a bottle from a rider at the 1997 Tour de France. Several other professional riders also shared their experiences and called for a more sympathetic approach. Hailing from the cycling-mad Flanders region, this is something Van Den Spiegel can sympathize with.

“Cans are more than just a bottle; these are trophies for the fans. They are part of cycling and they have always been part of cycling, ”said Van Den Spiegel.

“Even I as a kid hoped for guys… they probably weren’t throwing them away but losing them because it was a low level race but I remember I had them cans. They are part of popular cycling culture and this Schär incident created a platform for discussion.

Also read: Race juries disqualify two riders for prohibited riding positions

Although the UCI is changing its sanctions, the CPA rider group is still unhappy with the general rule and has said they will challenge it. Van Den Spiegel agrees that something needs to be done to tackle environmental issues, but not at the expense of a single part of the sport.

“I think we have to be in favor of anything that promotes sustainability. I think the litter boxes are a really good idea, ”he said. “I can understand that if you are on a Tour de France route where there are hardly any fans and where no one lives there, and the bottles end up in the wild. It’s pure litter.

“At Flanders, every bottle thrown away gets a new owner or at least 90%. We need to discuss it a bit and consider how we can organize this in a safe way, so as not to lose that unique part that makes cycling more attractive.



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