Authorities Warn of 'Dangerous Selfies' at Tour de France
Authorities and participants in the Tour de France are warning spectators against taking cell-phone selfies as riders stream past them in the background because the practice presents dangers to competitors.
Sprinters are finding themselves swerving to avoid fans who step out onto the road. What makes this so dangerous is that, in an attempt to get a selfie with the bikes as a background, the fans walk into the road with their backs to the racers and can't see where they are in relation to the competitors. Quite a few racers have collided with these careless fans causing injuries and at the very least breaking the racers' concentration.
Some racers have had collisions already this year.
"Since the Tour began Saturday," Ian Austen reports, "several riders, including Tejay van Garderen, the American leader of the BMC team, have been knocked off their bikes by self-portrait enthusiasts standing on the course."
No one has been seriously injured just yet during these collisions but it is disaster waiting to happen.
Already one racer, Lithuanian sprinter Ramunas Navardauskas, physically slapped a cell phone out of a spectator's hands as the thing was shoved in his face, so competitors' tempers are starting to flare over it all.
"More and more people definitely have their backs to the race," Alex Howes, an American teammate of Navardauskas’s, said to the The New York Times. "I think things in the camera are closer than they appear. They need to put a disclaimer on the iPhone or something."
It isn't just cell phones, though. As far back as 1994 a guard who was supposed to be keeping fans from the riders ran out in the middle of a race to get a photo and caused a collision that hurt one rider and caused two more to fall out of the race.
Some riders also blame the teams and sponsors who have urged fans to take selfies for promotional material and contests, too.
This new habit tends to verify claims that all too many people are missing real-life memories by living through the tiny viewfinder of their cell phones and portable video cameras.
Tour officials have yet to fully address this issue but have erected more barriers between contestants and spectators. Still, it is impossible to line an entire route with such barriers.
Meanwhile, the cyclists themselves may increasingly take matters into their own hands by shoulder checking selfie photo-takers or otherwise being rude to such people until fans begin to get a clue about the dangers of their actions.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org