Staff at the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) have helped track down a young motorist who boasted on Twitter of having knocked two cyclists off their bikes in Richmond Park. The driver concerned has subsequently been in touch with LCC, claiming that the tweets were a joke played by a friend who had taken his phone from him, but the matter is nevertheless now in the hands of the police.
On Wednesday evening, while searching on Twitter for information about their local group in Richmond, LCC staff happened across a tweet from user @Incillin – the account has subsequently been set to 'protected' so you can't read their tweets – which read: “Today is not my day.. I just hit two cyclists subsequently in Richmond Park. That's why ladies and gentlemen..its not wise to cycle.” The tweet had been sent shortly before 7pm the same evening.
A subsequent tweet from the same user stated: “By the way when such things occur...I don't stop. In this instance, I casually drove away from the scene like nothing happened.”
@Incillin then received a tweet from follower @AhmedGooner who seemed more concerned about the fate of his friend’s car than that of the two cyclists, asking: “Is the Astra dented? I hope not...” and received the reply: “Nah its not dented. I think the two white guys I hit...were more bruised and dented. Not a scratch on mind.”
As LCC points out, this being Twitter, “let's make it clear we have no proof these incidents took place. However, if it’s true... First, being a bad enough driver to hit two cyclists in one day should be enough to have you removed from the roads permanently.
“And second, hitting two human beings and then having the cowardice to drive away – when either of them could have serious injuries – is totally unacceptable.
“Fortunately, the law agrees, and not reporting a crash is a serious criminal offence, which could put this driver in jail.”
LCC then sent a message from its own account - @london_cycling – to see if anyone could help find the two cyclists who were said to have been knocked down, saying: “Astra driver tweeted that he knocked down 2 cyclists in Richmond Pk yday & didn't stop. Were you there? pls retweet,” omitting the original tweeter’s Twitter name so as not to alert him.
Yesterday morning however, possibly as a result of someone copying him into a tweet, it transpired that @Incillin had blocked his Twitter account, but not before LCC had copied his tweets from the last three months and passed them to the Police Cycle Task Force and the Metropolitan Police’s Road Safe team.
Among the tweets that LCC found was one suggesting that the driver in question perhaps isn’t too concerned with adhering to the letter of the law, potentially putting other road users such as cyclists at risk: “From Kingston to Action [sic] in 15mins...is that feasible?...well with my driving anything ah anything.”
LCC was also able to draw up a comprehensive profile of the Twitter member using information gathered from his profile and his tweets, including his real name and details of his physical appearance.
In a surprising turn of events, Incillin himself contacted LCC yesterday evening and asked it to publish an apology in which he claimed the tweets were the result of a friend playing a prank, saying:
"I’d like to express my side of the story in regard to the tweet made about the cyclists in Richmond Park.
“Yesterday around 7pm. I was with few of my mates whom had my phone unknowingly and tweeted that particular tweet as a “joke”.
“First and foremost, nothing stated in the tweet is true in the slightest.
“Secondly, as a avid cyclist myself who cycles to work twice a week, I would never commit such crime nor indulge in it.
“However, since the twitter account is mine. I accept full responsibility for my mate’s stupid actions, which has come to this. I also send my sincere apologies."
Of course, if you do happen to know of any cyclists who were knocked off their bikes by a driver in an Astra in Richmond Park on Wednesday evening, please get in touch with LCC as soon as possible so that details can be passed on to the police.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.