Police appeal for road rage calm following incident that left Cambridge cyclist with 13 stitches

Assault last month came as Cambridge Cycling Campaign called for hatred of cyclists to be treated as a crime

by Simon_MacMichael   March 4, 2013  

Road Rage © Demonike | Dreamstime.com

Police in Cambridge have appealed to road users to keep their calm after a road rage incident that left a cyclist needing 13 stiches in a head wound, and are asking for help to try and trace the driver involved. Last month, Cambridge Cycling Campaign called for hatred of cyclists to be treated in a similar way to offences involving discrimination against specific groups.

Dr Ernest Turro, aged 29 and a researcher at Cambridge University, believes that the driver who assaulted him has a grudge against bike riders, although from his description of what happened, another interpretation could be that the driver took exception at a gesture made at him. The incident, which happened on the evening of 7 February, has left Dr Turro suffering form headaches, reports Cambridge News.

“I was in the cycle lane and was overtaking another cyclist,” he explained. “They were overtaking another rider so I had to pull into the carriageway. This car came out of nowhere at quite a speed and started honking his horn violently.

“I did give him the finger, as you do. He was very upset I was cycling on the carriageway. I think he had something against cyclists.

“He stopped the car and got out to wait for me so I tried to cycle away from him and went onto the pavement. He started driving again and stopped and got out. He grabbed me and ripped my coat and shoved me hard. I went over the handlebars when I hit a green electricity box and smashed my head.

“He ran off and drove away and I rode to Addenbrooke’s [Hospital]. I got 13 stitches in my head.

“I think he got scared and ran off because there were so many witnesses. I am still getting headaches every day,” he added.

The victim was able to inform police of part of the vehicle’s registration number, and Detective Constable Tom Taylor commented: “This was a nasty road rage incident and the cyclist was seriously injured.

“I am carrying out local enquiries, viewing CCTV and speaking to witnesses, but I would urge anyone who has any information to contact me.”

Cambridgeshire Police have issued an appeal for road users to remain calm, with a spokesman saying: “Road rage incidents resulting in someone becoming injured are rare.
“We would urge all road users to remain calm and if someone is in this situation to contact police when it is safe and legal to do so.”

Dr Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, which holds the final session of its Get Britain Cycling inquiry at Westminster today, said: “This is a very worrying incident and I am sure extremely frightening for Dr Turro. My thoughts are with him and I wish him a speedy recovery.

“This incident serves to reinforce the need for all road users to do so responsibly and courteously so that they don’t put others in danger. I would urge anyone who has any information about this accident to contact the police immediately.” 

Last month, Cambridge Cycling Campaign urged that abuse of cyclists should be treated in the same way as that of other groups that have protection under the law. The appeal echoed comments made by AA president Edmund King to The Times newspaper last year, in which he said the attitude of some motorists towards cyclists “is almost like racial discrimination.”

As part of a detailed, 18-page written submission ahead of giving evidence to the fifth session of the Get Britain Cycling parliamentary inquiry last week, Cambridge Cycling Campaign said: “Hatred towards people who use a bicycle, as exemplified by the @cyclehatred Twitter feed, should be treated as a crime, in the same way discrimination of other groups is managed.”

It should be noted that the appeal was only a very small part of what was a comprehensive submission, and was not actually highlighted when members of the campiagn gave evidence last week. The points they did make appear at the end of this article.

Back in November, AA president Mr King, himself a keen cyclist, had also highlighted the @cyclehatred feed, which was set up by a cyclist to highlight examples of posts from other Twitter users that abuse or even threaten cyclists.

Mr King quoted some of those posts in an address to the Road Safety GB Annual Conference 2012 in London the same week, in which he called for an end to the “two tribes mentality” that pervades much of the road safety debate when it comes to conflict between cyclists and drivers, pointing out that most use both forms of transport.

Among those retweeted by @cyclehatred just this morning are:

‏‪@chloegthomas1
Cyclist just ask to be run over sometimes

@jimbo_04
Cyclists that take up the whole road, I hope you hit a pot hole and go straight over your handlebars

‪@LaurenMcdonnell
Why do cyclists feel the need to ride there bike in the middle of the road! Lucky there's laws against running people over ‪#knob ‪#roadrage

‪@EtiennePerkins
Don't know why cyclists in london complain about getting hit, they all drive like pricks.

Dr Huppert told Cambridge News last week that while such views were regrettable, he did not believe they represented the majority of motorists and that it was not an issue for law enforcement.

"Hatred of cyclists is not just extremely unpleasant and unnecessary it is dangerous because it causes conflict which can cause accidents,” he said.

"Fortunately, I think that this type of behaviour comes from a minority of motorists.

"As cyclists are not a defined group like ethnic minorities and these are generalised tweets, I think it is more of a safety issue rather than something the police could deal with."

The Crown Prosecution Service website outlines various categories of hate crime and the legislation that governs it, including discrimination against members of religious or ethnic groups, as well as abuse against people due to their disability or sexual orientation.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign - evidence to Parliamantary Inquiry

We need very high quality infrastructure which sells itself, and which does not need to be "promoted" by local authorities, including high quality cycle paths with proper treatment at junctions.

There should be slower speeds in urban areas, including 20mph zones. These need to be enforced and the police should be incentivized to do this. Clear guidance is needed from the DfT.

Local authorities should be empowered. In particular, the Traffic Management Act 2004 Section 6 should be activated to allow Local Authorities to enforce cycle lanes and pavement parking. There was an improvement in enforcement when Cambridgeshire took over responsibility for parking enforcement from the police, and we would like to see this extended.

There should be a consistent funding stream. In addition there should be a body at the heart of government which will push local authorities to provide high quality facilities and infrastructure. Previously we had Cycling England and its knowledgeable and enthusiastic professionals. In Cambridge, the Gilbert Road scheme happened only because local politicians saw it as part of a citywide plan which was in turn part of a national scheme. Cycling England and the knowledge it embodied are sorely missed.

In the Netherlands, the cycling network is so complete and well signed that one rarely needs a map. Signs often include a journey time to the city centre etc, which is a powerful incentive to people in cars. By contrast, the cycling network in the UK is often interrupted, for instance by major junctions, and one is often forced to use hard-to-follow back streets.

Schools require proper cycle parking. The local cycle network should provide routes directly to the school from within its catchment area. It was reported recently that one school had reduced its cycle parking to provide extra car parking for staff. This sends the wrong message; rather, local authorities should be encouraged to improve cycle paths. Furthermore, there is a health and safety culture which regards cycling as intrinsically dangerous. This is not the case - requiring students to use e.g. helmets and high visibility gear simply puts people off cycling. For many local authorities, the default picture of a cyclist is one in high vis. Cycling should be presented as a normal activity in normal clothes, backed up by work to provide proper cycling infrastructure.

The DfT should continue to fund Bikeability. In Cambridge, 70-80% of children do this, and enjoy it. It reduces parents' fears about the safety of their children. Cycling to school should be encouraged - it builds children's independence and allows them to develop road skills at an early age.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign probably spends more than half its time dealing with planning (as opposed to transport) applications. Cambridgeshire County Council has been successful at obtaining Section 106 money from developers - this is a good way to fix problems; for instance, a new building can fund fixes on an adjacent junction. A key problem is that DfT guidance deals mainly with retrofitting cycling infrastructure onto existing roads. There is little on what to do when there is a 'blank sheet of paper'. Cambridge Cycling Campaign has written a guide on 'Cycling in New Developments' which argues that local authorities should think in terms of three networks, for walking, cycling and driving.

In Cambridge, the local authority cycling officers are hard-working and in some respects represent an 'internal lobby' within the council. However, people higher up still need to be influenced. Of course, in Cambridge many senior people cycle too.

Cambridge has a long culture of cycling. This is not just due to the presence of the university, but also to the presence of many green spaces through which one can cycle. Cycling is not just safer and quicker than alternatives, but it is also more reliable - one can get up at a certain time and still have confidence of reaching one's destination on time.

Cycling demonstration towns have been useful because they concentrated resources and enabled things to be done well.

Source: Cambridge Cycling Campaign

30 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Prejudice against cyclists is not just an issue in regard to assault (verbal or physical), it also comes into play in cases which are not directly due to such hatred.

In 2002 a friend of mine was hit on the A3 and no charge was ever brought by the CPS, despite the driver being on the phone at the time of impact. Here is a quote from the solicitor in the case:

"The reason the Crown prosecution service (not the police officers who felt there should have been a prosecution) decided not to prosecute in the magistrates court was because a woman in a car on the slip road had given a statement which said that she felt Timothy was negligent simply by being on such a busy road. We spoke to her twice and she was obviously hung up about cyclists, we later found out that she had been involved and hurt some years earlier in an accident involving a cyclist. She was the only witness who had a completely clear view, and indeed other motorists were also hostile to Tim and wouldn't give us statements, so the CPS decided not to risk a criminal prosecution." - http://www.cyclebanter.com/archive/index.php/t-78642.html

(Though note that a failed prosecution would have had serious detrimental effect on the insurance claims, which turned out to be considerable in this case.)

Countless times we've seen motorists escape charge and escape conviction in front of a jury, and the above is clear evidence in just one case that it isn't solely about the "there but for the grace of god" effect (whereby jurors are reluctant to convict for people who drive with the own low standards that they themselves do), nor about the endemic acceptance of low driving standards in general: legal process and outcomes are directly and materially affected by prejudice against people on bicycles.

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with hatred of cyclists being made a statutory crime, but it's certainly time that people started realising that it exists, that it's unfounded, and that it has massive effects on people's lives, whether by directly leading to incidents or by perverting the legal process that ensues.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [417 posts]
4th March 2013 - 11:42

6 Likes

No Excuse for the violent act.... BUT, I Live & cycle commute in Cambridge and what the Doctor did was a textbook Twat move, that I witness everyday. Hills Road has a generous cycle lane and double overtaking puts you out into the road. This is no problem if you look for Cars coming up behind and wait until its safe. You can take the belligerent view that cars can wait but I think its better for the cyclist to wait thus avoiding situations like this. It gives the haters an easier job.

posted by Dog72 [108 posts]
4th March 2013 - 11:53

7 Likes

Passionate cycling and defending of cycling rights but please... The guy was double-overtaking AND gave the motorist the finger. The latter of which many of us have been guilty of on occasion but doesn't excuse it. And I'm not even going to ask whether the 13 stitches were in any way related to whether or not he was wearing a lid...

This story just goes to prove my point that there are many bad cyclists as well as bad drivers. Sharing the road is about tolerance, people! It's not about categorising all drivers as Clarksonesque bigots or about forming aggressive anti-motorist chaingangs.

Please can everyone just grow up? Crying

posted by Yennings [224 posts]
4th March 2013 - 12:09

7 Likes

Cause & effect

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [594 posts]
4th March 2013 - 12:10

5 Likes

Regardless of how he was riding or his reaction, nothing at all excuses the reaction of the driver. NOTHING

There is NEVER any excuse for assaulting someone in this way.

posted by Al__S [590 posts]
4th March 2013 - 12:23

5 Likes

Al__S wrote:
Regardless of how he was riding or his reaction, nothing at all excuses the reaction of the driver. NOTHING

There is NEVER any excuse for assaulting someone in this way.

Exactly!

posted by thereverent [304 posts]
4th March 2013 - 12:32

6 Likes

thereverent wrote:
Al__S wrote:
Regardless of how he was riding or his reaction, nothing at all excuses the reaction of the driver. NOTHING

There is NEVER any excuse for assaulting someone in this way.

Exactly!

Very true. In the same way that nothing excuses my house being burgled, but that doesn't mean I leave the place unlocked when I go out. The driver may have been an angry whopper, but let's not make ourselves easy targets eh?

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3311 posts]
4th March 2013 - 12:47

6 Likes

'This car came out of nowhere'

all credibility lost in six little words.

'I did give him the finger, as you do'

No, I don't.

posted by andyp [962 posts]
4th March 2013 - 13:46

5 Likes

I'd just like to say that in this situation clearly both the parties were being dicks.

People: don't be a dick.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [896 posts]
4th March 2013 - 13:48

9 Likes

@ Bez, you realise the CPS is staffed by fuckwits, don't you? That's why so many cases are not prosecuted - because they do not have the intellectual capacity to put an argument together.

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [136 posts]
4th March 2013 - 14:25

9 Likes

Common sense says that it is the duty of the overtaker to ensure it is safe to do so. The cyclist should have checked before pulling out - the article does not indicate whether he pulled out blindly into traffic that had to react suddenly or whether he checked there was space to do so. IF he had pulled out into a safe clear gap then it is the duty of the motorist to then also exercise care when over taking, and he has no right to be upset, any more so than if he had to slow down for another slow car/lorry/stopping bus etc. A rule of thumb in my mind that indicates whether a motorist is within their right to be upset by a cyclists road behaviour is to ask whether the same motorist would likely have been upset by another car/lorry/horse/bus/tractor etc doing the same thing- taking up space on a road, moving slowly and requiring care to overtake is not something a driver has the right to be upset about. Errartic and thoughtless riding where the driver is forced to react suddenly to remain safe is clearly not acceptable though, in the same way that it wouldn't be if any other vehicle acted that way. In my experience of riding hours every day, the few drivers who are openly antagonistic towards riders almost certainly apply a different standard to how they treat cyclists vs other road users - it's hard to imagine them abusing a tractor driver, leaning on the horn as they pass in a no passing zone on a blind hill, then cutting him off as they pass, and then when the tractor driver reacts to show he is upset, waiting down the road to continue the argument... Their is clearly a small minority of motorists who see red as soon as they see cyclists... As someone who has lived in other countries I can say that this is more common in this country than in the other ones I have lived in...

posted by maldin [35 posts]
4th March 2013 - 14:26

7 Likes

Surprisingly, no queue of witnesses has yet formed.

Better to avoid incidents by being considerate than to end up in A&E.

Also helmets are recommended for computational statistics Cool

posted by Metjas [296 posts]
4th March 2013 - 14:48

3 Likes

If a cyclist is ahead of the driver, why on earth can't a driver slow down and allow the cyclist to pass first?
Your view assumes drivers should always be allowed to go first. What would you lose, a few seconds......?
We need to get things into context. I would say it is important for drivers tounderstand that Britian's cycle infrastructure is far from perfect and we need to learn tolerance and share the road when necessary. It's simply not worth getting upset over a few seconds!

Bike Lifer

posted by Bike Lifer [12 posts]
4th March 2013 - 14:54

6 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
Very true. In the same way that nothing excuses my house being burgled, but that doesn't mean I leave the place unlocked when I go out. The driver may have been an angry whopper, but let's not make ourselves easy targets eh?

No, not all the same thing. In any way. At all.

posted by Al__S [590 posts]
4th March 2013 - 15:35

5 Likes

'
No, not all the same thing. In any way. At all'

not the same thing at all in that one involves a car, and one a house, but otherwise I can see the parallels.

posted by andyp [962 posts]
4th March 2013 - 15:45

6 Likes

I agree with Bike Lifer. Whoever is in front has right of way.

As for giving the finger - I suggest my method: extend hand in a fist and waggle the little finger to denote your guess at the size of their manhood. A mile down the road they finally realise the meaning but it's too late.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1072 posts]
4th March 2013 - 15:50

6 Likes

Bike Lifer wrote:
If a cyclist is ahead of the driver, why on earth can't a driver slow down and allow the cyclist to pass first?

That sort of assumes the cyclist has already started to pass and doesn't just pull out in front of the driver. Doesn't seem clear from the article which happened here.

posted by Chuck [393 posts]
4th March 2013 - 18:13

5 Likes

First article I've read on here where people seem to be making excuses for a thug who thinks a cyclist deserves to be asaulted.

posted by paulfg42 [376 posts]
4th March 2013 - 19:57

3 Likes

Nowhere does it say what type of road the lad was on, was it an A road or other ?

It makes a difference in that the vehicle travelling at speed might have been doing a 60mph limit and the cyclist pulls out to pass meaning the driver can do an emergency stop in 72 metres, quite some distance if he was only 50 metres behind at the time of the manouvre.

This is all conjecture of course and it in no way allows anyone to commit an act of assault.
We all have to act responsibly on the roads and the more we, as cyclists, do then the more pressure can be applied to motorists to do the same imho.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2809 posts]
4th March 2013 - 20:38

5 Likes

Chuck wrote:
Bike Lifer wrote:
If a cyclist is ahead of the driver, why on earth can't a driver slow down and allow the cyclist to pass first?

That sort of assumes the cyclist has already started to pass and doesn't just pull out in front of the driver. Doesn't seem clear from the article which happened here.


Quite. We simply don't know.

Still, it's probably best to avoid obscene gestures. A slow, sad shake of the head normally suffices.

posted by SteppenHerring [220 posts]
4th March 2013 - 23:15

4 Likes

The cyclist behaved like an idiot. Lots of people saying the car should have just slowed down and waited to pass. The cyclist felt it was ok to overtake an overtaking cyclist which forced him into the road. Why didnt he wait to overtake himself. None of the rest of the incident would have happened if the cyclist had used a bit of common sense. He has just highlighted one of the reasons car drivers hate us cyclists. Its because many cyclists forget their brain when they set off on 2 wheels and seem to think they own the roads. Think for other road users and they might start to think for cyclists.

Pash

posted by pashda [12 posts]
5th March 2013 - 15:04

5 Likes

paulfg42 wrote:
First article I've read on here where people seem to be making excuses for a thug who thinks a cyclist deserves to be asaulted.

i don't think that's what people are saying. i think they're more saying that while the driver is clearly in the wrong for the assault, it does seem as though the whole incident could probably have been avoided.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7433 posts]
5th March 2013 - 15:11

2 Likes

If the cyclist pulled across the solid white line of the cycle lane to pass without checking behind him or waiting for a break in the line, then yes, he was breaking the law. But we don't know, the motorist could have been one those people who think that they are entitled to drive at 70 mph in built-up areas, and any cyclist or pedestrian who so much makes them pause slightly in their manic acceleration is, in their eyes, fair game for retribution. And, even if the former scenario is nearer the truth, there is no excuse for what the motorist did next. Even if the injuries were the result of a fall, the motorist should be stripped of his license if it can be proved that the cyclist's account of him chasing after him, multiple times, and dangerously blocking the cyclist's, and others presumably other people's, lawful passage, is accurate. Getting the finger is not an excuse for road rage.

The cyclist's alleged minor infraction, intruding into another lane despite clear road markings for his own convenience, is something most motorist do all the time, more and more as the speed and size of vehicles has increased, and drivers' patience has decreased. It is so common that they brush it off when another motorist does it to them, maybe murmuring the word "tosser" but certainly not chasing the other car down. Why? Because people like the motorist in this case are cowards, who'll only attack those less well protected than them, and who think of cyclists as like the children they doubtless used to bully back when they were in school.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
6th March 2013 - 9:38

6 Likes

I wasn' there, but according to @camcycle on twitter he spoke at the Cambridge Cycleing Campaign Meeting last night, and confirmed that he did check before pulling out.

Now Dr Turro, of recent road rage attack, has come to our meeting and now telling us about his experience

Dr Turro confirms he did turn round to check before overtaking

Dr Turro says the motorist was chasing him along Hills Road, grabbed him and hit him against electricity box. 13 stitches, 3-inch scar Sad

Witnesses checked he was OK. He got first the 5 chars of car registration. Waited 1.5hrs for police statement to be taken, 1.5hrs to give it

Police have closed the file! Yet 5 registration numbers known, exact time known (presumably vehicle on nearby CCTV).

Dr Turro finds police response very unclear (non-transparent). Not very active attempt to look at CCTV.

"Sets very bad precedent" about little police action, says Dr Turro. Police accepted that ABH crime has been committed

posted by Al__S [590 posts]
6th March 2013 - 10:02

5 Likes

All roadusers need to take responsibility for their conduct - there are probably faults on both sides - both parties lacked anticipation - i work on an estate where there is a new cycle path separate to the road but some cyclists still
use the road -why ??

Tandem-err?

posted by tandem_err [2 posts]
6th March 2013 - 10:05

4 Likes

tandem_err wrote:
i work on an estate where there is a new cycle path separate to the road but some cyclists still
use the road -why ??

Errrr, because they are legally entitled to do so?

Why does talk of all road users respecting each other quickly turn into cyclists giving up their rights and meekly taking abuse, and all of us cyclists somehow being collectively responsible for universal compliance before we can expect the simplest courtesy. Yet motorists' lack of impulse control is, collectively, enough to necessitate widespread installation of speed bumps and chicanes, which can be downright dangerous to cyclists.

My, it's getting like the Daily Mail comments section around here.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
6th March 2013 - 10:30

4 Likes

tandem_err wrote:
All roadusers need to take responsibility for their conduct - there are probably faults on both sides

Quite possibly. The issue many cyclists have is that negligent or aggressive driving by people wielding 2 or more tonnes of metal is considerably more of a problem than a person on a bicycle.

If cyclists carried a weapon that was as deadly as a car then drivers would be a hell of a lot more careful around us!

tandem_err wrote:
i work on an estate where there is a new cycle path separate to the road but some cyclists still use the road -why ??

As uberc said, because they can. It's not compulsory to use a cycle path or shared facility and in many cases they are unsuited to riding. See this article for an example (one of many).

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1999 posts]
6th March 2013 - 11:10

4 Likes

i don't see much condemnation of the driver but plenty of criticism of the cyclist. Still, if the cyclist had known his place as a 2nd class citizen on the road, none of this would have happened. Wink

posted by paulfg42 [376 posts]
6th March 2013 - 20:05

4 Likes

pashda wrote:
The cyclist behaved like an idiot. Lots of people saying the car should have just slowed down and waited to pass. The cyclist felt it was ok to overtake an overtaking cyclist which forced him into the road. Why didnt he wait to overtake himself. None of the rest of the incident would have happened if the cyclist had used a bit of common sense. He has just highlighted one of the reasons car drivers hate us cyclists. Its because many cyclists forget their brain when they set off on 2 wheels and seem to think they own the roads. Think for other road users and they might start to think for cyclists.

[[[[ I see you're condemning the cyclist's error....but not a word about the driver's criminal assault, eh? Very nice attitude...I
P.R.think we see where you're coming from.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [293 posts]
26th April 2013 - 22:51

4 Likes

[[[[ MERCURY ONE suggests waggling the pinkie-finger at errant drivers, thus suggesting they're "lacking inches in the crutch-area" (dunno how that would work on women-drivers....they might take it as an invitation to an unsatisfying liaison)---but really, as a cyclist,I've learned two things over the years. (1)Never make ANY kind of hand gesture, and (2)Never bang on, or touch, their vehicle. It's an extention of a driver's abode, a sitting-room on wheels, a games console complete with phone, music system, FM radio, etc,etc...and the really psychopathic ones probably imagine the smelly mechanical banger is actually part of their bodies.
No, it's best to keep your complaining entirely verbal. Tell'em they just endangered another driver's life---(you drive as well as ride). Tell 'em if they drive like that, they'll never get through their driving test. Keep it verbal. Don't give them an excuse to get violent---remember quite a few of them drive tooled-up and tanked-up as well.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [293 posts]
26th April 2013 - 23:53

4 Likes