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One tweet causes perfect social media storm and leads media to examine relationship between cyclists and "road tax" ...

Our story yesterday about Emma Way, the Norfolk motorist who knocked a cyclist off his bike, drove away and boasted about it in on Twitter not only went viral on social media, but has also exploded on mainstream media.

The cyclist involved, Toby Hockley, told road.cc and BBC News Norfolk that he was “lucky to be alive” following a collsion and Ms Way's on a single lane country road in which he was thrown on to the bonnet of her car and then bounced off, going through a hedge and in a fine piece of bike handling managing to regain controls of his machine and stop.There’s no update yet on what action police intend to take against the motorist, Emma Way although they have spoken to her.

On Sunday, she had tweeted: “Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have right of way - he doesn't even pay road tax!," complete with the hashtag “#Bloodycyclists."

From Ms Way's point of view the use of that hashtag was the culmination of a series very poor decisions, as we reported yesterday her tweet was quickly spotted by cyclists, many of whom took screen grabs not just of that tweet, but also tweets in which she bragged about the speed she drove at - and a picture of what she claimed was the speedometer of her car doing 95mph. As Ms Way was to rapidly find out there is no hiding place on Twitter and in what was to prove a social media perfect storm it was rapidly picked up by first road.cc and then other news outlets including The Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent, Huffington Post and many others… and then it went global. By the end of the day the story had broken every traffic record for a story on this site.

More pertinently for @EmmaWay20 her tweet had been brought to the attention of the police who urged her to get in touch – Way had already deleted her Twitter account, but police have confirmed they have spoken to both parties – and her employers have distanced themselves from her remarks and opened an investigation.

Had she not tweeted Ms Way would probably have had nothing more to worry about other than some slight dents to her car, Mr Hockley had decided to take no further action, "you count your limbs and carry on" he memorably told us. This being a digitally connected age though he did leave respond to Ms Way's tweet by posting a message to her Facebook page.

"Oh hi! That was me you hit and FYI, you didn't knock me off, I'm too hard to be hurt by a pissy micra or whatever it was you were driving."

Meanwhile, that #bloodycyclists hashtag has been reclaimed by cyclists today at the suggestion of Danny Williams of the Cyclists and the City blog, with a sample of tweets using it including:

lennyshallcross ‏@lennyshallcross

I am a #bloodycyclists just trying to get about London. Would be nice not to risk my life every morning just trying to get to work.

Sean Perry ‏@niceguysean

I'm one of those #bloodycyclists, broken my back and femur in accidents with cars. Still cycling. Why? Because I still can. Share the road.

Jo Bray ‏@MissJoBray

@citycyclists I'm one of those #bloodycyclists and I dearly would like to be able to go home to my family in one piece!

Ian Hargreaves ‏@madcycling_boy

No other hate crime gets bragged about on twitter the same way. When will the law sort this out? #bloodycyclists

Another thing Sunday’s episode has done, with our initial coverage picked up by local and national media, is prompt an examination of the relationship between cyclists and “road tax” – which hasn’t existed since the 1930s, as Carlton Reid’s I Pay Road Tax website outlines.

Despite the efforts of Reid and others to correct the widely held but mistaken assumption that it is drivers who pay for roads, and cyclists don’t – most adult cyclists are of course motorists and will therefore pay Vehicle Excise Duty, even if they choose to use two wheels for some journeys – it’s clear that some parts of the media get it more than others.

In the former camp, as you’d expect, is the Guardian Bike Blog. Today, Dawn Foster used Way’s tweet as the introduction to a reflection on what it said about the sense of entitlement and primacy over other road users some motorists believe they have because of that misconception that they are paying for the roads.

“I've been told to "pay road tax" more times than I can remember, though sadly explaining the intricacies of road taxation… takes longer than the few seconds you get on the road,” wrote Fraser.

“And when this entitlement dehumanises cyclists to the extent someone is happy to excuse hitting a cyclist by explaining they don't believe they should be on the road at all, it becomes more than an annoyance – it's an active danger.”

BBC Radio Norfolk used the story as the starting point for a phone-in discussion trailed as “Should cyclists pay tax to use the roads?

Reid – a guest on the programme, so at least that misleading title should have been quickly corrected – pointed out on Twitter, it’s not unusual for such shows to throw down a controversial viewpoint as a means of stimulating debate.

In this case, however, it’s not just controversial – it’s incorrect, of course, but the fact that an institution many still see as a trusted source of news can perpetuate the myth may go a long way towards explaining why the misunderstanding surrounding “road tax” remains so entrenched; if the BBC says it’s so, it must be right?

Of course, the BBC is a big organisation and BBC Radio Norfolk just one of its outposts; elsewhere it does get it spot-on, such as in a sidebar to its interview with Toby Hockley, where BBC News Norfolk correctly explains the situation:

The so-called 'Road Tax'

The comment on Twitter suggested Toby Hockley, as a cyclist, does not pay "road tax".

A road tax does not exist in the UK but the term is commonly and incorrectly used to refer to the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), or "car tax" paid on most motorised vehicles as a tax on emissions.

Roads are funded by all UK taxpayers under general and local taxes.

Source:Gov.uk

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.

60 comments

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

... an institution many still see as a trusted source of news ...

The BBC???

Only those with their head under a pillow singing La-La-La could think this after the last few years

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Lane71 (not verified) [368 posts] 2 years ago
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Send a cease and desist letter to TV licensing in Bristol
Paying this filthy poll tax to the pile of excrement that is the BBC is an act of utter stupidity

I have never had a TV license and never will
I refuse to hand a penny over to those stinking morons

The cease and desist letter will prevent their goons from coming to your property to pilfer your cash
scumbags

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 2 years ago
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Ian Hargreaves' tweet is particularly pertinent.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 2 years ago
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Lane71 wrote:

Send a cease and desist letter to TV licensing in Bristol
Paying this filthy poll tax to the pile of excrement that is the BBC is an act of utter stupidity

I have never had a TV license and never will
I refuse to hand a penny over to those stinking morons

The cease and desist letter will prevent their goons from coming to your property to pilfer your cash
scumbags

My mum always refused to buy a TV license, instead she spent her money on a shotgun, the one time the TV licensing guy came round she pointed the shotgun at him and informed him that he was trespassing on private land and it would probably be best if he refrained from doing so. This was some 20 years ago and she has heard nothing since.

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Cycle_Jim [264 posts] 2 years ago
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Genuinely hope she loses her job over this

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 2 years ago
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(Pedantry alert). It's "Licence". "License" is a verb.

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Simon_MacMichael [2448 posts] 2 years ago
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mad_scot_rider wrote:

The BBC???

Only those with their head under a pillow singing La-La-La could think this after the last few years

Well, there's a lot of people doing that, then - average trust rating of 6.5 out of 10 in January (so post-Saville scandal breaking).

Don't shoot the messenger, eh  3http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/broadcasters/viewer-trust-in-bbc-reco...

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cjk99 [62 posts] 2 years ago
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should we add #bloodypriusdrivers to the #bloodycyclists as they dont pay vehicle tax (so called road tax) either as a band A CO2 emitting vehicle?

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 2 years ago
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Do the "You don't pay road tax" spouters expect trams to get out of their way as well?

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WolfieSmith [1310 posts] 2 years ago
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This is the same BBC that in the past 24 hours have announced as newsworthy that research suggests eating fresh vegetables is a better way to fight your cancer than eating chips (Jenny Murray) and that not having your baby in bed with you as you roll around in your sleep might reduce the risk of cot deaths. ( all stations).

When Wiggins got knocked of his bike Jeremy Vine was asking people to discuss whether as a pro cyclist he was riding too fast....

It's this rush to look for controversy that makes the BBC so inane now.

I would advise them to buy up the 'I Found A Bike Today' and stick it on instead of The Voice on a loop. It would do more for viewing figures and the postive public perception of cycling than the Olympics and Sustrans combined.

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andyp [1444 posts] 2 years ago
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'My mum always refused to buy a TV license, instead she spent her money on a shotgun, the one time the TV licensing guy came round she pointed the shotgun at him and informed him that he was trespassing on private land and it would probably be best if he refrained from doing so. This was some 20 years ago and she has heard nothing since.'

What a delightful lady.

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John_the_Monkey [436 posts] 2 years ago
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TBH, someone who takes a corner fast enough that they end up on the wrong side of the road (if Mr. Hockley's report is accurate) is a danger to *everyone* not just cyclists.

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koko56 [330 posts] 2 years ago
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Mercury one - focusing on few parts of a massive whole to say that's what the whole represents is misguided.

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Carl [135 posts] 2 years ago
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Anyone else have a sense of outrage that no charges have been pressed as yet?

If that's to be the case, why not just say its OK to run cyclists over and laugh about it?

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Ghedebrav [1099 posts] 2 years ago
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I think I get more than my money's worth out of the licence fee from podcasted radio programmes and the BBC website alone, plus HIGNFY, Question Time, MOTD and BBC 4's music docs.

Not that that's what this is about, but just thought I'd bring a little balance  4

On the issue at hand, I sometimes worry a bit about how these Twitter storms get out of hand and descend into irrationality and abuse. Which is not to say that this thing in particular didn't make me very cross, and it does highlight the weird attitude that some young drivers have wherein fellow human beings who happen to be using a different means of locomotion become targets for hatred slander and violence purely because of said transportation choice.

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Carl [135 posts] 2 years ago
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Wow.... Road.cc posters have nothing on Daily Mail readers when it comes to pouring vitriol on Ms Way! The paper and its readers have gone up in my estimation  1

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 2 years ago
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@Lane71 yes the BBC irritates me sometimes too, but not to the point where I have to wipe froth and spittle off my keyboard. Anyway we like to keep things moderately civilized around here so it'd be appreciated if you toned it down a bit in future plus it'll save you on loads on screen wipes.

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 2 years ago
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Toby Hockley bears her no ill will - he just wants an apology, as he said earlier this evening on our Facebook page - I'll take my cue from him.

She appears to be a rather stupid young woman, dangerously stupid, but even if Toby doesn't want to take things further my guess is that she's going to find it hard to argue her way out of a charge of failure to stop at the scene of an accident. Even if there are consequences because of that if she's got half a brain, at some point in the future she's going to realise she was lucky - she may think she's in the shit now, but it's nothing compared to what would have happened had she seriously injured or killed Toby on Sunday.

Also what's the point of criticising people for displaying an irrational hatred of cyclists and then responding with more hatred? It just turns us in to a mirror image of them.

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Lane71 (not verified) [368 posts] 2 years ago
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 13

tony_farrelly wrote:

@Lane71 yes the BBC irritates me sometimes too, but not to the point where I have to wipe froth and spittle off my keyboard. Anyway we like to keep things moderately civilized around here so it'd be appreciated if you toned it down a bit in future plus it'll save you on loads on screen wipes.

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Lane71 (not verified) [368 posts] 2 years ago
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Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in '83,I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically.

The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost.

He's been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far much more bitter, cynical sense of humour.

In '87, Huey released Fore, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is "Hip to be Square", a song so catchy, most people probably don't listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it's not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it's also a personal statement about the band itself.  22

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Lane71 (not verified) [368 posts] 2 years ago
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Thats exactly what the BBC is,a massive (sht)hole

Pedalling trite piss poor light entertainment reality TV shows and that misery cockney fest Eastenders day in day effing out
Shoving hundreds of thousands of pounds into the bank accounts of fcking chris moyles -Evans et al
no fucking way,not my money to those talentless dogs

Institutionalised kiddie fiddling and buggery for fucking decades rendering generations of kids mentally ill and thats without watching Jim ll fix it
yeah he'll fix it alright,his grubby shrivelled nob up a 12 year old

Arselicking whichever government is in power,disseminating lies and misinformation over a whole host of important issues

Time to dismantle that filthy organisation,execute the board,particulary the odious slimeball Patten,the Lord protectorate of fcking Hong Kong before thefuckin chinese handed his public school ass on a plate

Remember kids,if the TV license goons come to your door,chuck a steaming hot bucket of shit and piss over the bastards and tell them to fuck themselves
scumbags  14

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Lane71 (not verified) [368 posts] 2 years ago
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Do you like Huey Lewis and the news?  7

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AlexStriplight [75 posts] 2 years ago
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^^^ hahahahahahaha! Classic... Give me that axe, Eugene!

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WolfieSmith [1310 posts] 2 years ago
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koko56 wrote:

Mercury one - focusing on few parts of a massive whole to say that's what the whole represents is misguided.

Hmmmmm. I don't think I suggested the whole BBC was? If you look again I was referring specifically to the way the BBC presents news stories in competition with commercial stations. After 40 years of listening to the BBC's news service they are increasingly presenting ridiculous scenarios in debates in order to spice up phone-ins - and reporting the mind numbingly obvious as revelatory or perhaps debatable. Looking at the shambles they've made over factual news in the past 10 years: rolling over when threatened over stories they've got right (the dodgy dossier) or running around like headless chickens when they've got a story wrong (Savile) I have no problem with criticising them.

Lord Reith would have got the road tax story right and lit a rocket under Radio Norfolk for bad journalism. And judging by Jeremy Vine's sometimes deliberately simplistic way of stimulating debate it's little wonder he no longer felt qualified to host Newsnight. Thank God for that.

Like the cat by the way. Looks fluffy and cosy.

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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for the anti bbc brigade, ever been abroad? ever watched foriegn TV?

yes there is alot of things wrong with the bbc, but the alternatives!!!!!

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doubledex [32 posts] 2 years ago
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Nice one tony, right with you there. The more we all get worked up, we lose our cool and simply contribute to more aggression on the roads. We can be better than that and rather than use our anger energy with aggression - use our brains more intelligently? How about roadcc set up a petition via tha govt e-petition website? (http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/). I am sure the necessary 10,000 mark would be reached fairly quickly.  4

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SideBurn [890 posts] 2 years ago
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I am very interested in the outcome of this; where people have made threats on Twitter they have ended up in the s**t. So is it OK to boast about trying to kill someone but not make threats?
I feel a driving awareness course coming up for someone

And you need to post more on here Lane71.... Lane70 was OK, but you sound great! But ease up on the swear words or you will upset Stumps...

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SideBurn [890 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

for the anti bbc brigade, ever been abroad? ever watched foriegn TV?

yes there is alot of things wrong with the bbc, but the alternatives!!!!!

You are right about foreign TV; some do not even speak English!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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thebungle [103 posts] 2 years ago
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Cycle_Jim wrote:

Genuinely hope she loses her job over this

Really? Why? As far as I can her job has nothing to do with this, of course she should accept the consequences of her actions but to suggest that she lose her job is a bit much IMO.

Or has social media and indeed commenting on websites such as this got to the stage now where it should impact directly on out lives should we say something wrong?

Oh and I wish the driver who hit me had owned up on Twitter, would make the insurance claim a lot easier!

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Really? Why? As far as I can her job has nothing to do with this, of course she should accept the consequences of her actions but to suggest that she lose her job is a bit much IMO.

She is a trainee accountant, i believe, read the rules of the professional organisations to which she has to subscribe. Her actions could be seen as making her ineligble, ie she has potentially destroyed her own career.

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