Twit and run story goes viral, police question driver, cyclist's Facebook response, #bloodycyclists hashtag reclaimed

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

by Simon_MacMichael   May 21, 2013  

Emma Way tweet

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

60 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

This young woman is a MENACE to society!! Good thing we all don't do things the Emma Way!

As for Car Tax (now VED) some vehicles emit such low emissions there's no duty to pay on them.

Emma Way needs to do a prison term for attempted murder!

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 9:14

11 Likes

Mercury one - dono, seems that's what you were implying. I overlook things you mentioned. Not out of any fanatical like of BBC but because of taking other things into account that they create. The reason things like that stand out with BBC where with other companies it would not even register is indicative of the overall standard.

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koko56's picture

posted by koko56 [322 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 9:39

8 Likes

What is it with young women when they get into cars? They seem to think no rules apply to them . .

RoundtheEdge

spragger's picture

posted by spragger [25 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 9:53

11 Likes

Ms Way fought the internet, and the internet won. There's been a perfect storm brewing for while, and she went out kite flying with wet shoes. It was never gonna turn out well for Ms Way.

Now we've had a few days of frenzied comment, some more considered and intelligent than others, may be a good time for a little meta-analysis of differing attitudes from readers of different media outlets.

Surprising, no tied to chair with a wet sponge on my head shockingly, comment in the Daily Mail is almost entirely pro-cyclist. How much of this is guerrilla warfare by militant cyclists (keep the flag flying guys) mobilising via social media I don't know. But in any event, I wept sweet tears of happiness when I clicked on best and worst rated comments.

Guardian is - strangely - a more contested battleground, with 1 or 2 principled and ardent pro-cycling commentators leading the charge. Not much sandals and muesli in evidence, more napalm and shreds of trollflesh.

Huffington Post - an internet based news outlet, one would expect a younger and more internet/media savvy audience. Well, it's hand to hand fighting here, head over if you want to get your hands bloody. Lots of blaming the victim and road tax / compulsory insurance / Mamils raped my dog comments.

And Pistonheads forums. Wtf. Wtfingf. Only 2 pages of forum postage, but broadly pro-tolerance and anti-idiot. Still blinking.

On a side note, can't help wondering what's happening on her insurance side of things. If there's any indemnity / disclosure / fronting issues (as there all too frequently are with young drivers), her motor insurer policy may end up being voided, and the insurer pursuing Ms Way for any costs they have to bear as RTA insurer. Which would be a unfortunate sequence of events. Ms Way, if you wish to post requesting bike buying advice, road.cc's a friendly bunch. Really.

posted by Argos74 [295 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 10:02

8 Likes

((another) Pedantry alert). According to the Guardian's own website the name of the writer of that article is Dawn Foster (not Fraser).

posted by pmanc [117 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 10:15

14 Likes

[gold]Mamils raped my dog[/gold]

use the correct tag ffs

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ValentinKokorin

London2Paris24: 450km, 24 hours, 5th-6th July 2014

I will miss TdF in Yorskhire!!! Please donate! Big Grin

koko56's picture

posted by koko56 [322 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 10:22

9 Likes

thebungle wrote:
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.

+1

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

posted by notfastenough [3198 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 10:28

9 Likes

Perhaps Toby Hockley thinks he's being the bigger man by only asking for an apology, but he'd be doing a disservice to other cyclists and road users by not fully pursuing this matter to it's logical legal conclusion.

posted by Andrewwd [22 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 10:29

9 Likes

Andrewwd wrote:
Perhaps Toby Hockley thinks he's being the bigger man by only asking for an apology, but he'd be doing a disservice to other cyclists and road users by not fully pursuing this matter to it's logical legal conclusion.

Well, anything he pursues personally would be a civil claim for damages. Whether he wants to do that is really his call. The thing that really affects the wider public (i.e. where the real penalties lie, like a driving ban for example) would be a criminal case. Mr Hockley doesn't decide whether that goes ahead - that's for the Police and the CPS to work out.

posted by step-hent [683 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 11:30

9 Likes

And Pistonheads forums. Wtf. Wtfingf. Only 2 pages of forum postage, but broadly pro-tolerance and anti-idiot. Still blinking.

The lads on Pistonheads are enthusiast drivers not "motorists" keen on their cars and as a result reasonably aware of what is going on with the roads. Similar to the distinction between those of us that use this website and the "red light jumping, pavement riding cyclist".
NB I don't visit Pistonheads very often so this may overgeneralise a tad.

Hamster's picture

posted by Hamster [72 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 11:30

9 Likes

Personality tests as part of the driving exam?

Municipal Waste's picture

posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 11:39

12 Likes

pistonheads i find to generally be a pretty level-headed place when it comes to discussions like this. much more so that the guardian, that's for damn sure

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7386 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 11:53

11 Likes

Lane71 - Brilliant rant. Though actually I don't mind the BBC so much. If you've ever been to the States and watched Fox and some of the other networks you'd be throwing your arms open wide with tears in your eyes to see the Beeb.

In respect to Ms Way. From what I've read the police appear to have dropped the ball again, but may be I have misread, but I thought I had read a statement that the matter is now closed.

I hope her employers also tick her off like the naughty school girl she is. I think what has happened (and she is probably well aware of her mistake through the general media and social media by now I think) will have taught her a lesson that I hope she never forgets.

As a 19 year old she has made some questionable decisions, and her attitude has been reckless, but no one died (thankfully) and so I hope that she can learn her lesson without too many consequences. Losing her job is definitely not one of those I would advocate if she has learned her lesson.

If not, she will soon come a cropper again, and the consequences will be far more dire. I do hope that she at least apologises and makes good any damage to Mr Hockley's bike.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1144 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 12:09

10 Likes

Lack of action would send a bad signal.

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 [135 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 12:32

11 Likes

Silly bint. I propose that she is made to ride the entire north and south circular on a £100 ASDA full 'suspension' behemoth.

Maybe then she'd realise what kind of responsibility you inherit when you are behind the wheel of a 1 tonne block of metal which can travel at 100mph. Although sadly, I think it would totally lost on the dappy tart. LOL OMG innit.

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [562 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 12:32

10 Likes

Surely, all she has to say is that she saw that the cyclist was still on his bike and didn't appear to be hurt. Then add that her tweet was meant as a joke.

I don't see this going much further as the poor bloke miraculously escaped injury. On the upside, it's brought the Road Tax nonsense into the public eye.

Lane's rant forgot to mention the BBC's disgraceful pro-monarchy propaganda!

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [253 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 13:12

9 Likes

Pistonheads also has a healthy forum sub-section called 'pedal-powered', where many of them talk about bikes of all forms.

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

posted by notfastenough [3198 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 13:12

9 Likes

Andrewwd wrote:
Perhaps Toby Hockley thinks he's being the bigger man by only asking for an apology, but he'd be doing a disservice to other cyclists and road users by not fully pursuing this matter to it's logical legal conclusion.

I am inclined to agree with this. I was hit by a towed caravan because the idiot pulled in too quickly after overtaking into on coming traffic (and he wasn't slowed down by me, in fact, from the tone of his approaching engine I could tell he never slowed down at all). I ended up being bounced down the side of his caravan whilst trying to prevent going off the side of the road or under his wheels (4 weeks later and the injuries have still not completely healed). He didn't look back, notice or care that he was a fraction of luck and my skill away from putting me hospital, and of course none of the motorists behind reacted or were concerned for my safety either. Given that he didn't stop and I was too busy trying to save my life, its no surprise that I didn't get his details so couldn't report it. Shame he didn't tweet it... The point is that more incidents or near misses must occur than are actually reported, so on the few occasions that there is sufficient information to report the incident to the police and allow them to follow it up, we have perhaps a duty to ourselves and other riders to do so - perhaps then the the law has the opportunity to act as the deterrent it should be and tomorrow's ride may just be a little safer...

posted by maldin [35 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 13:47

11 Likes

For news output I'd trust the BBC over anything Sky News says, what with them being part of that "incoruptable" organisation News Corp, because they never hack your mobile or anything would they! Thinking

I love the smell of cleats (mexican accent, you do the jokes)

posted by paulfrank [80 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 13:51

12 Likes

Municipal Waste wrote:
Personality tests as part of the driving exam?

You will find that its estimated that around 10 - 15% of the population have some kind of personality disorder.

What is incredulous is that with every other form of licensing, or official documentation, you are expected to renew it on a regular basis (passports, for instance).

With a driving license, you could pass your test at 17 and then never face having to renew your license again, nor be required to submit to eye testing.

The law needs to change immediately that licenses need to be renewed every 5 years (annualy for professional drivers?) and compulsory annual eye tests for all.

It could be implemented by insurance companies offering reduced premiums to those who provide certification. That way, it doesnt stop people from driving but makes it damn more expensive if they dont want to play along.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [532 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 13:56

10 Likes

Even the BBC's getting involved now

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22614569

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 [135 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 14:58

14 Likes

zanf wrote:
Municipal Waste wrote:
Personality tests as part of the driving exam?

What is incredulous is that with every other form of licensing, or official documentation, you are expected to renew it on a regular basis (passports, for instance).

With a driving license, you could pass your test at 17 and then never face having to renew your license again, nor be required to submit to eye testing.

+1 for everything that zanf says.

In no other form of transport (in fact no other area of general life) would this be tolerated.

If you were to walk up to a H&S person now and say "I'd like to introduce a form of transport where we only test once, we have unqualified people with no PPE filling up cars unsupervised in public with highly flammable liquid, we have no solid enforcement structure but hey, it'll make life so easy for everyone" he'd look at you as if you were insane.

It simply wouldn't be tolerated but, becasue we've kind of evolved alongside it, it's become accepted. Hundreds of deaths per year, millions in insurance payouts, tens of billions of pounds of infrastructure; it's all regarded as an acceptable cost for "free and easy" movement.

Just unbelievable.

posted by crazy-legs [519 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 15:26

12 Likes

Emma Way must be a real empty-head: filming and posting her speedometer at 95mph, knocking-down a cyclist, then bragging about it on twitter, with the #bloodycyclists hashtag. Not the brightest . . . , etc, etc. Nerd

A week or two ago I was cycling along a road when a silver penis-extension Mercedes deliberately pulled out in front of me. Surprise
How did I know it was a deliberate act, you ask?
I could see the driver smirking and laughing in his wing mirror as he moved off, caused me to hit the brakes, skid and swerve.
The fact that I could see him in such detail also goes to show how close I was, about 10metres and travelling at about 20-25mph, when he pulled out.
He wasn't laughing when he got out, around the corner, to have a go only to see me jump off my bike and head straight for him, fists ready. Devil
He backed down, got back in his car and drove off, the cowardly bully.

You do, occasionally, get these f*ckwits; happily and luckily nobody was seriously injured or killed in this incident, as Emma Sh*t-for-brains Way accidentally outed herself, proving that there are much more stupid birds in Norfolk than the turkeys. Cool

posted by cyclist67 [13 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 16:03

11 Likes

It's nice to see that a good number of Sun readers have rallied round, criticising all cyclists for having the temerity to ride on the roads, and for riding on the pavement. I hope this sorry chain of events will teach Ms. Way a valuable lesson, and that the next time she knocks a cyclist through a hedge she has more sense than to incriminate herself online.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 17:05

10 Likes

She does look and sound a little bit more respectable than her twitter account suggested. Bit of a Father Jack-type (a la Father Ted) apology though perhaps. http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/update/2013-05-22/im-sorry-says-cycle-tweet-girl/

posted by Ghostie [82 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 18:00

11 Likes

I dont know about her losing her job, but it's a case of her learning actions have consequences. So just an apology should not be enough - she could have killed him, and happily she didnt, but somehow she needs to be made to understand the seriousness of what happened. I've been bounced off a car wing and its no fun, and it certainly made me quite irate. Tempting as it is to recommend 'crucifixion is too good for her' its more important to get her to a) understand b)change her behaviour and c) (optimistically) get her to act as an advocate of not being a twat to her friends.

posted by edster99 [172 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 19:15

10 Likes

whats amazing about that clip on ITV is that she appears to be apologising for sending the tweet rather than hitting the cyclist? Completely missed the point!

posted by rockfield [68 posts]
22nd May 2013 - 20:13

12 Likes

Dave Atkinson wrote:
pistonheads i find to generally be a pretty level-headed place when it comes to discussions like this. much more so that the guardian, that's for damn sure

In the cycling sub-forum, at least. As a website for enthusiast drivers, the cycling area seems mostly to be populated by enthusiast cyclists and commuters (as opposed to loony lefties using bikes to make a political point). Very inclusive.

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

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [869 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 9:34

11 Likes

[[[[[ One can only hope her car-insurance company doubles her premium, seeing as how she's bragged publicly about leaving the scene of an accident, and failing to report it to police.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [284 posts]
30th May 2013 - 3:33

10 Likes

There would need to be a change in material fact - ceteris paribus, a fault claim or a criminal motoring offence lodged against the policyholder.

posted by Argos74 [295 posts]
30th May 2013 - 5:40

10 Likes