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Officer passes rider too closely and above speed limit, then tells him he shouldn’t be in middle of the road

A London cyclist has posted footage online showing a police officer overtaking him too closely in his vehicle then, after telling him to pull over, provides him with advice on how to cycle on the road that is at odds with rules contained in the Highway Code.

Helmet camera user Evo Lucas posted footage yesterday to YouTube and other social media sites of the incident, which happened in Walworth, South London.

At the start of the clip, he turns left from Wells Way into Albany Road, then passes the police car at traffic lights before tuning right into Portland Street, which subsequently leads into Brandon Street.

Around 1 minutes 30 seconds into the video, the police officer makes a close overtake on the rider, who says, “Excuse me,” then as he pulls alongside the police vehicle asks, “Are you in a hurry, sir?”

The officer asks Mr Lucas, “Wanna pull over?” then puts his flashing blue lights on and passes the rider, who comes to a halt behind him.

He asks him: “Do you want to explain why you are cycling in the middle of the road, making it difficult for vehicles to pass you?”

But Mr Lucas pointed out that he was allowed to use the width of the carriageway and suggested the officer may have broken the speed limit when he overtook him, saying: “No sir, I am entitled to use the whole road and you are entitled to do 20 mph on a 20 mph road.”

“Which I was doing,” the police officer replied. “Now you are getting to a fine line of obstructing vehicles.

“You are getting very close to the way you are cycling to obstructing vehicles from passing you,” he added, saying that Mr Lucas should “take on board” his advice.

Mr Lucas responded: “You take on board you were driving too closely, sir”

As he rode away, the cyclist said: “Well you should have waited then, sir. Are you detaining me, sir? I'm going to work. No, you need to get on board with how the Highway Code works, you are a police officer.”

The Highway Code allows cyclists to ride in primary position, including on narrow roads, and also instructs motorists “'Not get too close to the vehicle you intend to overtake. Give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.”

A number of police forces across the UK have adopted the initiative launched by West Midlands Polcie last year that targets drivers passing cyclists too closely.

However, one commenter to Mr Lucas’s video on Twitter pointed out, “How are the general public meant to be educated on how to pass cyclists safely, when officers like this get it so wrong?”

In a reply to a question on the London Cycling Facebook group regarding whether he had reported the incident, Mr Lucas said: “I'm hoping he will call me and I'll get an apology. If so I'll leave it at that.”

Should Mr Lucas receive an apology the police officer won't be the first London driver to apologise to Mr Lucas as the result of one of his helmetcam videos - back in 2014 a white van man who close passed Mr Lucas in Covent Garden lost his job and was convicted of assault on the video evidence of the footage. At his trial the van driver changed his plea from innocent to guilty after learning of the existence of helmetcam footage of the incident and offered Mr Lucas a "profuse apology". 

Last year one of Mr Lucas's videos also provoked some intense debate around the subject of red light jumping in the capital when his video of an incident in which Guardian journalist, Jack Shenker being ticketed for riding through a red light went viral. Mr Shenker maintained that he rode through the light because it was safer to do so. 

 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.