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“It is not appropriate for any retaliation, be that physical or verbal,” says GMP

Our story last week about a cyclist who was warned by Greater Manchester Police over his behaviour after he was threatened by a driver while filtering through traffic got a lot of attention – and now we have a reply from the force explaining their response to the rider.

As we reported on Friday, the cyclist, named Sam, pulled onto Manchester’s Princess Street and filtered between two lines of traffic queueing at a set of traffic lights – as is perfectly legal, with the Highway Code telling motorists to “be aware of other road users, especially cycles and motorcycles who may be filtering through the traffic.”

As Sam approached the lights, they turned green, so he tried to move back into the line of vehicles to his left, whereupon a female motorist on his inside would not let him through, telling him – wrongly – he should be riding on the left.

He pointed out that there is no legal obligation for him to do so, with the driver – who, moreover, was on her mobile phone – threatening to knock him off his bike “next time.” To which he replies, "you'll knock me of next time, you're threatening assault, all-right, see you later", in a conversational tone of voice, before riding off. 

Sam sent the footage to GMP, with the responding officer telling him: “This video clip shows you squeezing between vehicles and the lights changing then you being alongside entering into an argument with the driver of a moving vehicle.

“To be clear your behaviour in this regard is to cease.

“I understand your wish to help improve road safety, this is not the way to do it, it is not the intention of the service we offer and if repeated I will direct my team to consider criminal offences.”

We contacted GMP for a comment, asking them: “We'd like to know what offences those would be, given that the motorist appears to have been the one to start the argument?”

In response, the force issued the following statement, asking us to publish it in full, which we are happy to do.

Cyclists are key contributors to Operation Considerate, the ongoing campaign to encourage all road users to show each other greater respect.

We welcome helmet and dash-cam footage from all road users, we can’t have eyes everywhere so this is a valuable resource.

We do sometimes become concerned with what we see in footage provided to us however, the road users providing us with footage can on occasion put their own safety at risk, the safety of other road users and pedestrians.

We understand the frustration and anger some road users may feel when they feel their lives are put in danger however it is not appropriate for any retaliation, be that physical or verbal. Those who engage in this sort of behaviour risk being prosecuted for public order offences themselves, even if the original issue was not their fault.

Emotions can become heightened on the roads, but we would encourage all road users not to cross the line, stay safe and let police deal with any issues.

The aim of Operation Considerate is to improve safety for all, part of that is to educate road users not jump straight to a prosecution so for this reason we may send warning letters as a first resort, we will however judge all incidents on a case-by-case basis.

As our roads become ever-more congested and increasingly we see a wider range of vehicles, particularly bicycles, it is important that everyone understands the Highway Code and treats each other with the respect that we all deserve on our roads.

It is unclear whether the driver – or at least, the registered keeper of the vehicle involved in the incident – was issued with a similar warning to the one given to Sam, and we are seeking clarification on that point from GMP. It is also unclear what part of Sam's reply to the driver's comment about knocking him off next time the force considers "retaliation".

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.