Norwich Police are today seeking a motorist who tweeted yesterday about knocking a cyclist off their bike. The driver, Emma Way, said of the collision, "Definitely knocked a cyclist off earlier - I have right of way he doesn't even pay road tax" and signed off with the hashtag #bloodycyclists.
The tweet was quickly picked up by various twitter users, some of whom took a screen grab of the offending tweet (including jymdyer whose image we've used at the top). The Police were alerted via the social network, and two hours later Norfolk Police suggested that Ms Way contact them regarding the incident. "we have had tweets ref an RTC with a bike", they explained. "We suggest you report it at a police station ASAP if not done already & then dm us". Since the tweet Ms Way has been identified via her twitter account (which she subsequently deleted) and her facebook profile. Other online posts from Ms Way suggested that she took pictures with her mobile phone while driving and tailgating other vehicles, and she also posted a picture of her car's speedometer showing a speed of 95mph.
The level of ignorance of the law, and the assumption of the right to forcibly remove a cyclist from the road, is pretty shocking. Anyone who follows the Cycle Hatred twitter account will be familiar with this kind of might-is-right mindset, and it's also fairly common for these comments to originate from new drivers, and particularly young women. Whether that's symptomatic of their greater dislike of cyclists of simply down to the demographics of twitter users it's difficult to say.
Obviously there's much for the Police to discuss with Ms Way, should the tweet refer to a genuine incident - which we are reliably informed it does (see update below). For a start you're generally breaking the law by leaving the scene of a road traffic collision without stopping to check if the other party has suffered injury or damage to property. Obviously there's also the right-of-way issue: no road user has any right under law to force another from the road, and to do so is also an offence. As for road tax, most cyclists are only too aware that there's no such thing as road tax and roads are funded from general taxation. Vehicle Excise Duty is paid on vehicle emissions; were cyclists to pay it they'd pay the same rate as other zero-emission vehicles: nothing.
Update: We've spoken to Toby Hockley, the rider involved in the collision, to get a bit of background on the incident. He's pretty sure it was him, anyway. "The police said it was me", he told us, and the time and location fit the bill.
"I was riding on a country B-road with a friend, and descending a hill on a blind right hand corner", Toby told us. "I was sticking to the left as the corner was blind. A car came round in the opposite direction going much too quickly to make the corner safely. It missed the rider in front of me but hit me, my right leg caught the front right wing. I was thrown up onto the bonnet, I hit the side of windsrceen and the wing mirror. I bounced back off the car and went through a hedge for about 20 metres. I managed to keep control of the bike; the back brake had locked on but I managed to rejoin the road and stop in the middle of it"
Amazingly Toby made it through the incident with only minor damage to himself and the bike. "I have a sore elbow, a bruised knee, nettle stings from riding through the hedge, but nothing serious", he told us. "The headset of the bike is loose from the collision, one of the levers got knocked round the bars and there's bits of nettle in the chain, but I think the bike is intact."
"Myself and my friend burst out laughing when we finally came to a stop, more out of shock than anything else", he said. "You count your limbs and carry on".
In response to the incident Ms Way's employers have also made a short statement, both in response to emails from road.cc readers and also in the comments below. "Please be assured that this is not a view held by the firm and we most certainly do not condone this behaviour", they told us. "We are taking the incidents very seriously, and a full and detailed investigation will be carried out and appropriate action taken. We have already spoken to Norfolk Police."
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.