Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Bus driver disciplined by employer for tailgating cyclist before calling police for rider "getting on his nerves"

Bus operator Go-Ahead London apologised for the incident and said the driver had been identified and "dealt with formally, in accordance with our company's disciplinary procedure"...

A London bus driver has been disciplined by operator Go-Ahead London for tailgating a cyclist before getting out his vehicle, swearing at the rider and trying to phone the police because he "got on his nerves".

The incident, footage of which we shared on road.cc yesterday, happened in Herne Hill in south London on Saturday morning and saw the driver travelling just "two to three metres behind" the cyclist, before trying to overtake twice, despite the rider already cycling at the 20mph speed limit.

> "I've got a cyclist here!": Bus driver who tailgated cyclist tries calling the police for "getting on his nerves"

In the following moments, at a red light, the driver began shouting at the cyclist, Rendel Harris, before leaving the bus to phone the police, telling Mr Harris: "You stand right here and shut up. I'm going to call the police you piece of s***"

Today, Go-Ahead London has apologised to the cyclist and said the bus driver had been identified. It was determined that he "did not carry out his duties to the standard expected" and has "been dealt with formally, in accordance with our company's disciplinary procedure".

Go-Ahead London says it is "unable to disclose any information regarding interviews with our staff as this is a confidential issue between the employer and employee".

Writing on X, the social media platform formerly called Twitter, Mr Harris said the statement "speaks for itself" and "hopefully the fact that, having reviewed the CCTV from the bus, the company agreed that the driver was not driving in an acceptable manner might silence those who have accused me of making up the whole incident and aggravating an innocent bus driver."

"Obviously I would prefer to know what sanctions the company has applied but it's good to know that at least something has been done," he added.

In a letter to Mr Harris, Go-Ahead London said: "Complaints of this nature are taken seriously, and I would like to apologise for any distress this situation may have caused you.

"All drivers trained by Go-Ahead London undertake a comprehensive training programme with a very strong emphasis on both safety and customer care. They are expected to operate their vehicles in a polite, friendly and professional manner, consistent with maximum safety of and with due concern for passengers, cyclists and all other road users. I am sorry you have had reason to report the contrary on this occasion.

> "He has to wait, that's all there is to it": Jeremy Vine slams bus driver for near miss

"Using the information provided [...] we have managed to identify and interview the member of staff responsible for your complaint. The management responsible for the operation of this service have viewed the CCTV footage from the vehicle in question and your footage; our driver did not carry out his duties to the standard expected by the company.

"Our colleague has therefore been dealt with formally, in accordance with our company's disciplinary procedure. Unfortunately, I am unable to disclose any information regarding interviews with our staff as this is a confidential issue between the employer and employee.

"Go-Ahead London employs just over 6,000 professional drivers and the overwhelming number serve our city with distinction. As a result, the number of comparable issues reported are very small, but those that are will always be treated with the utmost seriousness and we strive to learn from them."

> "Sexist, dangerous and misogynistic": Cyclist says she was "verbally abused" by bus driver who made weight comments

The bus driver's outburst came after failing to overtake Mr Harris above the speed limit and then driving behind him for around 90 seconds.

Once stopped at a red light, the driver shouted: "I've got you, I've got you!" before he told the cyclist, "You stand right here and shut up. I'm going to call the police you piece of s***."

"I'm a bus driver and I've got a cyclist here," the driver could be heard on the phone. "I need police assistance right now." Presumably being asked what was the emergency situation, the bus driver said: "He's really getting on my nerves."

Back in February a London cyclist spoke out about "bullyish" behaviour from bus drivers in the city. Road safety campaigner Lauren O'Brien's footage of an incident which saw a driver overtake her, before immediately pulling into a stop, pushing her towards the kerb, prompted Transport for London to launch an investigation.

In October, in a story involving another Go-Ahead London employee, a bus driver lost an employment tribunal appeal after it was deemed he "used his bus as a weapon" against a cyclist who rode in primary position.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

Add new comment

64 comments

Avatar
open_roads | 10 months ago
10 likes

Having stumbled across a gps speed monitor app, I was surprised at just how many times my regular London bus exceeded the 20 limits on my regular route - the average was around 25mph and the peak speeds were closer to 35mph.

Perhaps Road.cc could do a follow up to demonstrate how frequently buses commissioned by TfL break TfL's own speed limits and then ask what action will be taken to reduce the consequential risk to other road users?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to open_roads | 10 months ago
7 likes

It is weird, I thought that they were automatically in trouble if their onboard software reported them breaking speed limits but I am very regularly overtaken (though responsibly and courteously, in the main, I must say) by buses on 20mph roads when I'm riding at 20mph+. Maybe they only measure the arrival times at bus stops rather than peak speeds?

Avatar
richliv replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago
3 likes

Usually breaking speed limits during overtaking is ok if for safety reasons but I can imagine that the recent decrease to 20mph on so many London roads has messed with timetables and inadvertently incentivised drivers to break the limits or at least, get stressed if they are being measured (in which case, blame the system). This bus wasn't even in service so I suppose its unlikely to be why this driver blew up. Maybe he had a bad day! No excuse though.

Avatar
essexian replied to richliv | 10 months ago
5 likes
richliv wrote:

Usually breaking speed limits during overtaking is ok if for safety reasons...

Is it?

I would have thought if you have to go faster than the speed limit then it would not be safe to overtake in the first place?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to essexian | 10 months ago
0 likes
essexian wrote:
richliv wrote:

Usually breaking speed limits during overtaking is ok if for safety reasons...

Is it?

I would have thought if you have to go faster than the speed limit then it would not be safe to overtake in the first place?

+1 This is a very common view and another facet of the Incompetence Paradox where people defend their driving by tacitly admitting they weren't doing it properly in the first place.

If only cars were equipped with another pedal that you could use that did the opposite of the accelerator... perhaps it could somehow also reduce the kinetic energy in the event of a collision as well?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to essexian | 10 months ago
5 likes

You'd be amazed (or probably not in fact) by the number of drivers on Twitter claiming that it is completely within the law to exceed the speed limit to make an overtake. Some have even made up their own very specific laws such as, and I quote directly: "It's legally permitted as long as you don't go more than 10% over the speed limit" or "You can go as much over the speed limit as the person you are overtaking is under without getting a ticket, e.g. if they are doing 25 in a 30 you can do 35 max to overtake."

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago
2 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

[...] Some have even made up their own very specific laws such as, [...]

More of this please! I love hearing some of these Spacecorps Directives / "it's in the Code!"* responses and trying to work out where they've come from.

* From people who've probably never read it - someone here pointed out you actually don't need to read it, just read the "how to pass" book and practice theory tests online.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
8 likes

Possibly my favourite from yesterday, "Actually it is true that speed limits do not apply to cyclists but what people don't realise is that this means that speed limits do not apply when overtaking them either."

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago
6 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

Possibly my favourite from yesterday, "Actually it is true that speed limits do not apply to cyclists but what people don't realise is that this means that speed limits do not apply when overtaking them either."

Well logically, if you are overtaking properly and using the oncoming lane, then the speed limit would only apply in the opposite direction. In effect, your speed will be negative relative to the usual direction of traffic, so the faster you go in the opposite direction the less you are speeding! 

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to HoarseMann | 10 months ago
7 likes

yes Should in fact result in points being subtracted from one's licence and a £100 fine being transferred to one's bank account...

Avatar
Geoff Ingram replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago
3 likes

In Spain until recently you could legally exceed the speed limit by 20kph to overtake. Now they have corrected this anomaly and also insist you slow down while overtaking cyclists. Less than 1,5 m clearance is 6 points off your licence. On national roads. And most people comply pretty well.

Avatar
Cugel replied to essexian | 10 months ago
1 like
essexian wrote:
richliv wrote:

Usually breaking speed limits during overtaking is ok if for safety reasons...

Is it?

I would have thought if you have to go faster than the speed limit then it would not be safe to overtake in the first place?

Quite so - but, but, but, several drivists and cyclists are so much better at it than the bog-standard versions ("better" as measured by their own infallible judgement of all things, especially their own superb abilities) so these elite may ignore petty laws and restrictions, just as the gods do.

If there's a crash, it'll be someone else's fault, certainly.

Avatar
brooksby replied to essexian | 10 months ago
2 likes
essexian wrote:
richliv wrote:

Usually breaking speed limits during overtaking is ok if for safety reasons...

Is it?

I would have thought if you have to go faster than the speed limit then it would not be safe to overtake in the first place?

The other principle commonly (IME) ignored by overtaking motorists is that if you force the oncoming traffic to slow (or even stop) then there wasn't room for you to overtake...

Avatar
wtjs replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
4 likes

[an]other principle commonly (IME) ignored by overtaking motorists

And the police. along with those principles of giving way to road users on your right who are already on a roundabout, or not pulling out onto a main road from a side road immediately in front of a cyclist. Both of these offences have been directed at me over the last week.

Avatar
David9694 | 10 months ago
13 likes

Schrödinger's (20 mph) speed limit in action here once again, the cyclist simultaneously too slow AND too fast. 

Avatar
JVN01 replied to David9694 | 10 months ago
0 likes

I've been thinking this for a while now with the imminent imposition of a blanket 20mph speed limit across Wales which is due to come into effect shortly.. I fear a classic case of unforeseen consequences will be that cars and cycles will now be trying to occupy the same "speed/space"; with a 30mph limit at least cars and bikes had a nominal 10mph speed difference (assuming a typical 20mph cycle speed) which meant cars would naturally be moving faster most of the time, and overtaking as and when needed/safe to do so. With a common 20mph speed limit for all, it's going to be a nightmare out there now for cyclists as they'll be competing for the same bit of road at the same speed all the time. The worst thing is going to be all the irate drivers whose instincts will not allow them to sit behind a cyclist at any speed, but the 20mph speed limit will force them to. It's going to cause way more grief and aggravation between cars and cyclists than ever before.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to JVN01 | 10 months ago
1 like
JVN01 wrote:

... The worst thing is going to be all the irate drivers whose instincts will not allow them to sit behind a cyclist at any speed, but the 20mph speed limit will force them to. It's going to cause way more grief and aggravation between cars and cyclists than ever before.

Why would that be? Currently the pressure to overtake means a few motorists will do so dangerously and even illegally regardless. Why would a different speed limit change them?

On the other side the majority of drivers around where I stay drive more or less safely. Now - I do stay in a city, so speeds are generally lower overall. And I'd say that more of the few cyclists I see on the roads here are going a less than 20mph.

I do appreciate though that currently many UK drivers see numbers on signs as a target eg. the speed they *should* be going, not a "do not exceed". And a sizeable number just can't sit behind a cyclist...

Avatar
JVN01 replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
1 like

Why? Because if I'm a cyclist doing a steady 20mph on a flat portion of my commute in a 30mph zone then cars will naturally want to overtake me (hopefully only when safe to do so); once they've overtaken then they can bugger off ahead and leave me to my 20mph plod. If the speed limit is 20mph then they are obliged to sit behind me at the same speed. Of course, this is totally what the law expects, and should enforce, but the fact is a significant proportion of cycling-antagonistic drivers will go from being momentarily aggravated when they are inconvenienced at having to overtake at 30mph to being increasingly (and regularly) infuriated at being 'held' behind me for extended periods of time. This is just going to increase the existing 'them and us' divide between some drivers and cyclists.

I'm not remotely justifying their behaviour, I'm just relaying my own personal experience of cycle commuting 5,000+ miles to work every year in Wales - my commute includes a long 'trial' section of 20mph limit road in Rogiet/Caldicot and  have personally experienced exactly what I describe above on multiple occasions, sadly..

Just for context, the other 5,000 miles of my annual commute are by car, so I am equally qualified as a cycling commuter and a driving commuter to have an opinion on both.

Personally I don't disagree with 20mph limits in densely built up areas but not on the miles and miles of pretty sparsely populated 30mph roads that form the rest of the Welsh road network..

I just think it's another example of road/transport infrastructure policy that will have unintended negative consequences precisely for those whom it is supposedly meant to benefit. 

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to JVN01 | 10 months ago
1 like

Thanks - I think in the context of "countryside" it may be a bit more questionable indeed.  As has been aired here frequently just changing a number on a sign isn't the best way to set speeds.  (There are studies that show it does have an effect though).

In the case of "wide, straight road in the countryside, was 30mph, now 20mph" I'm sure that will prompt a lot of "but why?" and unhappiness - regardless of cyclists or not.

I still think logically nothing really changes however.  If people accept sticking to the speed limit (the main issue), they'll do so.  And in that case how would they catch up with you if you're doing 20mph consistently?

If they don't see the point they'll overtake no matter what the limit.  I think those would do the same regardless of whether the obstacle is a cyclist, tractor, car...

However my experiences will be different from yours - the majority of my cycling is urban, and when I'm outside built-up areas I think most roads are NSL (and I'm not doing 30mph, never mind 60).  Though I have had a few unpleasant "apparently triggered just because cyclist" moments and I don't wish those on others.

(Aside: Just imagine how minds would be blown if the government brought in something like this for motorists' safety!)

Avatar
JVN01 replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
0 likes

Yeah you've picked up on many of the nuances nicely that similar/equal speed limits work in different ways on different roads, but that's not how they are interpreted/obeyed by many drivers. It's a complex picture which is where a lot of the misunderstandings come from.

bottom line is, any initiative that has the unintended effect of further antagonzing a proportion of the non-cycling/car-driving public against cyclists is unfortunate, however well-intentioned or even justifiable it happens to be...

Avatar
wtjs replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
2 likes

I think this is either a new nutter, or yet another retread. The idea seems to be 'must tread as if you're on eggshells' to avoid antagonising motorists. This is obvious nonsense- the hyper-junk press readers are irretrievably antagonistic to cyclists already because they lap up the bile from nutter columnists, shyster lawyers etc. The only solution is enforcement of such law as already exists, and the passing of new laws. What's the problem with that? the Police, largely devotees of the aforementioned deviant press themselves

Avatar
Cugel replied to JVN01 | 10 months ago
1 like
JVN01 wrote:

I've been thinking this for a while now with the imminent imposition of a blanket 20mph speed limit across Wales which is due to come into effect shortly.. I fear a classic case of unforeseen consequences will be that cars and cycles will now be trying to occupy the same "speed/space"; with a 30mph limit at least cars and bikes had a nominal 10mph speed difference (assuming a typical 20mph cycle speed) which meant cars would naturally be moving faster most of the time, and overtaking as and when needed/safe to do so. With a common 20mph speed limit for all, it's going to be a nightmare out there now for cyclists as they'll be competing for the same bit of road at the same speed all the time. The worst thing is going to be all the irate drivers whose instincts will not allow them to sit behind a cyclist at any speed, but the 20mph speed limit will force them to. It's going to cause way more grief and aggravation between cars and cyclists than ever before.

Har har - are you making a-one o' them sarky-jokes? One hopes so!

If not, I'll just mention that it's remarkable thing, the human ability to conjure up a "reasoned" explanation for the most arcane and convoluted of proposals and consequent conclusions.

Avatar
JVN01 replied to Cugel | 10 months ago
0 likes

Sadly not joking - just my own personal experience of cycle commuting 5,000+ miles to work every year in Wales - my commute includes a long 'trial' section of 20mph limit road in Rogiet/Caldicot and I have personally experienced exactly what I describe on multiple occasions, sadly, with MGIF drivers desperate to overtake me despite me already doing 20-22mph.

Just for context, the other 5,000 miles of my annual commute are by car, so I feel I am equally qualified as a cycling commuter and a driving commuter to have an opinion on both.

Personally I don't disagree with 20mph limits in densely built up areas but not on the miles and miles of pretty sparsely populated 30mph roads that form the rest of the Welsh road network..

Far better to target the 20mph zones where it is statistically and evidentially justified, like around schools, shops, pedestrian areas etc. By blindly rolling it out across the ground in this way the Welsh Govt are simply going to antagonize a significant new swathe of drivers who might previously have given little (negative) thought to a 20mph zone around a school. Now they are just going to resent every 20mph limit and get wound up by being 'held up' by cyclists in front of them..

I just think it's another example of misguided road/transport infrastructure policy that will have unintended negative consequences precisely for those whom it is supposedly meant to benefit.

Avatar
quiff replied to JVN01 | 10 months ago
0 likes

The new 20mph default only applies to "restricted" roads (broadly speaking, those with street lights 200yds apart) which tend to be populated areas, no? The problem with only targeting the immediate vicinity of schools etc is that it doesn't help people who don't live in the immediate vicinity. By rolling out a nationwide default, the aim is that you enable people to feel safer and make active travel choices.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to JVN01 | 10 months ago
4 likes
JVN01 wrote:

I've been thinking this for a while now with the imminent imposition of a blanket 20mph speed limit across Wales which is due to come into effect shortly.. I fear a classic case of unforeseen consequences will be that cars and cycles will now be trying to occupy the same "speed/space"; with a 30mph limit at least cars and bikes had a nominal 10mph speed difference (assuming a typical 20mph cycle speed) which meant cars would naturally be moving faster most of the time, and overtaking as and when needed/safe to do so. With a common 20mph speed limit for all, it's going to be a nightmare out there now for cyclists as they'll be competing for the same bit of road at the same speed all the time. The worst thing is going to be all the irate drivers whose instincts will not allow them to sit behind a cyclist at any speed, but the 20mph speed limit will force them to. It's going to cause way more grief and aggravation between cars and cyclists than ever before.

We've had 20mph limits in Bristol on some roads for a few years now and I find they help. If you can go at a similar pace to the traffic (it's often slower due to congestion) then it helps with keeping a primary position and most drivers don't try to overtake. I hate it when you leave a sensible space between the car in front and yourself and a MGIF driver decides to try to squeeze in an overtake which then leaves you with not as much space as you wanted.

Avatar
stonojnr replied to JVN01 | 10 months ago
0 likes

In what way will they be forced to drive at 20mph ?

Avatar
JVN01 replied to stonojnr | 10 months ago
0 likes

By the rollout of a blanket 20mph limit across Wales from 17th Sept (existing 30mph limits will be reduced to 20mph with immediate effect).

Avatar
stonojnr replied to JVN01 | 10 months ago
1 like

Yep fair enough understand that, but what makes you think drivers will be forced to comply with it ?

IME without strong legal enforcement, most drivers ignore any speed limit and drive at what speed suits them

Avatar
Midgex replied to JVN01 | 10 months ago
0 likes

It isn't a blanket limit, is it.

It is a default limit, and I think only applied to roads where the current default limit is 30mph.

Pedantic? 

Avatar
JVN01 replied to Midgex | 10 months ago
0 likes

Yes, that's my point - previous 30mph limits will become 20mph limits, with the potential for unintended consequences as outlined in my previous post/s.. 

Pages

Latest Comments