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School coach driver tells cyclist he’s “not really bothered” about killing someone after close pass

UPDATE: Royale European Coaches has now confirmed the driver is suspended pending a "full investigation"...

A secondary school has launched an internal investigation after one of its coach drivers told a cyclist that he was “not really bothered” about killing someone on the roads, after the cyclist challenged him following a close pass. In an update to the story, sent to road.cc on Monday morning, the driver's coach company confirmed he had been suspended and a "full investigation" launched.

Surbiton High School, a fee-paying independent school in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, also said it was “extremely shocked” by the behaviour of the driver, who has now been suspended by Royale European Coaches, a company that provides a dedicated bus service to and from the school for children based across Surrey and south-west London.

The confrontation between the cyclist and the coach driver, and the initial close pass that prompted it, took place at around 3.40pm on Thursday, and has since been viewed over 60,000 times on X, formerly known as Twitter.

A separate incident that took place the following day also saw the same coach driver complain about the cyclist’s positioning in relation to the kerb, which required him to “drive on the other side of the road”, before claiming that motorists can “never get anywhere with people like you on the road.”

Describing the first close pass and confrontation, the cyclist, known as ‘Chapona Bike’ on the social media platform, told road.cc: “I was cycling through Surbiton in Surrey, and was passed quite closely by a Surbiton High School coach, which got worse as the driver gradually pulled to the left in front of me.

“There was plenty of space on the other side of the road to pass safely, but this guy seemed to have a grudge, despite being a professional driver in charge of a coach full of school children.

“I caught up with the driver at the traffic lights. There was obviously no need for such a careless overtake. It’s not as if I was holding him up, as that’s the job of the traffic lights.”

In the full version of the clip posted on X, seen by road.cc, the cyclist then approaches the coach driver’s window, telling him: “You’ve got absolutely nowhere. That was dangerous! Be careful, that’s all I’m asking, otherwise you’ll end up killing someone.”

“Look at the size of my vehicle, so you better pay mind as well,” the driver responds, as the cyclist advises him to “hold back until it’s safe to overtake”.

“Why hold back if I’ve got a clear road?” the bus driver asks, prompting the following back-and-forth between the pair.

“But where have you got to? You’re stuck in traffic lights!”

“Well that’s the way of life, isn’t it? That’s the way it always is, and always will be.”

“Just overtake safely, alright? It’s your responsibility to drive safely.”

“Well, if you weren’t riding five foot out [from the kerb], I would do it.”

Finally, the exasperated cyclist says: “You’ll end up killing someone someday.”

“You know what? I’m not really bothered,” the nonchalant bus driver shrugged, just as the traffic lights finally changed to green.

> Coach driver tells cyclist with child he "shouldn't be on the path"... right under a shared use path sign

“The conversation amazed me,” the cyclist tells road.cc. “How could someone with such a high degree of responsibility start saying these things? The whole coach had gone quiet, as the school children on it were all intently listening.

“This happened at 3.40pm. Which we all know is when kids start pouring out of schools on their bikes. This is very worrying, as given the driver’s attitudes, he’s probably done the same to school children cycling home. After all, the private school children he is carrying as passengers are surely worth more to him.”

He continued: “It’s not a particularly bad close pass. I’ve had far worse. It’s his position of responsibility, and the message he is sending both to the kids on his coach, but also to the community.”

The following day, in the wake of another close pass, the cyclist again confronted the same coach driver, informing him that he was “far too close” to him while overtaking.

“And if you try getting a bit nearer the kerb, yeah?” the driver responded. “Listen a minute instead of mouthing. If I have to overtake you five foot away, and you’re five foot from the kerb, that’s ten foot – and I have to drive on the other side of the road. When you could go two foot away from the kerb and I could pass so easily.”

“Well, you never got anywhere, did you?” the cyclist shot back.

“And I never will, with people like you on the road,” the motorist concluded. “We can never get anywhere, can we?”

> Coach driver who close passed cyclist avoids fine thanks to incorrectly worded police letter

The cyclist also claims that other local parents have raised similar concerns and complained about them and their children being close passed by the same coaches in Surbiton, which he described as a “bit of a blight on road safety”.

“They’re haring around with some sense of private school self-entitlement when less privileged children are cycling and walking to state schools,” the cyclist added. “Who, according to this driver, just have to get out of his way, as he doesn’t really care if he kills them or not.

“If this behaviour isn’t stopped now, it won’t be long before there’s a serious accident. What if this chap doesn’t like the looks of some children on their bikes cycling home, and decides to close pass them, for example?”

> Bus company investigates employee filmed driving on cycle lane and pavement

Responding to the cyclist’s complaints following the initial close pass and confrontation, Surbiton High School said: “We are extremely shocked by this behaviour. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. We are raising the issue internally with the coach company.”

On Monday morning, Royale European Coaches told road.cc a "full investigation" had been launched, with the driver suspended "pending these enquiries".

"We are aware of the incident and social media reporting, and have commenced a full investigation. The driver has been suspended pending these enquiries," a spokesperson said.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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30 comments

Avatar
Left_is_for_Losers | 7 months ago
1 like

Well. I'm pleased to report I had my first proper rebuke from a lovely london cabbie who, after shouting some obscenities towards me, and me saying chill out lad, he responded that he'd only chill out when i was underneath his back wheels. What a great bloke to meet! Just wish I was on my own bike recording, rather than a boris bike. 

We were in a nice long queue, so I was able to wave nicely to him and continue on my way while he remained in traffic. While the verbals don't bother me, the general attitude towards cyclists needs to change...

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marmotte27 replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 7 months ago
0 likes

"While the verbals don't bother me, the general attitude towards cyclists needs to change..."

Which you're doing so much to achieve.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to marmotte27 | 7 months ago
0 likes
marmotte27 wrote:

Which you're doing so much to achieve.

Probably because as a drivist myself, I look at cycling as a pleasant break from driving (where possible) for commuting or other tasks, and for leisure. 

I could live a regular life without my bike (although not as good I guess) but not without my car. So it's in my interest for cars as much as it is bikes. Hence I'm the only real balanced viewpoint here. 

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Jules1 | 7 months ago
0 likes

I am not writig to judge who was wrong or who was right, as I was not there to witness the incident. However, I strongly object to incidents being reported that are not wholey the truth - the cyclist knows exactly what is meant by that last comment. In the interest of free speech and fairness, please, please, get the FULL story and report that, not just the parts the cyclist wishes people to hear. Peoples jobs and livelihoods are at stake here. 

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Rendel Harris replied to Jules1 | 7 months ago
3 likes

You're not going to judge because you weren't there to witness the incident but you do know that the whole truth isn't being reported? If you know "the full story", let's hear it. Not sure what you mean by the cyclist knows exactly what is meant by that last comment, do you mean the coach driver saying "Go on, hit it, go on, I dare you"? I assumed that meant that the cyclist had raised his hand in frustration and was considering banging on the side of the coach, but he appears to have thought better of it. That is completely irrelevant to what the driver said before or the close pass that preceded the confrontation.

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hawkinspeter replied to Jules1 | 7 months ago
3 likes
Jules1 wrote:

I am not writig to judge who was wrong or who was right, as I was not there to witness the incident. However, I strongly object to incidents being reported that are not wholey the truth - the cyclist knows exactly what is meant by that last comment. In the interest of free speech and fairness, please, please, get the FULL story and report that, not just the parts the cyclist wishes people to hear. Peoples jobs and livelihoods are at stake here. 

What facts do you believe have been omitted? I'm not following what you're implying with "the cyclist knows exactly what is meant by that last comment" - what comment?

Jobs and livelihoods should rightly be at stake if they involve terrible driving and bullying other more vulnerable road users. That's never acceptable behaviour for any reason. Cyclists often encounter drivers that are looking to bully them off the road and I for one would be more than happy for them to be permanently banned from driving and if they drive for their job, then they should have taken some interest in driving in a safe and courteous manner.

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marmotte27 replied to Jules1 | 7 months ago
4 likes

We're talking about a *professional driver* here, so yes, jobs and livelihoods should bloody well be at stake!

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polainm | 7 months ago
5 likes

Shock news! Professional driver clueless about sharing public highway with anything without an engine! For 2024, Near Miss of the Minute, as more brainless people operate multi-tonne machines at high speed in public spaces and 'really not bothered if they kill someone'. Local police asked for comment and they said "is there a doughnut shop near here?"

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Surreyrider | 7 months ago
2 likes

I think Road CC needs to get the facts right in its intro as the driver is clearly not " one of its (the shcool's) coach drivers".

That sort of close pass and attitude is unfortunately common in Surrey.

It really, really shouldn't be. 

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ROOTminus1 | 7 months ago
9 likes

I'm glad of the update on this.
The company would come under fire from the HSE if he wasn't immediately suspended from work. Sadly he'll still have his personal driving licence, but being fired from a professional driving job for gross misconduct should mean he'll never be employed to be behind the wheel again

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Oldfatgit replied to ROOTminus1 | 7 months ago
8 likes

HSE do not get involved in driving incidents.

As for getting sacked for GMC and never professionally driving again ... nah.
Never happen.

*If* he gets sacked, it'll be for bringing the Company into Disrepute and not for the low standard of his driving.

If there hadn't been a social media shitshow due to camera footage, it's highly unlikely that anything would happen to this driver.

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ROOTminus1 replied to Oldfatgit | 7 months ago
4 likes

You're correct that they don't get involved in RTA violations, but a failure of company to address the resulting accusations of unsafe behaviour is a failure to manage safely which is in HSE's remit.

Sadly, also yes, it is only being acted on because of the social media shitstorm.

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Oldfatgit replied to ROOTminus1 | 7 months ago
3 likes

There is no RIDDOR occurance here.

HSE would refer anyone reporting this to the Police as its a road traffic offence.
Seriously, unless the HSE have got 1,000s of more staff in the last 10 years, there is nothing here that they are interested in.

If the company has a ISO accreditation then they *may* be picked up on Audit.
But again, unlikely

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Rome73 | 7 months ago
10 likes

Jeez. I've had that conversation too many times. 'If you wasn't (sic) in the middle of the road . .. . . . . Blah, blah' 

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brooksby replied to Rome73 | 7 months ago
7 likes
BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP wrote:

Jeez. I've had that conversation too many times. 'If you wasn't (sic) in the middle of the road . .. . . . . Blah, blah' 

I remember once getting hooted at by a driver following me through a narrow section of road, with an island in the middle narrowing the road even further.  "You were in the middle of the road!", says the driver.  "I'm on exactly the line your passenger would be", says I (except, of course, the driver was in their car all on their lonesome)  "And there's no room for you to pass me anyway".

True story 

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mctrials23 replied to Rome73 | 7 months ago
3 likes

The other classic is "I didn't hit you did I!"

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Rendel Harris replied to mctrials23 | 7 months ago
9 likes
mctrials23 wrote:

The other classic is "I didn't hit you did I!"

Alongside the similar (had most recently from a JCB driver who tailgated me at speed with the spikes of the digger bucket feet from my back wheel), "Are you dead? 'Cos if I hit you with this you'd be dead, so shut up." Expecting a cyclist to be grateful because they haven't been killed is pretty close to peak driver brain.

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Jitensha Oni | 7 months ago
10 likes

The close pass occurred virtually on my doorstep. I’ve not personally had any big problems like this with the local coach firms when cycling (though others have), but they’ve now all put themselves on notice, especially considering there’s a school with quite a lot of students who cycle barely two hundred metres away from the close pass point. Since I run a camera; since Surrey do prosecute in really bad cases; and since we have a facial ID in this instance, consequences for this driver could be pretty dire if they repeat.

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Surreyrider replied to Jitensha Oni | 7 months ago
0 likes

Don't know exactly where the footage was shot but if it's close to Surbiton High, it's not Surrey Police's area. 

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Rendel Harris replied to Surreyrider | 7 months ago
1 like
Surreyrider wrote:

Don't know exactly where the footage was shot but if it's close to Surbiton High, it's not Surrey Police's area. 

Surbiton High is only a kilometre from the Greater London boundary, so the original incident that led to the confrontation might well have happened within Surrey.

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iliketoridemybicycle | 7 months ago
11 likes

One percent of people are supposed to have psychopathic personalities. Unfortunately many of them will also be drivers

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Secret_squirrel replied to iliketoridemybicycle | 7 months ago
0 likes

"Many" probably being about 1%?

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bigwheeler88 replied to Secret_squirrel | 7 months ago
3 likes

Definitely far more than that. In my experience about 1 in 10 on a good day, even more on a bad one.

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Geordiepeddeler replied to Secret_squirrel | 7 months ago
0 likes

1% too many then?

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wycombewheeler replied to Secret_squirrel | 7 months ago
0 likes

1% of drivers will have psychopathic tendancies, but much more than 1% of people with psycopathic tendancies will be drivers.

so "many" will be much much more than 1%

I would live in a dream utopia if only 1% of people were drivers

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ChasP | 7 months ago
17 likes

Unfortunately this is the attitude of a significant minority of drivers we all meet every time we go out.

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ktache | 7 months ago
12 likes

Highly trained professional...

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Rendel Harris replied to ktache | 7 months ago
9 likes
ktache wrote:

Highly trained professional...

"One of the best" as he describes himself - before driving off into oncoming traffic whilst looking backwards out of his window to carry on arguing...

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bigwheeler88 | 7 months ago
4 likes

Completely unsurprising. I would say he would feel different if it were one of the children on the coach riding a bike that he almost killed, but he probably would give the same response. Scum.

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Flintshire Boy replied to bigwheeler88 | 7 months ago
3 likes

.

Got to agree with you, Rendel.

.

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