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“In the middle of the road!” Motorist berates children cycling “harmlessly home from school” on empty cul-de-sac

“Nobody took a bit of notice of her… You have to laugh really”

Six months after a video of a motorist failing to stop to let a five-year-old cyclist past, before driving within touching distance of the child, went viral and attracted the attention of former government ministers and TV panel shows, another driver has been criticised online for scolding a group of schoolchildren for riding their bikes “in the middle” of an empty residential street.

A clip of the incident, filmed by Limerick-based cyclist Aidan Hogan, shows a group of young cyclists riding home from school when a motorist exits her car after appearing to park it on the street. The driver then gesticulates towards the children and calls out: “The middle of the road, in the middle of the road”.

Sharing the video on Twitter, Aidan wrote: “A few carefree kids cycling home from school on an empty cul-de-sac when [suddenly] up pops a driver, waving her hands, and repeating her ‘middle of the road’ mantra.

“Nobody took a bit of notice of her, but it never ceases to amaze where they appear.”

Speaking to road.cc, the cyclist noted his surprise at the driver’s actions, which he argued came in “the most innocuous of circumstances”.

“This part of the cul-de-sac is lovely and quiet usually and you wouldn’t get any hassle like this, as it leads to a little ‘gap’ that filters out cars but allows pedestrians and cyclists through,” Aidan said.

“The school traffic congestion builds up about 0.5km around the school gate, which is where it gets a bit dodgy for the kids.”

> Viral video of driver refusing to stop for five-year-old cyclist debated on Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 show

The motorist’s decision to scold the bike-riding children was roundly condemned by cyclists on Twitter, who described the incident as “infuriating”.

“It never ceases to amaze me how anyone’s reaction to kids happily chatting and healthily getting along isn’t just purely one of optimism and gratitude that maybe the next generation will be okay,” wrote Ewen.

Meanwhile, Criodán noted that the motorist’s car “is occupying a third of the road’s width parked there”, prompting Aidan to share another clip, from 20 seconds earlier, which shows the group forced to ride in the middle of the road thanks to the number of parked cars on the street:

Reflecting on the incident, Aidan told road.cc: “I’ve experienced every type of abuse from drivers while cycling over the last few years, both with and without kids, so very little surprises me.

“This did surprise me, however, as it was the most innocuous of circumstances – a deserted cul-de-sac with a handful of happy 10-year-olds harmlessly pottering home from school.

“You have to laugh really.”

> Sajid Javid blames father of five-year-old cyclist for letting child ride on road in viral video

That “innocuous” altercation in Limerick comes just six months after another video of a young cyclist riding on the road caused an almighty stir online – and even prompted the involvement of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The viral video – which was viewed over 2.5 million times on Twitter and featured on Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 show – shows a motorist failing to stop to let a five-year-old cyclist past, before narrowly passing the youngster.

Viral video debated on Jeremy Vine show (screenshot Twitter video/ @azb2019)

> "Should not be on the public highway riding a bike": Conservative politician weighs in on viral clip of driver refusing to stop for child

After the controversial clip went viral, the child’s father Ashley appeared on Vine’s Channel 5 programme, where the noted cycling advocate criticised the driving on display.

Ashley told the show that “the facts are clear on this one: the driver was wrong and my son has every right to ride on the road.”

Panel guest and journalist Mike Parry agreed, dismissing the debate about whether the child should have been cycling on the road as “utterly irrelevant”.

“Surely human compassion, surely human nature says that if you’re driving a car at speed and there’s a little child coming the other way your instinct should be the protective nature of an adult in a car over a child,” he told Vine.

On the same day that the video was discussed on Channel 5, road safety expert Tim Shallcross of IAM Roadsmart told the Sunday Times: “There is no minimum age limit for cycling on a road; the lad is a little younger than most cycling organisations recommend to be on a road, but he’s certainly riding competently and with confidence and under supervision, so no problem there.”

However, others leapt to the defence of the oncoming motorist, with three prominent Conservative politicians – former Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, Tory peer Baroness Foster, and Conservative London Assembly leader Susan Hall – all pointing the finger at the child’s father for letting him cycle on the road in the first place.

Responding to a tweet from the Jeremy Vine on 5 Twitter account, which asked viewers who they thought was “in the wrong”, Bromsgrove MP Javid replied: “The 5-year-old’s father”.

Hall, the chair of the Police and Crime Committee in the London Assembly, also claimed that the child should only cycle “slowly on the footway, or preferably in the park” and that she was “amazed that given road behaviour by all that you find it acceptable for a five-year-old to be on a bike in the road.”

Driver mounts pavement and chastises child for riding on same footpath (Greg N, Twitter)

> “You couldn’t make it up”: Driver – in untaxed, SORN-registered car with expired MOT – mounts pavement on wrong side of the road… then chastises six-year-old for cycling on same footpath

A month earlier, we featured on the road.cc live blog a video of a motorist parking his car by mounting the pavement on the wrong side of the road on a School Street in Lewisham – before immediately chastising a young cyclist and his father for riding their bikes on the same footpath.

Unsurprisingly, both the cycling parent in the video and others on Twitter were highly critical of the driver, accusing him of “entitlement”, “cognitive dissonance”, “hypocrisy”, and of embodying “car culture”.

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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22 comments

Avatar
ITK2012 | 1 year ago
4 likes

Parking in a Cul-de-sac means she is likely to be a regular visitor there, it would be a shame if some of the kids did something unfortunate to her car.

I'd much rather be stuck behind some children cycling home from school than share the roads with an entitled muppet who probably has all the driving skills of a haddock. 

Avatar
Christopher TR1 | 1 year ago
5 likes

Unfortunately motoring seems to be the default in the UK. It really makes me appreciate how normal it is here in Germany to see processions of kids making their way to/from school on foot or on their bikes, invariably with school bag loaded into the basket on the back. Not only better for road congestion and the environment, but it also instills a sense of independence and responsibility.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to Christopher TR1 | 1 year ago
5 likes
Christopher TR1 wrote:

Unfortunately motoring seems to be the default in the UK. It really makes me appreciate how normal it is here in Germany to see processions of kids making their way to/from school on foot or on their bikes, invariably with school bag loaded into the basket on the back. Not only better for road congestion and the environment, but it also instills a sense of independence and responsibility.

also freeing up the parents' time, not having to act as taxi drivers to their children.

And then you hear about schools in the US where parents are turning up 30 minutes before school finishes to be first in the queue and avoid having to wait 45 minutes to collect their children, so it could be worse.

Like a drive through child shop.

Avatar
Aidanliam replied to Christopher TR1 | 1 year ago
6 likes

We all need to leave kids be kids. A quiet cul de sac is the place where kids should be able to play and have fun and not worry about rigidly following the rules of the road. Leave them cycle in circles if the want, do wheelies and bunny hop of the footpaths. Who cares. And in this sort of quiet neighborhood street, all drivers need to give way to kids. When I was 10 in Limerick City back in the 1990s, quiet streets like that were our playground and nobody cared - we played football using the the pillars into our houses as goals and cycled all over the shop.

Of course on other roads kids should keep left, cycle with caution and follow the rules. Or just build protected bike infrastructure?

Avatar
Christopher TR1 replied to Aidanliam | 1 year ago
3 likes

Yup. Another "In Germany...", I'm afraid: in Germany we have many designated "Play Roads" (Spielstraße), which are intended to be used exactly as you describe. Cars must drive at walking pace and must always give way.

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IanMSpencer replied to Christopher TR1 | 1 year ago
3 likes

I'm on holidays at the moment, and we had the joy of watching a selection of infant school age kids dreaming their way home from school along a lightly trafficked road in a town where we were staying. Especially endearing was the little girl rolling along a fence, spinning around. Imagine living in a first world country where a 5 or 6 year old can walk home from school by themselves and where cars are allowed.

It is also a country where drivers acknowledge pedestrians and there is mutual respect. Drivers wait patiently for pedestrians approaching junctions rather than leaping for the chance to get ahead.

Avatar
GMBasix | 1 year ago
7 likes

Woman flings car door open into middle of road*, jumps out into middle of road*, stands in middle of road shouting at other road users.
But it's Other People, right?!

* we can tell she does that becuase one moment there's a parked car, the next - once that flippin' cyclist gets out of the way(!) - she's standing there next to her personal fiefdom

Avatar
Hirsute replied to GMBasix | 1 year ago
2 likes
Avatar
David9694 | 1 year ago
4 likes

meanwhile in driver land 

Watch as BMW drifts around busy Minehead roundabout

https://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/somerset-news/watch-bmw-drifts-aroun...

Avatar
Sriracha | 1 year ago
14 likes

Um, so she parks her car precisely where she thinks cyclists should be riding ... couldn't make it up!

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Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
6 likes

She probably gets excited and points when the "Nee Naws" go past with their pretty blue lights.

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RDaneel | 1 year ago
12 likes

Yes it was unnecessary by the motorist, and they should always treat every situation as a learning opportunity when driving.

In this case, it's a great opportunity to learn about road safety and positioning of cyclists.  Sooner or later they'll be driving on a busier road, and they will have a better understanding of cyclists both young and old. Hope that helps.

edit: looks like Fireman Nige has been booted (again!) 

 

Avatar
wtjs replied to RDaneel | 1 year ago
6 likes

looks like Fireman Nige has been booted (again!) 

There couldn't have been a more obvious troll account. Was that the same account as the one who claimed he wanted to take his boyfriend on a trip to Amsterdam?

Avatar
Zermattjohn | 1 year ago
10 likes

A person taking up 15sq.m. of the road so she can leave her property in a public place, complaining about people taking up about 3sq.m. and not. 

Have you ever realised where you, not the surrounding metal box, roll bars and safety cages, are when you're driving? You're the one in the middle of the road...

Avatar
HoldingOn | 1 year ago
14 likes

Made the mistake of reading the Twitter comments on the Jeremey Vine tweet (of the 5yrold vs. car video)
Going to have to spend the afternoon getting my blood pressure back down.

When am I going to learn - Twitter is the bad place.

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HLaB replied to HoldingOn | 1 year ago
3 likes

I clicked on the Twitter link but almost immediately clicked on back. Thanks for confirming its the usual bike drivel!

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NotNigel replied to HoldingOn | 1 year ago
15 likes

The amount of comments from people who think that the driver has done nothing wrong shows the level of how unsafe it is to have kids on the road cycling.  As I mentioned on an earlier post, it's been a real eye opener riding with my eldest on how ignorant motorists seem to be towards minors on the roads. Quite disturbing really how normalised it is.

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quiff replied to NotNigel | 1 year ago
13 likes

My daughter has just learned to ride a pedal bike. This morning the roads were incredibly quiet so I jogged alongside her as she cycled the c.1km to nursery on the road. Really made my day. Sadly won't be trying it on the way home though.     

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NotNigel replied to quiff | 1 year ago
1 like

It made my day too the first time mine rode on the road, similar situation to yourself - off peak hours.  She's just past level two bikability so is insistent on riding on the roads where there isn't a cycle path and unfortunately we can't choose start times for schools so there are always going to be motorists, usually set on having to be at work or dropping off at school for a certain time.  I'm not sure if it's a good thing that she seems oblivious to the risks involved.

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HoldingOn replied to NotNigel | 1 year ago
10 likes

I walk my kids to school and feel less safe the closer to school we get. It's like wacky races at drop-off/pick-up. Cars abandoned everywhere. Buses blocked from getting through. Cars racing past the school as kids try to cross.

I can't imagine a time when I would be able to cycle with my kids to school.
I am jealous of you folks being able to.

This video is what I remember of my childhood. Cycling along our cul-de-sac without being concerned about cars. When residents drove along, they did it slowly knowing that (usually their own) kids would be cycling or playing in the road.

Avatar
quiff replied to quiff | 1 year ago
7 likes

In the event, we had a bit of a tearful episode when I tried to explain to her that the roads were too busy for her at rush hour, but then we agreed to go the much longer way home so she could ride on quieter roads. Preferable to carrying both a crying kid and a bike all the way home.   

Avatar
brooksby | 1 year ago
7 likes

A road with no moving motor traffic and a (presumably?) modal filter at one end...

A woman who's parked her car well before the kids get there (since she's got out of the car by the time they do get there)...

Some people, eh...? 

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