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”.
Picture the scene:
A few carefree kids cycling home from school on an empty cul-de-sac when………go tobann, 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 😃 pic.twitter.com/7zpIetvfVl
— Aidan Hogan (@sarsfieldsride) May 8, 2023
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.”
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:
True enough. About 20s earlier we were most definitely in the middle of the road pic.twitter.com/cc2ZKiJrke
— Aidan Hogan (@sarsfieldsride) May 8, 2023
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.”
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.
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.”
The 5-year old's father. https://t.co/nMfncye03d
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) November 10, 2022
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.”
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 as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.