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Near Miss of the Day 894: Police take action after confused motorist drives onto bike lane and narrowly misses cyclists and pedestrians in city centre square

“It’s a very busy area with pedestrians and cyclists, and there’s absolutely no access to cars… Perhaps this driver was very faithfully following an out of date sat-nav!”

As councils across the UK appear increasingly keen to crack down on “cycle menaces” riding their bikes through pedestrianised town and city centres – with Grimsby leading the way in its “zero-tolerance war” against cyclists in pedestrian-only areas, handing out a few hefty fines in the process – it appears that those deterrents, along with a raised kerb or two, aren’t enough to stop the occasional motorist from slipping through the PSPO net.

At least that was the case in Leeds last week, where a clearly confused driver somehow made their way onto a busy part of the city centre reserved for cyclists and pedestrians, causing a crowd to quickly scarper, before turning onto and driving down the adjacent bike lane, where they narrowly avoided colliding with at least two surprised cyclists.

City Square, where the near miss took place, is closed to general traffic and is only open to buses, emergency vehicles, pedestrians, and people on bikes.

> Cyclist ordered to pay £500 for riding bicycle through town centre as councillor claims hefty fine is "great result for our enforcement teams"

Footage of the bizarre incident, which took place on the evening of Tuesday 27 February, was captured by road.cc reader Nick, who reported the motorist to West Yorkshire Police, who have since confirmed they are taking action against the driver.

“I was cycling my regular commute home, passing through City Square in Leeds, outside Queens Hotel and the train station,” Nick tells road.cc.

“The entire square has been completely pedestrianised with a cycle path running through the middle. It’s a very busy area with pedestrians and cyclists, and there’s absolutely no access to cars.

“When I was passing through the square, I saw the crowd of pedestrians in front of me start to move to the side and then the white car appeared.

“It was driving half in the cycle lane and half on the pedestrian area heading towards me. It was indicating to the right as if it intended to pull entirely into the cycle lane. I came to a stop as it was very close to where I was riding, and it continued past me. After passing me it then pulled entirely into the cycle lane and continued until it reached a connecting road.”

> "Traffic on road? Just use a cycle lane": Motorist facing court after speeding through segregated bike lane

“I’ve no idea how it came to be on the square in the first place,” Nick continued. “There is no road passing through the square at all and no obvious place for a car to enter without going straight over the raised kerb or entering via the cycle path.

“Until last year there was a road here connecting Boar Lane to Wellington Street, so perhaps this driver was very faithfully following an out of date sat-nav!”

> Near Miss of the Day 893: Impatient driver damages van while trying to squeeze past cyclist on narrow country lane

Nick told road.cc that he has been informed by West Yorkshire Police that the driver will face action, though he expects “this will just be a warning letter or educational course”. So probably not a £500 fine, then.

The driver’s baffling actions in Leeds’ City Square isn’t the first time that motorists in recent weeks have been filmed using seemingly protected cycling infrastructure as their own private driving lane.

Driver in cycle lane, Glasgow (screenshot from Reddit)

> Cyclists bemoan missing bollards and poor layout as footage shows motorist driving down a cycle lane

In January, a cyclist shared a video on Reddit showing a motorist driving at speed down a bike lane on Gorbals Street in Glasgow, writing: “Get a load of this walloper driving down the cycle lane!”

“Not really sure how the driver missed the markings, but I saw them shoot into there from the junction at like 30mph just before I joined on,” the cyclist said.

“What’s dangerous is that the driver continued at like 30mph down the lane long after entering (and probably realising they were in the wrong). Very easily could have been an accident there.”

Driver speeding on cycling lane in Coventry (Twitter: @adamtranter)

And last July, West Midlands Police confirmed that a driver had been identified and was facing court after going viral when they were filmed speeding along a segregated cycle lane in Coventry, with West Midlands Cycling and Walking Commissioner Adam Tranter pointing out that such reckless behaviour could have “catastrophic consequences”.

> Near Miss of the Day turns 100 — Why do we do the feature and what have we learnt from it?

Over the years road.cc has reported on literally hundreds of close passes and near misses involving badly driven vehicles from every corner of the country – so many, in fact, that we've decided to turn the phenomenon into a regular feature on the site. One day hopefully we will run out of close passes and near misses to report on, but until that happy day arrives, Near Miss of the Day will keep rolling on.

If you've caught on camera a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind with another road user that you'd like to share with the wider cycling community please send it to us at info [at] road.cc or send us a message via the road.cc Facebook page.

If the video is on YouTube, please send us a link, if not we can add any footage you supply to our YouTube channel as an unlisted video (so it won't show up on searches).

Please also let us know whether you contacted the police and if so what their reaction was, as well as the reaction of the vehicle operator if it was a bus, lorry or van with company markings etc.

> What to do if you capture a near miss or close pass (or worse) on camera while cycling

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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11 comments

Avatar
Safety | 4 months ago
5 likes

Amazing how you can get fined £500 for cycling in one pedestrianised city centre but drive two tons of metal at speed through another and you get a bit of advice.
Is the law an ass or simply it's enforcement?

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Safety | 4 months ago
7 likes

Safety wrote:

Amazing how you can get fined £500 for cycling in one pedestrianised city centre but drive two tons of metal at speed through another and you get a bit of advice. Is the law an ass or simply it's enforcement?

Well yes, but the drivers are hard working and previously law-abiding. Also, as they're at the sharp end of the War on the Motorist, their considerable tax burden just keeps increasing, so it wouldn't be fair to penalise them for an honest mistake.

Meanwhile, those hooligan cyclists are just asking for it. They race around terrorising pedestrians and you see them everywhere in their invisible, black clothing. If they're not going to take responsibility for their own safety and share the pedestrian sections, then they've only got themselves to blame.

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LeadenSkies replied to Safety | 4 months ago
0 likes

Fully agree with the point about there being something seriously wrong with enforcement of driving offences where the punishment no longer fits the crime in 95% of cases BUT did want to correct one point. The cyclist didn't get fined £500. He received a £100 fixed penalty notice. Still steep but had he paid it then that would have been it, but he decided to challenge the FPN in court. The risk there is always that they then increase the fine if still found guilty to discourage people from bringing a weak challenge on the off chance they win. He was found guilty and they doubled the fine to £200 and added court costs and a victim surcharge bringing the total cost to him to £500 or so. Expensive lesson or an expensive principled stand depending on whether he really was dismounted before the pedestrian zone.

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ChrisB200SX replied to LeadenSkies | 4 months ago
0 likes

You have to be licenced to drive though, which is a big difference, so the punishment should be much harsher for drivers.

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giff77 | 4 months ago
6 likes

All the driver needs to do is to take a leaf out of the now recognised defence in Scotland. "I have no recollection of my actions"

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the little onion | 4 months ago
10 likes

This is right outside Leed station - frankly, I have no idea at all how someone can 'innocently' make a mistake like that. By that point, they will have driven through the pedestrianised City Square, passed various bollards, and (depending on time of year) driven through a seasonal market. They are either astoundingly incompetent or know fine well they are breaking the law but don't care. Either way, should be a ban for a long long time.

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levestane replied to the little onion | 4 months ago
2 likes

I remember mistakenly driving into a cycle lane in France in the early eighties. The mistake was very quickly realised and reversing out was not a problem. Strikes me that the instances shown here are deliberate choices.

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FionaJJ | 4 months ago
9 likes

My first thought when I saw the headline was that dedicated cycle lanes need to be marked with a different colour of tarmac to reduce confusion. 

Now I've watched the video it's clear the driver didn't care for the safety of cyclists once it must have been very obvious to them that they were in the wrong place. 

 

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mctrials23 | 4 months ago
7 likes

They will just get a telling off. They will plead ignorance and apologise and get no punishment would be my guess. The police don't seem to punish based on the clear intent from drivers and seem to take them at their word for some reason. The fact the car is moving at speed and mounts the curb as it passes the camera weilder suggests they had zero worry for the cyclists and pedestrians. 

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wtjs replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
3 likes

They will just get a telling off

Nick told road.cc that he has been informed by West Yorkshire Police that the driver will face action, though he expects “this will just be a warning letter or educational course”

It could well just be the entirely worthless 'words of advice', or the almost as worthless 'advice letter' to hang on a nail in the outside lavvy. That's what the police usually mean by 'we are taking action'. Now try and find out what they actually did! If they're like Lancashire, they will claim that GDPR prevents them from even telling you if they hold that information. If they do, please join me in despising the police!

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mctrials23 replied to wtjs | 4 months ago
1 like

Facing action should be at least a fine and points. Anything less than that is no action at all. Literally none. 

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