A celebrity edition of Near Miss of the Day today, as a driver who overtook Dame Sarah Storey – Greater Manchester’s active travel commissioner and Britain’s most successful Paralympian – approaching a blind bend while blaring their horn was fined £344 and given three points on their licence.
COURT RESULT: @DameSarahStorey may remember this one. This driver was upset he couldn't overtake cyclists on a blind bend with oncoming traffic and decided to use his beeping device to show he was not happy. Refused a course, went to court, £344 and 3 points. #opclosepass pic.twitter.com/QdiUUcxvBI
— Sheffield North West NPT (@SheffNW_NPT) July 15, 2022
Storey, fresh from winning the 17th Paralympic gold medal of her career at Tokyo three weeks before, was riding with a group of South Yorkshire police officers last September as part of a close pass operation targeting drivers who overtake cyclists carelessly or dangerously.
She accompanied the operation on the A57 as part of her previous role as active travel commissioner for the Sheffield City Region.
The A57 is an infamously dangerous road for cyclists between Sheffield and Manchester and, according to Inspector Kevin Smith of the Sheffield Northwest Neighbourhood Policing Team, one of the roads officers receive the most complaints over.
“The A57 is a long climb with lots of double white lines due to some blind bends,” Inspector Smith said at the time of the operation.
“It is often safer to cycle two abreast on these sections to reduce the temptation of some motorists to try and ‘squeeze’ the cyclist to the side of the road by overtaking on a blind bend and then pulling back left to avoid a head on collision with traffic the other way approaching at 50 miles per hour.
“Even when cycling solo, it is often safest to ride in primary position on these bends, to ensure that you are visible around the bends,” the officer continued.
“Unfortunately, it was not the most stress-free afternoon of cycling, with lots of people apparently unable to overtake without the assistance of their horn (perhaps it is linked to a booster system?).
“Sarah’s Garmin radar detected 110 overtakes over the two laps we completed, and of those 110 overtakes, 20 were stopped for advice purposes, which is disappointing.
“Our other pair were also close passed a few times, taking the total to 25 vehicles stopped for advice purposes, and another five that we will catch up with through the post.
“In total [there were] 10 prosecutions for a range of offences from careless driving to contravening double white lines. It seems many drivers are unaware that if a cyclist is travelling at more than 10 miles per hour there is no loophole to allow them to overtake on double white lines, and we saw a depressing level of selfish and poor behaviour throughout the day.”
One of those examples of poor and selfish driving resulted in a £344 fine and three points for the offending motorist, who refused to take an awareness course (presumably preferring the financial punishment to improving their driving ability).
As we can see in the video above, posted on Twitter by Sheffield Northwest’s NPT, the impatient driver’s horn must have been linked, as Inspector Smith said, to a booster, as the motorist felt compelled to blare it while passing the cyclists on the approach to a blind bend.
“This driver was upset he couldn't overtake cyclists [approaching] a blind bend with oncoming traffic and decided to use his beeping device to show he was not happy,” tweeted the Sheffield police officers.
They continued: “Rule 112 of The Highway Code states: ‘The horn. Use only while your vehicle is moving and you need to warn other road users of your presence. Never sound your horn aggressively.’
“As always – videos are served up to demonstrate what is and isn’t an acceptable standard of driving, and where the courts have found that the standard has not been met. Unless you're a 1970s NYC cabby this isn’t how you use a horn.
“Use of the horn to punish cyclists, runners or equestrians for slowing you down for five seconds can end up an uncomfortable day in court.”
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.
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.