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

During the 'Cycling row: Who's in the wrong?' segment Vine, journalist Mike Parry and the child's father were all critical of the driving...

Since Friday the video below of a driver not stopping to let a five-year-old cyclist pass has been watched 1.8 million times, at the time of writing, and has attracted close to 8,000 replies on Twitter...

Posted by the father, who this morning appeared on Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 show to respond to the hoardes of internet critics pointing the finger at him — and some even at his son — for riding on the road and expecting a driver to not continue within touching distance through a narrowing caused by parked vehicles.

Much of the dialogue about the clip has ignored the advice of the recently added 'Hierarchy of Road Users' part of the Highway Code which tells road users with the potential to cause the most danger to others that they will be deemed to have greater responsibility to those who are more vulnerable than them.

Instead, also ignoring the basic "human compassion" journalist Mike Parry suggested was lacking from the driving, much of the 'debate' has centred on if the child should have been riding on the road in the first place, something Conservative peer Baroness Foster — appointed to the House of Lords by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson in December 2020 — argued online.

The former Conservative Transport Spokesperson in European Parliament, specialising in the aviation and aerospace sectors, replied to the viral video, arguing: "A child that small should not be cycling on a road! A completely irresponsible decision along with your comments that puts the entire onus on the car drivers if/when something goes horribly wrong!"

Responding to the backlash during a segment titled 'Cycling row: Who's in the wrong?' the father who filmed the footage, Ashley, told Jeremy Vine on 5 "the facts are clear on this one — the driver was wrong and my son has every right to ride on the road".

He added that it would be "factually wrong" for anyone to claim the driver did not put the young cyclist at risk.

"You can see from the clip they should have stopped way sooner," he said. "They had plenty of distance to make that decision, we had lights on, reflective clothing. The distance [to the pair cycling] just is not safe. People will argue 'oh, plenty of room, you could drive a bus through there'... well, I'm sorry, that's not factually correct.

"That's less than a metre gap so legally that's wrong and then morally that's wrong. You can debate as much as you want about whether the law is wrong but you know for a fact, everyone knows, that was too close."

Backing Ashley up, journalist and panel guest Mike Parry said the debate about whether the child should have been cycling on the road is "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.

"There's no argument there. Every time I see this I flinch, I get a shiver down my back [...] I don't know whether the child should have been there or not, that's a separate scientific argument on roadcraft and all that... but when you see a child on a bike, a little five-year-old coming towards you, you pull in just to make absolutely sure no harm is going to come to the child. It's natural instincts."

Writing on Twitter, Vine suggested that anyone who cannot see that the driver "must go dead slow, or stop" should "cut up their driving licence and send the pieces back to the DVLA".

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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81 comments

Avatar
The Accountant | 1 year ago
1 like

I don't see what the issue is here, other than the hysterical reaction of the father.

I've taken my kid out at the age of 4 when he became a competent cyclist and had similar happen, the cars pass nice and slowly and the child gets life experience.

If the father is worried that the child is going to wobble and fall into the path of the car then I'm afraid he isn't ready to ride on the road. In this case I used to get my son to ride on the pavement at the age of 3 and I would jog at a leisurely pace alongside him until he got better control and confidence.

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mattw replied to The Accountant | 1 year ago
1 like

One issue is that the person in the car - I don't like "motorist" any more than I like "cyclist" - was in breach of the law.

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grOg replied to mattw | 1 year ago
0 likes

What law did the motorist breach? if you think not passing within 1.5 metres, that relates to vehicles passing in the same direction, ie, overtaking.

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Hirsute replied to grOg | 1 year ago
3 likes

Incorrect as Inspector Kevin will tell you - outcome 5 points and a fine.

https://road.cc/content/news/nmotd-752-let-be-your-warning-police-tell-d...

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mattw replied to grOg | 1 year ago
2 likes

Clearly the close pass. Which aiui *does* apply on passes both ways.

Also I'd say careless driving; obviously that is below the standard expected of a careful and considerate driver in failure to respect priority, not stopping, failure to anticipate, failure to respect the road hierarchy and other aspects.

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Mungecrundle replied to The Accountant | 1 year ago
8 likes

Even if you don't particularly have any empathy for how a parent feels when their child is put in potential danger by the careless actions of another, you must surely appreciate that the car driver here has solved their cyclist problem by also passing the parked cars on their side of the road far too close and with undoubtedly a much reduced attention to what is going on. In a school zone especially it doesn't take much imagination to predict an opening car door or small pedestrians "appearing from nowhere".

Maybe the understandable annoyance of Daddy cyclist here is that a car driver has created a dangerous situation out of literally nothing.

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Sniffer replied to Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
2 likes
Mungecrundle wrote:

Even if you don't particularly have any empathy for how a parent feels

In all his previous incarnations empathy has been a characteristic that is always lacking.

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Tonbar | 1 year ago
0 likes

You can argue till the cows come home the father is completely in the wrong. He is arrogant and stupid to allow a 5 year old without any road sense or experience of how other drivers will react onto a road let alone a road that is busy. If there isn't a minimum age that a child can ride a bike on a road then there should be. If the child had been in an accident caused through his inexperience whose fault would it have been. We don't let children of that age cross a road by themselves they are just not capable. It is in my opinion a disgrace and the father needs to be taken to task for putting his 5 year old son on a bicycle onto a busy road.

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Hirsute replied to Tonbar | 1 year ago
8 likes

The child wasn't by himself.
The road wasn't busy.

Were you the driver?

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Tonbar replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
0 likes

Who was the child with? The point is with a car approaching and passing a van he could have wobbled maybe lost control. Riding a bike on a road is dangerous enough for experienced adults and not a place for inexperienced 5 year olds. No I was not the driver however like others here I am passing an opinion based on the situation with a 5 year old cyclist. Whether the road is busy or not is irrelevant. It simply is not the place for a 5 year old whether you like it or not. In Amsterdam cyclists never need to ride on roads there are cycle tracks all over the country. They are purpose built and do not affect or reduce the size of the road. To do this in the UK is impossible.

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Hirsute replied to Tonbar | 1 year ago
1 like

"Whether the road is busy or not is irrelevant."

Nevertheless, it was part of your argument.

You write as though the child was by himself - perhaps you believe that.

There is one simple solution to the situtation - for the driver to stop and give way.

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mattw replied to Tonbar | 1 year ago
5 likes

> In Amsterdam cyclists never need to ride on roads there are cycle tracks all over the country. They are purpose built and do not affect or reduce the size of the road. 

No. This is a self-serving myth, which will shortly be going the way of the 'cyclists don't pay road tax' garbage.

In the Netherlands there was a large scale rallocation of roadspace away from motor vehicles when they made a conscious switched to promoting cycling. Below is a piccie of the same street in Amsterdam 1978 vs 2005.

I never understand why this is allegedly "impossible" in the UK. it seems to me to be relatively straightforward to do physically, and the difficulties are wholly political, and with certain invested lobby groups. I have some sympathy for places such as the USA and Canada where they have an entire infrastructure set up to make active travel difficult-to-impossible nearly everywhere. In the USA it will require a sea-change at a federal level, or perhaps a Supreme Court decision.

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chrisonabike replied to Tonbar | 1 year ago
2 likes

Ooh, infrastructure.  The following may interest you:

"Never need to ride on the roads" - well let's just unpack that.  There are lots of cycle paths separate from roads there.  However the most common major infrastructure type is ... a street!  Logical because cyclists access the same destinations as e.g. cars and there are lots of streets - same as in the UK.  It's not so hard to adapt a street (full of destinations) for cycling rather than a road (primarily for getting traffic from A to B quickly).  Just keep the speed very low and ensure there isn't too much motor traffic e.g. by filtering.  Oh, and that it's not massive articulated trucks! (More detail here).

Where there are cycle paths (separate from road) cyclists are required to use them.  A terrible loss?  Hardly - these almost universally more convenient than using the road e.g. are more direct, often bypass traffic lights for motor vehicles etc.

A little bit of history is instructive on how this happened - The Netherlands started off down the same route as the UK, they just stopped and went a different direction.

"Impossible" - Cycling Fallacies has you covered (e.g. "we can't afford it!") but once you realise that the streets are not too narrow and that other places have also benefited from adding cycling provision ([1], [2], [3]) you might question that.

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KDee replied to Tonbar | 1 year ago
3 likes

Bullshit Tonbar. I live in the Netherlands. I see children of 5 years cycling with a parent on a murder strip every day. So take your sweeping incorrect generalisations and stick 'em where the sun don't shine.

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Hirsute | 1 year ago
3 likes

Andy Cox
At the core of this is ‘driving culture’ and the need to be more patient, more observant, more respectful, and to focus more on prioritising safety above journey time. That way everybody gets to enjoy and experience safe travel…

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mattw | 1 year ago
1 like

Thinking on this, and observing that the street in the viral vid has plenty of room, not many cars, and a side with no driveways, is there a possibility of moving on where there is space to consider segregated cycling routes to schools.

The street in the vid is one possibility.

My shtick is that we need high quality segregated infrastucture (or suitable controls on vehicles eg modal filtering and 20mph limits) from everywhere to everwhere.

I quite like to 'kids come from everywhere in the catchment to the local schools' as a way of leveraging part of this.

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ktache | 1 year ago
1 like

What's really shocking is that Mike Parry is normally quite anti cyclist...

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mattw replied to ktache | 1 year ago
1 like

Yes - that surprised me.

This is the first Jeremy Vine on 5 I have seen, but normally on the radio he is afaics out to create some controversy. And on 5 he seems to have a couple of expected-to-disagree ranting heads in the studio.

Here he expressed surprise that Mike Parry took that position. 

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sensei | 1 year ago
6 likes

3 key takeaways:

1. Twitter is now a cesspit on the levels of Facebook where anti-cycling sentiment is concerned (no coincidence after Musk's takeover)

2. The vast majority of the comments featured idiots demonstrating they don't know the Highway Code (even some cyclists)

3. The sheer volume of people focusing their criticism towards the father, rather than the motorist has now been taken into account. Discussions now happening at a decision making level.

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Rendel Harris replied to sensei | 1 year ago
8 likes
sensei wrote:

1. Twitter is now a cesspit on the levels of Facebook where anti-cycling sentiment is concerned (no coincidence after Musk's takeover)

I hold no brief for Mr Musk but it's been a cesspit of anticyclist  hatred for a long, long time - in fact I can't ever recall a time it wasn't.

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sensei replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
2 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
sensei wrote:

1. Twitter is now a cesspit on the levels of Facebook where anti-cycling sentiment is concerned (no coincidence after Musk's takeover)

I hold no brief for Mr Musk but it's been a cesspit of anticyclist  hatred for a long, long time - in fact I can't ever recall a time it wasn't.

Yes it's always had loons, trolls, etc which seem to love targeting cyclists. I've just noticed an upsurge over the last week or so (may be unconnected).

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Rendel Harris replied to sensei | 1 year ago
2 likes
sensei wrote:

Yes it's always had loons, trolls, etc which seem to love targeting cyclists. I've just noticed an upsurge over the last week or so (may be unconnected).

Possibly, at least for British loons and trolls, more to do with the Panorama programme last week.

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sensei replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
3 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
sensei wrote:

Yes it's always had loons, trolls, etc which seem to love targeting cyclists. I've just noticed an upsurge over the last week or so (may be unconnected).

Possibly, at least for British loons and trolls, more to do with the Panorama programme last week.

Yes hadn't factored that in and will no doubt have had some influence.

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brogs | 1 year ago
25 likes

This child should not be cycling on the road because my driving does not meet the standard required for him to be reasonably safe in my prescence, or that of drivers with a similar level of competence to my own. When I run him over it will be his father's fault because he failed to grasp the level of my incompetence behind the wheel. At least he was wearing a helmet. I would like to point out that my beliefs about the rights of other road users are not supported by the law and I have made no effort to improve my driving skills or knowledge since passing the basic driving test.

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SurreyHiller | 1 year ago
4 likes

So what are the alternatives, other than being driven to school?

The child rides on the pavement with the adult on the road?  The child is not in full view of the adult all the time they are passing parked cars.  You can't see dangers the child may face (pedestrians, path surface etc).   You've got cars getting irate as they can't always work out you're with the child.   Does the adult ride on the path with the child?   Safer from the point of view of keeping an eye on the child, but pedestrians may not like it and it's illegal.

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Hirsute replied to SurreyHiller | 1 year ago
6 likes

Mark Hodson

"Small child, pavements with hedges and walls and parked cars to hide the child and cognitively distracted drivers pulling on and off drives, especially during the school run, is a recipe that delivers several #KSIs a week, although people don't realise it the quiet road is safer."

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Rendel Harris replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
5 likes

Definitely a reason I would never cycle on the pavement, when I'm walking down a road where the houses predominantly have driveways I frequently observe high speed exit/entrance manoeuvres and think if I had been on a bike that would've got me.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to SurreyHiller | 1 year ago
3 likes

On my commute today I noticed an adult on the road cycling towards me (This was my view). As I approached I realised his (about 8-10yo) child was cycling on the pavement in keeping pace. This meant the child was constantly looking at his dad and vice versa. The road does have parked cars both ways so is narrowed, the pavement is also narrow as well so one pedestrian causes a bottleneck and the child could still be doored by vehicles.

I can understand the fathers view on this being "safer" and the one in the main video thinking their option was "safer".
 

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Car Delenda Est replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago
1 like

Where I live I frequently see families carefully cycling along the pavement, they don't bother anyone and vice versa.

I understand that the FPN will only be issued if it's an aggravating factor to another offense, such as injuring someone.

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