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“This is not policing, this is intimidation”: Alliance of British Drivers takes on Sheffield police over close pass conviction

The pro-motoring pressure group described the court’s decision as “pathetic sucking up to the cycling lobby”

The Alliance of British Drivers has described a court’s decision to convict a motorist for careless driving as “idiotic” and “pathetic sucking up the cycling lobby”.

The pro-motoring pressure group was responding to footage of a close pass posted on Twitter by the Sheffield North West Neighbourhood Policing Team – and featured earlier this week on our Near Miss of the Day series – which resulted in the driver receiving a £417 fine and their licence endorsed with five penalty points.

If the motorist is caught driving in a careless or anti-social manner in the twelve months following the incident, their vehicle will also be seized by police.

> “If anyone thinks this is an acceptable manner of driving, let this be your warning,” say police 

The footage posted online shows the moment the approaching driver passes a group of cyclists too closely, at what the officers described as “excessive speed”. The police also added that “if anyone thinks this is an acceptable manner of driving, let this be your warning”.

However, the clip was greeted with complaints from motorists who criticised the behaviour of the cyclists, with some arguing that they should have stopped to let the driver pass as they approached the poorly parked car on the left-hand side of the road.

The Alliance of British Drivers, a pro-motoring lobby group known for its anti-cycling stance, launched a prolonged online attack on the court’s decision, retweeting the footage with the caption “If your [sic] weren’t already convinced that the police are out to get you…”

The alliance’s account described the fine and penalty points issued to the driver as an “idiotic decision that undermines the credibility of the courts and the police.

“We all know there are fanatics who want drivers to stop and bow down before every cyclist. If the police foolishly choose to side with them it will damage the relationship with the public,” the account argued.

The alliance claimed that the prosecution was “just pathetic sucking up to the cycling lobby”, and described the police’s publicising of the incident as “vile threats” which “make it abundantly clear whose side you are on”.

“This is not policing, this is intimidation,” the account wrote.

The group also criticised the use of the term “victims” to describe those on the receiving end of close passes, labelling it a “joke”.

> Highway Code: Alliance of British Drivers claims changes have “created a false sense of winners and losers” 

The Sheffield North West officers, on the other hand, were keen to dismiss what they described as anti-cycling “whataboutery”, pointing out that if the offending motorist “had simply driven to the conditions at a less dangerous speed and stayed on his own side of the road he wouldn’t have been prosecuted.”

After another Twitter user claimed that it was “strange that we never hear about how many cyclists you prosecute”, the officers replied: “Exactly how many car drivers were killed by cyclists last year David? There’s your reason. We prosecute those whose behaviour is most dangerous.”

Last week, the Alliance of British Drivers’ director Duncan White claimed in an interview with GB News that the recent revisions to the Highway Code “created a false sense of winners and losers” and “entirely failed in creating a sense of shared responsibility for the safety of all road users”. 

White also said that the changes, introduced in January to protect vulnerable road users, have resulted in “very provocative behaviour” and even “deliberate” acts of obstruction by cyclists.

The alliance’s Twitter account is known for its provocative and often volatile pro-car outbursts. This morning, the account tweeted that Rod King, the director of road safety campaign 20’s Plenty For Us, “needs to be deported to a third world country before he turns Britain into one”.

Ryan joined 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.

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