A secondary school has launched an internal investigation after one of its coach drivers told a cyclist that he was “not really bothered” about killing someone on the roads, after the cyclist challenged him following a close pass. In an update to the story, sent to road.cc on Monday morning, the driver's coach company confirmed he had been suspended and a "full investigation" launched.
Surbiton High School, a fee-paying independent school in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, also said it was “extremely shocked” by the behaviour of the driver, who has now been suspended by Royale European Coaches, a company that provides a dedicated bus service to and from the school for children based across Surrey and south-west London.
The confrontation between the cyclist and the coach driver, and the initial close pass that prompted it, took place at around 3.40pm on Thursday, and has since been viewed over 60,000 times on X, formerly known as Twitter.
A separate incident that took place the following day also saw the same coach driver complain about the cyclist’s positioning in relation to the kerb, which required him to “drive on the other side of the road”, before claiming that motorists can “never get anywhere with people like you on the road.”
— Chapona Bike (@ChaponaBike123) December 7, 2023
Describing the first close pass and confrontation, the cyclist, known as ‘Chapona Bike’ on the social media platform, told road.cc: “I was cycling through Surbiton in Surrey, and was passed quite closely by a Surbiton High School coach, which got worse as the driver gradually pulled to the left in front of me.
“There was plenty of space on the other side of the road to pass safely, but this guy seemed to have a grudge, despite being a professional driver in charge of a coach full of school children.
“I caught up with the driver at the traffic lights. There was obviously no need for such a careless overtake. It’s not as if I was holding him up, as that’s the job of the traffic lights.”
Coach driver carrying kids to Surbiton High School, made aninteresting comment about his professional standard of driving, having close passed me within INCHES earlier today. Kids aren't wearing seatbelts, but volume up...@surbitonhigh #greenarmy #surbitonhigh @SHSGreenSilver pic.twitter.com/jV4azgsV0O
— Chapona Bike (@ChaponaBike123) December 7, 2023
In the full version of the clip posted on X, seen by road.cc, the cyclist then approaches the coach driver’s window, telling him: “You’ve got absolutely nowhere. That was dangerous! Be careful, that’s all I’m asking, otherwise you’ll end up killing someone.”
“Look at the size of my vehicle, so you better pay mind as well,” the driver responds, as the cyclist advises him to “hold back until it’s safe to overtake”.
“Why hold back if I’ve got a clear road?” the bus driver asks, prompting the following back-and-forth between the pair.
“But where have you got to? You’re stuck in traffic lights!”
“Well that’s the way of life, isn’t it? That’s the way it always is, and always will be.”
“Just overtake safely, alright? It’s your responsibility to drive safely.”
“Well, if you weren’t riding five foot out [from the kerb], I would do it.”
Finally, the exasperated cyclist says: “You’ll end up killing someone someday.”
“You know what? I’m not really bothered,” the nonchalant bus driver shrugged, just as the traffic lights finally changed to green.
“The conversation amazed me,” the cyclist tells road.cc. “How could someone with such a high degree of responsibility start saying these things? The whole coach had gone quiet, as the school children on it were all intently listening.
“This happened at 3.40pm. Which we all know is when kids start pouring out of schools on their bikes. This is very worrying, as given the driver’s attitudes, he’s probably done the same to school children cycling home. After all, the private school children he is carrying as passengers are surely worth more to him.”
He continued: “It’s not a particularly bad close pass. I’ve had far worse. It’s his position of responsibility, and the message he is sending both to the kids on his coach, but also to the community.”
Coachageddon 2. More words of nonsense spouting out of this professional driver's mouth, including classics like "try and get a bit nearer the kerb" and "cant get anywhere cos of people like you on the road", despite being stuck at traffic lights. And kid standing. @SurbitonHigh pic.twitter.com/ML7yZpyex8
— Chapona Bike (@ChaponaBike123) December 8, 2023
The following day, in the wake of another close pass, the cyclist again confronted the same coach driver, informing him that he was “far too close” to him while overtaking.
“And if you try getting a bit nearer the kerb, yeah?” the driver responded. “Listen a minute instead of mouthing. If I have to overtake you five foot away, and you’re five foot from the kerb, that’s ten foot – and I have to drive on the other side of the road. When you could go two foot away from the kerb and I could pass so easily.”
“Well, you never got anywhere, did you?” the cyclist shot back.
“And I never will, with people like you on the road,” the motorist concluded. “We can never get anywhere, can we?”
The cyclist also claims that other local parents have raised similar concerns and complained about them and their children being close passed by the same coaches in Surbiton, which he described as a “bit of a blight on road safety”.
“They’re haring around with some sense of private school self-entitlement when less privileged children are cycling and walking to state schools,” the cyclist added. “Who, according to this driver, just have to get out of his way, as he doesn’t really care if he kills them or not.
“If this behaviour isn’t stopped now, it won’t be long before there’s a serious accident. What if this chap doesn’t like the looks of some children on their bikes cycling home, and decides to close pass them, for example?”
Responding to the cyclist’s complaints following the initial close pass and confrontation, Surbiton High School said: “We are extremely shocked by this behaviour. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. We are raising the issue internally with the coach company.”
On Monday morning, Royale European Coaches told road.cc a "full investigation" had been launched, with the driver suspended "pending these enquiries".
"We are aware of the incident and social media reporting, and have commenced a full investigation. The driver has been suspended pending these enquiries," a spokesperson said.
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.