A taxi driver was given a warning letter after overtaking a long queue of traffic at speed in the wrong lane – narrowly avoiding an oncoming cyclist and her child in the process – because Derbyshire Constabulary believed that a conviction was “not realistic” and that prosecuting the motorist would not be “proportional”.
Cyclist Kate Ball was riding with her daughter on the Uttoxeter Road, a residential road with a 40mph speed limit in the Derby suburb of Littleover, when the taxi driver – overtaking a very long line of slow-moving traffic, right indicator blinking the entire time – passed them at speed, causing Kate to emit a startled ‘whoa!’
The astonishing incident (which can be viewed below) took place last Tuesday on what Kate describes as a key walking, wheeling, and cycling route in and out of the city, with two schools on streets adjacent to the section of the road the taxi driver evidently viewed as his own private circuit.
Derbyshire police issued warning- "offence committed, conviction not realistic or prosecution not proportional" @DerbysPCC is this really sufficient? I was transporting a child!
Video- taxi driver overtaking traffic in wrong lane, passing camera on my cycle fast.@RoadCC #cycling pic.twitter.com/VNIch2bOnG
— Kate Ball (@tandemkate) February 1, 2023
“My daughter goes to one of the schools,” Kate told road.cc. “And there are no route options on quieter streets, or I’d use them!
“This bit of the road is really hairy because there’s a narrow paint cycle lane. Drivers think you should be in it, and think that as long as their wheels (and not their wing mirror) stay outside the paint, all is okay.
“The carriageway narrows as the road bends, effectively pulling drivers closer to the cycle lane. The infrastructure has been designed in a way that encourages loads of drivers to do really hazardous and frightening fast close passes.
“There are frequently vehicles parked in the cycle lane, too,” she continued. “Derby City Council have confirmed in writing that they allow all-day parking on double yellows, including in cycle lanes and on pavements, ‘for loading and unloading’. That gets exciting with poor sight lines and 40mph traffic.”
Judging by Kate’s ominous description, dangerous driving as exhibited by our overtaking taxi driver perhaps isn’t uncommon on the Uttoxeter Road.
Worried about the constant threat of close passes (though coming from the more conventional direction), Kate says that just before the incident, “I had looked over my shoulder, wondering about pulling into primary as the vehicle lane narrows there. I wasn’t expecting to look back and see that accelerating at me!”
Kate tells road.cc that the near miss was only the second spot of dangerous driving that she has submitted to Derbyshire Constabulary’s online portal.
“I got a cycle camera for Christmas,” she says. “I’ve tried talking to people as nicely as possible after close passes – you so often catch them at the next junction anyway – and have been sworn at and threatened quite a few times. The same thing happens about 50 percent of the time I have to ask parked drivers to move when they’re blocking a pavement, drop kerb, or shared path.
“So, I got a cycle camera to submit footage of terrible driving to try and do something to improve road safety without the extra risk of harm to me and the kids.
“This was the second video I’ve ever submitted to the Derbyshire’s online portal. We get close passes and dangerous interactions with drivers every single ride, but I wanted to make sure I was submitting things that were really obviously appalling driving.”
While the recent Near Miss of the Day 846, from Coventry, focused on the slow-moving wheels of road safety bureaucracy, in this case Derbyshire Constabulary moved extremely swiftly to give the taxi driver a mild slap on the wrist.
After her first submission – a close pass from a HGV driver – resulted in no action, Kate says she received a “generic response” within a day to confirm that the taxi driver would receive a warning letter.
“There was no reasoning given behind the decision not to prosecute and their letter says I can’t question this decision,” she said.
“So, I’m not terribly impressed with Derbyshire constabulary,” Kate continued. “I think if lots of drivers started getting NIPs and an offer of a driver education course, like a speed awareness course but for close passes or ‘Acting Like A Prune Near Pedestrians And Cyclists’ (that’s obviously the technical legal language), then points and fine for a second offence, it would make a big difference to how a lot of drivers behave around other road users. Just as speed awareness courses seem to really affect how a lot of people drive.”
Referring to road safety data publicised as part of a recent 20’s Plenty campaign, which shows that the proportion of deaths on the county’s roads is higher than the rest of the UK, Kate said: “Derbyshire roads are really not great for safety. The unwillingness of Derbyshire Constabulary to enforce bad driving has to be a big part of this problem.
“The unwillingness of local authorities including Derby to improve infrastructure to national guidance standards is another important issue making our roads disproportionately dangerous even in comparison to national figures.”
Road.cc has contacted Derbyshire Constabulary for comment.
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.