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Police “refused” to take cyclist’s statement after near miss with motorist – because they believed the cyclist was “speeding”

The cyclist was travelling at up to 24mph when a driver pulled out in front of him, with Police Scotland later admitting that the officers were “wrong” to dismiss his report

Two police officers who witnessed a motorist pulling out in front of a cyclist, almost causing a collision, allegedly refused to take the rider’s statement at the scene and neglected to make a note of the driver’s details, because the motorist and one passer-by claimed that the cyclist was “speeding”.

However, after the cyclist reported the incident to Police Scotland later that evening, the motorist was subsequently charged with careless driving, with an investigating officer later informing the cyclist that the officers at the scene were “wrong” to dismiss his complaints on the grounds that he was “speeding” – despite no legislation existing that requires people on bikes to adhere to speed limits.

The news that police in Scotland initially failed to act on a cyclist’s careless driving complaint comes in the same week that Cycling UK claimed that Scottish roads have been made “less safe due to Police Scotland’s inaction”, following the force’s decision to drop plans for a new online road safety reporting tool.

The incident, which was posted earlier this week on X, formerly Twitter, occurred as cyclist Alan Myles was riding along the A879 Balmore Road, Glasgow, on 23 May this year, when a motorist suddenly emerged from Strachur Crescent, forcing him to stop.

“I was traveling home when the driver pulled out in front of me,” Myles told road.cc, “bringing me to a halt – though she comically claimed that it wasn’t a side road, because she lived there.

“There was a police van just out of view behind me, and the officers came and spoke to us in the immediate aftermath.”

Describing his discussion with the two officers, Alan continued: “Despite, bizarrely, me and the driver agreeing on all the key details – that I was on the A road, and that she pulled out – the two officers refused to take a statement because the driver and a ‘witness’, who turned up after around five minutes but isn't visible in the clip strangely, said I was speeding and that would go against me in court.”

“I wasn’t speeding, I couldn’t speed”

As we noted in September – after a group ride in Dartmoor was stopped by the police for descending at 39mph into a village with a 30mph speed limit – cyclists do not share the same legal obligation as motorists to stick to speed limits in the United Kingdom.

Rule 124 of the Highway Code outlines the maximum legal speed of vehicles permitted on different roads, from built-up areas through to motorways, but does not mention cyclists. Furthermore, the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act also outlines the law regarding speed limits, but again cyclists are not mentioned.

> Do cyclists have to stick to the speed limit?

In any case, Alan’s Strava file from his commute home (below) shows that he was travelling at a maximum of 38.9km/h (just over 24mph) on the section of road where the motorist pulled out in front of him.

“I explained that legally I couldn’t be speeding, and had both the video evidence and my Garmin to show that I was travelling at 24mph,” Myles tells road.cc.

“And even if I was traveling too fast, the driver pulling out in front of me – she confirmed that she saw me – was still an offence.”

Cyclist's Strava file after being accused of speeding before near miss (Alan Myles, X)

Nevertheless, despite his protestations, the officers still refused to either make a record of Alan’s complaint or take a note of the driver’s details.

“They told me they weren’t going to take it forward. I said I would submit a complaint and the officers said they would like to be kept updated,” he says.

Later that evening, Alan reported the near miss through what he describes as Police Scotland’s “arcane” reporting system, before complaining about the officer’s response to the incident the following day.

“When two other officers reviewed the footage, they instantly agreed to charge the driver with careless driving,” he says.

> 'Vulnerable Road User' operation sees police fine cyclists for jumping red lights

An investigating officer dealing with the cyclist’s complaint then phoned Alan – “Police Scotland prefer to settle minor complaints over the phone,” he says – and explained that he found the officers to be “wrong on all counts”, including not taking the cyclist’s report, not noting the driver’s details, and not weighing up the available evidence to determine whether a crime had been committed.

“I wasn’t speeding, I couldn’t speed, and the driver’s actions were careless anyway,” he says. “The motorist also subsequently refused to give details to the other officers, and I suspect she will instead receive a fine and points for not declaring the driver.”

“However, and this was the funny bit,” he continues, “Despite it being a police van with an operational log, because I was not making a criminal allegation against the officers, the professional standards division was not allowed to use that information to find out who the officers were, due to GDPR.

“Therefore, other than passing the information onto the station manager, there was no other feedback the officer could give!”

> “Can’t the police use Google?” Cyclist mistakenly pulled over by police and threatened with ticket for “using phone” – and then gets lectured by officer for not wearing helmet or hi-vis

When contacted by road.cc, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received a complaint which has been investigated and the complainer has been responded to.

“Anyone not satisfied with the way in which a complaint has been handled, can request a review by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).”

The spokesperson continued: “It’s the responsibility of every driver to help protect vulnerable road users like cyclists, and drivers should understand how their actions can impact the life of that person riding a bike.

“Safety is the main priority for all road users and we encourage every road user to conduct themselves responsibly on the road. Weather can be unpredictable. Be prepared. Be Safe. Be Seen.”

> Driver escapes punishment for alleged hit-and-run on cyclist, as victim blasts police inaction and “barriers to justice”

Alan’s frustrating encounter with the two officers on his commute home isn’t the first time that he has been stymied by Police Scotland’s apparent ineffectiveness and glacial procedural policy when it comes to road safety.

Back in February, he criticised Police Scotland’s “appalling” inaction that enabled a motorist to escape punishment for an alleged hit-and-run, which he claimed left him with a broken bike and “unable to sit down for a week”.

Motorist escapes punishment after alleged hit-and-run (credit - Alan Myles)

Myles told road.cc earlier this year that, despite contacting East Dunbartonshire Police around 30 times in relation to the incident, he only received two responses – with one officer even taking over six months to reply to an email containing the crash footage.

He also alleged that those investigating the apparent collision failed to contact two witnesses, and that an officer told him that, due to the lengthy delay in tracking down the motorist, the offence had been downgraded from dangerous to careless driving because “the driver couldn’t remember the incident”.

The cyclist added that he only discovered that the case had been thrown out after contacting the Procurator Fiscal, who dismissed the police’s report as time-barred – over a year after the alleged hit-and-run took place.

“Roads less safe due to Police Scotland inactions”

Incidentally, Police Scotland’s inability to protect vulnerable road users has come under the microscope again this week, as Cycling UK criticised the force’s decision to drop plans for a new online road safety portal, which would allow members of the public to submit video evidence of road crimes and dangerous driving directly and more easily.

Despite committing in March 2022 to implementing a National Dashcam Safety Portal (NDSP) – which Cycling UK says would save valuable police time, improve road safety, and bring Scotland up to speed with the rest of the UK regarding how road crimes are reported – last month Minister for Justice Angela Constance revealed that the system had been scrapped.

According to Constance, Police Scotland concluded that “a stand-alone portal is not the optimum route to create the capability for digital media submissions to be submitted by members of the public.”

> Delays to introduction of online road safety portal putting cyclists “at risk”, says Cycling UK

Instead, a different system, the Digital Evidence Sharing Capability, is currently being piloted in Dundee and is scheduled to be rolled out across Scotland in 2025, although it is not thought to provide the same functionality as the NDSP.

Following the force’s decision to cancel the NDSP, Cycling UK has questioned why Police Scotland is pursuing a new system for 2025 when existing tried and tested systems in use across the rest of Great Britain – and which have the support of the Scottish public – could be implemented much sooner, arguing that the delay could cost more lives.

“We are extremely disappointed that Police Scotland has gone back on its commitment to develop and roll out the National Dashcam Safety Portal across Scotland as a vital road safety tool,” Jim Densham, Cycling UK’s campaigns and policy manager for Scotland, said yesterday.

“The technology is there, so it's hard to understand why Police Scotland has refused to adopt it, when the case for its introduction is overwhelming: it will save them time and money, is widely supported by the public and road user groups, and is used successfully everywhere else in Great Britain.

“Cancelling the NDSP and delaying until at least 2025, with a lesser replacement, puts responsible drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians in Scotland at risk.

“Cycling UK is happy to work with the police to ensure that the people of Scotland receive the system that they were promised.”

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.

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45 comments

Avatar
the infamous grouse | 4 months ago
9 likes

scotpol seem to be more amenable to taking action if the perpetrator is outside the policing region. i've 2 active complaints currently, and one of them is against a driver resident in the south of england - no messing about, they sent the prosecution package of points+fine almost immediately. didn't even take a copy of the evidence until a few weeks later.

the local chelsea tractor driver however, well. maybe eventually - emphasis on the maybe. apparently a 'close pass liason officer' needs to be involved. and they're always on dayshift or annual leave.

Avatar
dubwise replied to the infamous grouse | 4 months ago
3 likes
the infamous grouse wrote:

scotpol seem to be more amenable to taking action if the perpetrator is outside the policing region. i've 2 active complaints currently, and one of them is against a driver resident in the south of england - no messing about, they sent the prosecution package of points+fine almost immediately. didn't even take a copy of the evidence until a few weeks later.

Sounds like they are anti-english

Avatar
the little onion | 4 months ago
17 likes

Institutionally anti-cyclist

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Secret_squirrel | 4 months ago
15 likes

Its absolutely clear from this that Police Scotland have absolutely zero ambition to fix the current situation.

Until the incumbent decision makers in ScotRozzer are changed or shamed into changing their mind nothing will change.

They literally do not give a shit.

Avatar
OnYerBike | 4 months ago
8 likes
Quote:

because I was not making a criminal allegation against the officers, the professional standards division was not allowed to use that information to find out who the officers were, due to GDPR

Is this implying that the only "standard" police officers are held to is "not a criminal"?

Avatar
mitsky | 4 months ago
16 likes

Regardless of the speeding "non-issue", a good way to look at this clip is with a vehicle dashboard overlay.
Similar to what CycleGas has done to some of his clips.
It would clearly show how, from a driver's perspective, the actions of the other driver would be unacceptable.
And we can then ask: why is such driving acceptable when it is done to a cyclist?

And am I right in thinking, based on the clip's audio, that the cyclist is actually slowing down just prior to the pull out?

Avatar
Oldfatgit replied to mitsky | 4 months ago
0 likes

Agreed ... however you cannot submit video like that to the Police as evidence as it has been edited.

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hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
13 likes

I don't believe that GDPR excuse

Avatar
Brauchsel replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
10 likes

Because it isn't true, or at the very least needn't be true. My employer's data privacy statement allows it to use my personal data for pretty widely-drawn business purposes, not at all limited to criminal offences. It's a condition of my employment that I consent to that use.

Even allowing for police officers not strictly being employees in UK law, I can't see any reason why a similar condition couldn't be applied to them. I don't actually believe one doesn't, and this seems like GDPR being used as a synonym for CBA. 

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
7 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

I don't believe that GDPR excuse

Don't worry - I'm sure they can find another!  Perhaps identifying a certain individual as a police officer might put them at risk from the community they're living in?  Or of online abuse?

If all else fails, "the person the complaint was made against is no longer a member of the police force, having retired / left, so no further action can be taken..."

Avatar
IanMSpencer replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
6 likes

You are wtjs and I claim my £5.

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Brauchsel replied to IanMSpencer | 4 months ago
0 likes

Congratulations! Please cycle to Lancashire Police HQ to collect your reward. 

Avatar
wtjs replied to Brauchsel | 4 months ago
1 like

Congratulations! Please cycle to Lancashire Police HQ to collect your reward

I am not a number, I am a free man! Do not let them send the Big Bouncing White Blob after me!

Avatar
marmotte27 | 4 months ago
11 likes

Police making up their own rules, again?

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brooksby | 4 months ago
17 likes
Quote:

“Police Scotland prefer to settle minor complaints over the phone,”

Because then they can deny everything, or tell a different story, unless you are quick enough off the mark to record the conversation?

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