Yesterday Nick Ahad, the BBC radio presenter whose car keys were taken by a cyclist in a road rage incident on Sunday, gave road.cc his side of the story. Today, the cyclist who took his keys gives his version of events.
Signing his email ‘The Phantom Key Snatcher,’ the cyclist told us:
“I am the cyclist who took Nick Ahad’s keys from his car at Bolton Abbey on the morning of Sunday 26th June. This is my side of the story.
“There are three reasons I am telling this story. Firstly, I am actually having a few (though not many) regrets, so this is a cathartic process. Secondly, I feel utterly sorry for the other cyclist who nearly got killed when they were mistaken for me (The Little Onion). Thirdly, Nick Ahad has got away with his version of events, neglecting a few key details.
“I am doing it anonymously for the simple reason that whilst I committed a crime of taking the keys, I prevented a far greater crime of assault. I believe that Nick Ahad is guilty of dangerous driving and possibly attempted assault (if there is such a crime?), and at the time I believed that if I had not taken his keys, he would have committed worse. As I explain below, it was always supposed to be a temporary confiscation. Unfortunately this country is woeful at prosecuting drivers for crimes against cyclists. If I had confidence that Nick Ahad would be charged, let alone punished for his crimes, I would come forwards tomorrow.
“On the morning of the 26th of June, I – like hundreds of other cyclists – was cycling around the Yorkshire Dales with a few mates. It was very pleasant. We turned off the A9 and headed into Bolton Abbey, with the intention of going over to Grassington after a cup of tea and some cake. I had a mechanical at the roundabout so my buddies went up ahead to get a table at the tea shop, so I was left to do the last mile on my own.
“As is usual for this road, I took a position about a metre or so out from the verge. This is to avoid potholes, but also to make yourself visible when the road is winding and has a few dips and rises, and to deter punishment passes. A riding buddy of mine knew Craig Armitage, who was killed by an overtaking car in Bolton Abbey last winter, so I am quite nervous.
“I was not quite in the middle of the lane, and certainly not on the right hand side, let alone veering into the lane of oncoming traffic, as Nick Ahad has alleged on Twitter. I was also holding a steady line, without any wobbling around the place. I think that most cyclists on this site would consider such positioning prudent, sensible and normal in such circumstances. It most certainly was not the crazy swerving all over the place, crossing into the other lane type cycling that Nick Ahad is making out.
“I became aware of a short queue of traffic behind me. This is normal for round there, and generally sensible drivers can wait a few seconds for a clear road to overtake sensibly. I heard some beeping and just ignored it. The road straightened out and a few cars overtook safely and considerately. And then a small black car pulled up alongside me, very close, and the driver started shouting at me with various swearwords and threats.
“I didn’t catch all the details, but it was basically that I should be letting him past. He then started moving left, pushing me off the road. I had to go on to the verge to escape, at which point the driver was also partly on the verge.
“I’ll be fair at this point and say that in retrospect I don’t know whether he was trying deliberately to hurt me, or whether he had just seen an oncoming car and was trying to get back onto the left hand lane. Either it was criminally bad driving, or he was actually trying to hit me deliberately. At the time, it felt very deliberate, particularly when combined with the shouting and ranting. It is a really narrow road, with only room to pass when there is no one else coming.
“I got out and unclipped and went over to the driver. I admit that I was absolutely furious and probably went like an English Alex Ferguson style hairdryer. I was out of control initially, but I calmed down. To be honest, Nick Ahad is quite accurate in that whilst he was initially screaming at me as he overtook me and forced me off the road, and continued to shout at me at the start, he was actually quite calm later on.
“I had a go at him for being stupid and dangerous. The conversation proceeded as you might imagine for about a minute, with him replying that I should have moved over to let him past, and that I should have got out of his way. At this point, I was still convinced that he had deliberately tried to hit me.
“I saw that his keys were in his car. I was genuinely fearful of being on the same roads as him, particularly as he was insisting he had done nothing wrong, and that I should have let him overtake. I knew that people had taken keys from drunk drivers and so on in order to prevent a crime. So, I waited a few seconds till he moved his hands away from the steering wheel, and I grabbed his keys and pedalled off.
“I legged it up towards Grassington. After about 10 minutes of high tempo riding, I turned back and went for a cup of tea at Bolton Abbey with my buddies (Guys, you know who I am. As I said to you, I only wish you were there to have witnessed it and to have provided evidence to the police. Or that you had bought me a GoPro).
“I honestly had the intention of posting the keys to the police. I think the process of having to explain why the keys went missing would have been sufficient. Unfortunately, in the rush to get away, I dropped them after hitting some rough surface a few hundred yards after the incident. So Nick Ahad, if you are reading this, you can go looking for them.
“I bear full responsibility for taking the keys. I would probably do it again in similar circumstances, although I would give them to the police. But I believe this is the lesser crime than being (a) so bad a driver that you end up forcing a cyclist to take to a verge to escape or (b) deliberately driving at a cyclist. I don’t know what Nick Ahad’s intentions were, and whether it was (a) or (b). But I do know that both his car and me ended up on the verge. I am sure witnesses will attest to Nick Ahad’s car being on the verge.
“My regrets are what happed to The Little Onion, and in not sending the keys to the police. I also have some small doubts over whether it was best to take the keys, or just sit there and phone the police. However, given that he was in a car and I on the bike, and that the police don’t care about cyclists, then taking the keys was a better option.
“I hope Nick Ahad drives more considerately in future, and sees cyclists not as an inconvenience causing a few seconds delay, but as vulnerable human beings who have exactly the same rights to use the road as him. And is more honest and open about what actually happened.”