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"Should not be on the public highway riding a bike": Conservative politician weighs in on viral clip of driver refusing to stop for child

The video, which has been viewed 2.3 million times, was debated on Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 show...

A second Conservative politician has spoken out about the viral video which has been doing the rounds on Twitter and shows a motorist driving past a five-year-old cyclist within touching distance.

Just as Tory peer Baroness Foster did yesterday, Susan Hall — the leader of the Greater London Assembly Conservatives and chair of the Police and Crime Committee — argued the child should not have been cycling on the road in the first place.

Responding to a Jeremy Vine tweet suggesting anyone who does not think "the driver must go dead slow, or stop" should "cut up their driving licence and send the pieces back to the DVLA", Hall argued: "Surely the issue here is that a 5-year-old should not be on the public highway riding a bike!"

Then responding to a replier who pointed out the footway is part of the public highway, Hall doubled down, saying the child should cycle "slowly on the footway, or preferably in the park".

"I'm amazed however that given road behaviour by all that you find it acceptable for a five-year-old to be on a bike in the road," she responded to another before writing another reply saying the "worry" is children are "generally so small [...] they might not always be seen".

Conservative peer Baroness Foster — appointed to the House of Lords by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson in December 2020 — yesterday argued similar, writing: "A child that small should not be cycling on a road! A completely irresponsible decision along with your comments that put the entire onus on the car drivers if/when something goes horribly wrong!"

> Driver – in untaxed car with expired MOT – mounts pavement on wrong side of the road… then chastises six-year-old for cycling on same footpath

After the video went viral on Twitter, racking up 2.3 million views and more than 9,000 replies since Friday, the father of the child appeared on Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 show during a segment titled 'Cycling row: Who's in the wrong?' where Vine and journalist Mike Parry criticised the driving.

Ashley, the father, told the show "the facts are clear on this one — the driver was wrong and my son has every right to ride on the road."

He added that it would be "factually wrong" for anyone to claim the driver did not put the young cyclist at risk.

Panel guest Parry agreed, saying the debate about whether the child should have been cycling on the road is "utterly irrelevant".

"Surely human compassion, surely human nature says that if you're driving a car at speed and there's a little child coming the other way your instinct should be the protective nature of an adult in a car over a child," he told Vine.

"There's no argument there. Every time I see this I flinch, I get a shiver down my back [...] I don't know whether the child should have been there or not, that's a separate scientific argument on roadcraft and all that... but when you see a child on a bike, a little five-year-old coming towards you, you pull in just to make absolutely sure no harm is going to come to the child. It's natural instincts."

"He's certainly riding competently and with confidence"

In response to a question from the Sunday Times Driving, Tim Shallcross of IAM Roadsmart said: "There is no minimum age limit for cycling on a road; the lad is a little younger than most cycling organisations recommend to be on a road, but he's certainly riding competently and with confidence and under supervision, so no problem there."

He also pointed to Rule H3 of the Highway Code, referencing the 'hierarchy of road users', which tells drivers to "stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary".

"Highway Code guidance is for cars to give 1.5m clearance to cyclists in 30mph limit, and since the cyclist was already passing parked vehicles and there was clearly not room for 1.5m clearance, the car should have waited until the cyclist was clear before carrying on," he concluded. 

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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