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“He’s going to school”: Impatient van driver honks and swears at cyclist and his son on a School Street closed off to motor vehicles

“If you can’t wait five seconds and endanger me and my six-year-old, you are not fit to drive, let alone professionally”

Enjoying a rare day of sun in the British capital, a cyclist was on his way to drop his six-year-old son, also on a bike, to school when a van driver impatiently, and rather dangerously, crawled up to the side and attempted to overtake them, before honking and swearing at the two — all this on a School Street during drop-off hours when no motor vehicles are allowed.

The cyclist posted the video of the incident which took place yesterday morning at 8:35AM on Chevening Road in Norwood, Croydon on Twitter. The road has signposts indicating that the road is a pedestrian and cycle zone only, on Mondays to Fridays between 8 and 9:30AM, and 2 and 4PM, the usual drop-off and pick-up hours for school.

He told road.cc: “I was thinking what a gorgeous autumn day and happily chatting with my 6-year-old son going to school when you can see the shadow of the 3.5 tonne van appear and the driver try bully his way past us instead of waiting mere seconds behind and then pass safely.

“The road at that time is a school street and he was driving through illegally anyway, but regardless it’s more the manner of driving and his unnecessary swearing that annoyed me.”

“Just a bad driver who can't read signs or ignores them regardless. Also likes to bully cyclists with his big van and swear at strangers with their kids next to them,” he added.

> Viral video of driver refusing to stop for five-year-old cyclist debated on Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 show

Van trying to close pass cyclist (Twitter)

He also tagged the company to which the van belonged to, Robert Lee Distributors, who describe themselves on Twitter as “the UK's largest distributor of bathroom, kitchen and plumbing products”.

> “We needed to act”: Parents set up unofficial guerrilla School Street after several near misses for children cycling on narrow road used as shortcut by motorists

The company was quick to respond to the cyclist and apologised for the driver’s behaviour and called it “unacceptable”. They also revealed that the driver was from an agency and not one of their employees.

“Nonetheless, he is driving one of our vans and representing our company in a manner that does not support the ethos of our business, and for that I can only apologise again,” they wrote in the email to the cyclist.

The chief executive officer of the company also added that they would support the police should they wish to investigate the matter further to maintain “the safety of our roads and more importantly our children”, before requesting the cyclist to pass his apologies to his son.

“I’m quite happy with the response from company, and they were quick,” said the cyclist. “My little one is unfazed and keen to ride every day rain or shine up and down big hills too.”

He added that he has reported the incident to the Met, and is waiting to hear back from them on whether an NIP has ben issued or not. “I would be happy if they offered the driver an improvement course,” he said.

> The Sun blasts unopened cycleway claimed to put “kids in danger” … with photos of car-choked road outside school

School streets are areas which restrict motor vehicles outside schools at drop-off and pick-up times and apply to both school and through traffic, while typically continuing to permit access for people living there. They also aim to encourage children to cycle, scoot, or walk to school.

However, there was a reluctance by many councils to implement them, as we reported in 2021, despite the government advising them to do so.

Parents, meanwhile, have been calling for the measure to be adopted. In fact, children and parents took to the barricades last year in a bid to prevent their ‘school street’ being ripped out by the pro-motoring mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman, who had earlier been removed from the post after being found guilty of electoral fraud and “corrupt and illegal practices” in 2015, and just yesterday led the charge to scrap majority of low-traffic neighbourhoods in the borough, in spite of “overwhelming” public support of the cycling and walking schemes.

> Viral video déjà vu as taxi driver doesn't wait for child cycling near school

In June this year, parents of children attending a primary school in Worcester, where children riding their bikes had been put in danger by motorists using a narrow, nearby lane as a shortcut, established their own guerrilla School Street by blocking both ends of the road at school pick-up times, in response to the “horrendous” road safety conditions in the area.

The reasoning behind so many urging for School Streets, as you'd expect, were due to the risks posed by motorists to children on bikes. In November last year, a video of a kid cycling in heavy traffic went viral — viewed over 3 million times on Twitter and even discussed on Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 show — and a number of high profile Conservative politicians pointed the finger at the kid's father for letting him cycle on the road.

Even Sajid Javid, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has also served as the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care during his time in government, said that the "five-year-old's father" was in the wrong.

And then a month later, in a strikingly similar fashion, another video caused a deja-vu moment, as a taxi driver dangerously passed a child accompanied by her father, on a School Street.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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20 comments

Avatar
brooksby | 10 months ago
5 likes

It's interesting how often the response from the company is, "Oh, but they were an outside contractor, not one of our proper employees, we've already got rid of them , and we're definitely not using them again..."

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hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
2 likes
brooksby wrote:

It's interesting how often the response from the company is, "Oh, but they were an outside contractor, not one of our proper employees, we've already got rid of them , and we're definitely not using them again..."

Just outsource the responsibility

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Muddy Ford | 10 months ago
9 likes

Good response from the company, which should be highlighted more. I have contacted several companies whose drivers have close passed me on the road, and in most cases (i.e. when it's not a one man band) they are very apologetic and sometimes horrified their reputation is being damaged by these dickheads. I like to think that it improves safety if the company is recognised for taking action because the lousy police often do nothing. 

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HoarseMann | 10 months ago
17 likes

Standard. Even if it wasn't a closed road, all the driver had to do was slow down from 20mph (the limit) to 10mph for a handful of seconds. Shameful impatience.

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Hirsute | 10 months ago
14 likes

The few responses I read show a number of drivers should not be on the road and we need mandatory theory test every few years.

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hawkinspeter replied to Hirsute | 10 months ago
23 likes
Hirsute wrote:

The few responses I read show a number of drivers should not be on the road and we need mandatory theory test every few years.

We need police forces and the courts to step up and remove the worst drivers from the road. Once drivers realise that intimidating others on the road will lead to them getting banned, then they'll behave. It's also got the benefit of reducing pollution for the majority of drivers that are considerate.

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wtjs replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
16 likes

We need police forces and the courts to step up and remove the worst drivers from the road. Once drivers realise that intimidating others on the road will lead to them getting banned, then they'll behave

We may need them, but there's no sign we're going to get them. It's going the other way in my view- the police (well, Lancashire anyway) is spending a lot of time fighting for the right to refuse to tell you what they did, which was probably either nothing or the joke advice letter. If you are KSI'd you're not going to be in any position to fight your corner, and the police will immediately roll out the standard 'our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family', while they and the courts settle on either nothing at all or some trivial, even suspended, penalty. We really are up against it with increasingly malevolent drivers and unsympathetic, uninterested police

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eburtthebike replied to wtjs | 10 months ago
8 likes
wtjs wrote:

We may need them, but there's no sign we're going to get them.

Especially since the tories have now declared themselves to be party of the drivers.

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IanMK replied to eburtthebike | 10 months ago
10 likes

I've asked my local Tory MP if Gear Change is still party policy. He's yet to reply. I suspect it's rather awkward for them.

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stonojnr replied to IanMK | 10 months ago
9 likes

Mine has been busy writing op-eds for the local paper and letters to the police about speeding cyclists & escooters upsetting him whilst he ate some tapas https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/23804294.tom-hunt-wants-crackdown-wat...

But then I'm still waiting for a reply to the letter I sent him after he campaigned successfully to have a load of segregated cycle lane bollards removed because he didn't like them.

So I don't rate my chances of getting a response to gear change questions.

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IanMK replied to stonojnr | 10 months ago
0 likes

Serious question. We're the plans outlined in Gear Change part of their manifesto? If it was, I'd love to point that out to my local MP.

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stonojnr replied to IanMK | 10 months ago
2 likes

The manifesto only outlined a £350 million cycling infrastructure fund, it was covid lockdown that led to gear change.

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eburtthebike replied to IanMK | 10 months ago
1 like
IanMK wrote:

I've asked my local Tory MP if Gear Change is still party policy. He's yet to reply. I suspect it's rather awkward for them.

I keep asking my local MP, Mark Harper, Transport Minister, questions, mostly about transport, but answer comes there none.

I posted on a local neighbourhood site about his lack of response, and I am  very far from being alone.

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mattw replied to IanMK | 10 months ago
0 likes

That's an interesting.

My MP Mr Anderson is a Tory Deputy Chairman.

Hmmm.

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hawkinspeter replied to eburtthebike | 10 months ago
2 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

Especially since the tories have now declared themselves to be party of the drivers.

Must be all the U-turns.

However, the car manufacturers aren't happy at all about Meat Tax Sunak:

Alok Sharma wrote:

It takes a very special combination of incompetence and cynicism to manage to unite the car industry and the Greens against you, and Rishi Sunak has demonstrated that.

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Stephankernow replied to eburtthebike | 9 months ago
0 likes

We need our Politicians to be the partties , councils and govts for ALL people who driver all forms of transport.
We have poor drivers in all forms of transport and if we all started to think and treat each other in the manner we would like to be treated ourselves.
All this would be reduced and on parents being late for school driving badly andbits not just male van drivers, Ive had plenty of irate drivers of both sexes in cars running late. Set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier i was widowed early in life and i did it works.

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chrisonabike replied to Stephankernow | 9 months ago
0 likes

Exhorting humans to be "better" without any external changes to drive that is the domain of religions. And after 30 millenia or so (or maybe a lot more?) I'm a little unclear how well that's going.

Agree - in that currently we see "how can we help people drive safely" vs. "... and does that keep other road users tolerably safe? If not how do we remove them?" What we should ask is "how can we facilitate safe, convenient and efficient travel (by all suitable means)?"

Disagree in that we actually do need a different detailed approach for different modes. And we've already maxed out convenience* and done a great deal for safety for drivers (and regulated buses). Cyclists and pedestrians - not so much.

Cyclists and pedestrians are statistically a low threat to ALL other road users, drivers not so much.

* It doesn't feel like it but this is because of all those other drivers. Make something attractive and soon it will be oversubscribed, despite any moral exhortations.

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Cugel replied to chrisonabike | 9 months ago
0 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

Exhorting humans to be "better" without any external changes to drive that is the domain of religions. And after 30 millenia or so (or maybe a lot more?) I'm a little unclear how well that's going.  (snip)  Make something attractive and soon it will be oversubscribed, despite any moral exhortations.

Here you hit a nub, a plexus, a major factor lacing up the whole sociological issue of human technological trashing of everything around us. We are arrogant, hubristic and untrustworthy as a consequence of a fundamental apsect of our human nature.

This nature is a shapeshifter, though, often hiding its fundamentals under cover of civilising structures that come and go over the centuries. Sadly, for every civilising mechanism or institution, the reaction of the dark and savage undertows in our fundamental nature generates a counter. We yo-yo, both individually and as a society, between the constructive and the destructive.

Civilising structures do include metaphysical constraints such as religious reins-of-restraint and other constructive ideological proposals about good & bad attitudes & behaviours. But they immediately generate their antithesis. The same ocurs in the physical world. For every power sharing & restraining parliament with a rule of law, there's a plutocracy or dictatorship waiting in the wings with some dictats for its turn on the stage of history.

Currently we seem to be heading for the latter; and one of the worserer kinds. There will no rule of law other than the law that says everything is allowed as long as its in support of the ruling clique or mad leader, especially if unfettered persecution of opposition to that clique or leader can be made a popular pastime.

These days, we also have access to hugely powerful technologies that amplify everything about both aspects of our human nature. But the great technological helpmeets are easily overwhelmed by the enormous doom-laden techmonsters. Sometimes, as with the car, they are the same tech.

*********

So, the gharks & hoos lurking under the thin skin of many once civil humans are bursting out and running amok. Crimes of every type are rife and becoming unpunished norms - not-crimes except in the naming schema of a near-dead former culture and associated  near-defunct society.

Some choose to be criminal when seduced by a powerful technology such as a car, a gun, an economic bludgeon or a vast megaphone for spewing the hate that creates pariahs and scapegoats to serve as punishment-fodder for everyone's Mr Hyde. Cyclists make very easy-to-spot-and-punish pariahs ...... . From the perspective of Thatcher-Thing Car-Owning "Democrats" they are, " .... not one of us".

 

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chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
0 likes

Well we're "the third chimpanzee" which means that there are two other models!  So it could be like the gangs of young thugs up to ultraviolence and a bit of the old in-out if they can get it (chimps) OR the "solving social strife through sharing and sex" of the bonobos.

I think humans aren't especially red-in-false-nail-and-denture by nature.  Although our small-group societies do often tend to feature quite startling rates of sexual misdoings and indeed violent death*.  I'd say a lot of why humans have succeeded is because we're not just the mimic ape but the cooperative chimpanzee.  We clearly have in-built tendencies to go with the flow, to fit in with the group.

... and of course that is very suitable for any of us who maybe are a bit more focussed on themselves!

Lots of global bad stuff just comes because we've done so well we've far exceeded our previous Malthusian population limits.  And increased our resource use.  First we learned to eat the mammoths, then we ate the sabre-toothed tigers before they ate us, then we learned to eat the grass directly ourselves and most recently we've (temporarily...) got the better of the viruses and bacteria.

Perhaps if the cars and the smog we've created was killing vastly more of us and destroying our crops we'd not be in danger of running out of road soon (after all most species don't hang around for long, a few millions of years...).  However...

* There's some debate on exactly how much and why especially as it's normally we "advanced" types doing the looking in a world where it's difficult to be isolated from "civilisation".  IIRC archaeology does also suggest it was a bit more wild when we lived in smaller groups.

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Velophaart_95 replied to Hirsute | 9 months ago
2 likes

Far too many drivers pass their test, and think that's it; completed! And never bother to take extra learning or read The Highway Code ever again.

 

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