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“I wholeheartedly disagree with his approach” – YouTube driving instructor Ashley Neal on CyclingMikey

Driving school owner visits Gandalf Corner but says many road rage incidents captured by Mike van Erp are of his own making

Footballer-turned driving instructor Ashley Neal says that he “wholeheartedly” disagrees with the approach taken by fellow YouTuber CyclingMikey in trying to make roads safer, saying that by confronting law-breaking drivers he actually creates many road rage incidents.

Neal, who runs a driving school in Liverpool, visited London’s Regents Park and the junction nicknamed Gandalf Corner where, for several years now, Mike van Erp – Cycling Mikey – has regularly positioned himself, filming law-breaking drivers often on their mobile phone, or going the wrong side of a keep left sign to try and avoid queueing traffic.

In an eight-minute YouTube video, Neal explains how Gandalf Corner, which he describes as an “unremarkable” junction got its nickname, highlights some examples of law-breaking drivers there – including by using footage from CyclingMikey’s own YouTube channel.

“He’s caught many people over the years,” Neal explains. “Most are reported to the police. Some receive fines and points on the licence, others just have driver improvement courses, and there’s a few who don’t get any punishment whatsoever.”

Certainly, Neal has no truck with drivers who break the law – he points out that “impatience is normally the reason many road users take this short cut, however, this puts others at risk,” and that “pedestrians are only going to be expecting vehicles to be coming from their right as they cross this section of road, they wouldn’t expect vehicles to be coming from the opposite side of the road.”

He also highlights that van Erp “also catches a lot of people on their mobile phone, usually when they’re just queueing in traffic,” although he quickly qualifies that by adding, “that doesn’t mean that using your mobile phone while queueing in traffic is allowed,” mentioning the stricter laws that came into force earlier this year.

What Neal does appear to have an issue with, however, is van Erp – and other cyclists who use cameras – submitting that footage to the police for potential action to be taken against the motorists concerned, even though that is something that police forces across the country actively encourage.

“Mikey also takes great pride in showcasing all the fines that people have got and the points they got on the licence,” he says. “This isn't something that I would do. Most of you understand my educational stance on things. I've never reported anyone for anything.

“That doesn't mean reporting is a bad thing. It just depends on your own single circumstances. And for me, I run a driving school in Liverpool. I'm responsible for many instructors and all their students. If I was reporting every single thing that I saw, the negativity towards those instructors and students would definitely have a negative effect on road safety.

“The next thing is that if I reported every single offence that I saw I’d have no time to do anything else,” he adds.

Both have huge reach through their social media channels. Neal’s YouTube channel has 106,000 subscribers, compared to just over 80,000 on CyclingMikey’s channel – and views of individual videos posted by van Erp often run into several millions, while the driving instructor’s most popular upload is currently 3,000 short of seven figures.

Neal does use his YouTube presence to educate motorists over how to drive safely, as well as highlighting examples of poor driving (including, ironically, his own, as highlighted in the link below) – but in this case, he also points out that some cyclists break the law, too.

> Footballer-turned-driving instructor Ashley Neal divides opinion with use of horn in overtaking video

“What Mikey has done is actually rallied many cyclists to take a similar reporting approach,” he says. “This may have a positive impact nationally on stopping people using their mobile phones, but honestly, I think it's created a different problem. I've actually asked Mikey about this on his videos before but he didn't respond.

“Quite often you can see on the footage while he’s challenging the motorist for contravening the keep left bollard, cyclists doing exactly the same.

“Now, I understand that anyone driving a tonne’s worth of metal is going to do a hell of a lot more damage than anyone riding a bike, but with the speeds involved at this junction and at this crossing area, honestly, it becomes a lot less relevant.

“Some motorists think because of the lack of requirement for number plates and licences to ride a bicycle, cyclists are getting away with things that motorists don't.

“I understand that this is a false equivalence and the updates to the Highway Code back this up. But this way of looking out for your own is wrong, you're either pro road safety or not, This disparity between different types of road users just causes resentment and divide.

“We've now got legions of cyclists, all around the country, trying to capture that moment and shouting ‘you're on camera, you know’.

“If you catch someone committing an offence, just report it if you wish to. Plainly and simply we need to be building bridges, not creating divide. All roads need to be shared safely and sensibly.”

“If you haven’t seen Mikey’s videos, please check them out. And also, I'd like you to tell me whether you find them entertaining, whether they help with. road safety or whether they hinder,” Neal continues.

“In my personal opinion, I wholeheartedly disagree with his approach, he effectively camps out here and creates many of these road rage incidents, all of his own accord.

“He could just record the offenders and then report them to the police anyway, without standing in and blocking the road. I've actually seen on a number of his uploads different types of road users taking to the pavement because of his actions,” he adds.

What Neal does not mention, but van Erp has in numerous media appearances, including on the road.cc Podcast, is one of the principal reasons why he is so passionate about making the roads safer and bringing law-breaking motorists to justice  – his father was killed by a drink driver while van Erp was still a teenager.

> Tired of road crime”: CyclingMikey on episode 16 of the road.cc Podcast

A number of van Erp’s followers on Twitter expressed support for him, with @velobetty for example saying that while she usually respects Neal’s opinions, “I think he's pretty wrong on this one.”

Van Erp himself – currently enjoying a cycling holiday on the Continent – is aware of the video, but says he won’t be watching it.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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188 comments

Avatar
NPlus1Bikelights | 1 year ago
10 likes

So is the take home message we need to get Mikey more subscribers than Ashley? Otherwise I don't see the point of the article on here. Just giving voice to a noisy motorist who happens to teach driving.

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Hirsute | 1 year ago
11 likes

Mikey's videos are prefaced with

the parks police know of incidents where people have been injured here

friends complain of the risk they face

 

neither mentioned by ashley

Is is jealousy on his behalf and why did he have to make his video personal?

Stick to driving training as you dont know much about cycling.

(PS we did all this in the blog on monday !)

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nosferatu1001 replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
2 likes

He also claims to be a keen cyclist. Mind boggles. 
 

Ashley also didn't put anythung in context - showed cyclists going by while mikey was dealing with the driver, and complained he didn't stop cyclists - despite knowing full well why CM doesn't. 
he also showed the abusive ped being told by mikey he didn't want to speak to him, and again failed to say that the led had been abusive for five min before that. 
 

the editing was so biased. 

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Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
4 likes

Honestly? Road safety is a broad church and there's room for the different approaches of Neal and Mikey.  They are both very opiniated people, but that doesnt mean either of them have to be wrong.    That's just the politics of division and tribalism, isn't helpful and is amplified by the Social media platforms they both use.

In short nothing to see here but a few ad impressions being generated by Internet based media.

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chrisonabike replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
3 likes

Was that a quote from Ashley or CyclingMikey?  They appear to think each other is wrong!

While I think "division and tribalism" is largely beside the point if you're doing your transport right it probably does sometimes make it more uncomfortable for the "minority".  In the UK that's anyone not in a motor vehicle on the roads.  Isn't "division and tribalism" kind of a "design feature" of (social) media anyway though?

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Kendalred | 1 year ago
16 likes

I find it quite ironic that we have here a man representing a profession tasked with educating people how to drive properly complaining that someone has decided to do something about his profession's abject failures.

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nosferatu1001 replied to Kendalred | 1 year ago
4 likes

he thinks you should only educate and not report 

Failing to realise that the people who need the most education won't seek out his videos....

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Bmblbzzz replied to nosferatu1001 | 1 year ago
1 like

Other way round: he (assuming you mean Ashley Neal) thinks you should only report and not educate. He mentions several times he thinks Cycling Mikey should report what he sees to the police but not confront drivers on the spot.

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nosferatu1001 replied to Bmblbzzz | 1 year ago
4 likes

Ashley doesn't even want cyclists doing that. He thinks HE should educate drivers by showing poor driving and correcting it, but doesn't want drivers reported. 
 

hence the dig at legions of cyclists with cams....

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hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
8 likes

I continue to find it astounding how entrenched the car-culture is in this country (though not nearly as bad as the U.S.).

Any other situation, such as confronting bank robbers and the plucky member of the public would be hailed a hero. Meanwhile, Mike persists in his road safety crusade and some deluded car-brains think that he's the problem?

Look at it this way - how many injuries and deaths has Mike caused versus how many injuries and deaths have been caused by phone-using drivers?

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Hirsute replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
13 likes

I did just see a twitter thread about driving over the pavement to avoid an ltn. The number of comments about grass, snitch, snout.

Depressing when you know how many peds are killed on the pavement by drivers.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
8 likes

The one from yesterday's illegally parked ice cream truck causing cycle lane blocking had the usual "whataboutredlights" reponse. OP posted three cars that went through a red light he stopped at including two coming from behind to overtake and mentioned all were reported. Reply to that was simply "grass". 

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
4 likes

I think the "driving in the UK" is one of those issues which stands for much more than just "getting from A to B conveniently".  Obviously there's the "I am now an adult" (both  "I have 'independence of travel' " and "I am responsible - I can drive others") and the "I'm financially solvent" plus "stating my wealth / social position".

I think it's also one of those things which are some kind of proxy for larger "freedom" or "rights".  So a little like such things as hunting in France (to do with abolition of aristocratic priveledge following the 1789 revolution). Or guns in the US - "freedom from tyranny / getting pushed around (by King George III)" - they're still celebrating.

On the last - we're sadly rather keen to obey in the UK (compare with the French...) so this may be a fatal sticking point - our one political sop to "freedom".

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brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
3 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

I continue to find it astounding how entrenched the car-culture is in this country (though not nearly as bad as the U.S.).

I saw on the news this morning that M&S are closing a load more of their stores.  Mainly the ones in town centres, as they have said they are intending to move more of their stores 'out of town' to those hellish 'only accessible by car' (they didn't say that!) outdoor shopping centres...

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hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
2 likes

brooksby wrote:

I saw on the news this morning that M&S are closing a load more of their stores.  Mainly the ones in town centres, as they have said they are intending to move more of their stores 'out of town' to those hellish 'only accessible by car' (they didn't say that!) outdoor shopping centres...

I saw that they're closing some Russian stores (apparently it's tricky due to them being franchises or something). To be honest, I'm often surprised at how their clothing stores stay in business as from what I can see they're aiming at an ageing demographic.

I think it'll work out poorly for them as their food shops are a good fit with town centres and attracting younger people to grab a sandwich or whatever. If they close most of their in-town shops, then they're going to end up with just old people buying jumpers and nearby people who like their food a bit overpriced.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
3 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

I saw that they're closing some Russian stores (apparently it's tricky due to them being franchises or something).

I knew they were behind all our local Russian stores!  Marx and Sparts, innit?

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Hirsute replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
1 like

I just that on the bbc "It said it was now relocating some shops from older, multi-floor buildings with poor access and parking."

Just happening where I am - off to a giant retail park - really only accessible by car from the high st (where you can't park outside, well unless you pretend you are a taxi).

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hawkinspeter replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
2 likes

hirsute wrote:

I just that on the bbc "It said it was now relocating some shops from older, multi-floor buildings with poor access and parking."

Just happening where I am - off to a giant retail park - really only accessible by car from the high st (where you can't park outside, well unless you pretend you are a taxi).

Sounds like they're doubling down on catering to an aging population

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Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
21 likes

The message is clear. If you see something suspicious at an airport, someone being threatened in the street, know of a child at risk in a domestic situation or are aware of discrimination against someone in your workplace. If you witness a crime in progress, then keep your head down and don't antagonise the perpetrator(s). Don't film or preserve evidence, don't so much as look at them in a way that might be interpreted as a "bit funny" or any violent reaction is a provocation of your own making.

I get that Mikey might be considered a vigilante by some. But he operates within the law, passes evidence to the appropriate authorities and has every justification for pursuing his personal crusade given the circumstances of his Father's death. As for those who he provokes to "road rage" I wonder if their apologists ever consider that the option of just backing down with a mea culpa and apology might be a better outcome.

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Fignon's ghost replied to Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
13 likes

I could not agree more.

Here is a man who is prepared to stand up and be counted. In the face of atrocious hate and downright villainy.

Mike should run for high office.

"To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men"
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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MTB Refugee replied to Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
3 likes

While I do think that Neal misses the point by some margin that cyclists are extremely vulnerable and are therefore much more invested in reducing/removing bad behaviour, I can't help thinking that you missed at least some of the point that he is trying to make.

You can report incidents without having to confront the offenders. I agree with Neal that the confrontation is often not the best approach and much more likely to create an anti-cyclist driver than foster any kind of empathy for cycling safety.

I'm am sick to death of this "them and us" mentality that the media in particular loves to perpetuate. It's counter productive to say the least to unnecessarily piss off the drivers and only makes cyclists more unpopular and more likely to be targetted by bad behaviour.

Unless the bad behaviour has personally impacted you, report to the police and let them deal with it (if they can be bothered).

 

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hawkinspeter replied to MTB Refugee | 1 year ago
8 likes

MTB Refugee wrote:

While I do think that Neal misses the point by some margin that cyclists are extremely vulnerable and are therefore much more invested in reducing/removing bad behaviour, I can't help thinking that you missed at least some of the point that he is trying to make.

You can report incidents without having to confront the offenders. I agree with Neal that the confrontation is often not the best approach and much more likely to create an anti-cyclist driver than foster any kind of empathy for cycling safety.

I'm am sick to death of this "them and us" mentality that the media in particular loves to perpetuate. It's counter productive to say the least to unnecessarily piss off the drivers and only makes cyclists more unpopular and more likely to be targetted by bad behaviour.

Unless the bad behaviour has personally impacted you, report to the police and let them deal with it (if they can be bothered).

I get what you mean, but why should ordinary people be afraid to confront law-breakers? If someone dropped litter on the street, do you think it is better to confront them or to contact the police/council? Why should drivers be allowed and even expected to turn violent over a simple interaction with another person?

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Hirsute replied to MTB Refugee | 1 year ago
6 likes

I think I would be very pissed off if I turned left out of that junction and was hit by a driver on the wrong side or was hit as a pedestrian.

How is that mikey gets thanks from drivers for stopping people from making that illegal turn ?

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MTB Refugee replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
0 likes

As soon as Mikey blocks the road and prevents pedestrians from safely using the crossing point through the island and also prevents drivers from legally passing in the correct direction, then he is in the wrong and has gone too far. Being part of the solution should not mean that you have become the problem.

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Hirsute replied to MTB Refugee | 1 year ago
9 likes

I could have sworn it was the driver in a wide car that was blocking the road that prevents other drivers driving in the correct direction making legal progress.

Do you routinely drive on the pavement when someone is driving on the wrong side at you ?

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
5 likes

Blocking it for pedestrians:

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
7 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

Blocking it for pedestrians:

That's disgraceful!

I've seen 5-year olds make better cars out of boxes - why's the front open?

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mdavidford replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
5 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

chrisonatrike wrote:

Blocking it for pedestrians:

That's disgraceful!

I've seen 5-year olds make better cars out of boxes - why's the front open?

That's the air intake for its high-powered engine, obviously.

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chrisonabike replied to mdavidford | 1 year ago
1 like

Due to different power plant in use the exhausts are front and back.

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nosferatu1001 replied to MTB Refugee | 1 year ago
5 likes

Mikey isn't blocking the crossing, the driver is. The driver just has to reverse out the way, to prevent them from commiting a further offence. 

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