A motorist who knocked a cyclist off his bike told him incorrectly that he should have been riding in a cycle lane – then claimed she was a former police officer.
Footage of the crash in October 2019, filmed by the cyclist using a handlebar-mounted camera, was posted to YouTube by Ashley Neal, who runs a driving school business in the northwest of England.
In the video Neal – a former footballer who is the son of former Liverpool and England player Phil Neal – also explains to his 73,000-plus subscribers to his channel why the motorist was in the wrong, and said that “hand on heart, I can’t rule out that this wasn’t done purposefully.”
Describing the driver’s attitude as “truly shocking,” Neal said, “When I found out the investigating police officer said the driver had no questions to answer, it blew my mind.”
The cyclist in the video was riding west along Liverpool Road in Great Sankey, Warrington, as part of his 21-mile commute when he approached a junction that Neal says the rider “had had problems with previously.”
To his left is an advisory cycle lane, which ends at the point the driver of a black Ford Fiesta starts to overtake, then pulls back in, with “in a good, primary position holding his lane,” says Neal, adding that by doing so he seems to have “triggered” the motorist.
As the cyclist approaches the junction, the driver pulls out and accelerates to draw alongside the rider, then slows to the same pace as the cyclist and gradually moves across him, knocking him off his bike.
The driver then pulls up on the other side of the junction and walks back towards the cyclist, who has picked up his bike, telling him, “Just so you know, there’s a bike lane there you weren’t using,” adding that she had captured the incident on film and claiming she had been “nowhere near your bike.”
Continuing to insist there was a bike lane, even when the cyclist told her it had run out, and that he should be using it, in response to his informing her that there is no legal requirement to do so, she says, “You’re just being difficult.”
She also took exception to the rider punching her car, which he explained he’d done to try and get her to move across, and when the driver again insisted, “I was nowhere near you,” the cyclist asked, “How could I punch your car if you were nowhere near me?”
Telling the cyclist, “The insurance is going to laugh at you, mate,” the driver says, “You did it to yourself,” then claims she has a “legal right to refuse” to provide insurance details, before adding, “I know my rights. I used to be a police officer.”
Then she accuses the cyclist: You’re just out to make money, mate.”
He says, “I’m out to make money? I want my bike fixing,” to which the woman replies, “I’m not fixing it, you broke it yourself.”
“It was pretty obvious that the supposed ex-police officer was triggered by the cyclist not using the cycle lane,” commented Neal.
He explained to viewers that it is not obligatory to use them, and that the cyclist had taken up a good position, with it being unsafe to overtake at that location.
One criticism he had of the cyclist, however, is that he believes the rider should have moved to his left once the motorist had drawn up alongside him.
“For me I think he stayed out there [in primary position] probably a little too long. If he’s in a situation where he’s able to bang on a car’s window, he should have really submitted a little sooner.
“And in any case, you can still command the situation by giving in and submitting, because you’re still in charge of what happens.”
Neal said that the cyclist has now given up his daily commute on the grounds he thought it was “too stressful and too dangerous,” though he still rides for leisure.
Meanwhile, the driver’s insurers initially held the cyclist responsible, although they admitted full liability after they saw the footage.
His injuries included soft tissue damage, bleeding on the lung, a bruised pancreas and ruptured adrenal gland, and his bike was extensively damaged in the crash.
Police attended the scene, but Neal said that even before they had viewed the video, an officer told the cyclist – as he was being put in an ambulance – that they would take no further action against the driver.
“To make matters worse, this officer began to lecture our cyclist on ‘Not going through the lights in front of the path of a car’ – and even when this was challenged, and our cammer explained what went on, he said, ‘Well, cyclists should be moving out of the way and keeping out of the way of the cars’.”
A couple of weeks later, the cyclist made a formal complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said Neal, who revealed that he had seen all the correspondence relating to the case.
A traffic sergeant who viewed the footage concluded that the motorist had given sufficient space to the cyclist – and that the rider had accelerated into the driver’s blind spot – to which Neal said, “I’m not having that,” as he replayed footage of the crash.
The cyclist complained, and in January 2020 last year received an email saying that the video would be referred to another traffic sergeant – but he had received nothing further since.
As for the woman’s claim that she used to be a police officer, Neal believes that she may have been telling the truth.
“The two stories from her and Cheshire Police in their investigation seem to tally,” he explained, inviting the force to respond and also posing the question to it of why, if as he believes the rider was knocked off his bike on purpose, it was not treated as a case of assault.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.