Ah, the wonders of helmetcams and YouTube. What before were mere stories about drivers throwing objects – and barbed gibes – at cyclists can now be watched by all. A cyclist in Gosport, Hampshire, has uploaded an HD video of a van driver throwing a full bottle of juice at him through the open passenger window. Why? Because of a ‘love tap’ and because the cyclist said “road tax” hadn’t existed since 1937.
[UPDATE: the video embedded below was taken down for a while because the driver was reported to the police and the video uploader didn't want to prejudice the case. However, today (15th September 2010) he has got in touch to reveal that the driver was cautioned for assault and charged with driving without due consideration: he received five points on his licence and had to pay a fine. Is this the first time an errant British driver has been convicted on the evidence of a helmet-cam? PS To those who've asked, the cam is a Contour HD, which costs about £269.]
It’s pretty tough to carry on a debate about road funding while on the move in two separate vehicles, but this cyclist and the van driver managed it. Not that it was a reasoned debate: the van driver swore, and threw a missile. But kudos to the cyclist for getting the right date for the cessation of the Road Fund.
The driver of a grey Vauxhall Vivaro, registration number HN56 HHC, has been reported to the police for his poor driving skills and his anger-management issues (see update below). In the video he can be clearly seen weaving along the road, intent at arguing with the cyclist. In doing so, the driver was partially on the wrong side of the road, endangering traffic coming the opposite way, including an adult cyclist pulling a child on a trailer bike.
The start of the video shows the van driver prematurely pulling on to a more major road from a minor one; from Mortimore Road on to Brockhurst Road in the Farr End part of Gosport.
The cyclist voices his concern about the premature manoeuvre (no swearing) and taps the side of the van (lightly). The van driver brakes, and then, to bully the fellow road user, squeezes in to the left of the road to reduce the room for the cyclist. The cyclist says nothing, but the footage rocks so one can safely assume the cyclist is shaking his head from side to side at this point.
The van driver starts to drive erratically, winds down the passenger side window and – with a young female passenger beside him – starts shouting something at the cyclist, who, sensibly, stays to the left of the van.
Shocked at the erratic driving, the cyclist yells “You’re driving!”
The driver shouts back: “You don’t pay road tax though, do you?”
Cyclist: “I do actually mate, but I choose not to use my car.”
Driver: “You should pay f*cking tax…”
[...other obscenities shouted, but not clear on video].
Cyclist: “Neither do you. Road tax hasn’t been around since 1937.”
Driver: “You don’t pay road tax on this [van] though do you…”
At this the driver – who has been holding a bottle of orange juice on his steering wheel – swears again, and throws the almost full bottle of juice at the cyclist.
There’s an “oomph” sound as the bottle hits the cyclist. The van driver slams on his brakes, squeezes in to the left again and, point proven (ie I’m heavier and more solid than you), accelerates away.
The cyclist has only been posting his helmetcam videos to YouTube since June 4th. His YouTube name? idontpayroadtax. He really ought to ride with an iPayRoadTax jersey, available on this site and from major stores such as Evans.
The start of the video showed that the van driver incorrectly pulled out on to the more major road when he should have allowed another vehicle (the guy on the bike) to continue. But this is ‘normal’ bad behaviour, and to be absolutely expected. The cyclist would have had plenty of time to react, and should have let bygones be bygones. Tapping on the side of the van led to the “road tax” rant. This is certainly the view of lots of posters to the BikeRadar.com forum where this video was posted.
The forum commenters have a valid point. But, as others point out, this doesn’t excuse the rant, the missile throwing and the use of a heavy motorised vehicle as an obstruction.
A “road tax” rant not captured on camera, but illustrative of why so many drivers get hot under the collar about cyclists, is contained on the same BikeRadar forum.
“I look back and the car behind me, which was sitting behind throughout the previous 15 seconds worth of shoulder checks and signalling, has now decided to overtake, except I’m now in the way, so she’s about 6 inches off by back tyre gesticulating angrily at me.
As I’m ahead of her, I can see round the corner and there’s a car coming the other way, so I give the open palmed ‘get back/slow down’ signal because if she doesn’t, she’s going to have a head on crash.
So she gets back in the normal road position, and leans on her horn for a few seconds. Just in case I didn’t know she was there.
She then pulls up next to me as I’m stopped near enough on the centre line waiting to turn right, winds down her window (with a 5 year old child on the passenger seat) and the ‘conversation’ starts:
Driver(shouts): “F***ing cyclists shouldn’t be on the f***ing roads.”
Me: “Why not?”
Driver: “Roads are for cars, you don’t pay road tax, I pay for the roads.”
Me: (not wanting to get into the VED/Road Tax debate in the middle of the road with a queue of traffic forming behind the car): “Actually, I’ve got a car, I pay as much road tax as you, so by that logic I’m allowed to be here too aren’t I because I’ve paid for it.”
Driver: (looking slightly flummoxed, but pointing at the narrow, pedestrian filled pavement with the blue cycle sign above it. Really shouting now!): “Yeah, well I’ve f***ing well paid for your cycles lanes, so f***ing use them!”
Incidentally, and on a lighter note, the cyclist in the video must be a good looking chap. Not only is he gifted soft-drinks from passing motorists, he’s called “gorgeous” by this young woman on a shared-use path.