Van Driver Gets Himself Fired: Cyclist Blamed

On the BBC’s  Jeremy Vine programme this Tuesday , there was a short piece at the end of the show about a van driver who’d been fired as a result of his inappropriate behaviour towards a cyclist. It seems that his van was wired for sound by his employer, including cameras looking forward, at the driver, and out either side of the windows.

The driver was aware of this, yet it seemed that his frustration at the cyclist took over his ability to behave on the road. The situation was that the cyclist, 35 year old James Hogarth, had found himself in the wrong lane, with a revving engine behind him and a beeping horn. Jeremy Vine explained what had happened:

One thing led to another, and before james knew it, he was being shouted at and sworn at by a driver desperate to get past. At one point the driver even swerved in towards james and nearly knocked him from his bike.

That driver might have behaved differently if he’d born two things in mind. Number one, there was a gadget in the van recording everything he did. Number two, some cyclists have an almost millitant attitude towards their safety on the roads. James it seems is one, and as such he made a note of the vehicle’s registration number and the company name printed on its side, and reported it to the driver’s employers – a window cleaning firm, called NCMP247.com .

They checked the footage on their special video gadget. They duly sacked the driver.

James Hogarth explained on the radio show what had happened in this incident:

He just kept on beeping and beeping and beeping. At one point he undertook me, missing me by inches. I came up beside him and went, "Oi!", and he swerved the van at me . . . at the end of the day this is a gentleman who swerved a ton or two of metal at me, when someone on a bike weighs about as much as a sack of spuds.

Jeremy Vine:

And you complain about quite a few vehicles on your travels, because you find that it’s quite hostile out there?

James:

I’ve complained to a few employers about their drivers, yes.

Talking to The managing director of NCMP247.com, Nathan Colewell, Jeremy opened the questioning about the incident. Nathan’s response was,

We saw a cyclist who was travelling … it could have been further over to the left [the road’s edge], possibly. It did look like he could be further over to the left. [Jeremy laughs], and the van driver was coming behind, the cyclist didn’t do much in the way to help matters , I have to say, um, but it’s not the cyclist’s fault he’s on a bike and this is a van, un, and yeah, there was an altercation between the two parties, and yeah, the car did swerve towards the cyclist.

Jeremy Vine:

So the driver pulled the van in towards the cyclist in a kind of aggressive way , and he said some very, very rude words?

This is a radio show that gets listener feedback, and there was the usual mix of responses – cyclists largely in favour of the outcome, and motorists on about tax-avoiding, law-breaking, anarchist cyclists.

But what got me was the tone of the presenter’s introduction. Jeremy’s obvious attempts to blame the cyclist, to get the cyclist to confess that it was all his fault, and his sniggering interjection when the video footage was being explained says a lot about his attitude to bikes on the road. If we’d been talking about a driver acting in this way to a mum pushing a pram across a zebra crossing, would his attitude have been a little different? If the cyclist had been killed by the driver’s "kind of aggressive" driving, would he still find it funny?

Is it any wonder that, "some cyclists have an almost millitant attitude towards their safety on the roads" in the face of this sort of driver behaviour. I hardly think that James’ response sounded particularly millitant – especially given the level of provocation he seemed to be under. If he were to have retalliated in kind against the driver of this vehicle, can you imagine the headlines it would generate? THAT would be millitant.

Posted in Assassination Attempts, Bike Culture, London, Ranting, Road Safety, Stupid
10 comments on “Van Driver Gets Himself Fired: Cyclist Blamed
  1. Carlton Reid says:

    Odd, really, cos Jeremy Vine does ride a bike although you wouldn’t think so from his radio rants.

    I shall link to your transcript on iPayRoadTax cos I mentioned just this sort of swerving into cyclists on ‘How many motorists think roads are not for cyclists?’ story at:

    http://ipayroadtax.com/?p=346

  2. Carlton Reid says:

    Oh, and isn’t this the driver mentioned on the Road.cc story the other day about police chasing up a window cleaning firm of the same name?

  3. jobysp says:

    I’ve been interviewed by the BBC regarding cycling and video clips and they tried to get me to state that it was cyclists that caused all the issues.

    I then got calls from various other parts of the BBC and just had to fob them off because I wasn’t prepared to take any more abuse from over paid, over weight, cocky presenters who don’t know their fact from fiction. Jeremey Vine especially, who, because he sometimes hosts Eggheads, thinks he’s intellignent, when, in all honesty – I’ve had better conversations with a piece of used chewing gun.

    Freewheeler raises a very good point on his website (Crap Waltham Forest) that the BBC are anti cyclist full stop. They never report on the deaths of cyclists in London from lorries, but the instant a traffic camera is popped up – it makes front page headlines.

    I applaud James for complaining. I applaud the company for reacting. The BBC can stick its license fee up Jeremey Vines whistle.

  4. jobysp says:

    And I’ve spelt intelligent wrong 😦

  5. Graeme says:

    Doesn’t everybody have an attitude to their own safety that in certain circumstances could be perceived as “militant”? I would have thought that was a very basic part of human psychology/behaviour.

    If the cyclist had reacted in this way having been aggressively threatened by any other implement capable of inflicting similar levels of injury or death, would he then have been described as having “an almost millitant attitude towards their safety”?

  6. John the Monkey says:

    The subtext of all this is, of course, that it’s “ok” in some way to use your car/van/bus/truck to threaten people.

    I’d be interested to know whether a dangerous driving prosecution is in the works here. I very much doubt it, as there isn’t blood on the road (seems to be the only circumstance in which it’s considered). but you never know.

    both my offs have been due to indifference/inattention rather than malice, but there were no consequences for the drivers at fault other than the level of guilt they chose to feel about it.

    Hunter S. Thompson wrote in “Hell’s Angels” that the only thing keeping drivers in line was the threat of physical danger, and legal consequence. Both of which are less likely if they take their aggression out on a cyclist than on street furniture or another car. It needs to change.

  7. John the Monkey says:

    err yeah – not the physical danger bit, the legal consequences bit. That needs to change.

  8. I don’t think that the cyclist making a phone call to the van driver’s employer is militant at all. It’s perfectly reasonable after having his life threatened by a two ton metal machine. Militant would have been if the cyclist found a baseball bat and started breaking the van’s windows. I don’t support that kind of behavior at all, but really. Making a phone call is “militant”? I’m constantly amazed at people’s inability to put themselves in the other person’s shoes.

  9. miketually says:

    If Jeremy Vine was on a discussion forum, he’d be a troll.

  10. dr2chase says:

    Militant, is fire-arms. Imagine how it would have been reported if the van-driver had threatened with a gun, instead of with his van.

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