Jeremy Vine criticizes driver for passing five-year-old cyclist, sparking online debate

A video of a five-year-old cyclist being passed by a motorist has sparked an online debate after broadcaster and cycling advocate Jeremy Vine shared it on Twitter, claiming motorists who can’t see why the driver was at fault should cut up their license .

The video by Twitter user AZB shows a child cycling along a residential street in the Kingston-upon-Thames area, with vehicles parked on both sides. A car approaching from the other direction passes without incident but the parent filming the ride from another bicycle behind admonishes the driver for not slowing down or stopping.

“How can we expect parents to let their kids ride to school if this is how their neighbors drive towards them?” wrote AZB in their post on November 4. “He’s five by the way and this is 100m from his home.”

A follow-up tweet read: “This is what happens when you don’t provide safe cycling infrastructure around schools or on the way to schools … Today it was my child but it could easily have been yours or anyone else.”

Jeremy Vine retweeted the video this morning, causing it to go viral. Backing the cyclist’s claims, Vine wrote: “This clip now has 1.6m views, and 75% of people responding are defending the car driver. The child is FIVE. The driver MUST go dead slow, or stop.

“Any petrosexual who can’t see this needs to cut up their driving license and send the pieces back to the DVLA.”

However some on Twitter questioned AZB’s parenting.

“No real danger of ever hitting the child unless he somehow fell or came off the bike,” Amato86 wrote.

“Biggest issue here is why such a young child being put on a busy main road in poor weather conditions. Horrific parenting.”

Mike O’H went further: “This sensible parent lets their 5 year old wobble along an obstructed road alongside traffic. Madness. I hope the police had a word with this poor kid’s parents over duty of care.”

Others examined the video and posted still images in an attempt to prove their arguments that either the cyclists or the driver were at fault.

AZB simply had this to say about the fact that so many people had an opinion on the matter:

“It’s safe to say that my notifications have blown up. So if you’re being sensible and supportive, thank you. If you’re victim blaming or anything else then just have a little think about yourself.”

What the highway code says

One road safety expert who trains motorists and riders on best practice on the roads told Driving.co.uk the cyclists have a right to feel aggrieved.

Tim Shallcross of IAM Roadsmart said: “There is no minimum age limit for cycling on a road; the lad is a little younger than most cycling organizations recommend to be on a road, but he’s certainly riding competently and with confidence and under supervision, so no problem there.”

Shallcross also pointed out the final paragraph of Rule H3 in the highway code, which was updated in January this year with a hierarchy of road users designed to protect the most vulnerable, including horse riders and cyclists.

Rule H3, for drivers and motorcyclists, states:

“You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary. This includes when cyclists are:

  • approaching, passing or moving off from a junction
  • moving past or waiting alongside stationary or
  • slow-moving traffic traveling around a roundabout

Shallcross highlighted the second bullet point as applying in this case.

“The cyclist reached the parked vehicles on his side of the road before the car reached them on the other side,” he told us. “He’s also sensibly keeping away from the parked vehicles to minimize the risk if a door opens.

“Highway code guidance is for cars to give 1.5m clearance to cyclists in 30mph limit, and since the cyclist was already passing parked vehicles and there was clearly no room for 1.5m clearance, the car should have waited until the cyclist was clear before carrying on.”

Shallcross also noted that the highway code rule uses the word “should” instead of “must”, which means no specific law applies. But he said even so, drivers should never forget the definition of careless driving — “driving below the standard expected of a careful and competent driver” — which is a punishable offense.

He said: “A careful and competent driver would be aware of the rules and advice in the highway code and obey them. Ignoring or contravening a ‘should’ rule is not driving to the standard and therefore the driver could be guilty of careless driving in one of its forms.”

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