Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Cox, head of crime at Lincolnshire Police and national lead for fatal collision investigations, has reminded motorists that they have “a responsibility to protect vulnerable road users”, after footage posted by broadcaster Jeremy Vine showing a lorry close passing a police officer received a backlash from angry drivers.
BBC Radio 2 and Channel 5 presenter Vine was riding with cycling officers from the Metropolitan Police as part of Cox’s latest fundraising campaign for RoadPeace.
In May 2021 DCS Cox raised over £50,000 for the road crash victims charity (link is external) after completing a 200-kilometre run, the largest amount raised for the organisation by an individual fundraiser.
This year, the former lead for Vision Zero at the Met is aiming to complete 30 miles of physical activity (walking, running or cycling) a day for a week, as he aims to “amplify victim's voices and bring road danger reduction to the forefront of national conversation, and prevent the needless deaths and injury on our roads”.
Each route starts at a police station and travels to people affected by road death and injury, who will tell their stories and, Cox hopes, help shed light on the five people killed every day on the UK’s roads. The campaign has currently raised over £64,000 for RoadPeace (link is external).
During yesterday’s ride, Cox’s ambition to increase public awareness of the need to reduce road danger was inadvertently aided by the driver of a Waitrose lorry who, as can be seen in Vine’s video below, passes one of the police officers – decked out in hi-visibility clothing emblazoned with ‘Police’ on the back – with little room to spare.
According to the officer on the receiving end of the close pass, the lorry’s wheels were “touching the line” as he passed the group of cyclists.
“He thinks you’re on one side, he’s the other side, so he’s fine,” replied Vine in the footage.
“He’ll get undue care and attention for that,” the officer confirmed.
Despite the officer’s assertion that the lorry driver should have given the cyclists more space or waited until it was safe to pass, since the video was posted online last night many Twitter users have leapt to the defence of the motorist, who they claim “stayed within his lane”.
“He stayed within his lane, the cyclist should have been more aware,” one user tweeted. “JV cycles around London looking for trouble. JV you are promoting a negative narrative against me and my fellow cyclists with your anti-motorist agenda.”
Another said: “I’m a big supporter of road safety and cyclists’ rights, but there has to be reason on both sides. A [very] busy road, lots of big lorries – cyclists should cooperate by dropping to single file or keep away from lane line.”
Another remarked that the officer’s “road positioning was selfish and asking for trouble. He put himself in danger.
“No large vehicle could pass him with decent space without going onto the wrong side of the road. For a big truck, near a junction, that would be dangerous.”
Vine responded to a number of the tweets, which he claimed were “criticising a police officer for trying to keep vulnerable road users safe.”
“When you pass a vulnerable road user, distance from the line is not the issue,” the broadcaster wrote. “It is distance from the cyclist.”
Another user claimed that the antagonistic replies to Vine’s video “show that some British drivers are dehumanised.
“As long as they are ‘in their lane’ it doesn’t matter if they endanger the life of another human being.”
Ultimately it took DCS Cox, who in his previous role as a Met Superintendent built up a solid reputation on Twitter for schooling those spouting anti-cyclist rhetoric on the platform, to add some much-needed perspective to proceedings.
“The point lost by so many commenting on this thread is… Drivers have a responsibility to protect vulnerable road users,” he tweeted. “That way everyone gets home safely, alive.”
You can donate to DCS Cox’s latest campaign for RoadPeace at his Just Giving page (link is external).