Published at 12:01AM, May 22 2013
Police are investigating claims that a woman driver who knocked a cyclist off his bicycle sought to justify the collision on Twitter, saying: “he doesn’t even pay road tax!”
Toby Hockley, 29, said that he was lucky to be alive after a car hit him on a country lane as he participated in the 100-mile Boudicca Sportive ride in Norfolk on Sunday. He claimed that the driver careered around a corner and hit him, sending him flying into a bush.
Mr Hockley escaped without major injury and, as the motorist failed to stop, he presumed that there was nothing he could do about the crash.
But he later came across a message posted on Twitter by a woman with the username @EmmaWay20 saying: “Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have right of way — he doesn’t even pay road tax!” The tweet, which used the hashtag “#Bloodycyclists”, was sent to Norfolk Police, who are investigating.
A police spokesman declined to identify the driver. However, police confirmed that the @EmmaWay20 Twitter account had been closed down after a storm of protest on the internet.
A post from Norwich Constabulary read: “@NorwichPoliceUK @emmaway20 we have had tweets ref an RTC with a bike. We suggest you report it at a police station ASAP if not done already & then dm us.” Last night, police said they had spoken to both the driver and the cyclist.
Mr Hockley said: “A car came tearing round the blind corner and narrowly missed a cyclist in front of me. She came on to my side of the road, I took the wing mirror off and I went flying off my bike into a hedge. She hit me hard, really hard. I am lucky to be alive.” The driver did not stop. “All I know is that it was a blonde girl driving. I burst out laughing, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was and that I was still in one piece,” Mr Hockley said. “I’m not angry, I would just like it known that her stupid comment that I don’t pay road tax is not an excuse to treat cyclists like second-class citizens.”
The message, posted in Norwich on Sunday, is believed to have been made by a trainee accountant from Larking Gowen, a firm based in East Anglia.
In a statement, Ian Fitch, the firm’s deputy managing partner, said: “We are aware that one of our employees posted tweets relating to two incidents on their personal Twitter account. Please be assured that this is not a view held by Larking Gowen and we most certainly do not condone this behaviour ... We have already spoken to Norfolk Police.”
There is no such thing as road tax in Britain, but there is a common misconception among drivers that motoring taxes are ring-fenced, with money raised spent on building and maintaining roads. In fact, Vehicle Excise Duty goes to the Treasury. Most roads are maintained by local authorities.
The @cyclehatred Twitter feed compiles a daily list of threats from motorists to run over cyclists and drive them from the roads. The myth about road tax is a common refrain.
The Times is urging supporters of its Cities Fit for Cycling campaign to sign a petition on the Government’s website calling on David Cameron to implement a blueprint for increased cycle use. The petition can be found at http://thetim.es/cyclesafepetition