A trainee accountant who bragged on Twitter about knocking a 'bloody cyclist' over and not stopping has put her career at risk after her comments sparked an online backlash.
A woman, whose name is 'Emma Way' on the social media site, 'admitted' knocking 29-year-old Toby Hockley off his bike as he was competing in an event in Norfolk on Sunday - a cycling sportive named after Queen Boudicca because of her "fighting spirit".
Ms Way, believed to work for accountants Larking Gowen, a firm that sponsors cycle challenges, tweeted: "Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier - I have right of way he doesn't even pay road tax #bloodycyclists". She has deleted her account after receiving hundreds of outraged responses.
Norwich police saw the message and sent her a tweet advising her to turn herself in. A police spokesman confirmed that both parties had been contacted and that the investigation was progressing.
Ms Way's message was retweeted hundreds of times with many people stating that road tax does not actually exist. The Ipayroadtax.com website highlighted an urban myth it says is worryingly prevalent among younger drivers. The tax disc is actually Vehicle Excise Duty and rates are based on the car's engine size, fuel type and carbon dioxide emissions.
In a post about the incident, a spokesman for the website said: "It would be good if new drivers were taught that roads are not paid for by motorists but by general and local taxation. The fact that the majority of cyclists own cars too doesn't seem to filter through to some people, it's as if we're still in the 1930s when cycling was 'poor mans' transport'."
Ipayroadtax.com also said the incident was symptomatic of a growing anti-cycling sentiment among younger female drivers. It said: "The tweets collected by @cyclehatred have shown that a surprising number of anti-cyclist comments are not coming from traditional 'white van man' but from young women, many of them clearly new to driving. What is it that's making these otherwise unremarkable young women say such hateful things about cyclists?
"Perhaps it's that some young female motorists feel safe in their cars and often rely on them to get everywhere? For such women, perhaps the thought of being a cyclist - unprotected from 'stranger danger' and open to the elements - makes them shudder, and the way to reject and despoil this "other" is to vilify and mock it?"
Mr Hockley, 29, a trainee chef from Norwich, posted his own response to Ms Day on Facebook: "Oh hi! That was me you hit and FYI, you didn't knock me off, I'm too hard to be hurt by a pissy micra or whatever it was you were driving."
Hockley said he had decided previously not to report the incident, despite being bruised and driven into a hedge. "I'm fine, few scrapes, bruises and sore joints but otherwise fine," he told the BBC. "It could have been a different story if it had been any other rider. I'm not angry at all. Don't see the point."
He added: "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. But I managed to get out of the hedge and stand up. The car was nowhere to be seen. She hit me and she was gone. All I know is that it was a blonde girl driving."
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: "This may sound like a bit of dirty laundry being aired in public but actually it's really important - road safety is crucial for all road users as is civility on the road."
Ms Way is believed to be one of 16 new Larking Gowen trainees that began at the company last September. The firm released a statement after it was bombarded with hundreds of complaints. It said: "Please be assured that this is not a view held by the firm and we most certainly do not condone this behaviour. We are taking the incidents very seriously, and a full and detailed investigation will be carried out and appropriate action taken. We have already spoken to Norfolk Police."
A spokesman for Larking Gowen declined to say whether Ms Day had been suspended "as the police investigation is ongoing".Reuse content