Two weeks ago, on Saturday 20th August, on Midland Road, outside St Pancras station, a Fedex van driver made several lunges at me with his Fedex van, in a manner that was absolutely using his van as a weapon, with intent to cause fear, and potentially harm. At one point, he came less than a wheel length away from my hire bike, and I am in no doubt at all that had I lost my balance at this point, I would have gone under his van, and he would have killed me.
So how have the Met Police treated this clear incident of what’s softly known as road rage, but what felt at the time like attempted murder? Well they tell me the driver will get a “ticket” – a fixed penalty notice, pay a small fine, take perhaps 3 points, or avoid even having to do either by going on a learn to be nice course.
Am I being a bit melodramatic about this? After all, road rage incidents happen in London all the time, and I was just a mere cyclist, riding a hire bike, possibly making the driver think I was being inexperienced by riding in the centre of the lane, as per TfL’s own advice. Frankly, no I am not. The edited and full video are available below, and even this just show what I caught on camera. It’s very clear to see the driver making several lunges forward, together with incessant beeping. So isn’t this just simple dangerous driving? Dangerous driving means driving in a way which falls significantly below what might reasonably be expected of a competent driver in the situation. Dangerous driving is a serious offence, but it is not, of itself, malicious. A very close overtake, speeding dangerously round a corner or veering across lanes on a motorway due to tiredness might all be deemed as dangerous, but they do not carry intent to endanger or harm.
This driver has absolutely caused me serious harm in the form of intense stress, and by sparking off an episode of the mood disorder I otherwise had under a reasonable level of control. My own bike is still parked at Coventry station, where I left it that afternoon, or if it isn’t there, well somebody else has moved it, and I’m past caring. I won’t be cycling again for at least a month, maybe more, at this point I cannot say. Every time I go near traffic, I now feel a heightened sense of fear. For a number of days in the last few weeks, I have just remained completely housebound.
But what has angered me most about this incident is not so much the driving itself (it happens), but the fact that this man was in control of a branded corporate vehicle, and one belonging to a company which claims to pride itself in its safety standards. It is also an example of the complete double standards we have in our criminal justice system, when attacks are made using vehicles as the weapon, despite the CPS having very clear guidelines stating that a vehicle becomes a weapon when it is driven with intent to cause harm or distress. Now think of this location, and ask yourself:
- What would have happened if a Fedex delivery agent had taken out a gun insider St Pancras International Station?
- What if a Fedex employee wielded a knife in the crowd that surrounds the Harry Potter exhibit inside King’s Cross Station?
I don’t think I need to answer the question – go directly to jail, do not pass go.
Yet try to drive into someone, even when they are still using a TfL branded transport facility? Keep going as normal, do a little course, do not even pay a £200 fine.
Now what about Fedex themselves as a company, and essentially the world’s largest deliverer of parcels and similar such services? Well in the air, their record is perfectly competent. They talk a good corporate game. But are their standards on the road even remotely close to what you’d expect from their pilots and other aviation operatives? Not even close!
Hence, I have asked the Fedex depot manager to explain:
- Was there a dash cam installed and running?
- Is there an interior camera in the cab to monitor driver alertness?
- Does the van use a “black box” – ie telematics, to monitor driver behaviour?
- How does your recruitment process screen out potentially dangerous drivers?
- What sort of ongoing training is provided for your drivers, and is this mandatory, or only post-incident?
- Was this driver a direct employee of Fedex, an employee of a subcontractor, or a freelance operative?
- Are Fedex signed up to safety reporting initiatives, such as FORS or CIRAS?
- What expectations are placed on your drivers in terms of the number of deliveries or pickups they are expected to make each day?
- Are drivers either penalised or rewarded for late or on-time delivery performance?
- What specific training is given, in a city such as London, towards driver awareness of more vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians?
These questions were asked a week ago, and as yet, they remain unanswered. It’s been amazing to watch over the last few months how TfL themselves have responded to campaigns, especially by the relentless Tom Kearney (@comadad), to improve their own bus safety. Delivery drivers represent a substantial portion of the traffic that is on the roads of London and other cities. It’s time they were held to account in the same way that people are slowly holding bus companies and other such providers.
Fedex above all else really should be leading the way on transport safety – no other company in the world operates such a large combined fleet of vans, trucks, and of course aircraft.
I hope this post will yield some answers to the above questions.
Full video below:
Road CC Article and my response
Thanks everyone for comments. The reason why I made the terror comparison was entirely down to the location of the attack and company involved.
Now turn this the other way round – supposing I was an under-investigation employee of Fedex who tried to bring down one of their planes (see Fedex 705).
Would anyone quibble about whether that was terrorism, air piracy, or attempted murder?
Now suppose a Fedex staff member took out a gun or a knife inside St Pancras – do we then quibble or say it’s outlandish to say it was an act of terror, even if it may well be a lone act?
I can accept that the driver probably didn’t set out that afternoon to knock someone off a hire bike, but the simple fact is that I was there, wrong place, wrong time, and I know that he made a choice to intimidate and harass, rather than just to change lane, which he could easily have done.
I also think there’s every chance he picked me out for using a hire bike. In other words, in his political belief system as was in his mind at that time, it’s highly likely that he decided to threaten me based on his belief that he was the superior, road tax paying, licensed driver, and I was quite possibly just an inexperienced tourist who was in his way.
Either way, if i was in a car going that speed, the attack wouldn’t have happened – we all know that. So an attack based on choice of transport mode is an act of hate at the very least.