Footballer turned driving instructor Ashley Neal says he “wholeheartedly” disagrees with fellow YouTuber CyclingMikey’s approach to trying to make the roads safer, saying that by confronting drivers who break the law , it actually creates many incidents of road rage.
Neal, who runs a driving range in Liverpool, visited Regents Park in London and the crossroads nicknamed Gandalf Corner where, for several years now, Mike van Erp – Cycling Mikey – has regularly positioned himself, filming drivers in violation often on their mobile phones , or go to the wrong side of a left sign to try and avoid the queues.
In an eight-minute YouTube video, Neal explains how Gandalf Corner, which he describes as an “unremarkable” junction got its nickname, highlights some examples of drivers breaking the law – including using images of his own CyclingMikey’s YouTube channel.
“He’s caught a lot of people over the years,” says Neal. “Most are reported to the police. Some receive fines and points on the license, others simply take driver improvement courses, and there are a few who do not receive any penalties.
Granted, Neal doesn’t have a lorry with law-breaking drivers – he points out that “impatience is normally the reason many road users take this shortcut, however, it puts others at risk”, and that “pedestrians will only expect vehicles to come from their right as they cross this section of road, they would not expect vehicles to come from the other side of the road.
He also points out that van Erp “also catches a lot of people on their cell phones, usually when they’re just queuing in traffic”, although he quickly qualifies this by adding, “that doesn’t mean that using your cell phone while queuing traffic is allowed,” citing stricter laws that came into effect earlier this year.
What Neal seems to have a problem with, however, is that van Erp – and other cyclists who use cameras – submit these images to the police for potential action against the motorists concerned, even if it is something that police forces across the country are actively promoting.
“Mikey also takes great pride in showing off all the fines people have and the points they got on the license,” he says. “It’s not something I would do. Most of you understand my educational stance on things. I never reported anyone for anything
“That’s not to say whistleblowing is a bad thing. It just depends on your own situation. And for my part, I run a driving school in Liverpool. I am responsible for many instructors and all of their students. If I reported everything I saw, negativity towards these instructors and students would definitely have a negative effect on road safety.
“Then if I reported every violation I saw, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else,” he adds.
Both have huge reach through their social media channels. Neal’s YouTube Channel has 106,000 subscribers, compared to just over 80,000 on CyclingMikey’s channel – and views of individual videos posted by van Erp often number in the millions, while the most popular download for the Driving Monitor is currently 3,000 at less than seven figures.
Neal uses his YouTube presence to educate motorists on how to drive safely, as well as highlight examples of misbehavior (including, ironically, his own, as shown in the link below) – but in this case, he also points out that some cyclists are also breaking the law.
> Footballer turned driving instructor Ashley Neal divides opinion with use of horn in overtaking video
“What Mikey has done is actually rallied a lot of cyclists to take a similar approach to reporting,” he says. “It may have a positive impact nationally in stopping people from using their cellphones, but honestly I think it created a different problem. In fact, I asked Mikey about it before in his videos, but he did not respond.
“Quite often you can see in the footage as he challenges the motorist for breaching the left hand bollard, cyclists doing the exact same thing.
“Now I understand that anyone riding a ton of metal is going to do a lot more damage than anyone on a bike, but with the speeds involved at this crossroads and crossing area, honestly it becomes a lot less relevant.
“Some motorists believe that due to the lack of requirement for license plates and licenses to ride a bike, cyclists get away with things that motorists don’t.
“I understand that this is a false equivalence and the updates of the highway code confirm it. But this way of looking after your own is wrong, whether you are a pro or not in road safety. , this disparity between different types of road users only causes resentment and division.
“We now have legions of cyclists, all over the country, trying to capture this moment and shouting ‘you’re on camera, you know’.
“If you catch someone committing a violation, just report it if you wish. Clearly and simply, we must build bridges, not create divisions. All roads must be shared in a safe and reasonable way .
“If you haven’t seen Mikey’s videos, please watch them. And also, I would like you to tell me if you find them funny, if they help you. road safety or if they get in the way,” continues Neal.
“In my personal opinion, I totally disagree with his approach, he effectively camps here and creates many of these road rage incidents, all of his own volition.
“He could just register violators and then report them to the police anyway, without standing up and blocking the road. In fact, I have seen on a number of his uploads different types of road users hitting the road because of his actions,” he adds.
What Neal doesn’t mention, but van Erp has in numerous media appearances, including on the road.cc podcast, is one of the main reasons he’s so passionate about making the roads safer and bringing motorists who break the law to justice – his father was killed by a drunk driver when van Erp was still a teenager.
> Tired of road crime”: CyclingMikey in episode 16 of the road.cc podcast
A number of van Erp’s Twitter followers have voiced their support, with @velobetty for example saying that while she generally respects Neal’s opinions, “I think he’s pretty wrong on this one.”
To be honest, I’m just sick of being, metaphorically, punched in the face and being told to agree with everyone.
— Elisabeth Anderson 🚲🐺 (@velobetty) May 22, 2022
“We should build bridges”
Damn, I was hit by 3 drivers and had my back broken in 3 places during one of those interactions.
Drivers who report can only have a positive impact – they are literally the consequences of their own actions.
—Harry 🚲 (@nottheUCI) May 22, 2022
Van Erp himself – currently enjoying a cycling holiday on the mainland – is aware of the video, but says he won’t watch it.
Interestingly, I believe the Parks Police stated at a Parks meeting that my activities had produced a substantial improvement in safety around the corner. It’s confirmed by a contact I have there who told me that a lot less people dare to do it these days.
— VéloMikey along the Rhine 🇳🇱🇪🇺🇿🇼🇺🇦 (@MikeyCycling) May 23, 2022
Cheers. I won’t bother to watch it. I do not note his opinion.
— VéloMikey along the Rhine 🇳🇱🇪🇺🇿🇼🇺🇦 (@MikeyCycling) May 22, 2022