In Britain, 4×4 drivers reverse to provide more abuse after hitting you

Kate Richardson DNS'd the Tour of Britain with a broken collarbone in a shocking incident of anti-cyclist violence.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 06.06.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Here we go, another yarn about the demise of a country that, by global standards, probably isn’t that bad. But there’s that journalistic idiom that tells you to look outside to check if it’s actually raining. And it has been. In record amounts for 18 months. And before that, it was still raining.

In a latest anecdote proffering the social, economic and moral decline (really, take your pick!) of the UK, 21-year-old professional cyclist Kate Richardson of Lifeplus-Wahoo has been forced to pull out of revamped Tour of Britain after getting knocked off her bike by a 4×4, with the driver then reversing to give her some verbal abuse too. Lovely. Left with a broken collarbone, she obviously no longer made the start in Welshpool on Thursday.

“I was on a narrow single track road, no more than 3m wide on a blind bend and clearly the driver couldn’t wait 10 more seconds to overtake me,” Richardson, the U23 European Individual Pursuit champion, wrote on Instagram. “He decided to try and squeeze his huge 4×4 past me at a high speed, hitting me hard and knocking me off my bike.

“Initially, he just drove on but turned around and came back later to verbally abuse and threaten me before getting back in his car and driving off again. Thankfully another driver came across the scene pretty quickly and kindly helped me up and drove me home.”

How wonderful! While Richardson confirms at the end of her post that she has reported the incident to the police, this wasn’t the first and won’t be the last time something like this happens.

While criminal drivers are a global scourge, there is something about the recent whipping up of anti-cyclist rhetoric from certain sections of the British press that can only embolden drivers to not just hold a lack of care for more vulnerable road users, but to then give them an earful for good measure as they’re lying on the floor with bones broken by the two-tonne hunk of metal that just collided with them.

Richardson’s DNS leaves a race already slightly hamstrung by late organisation and, quite possibly, a side order of Brexit, with only 89 riders. That’s one fewer than the minimum needed for riders to gain UCI points from their exploits at the race. That’s the standard cost of doing business these days in the UK. Sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe shit.

Kate Richardson (centre) after winning the U23 European Individual Pursuit title in 2023.
Kate Richardson (centre) after winning the U23 European Individual Pursuit title in 2023.

Well, at least Lloyds Bank are stumping up the cash to let us have a couple of bike races at all, and the horses running across the beach in their adverts are calming at a time when there is little to be calm about. A sense of impending dread quelled by cantering steeds or a whirring peloton snaking through an English village. Allow yourself to get lost in the fluidity of motion, the mechanical pounding of hooves on sand or a hundred freehubs singing in unison.

And if you get bored of that, just flick on the telly where the current Prime Minister is shouting the words TWO THOUSAND POUNDS over and over again, like the last gambit of a broke nation that’s sold off the rights for Deal Or No Deal to a sanatorium for the deaf.

Let’s hope Kate Richardson is okay. Let’s hope that 4×4 driver gets what’s coming to him. If our slide backwards doesn’t also include a return to retributive justice, then really what is the point? Thank you to the banking overlords at Lloyds (who have probably done something bad we just don’t know about yet) for bringing the Tours of Britain back from the brink. Now, if we could just get a few consecutive days without rain, a small taste of summer, maybe things wouldn’t seem as dreary as they appear.

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