A father who was criticised by former UK Chancellor Sajid Javid for letting his son ride in the road and suffer a close pass in a viral video has said that he was so shocked by the MP's response that he thought it was a joke.
In the video Ashley's son is riding down a two way street but when he reaches a point with cars on both sides of the road, and only just over enough room for a car to fit through, a car coming the other way refuses to stop and squeezes through the gap.
It has sparked a debate about cycle safety and the law around who has priority in similar situations.
Javid, who also served as Home Secretary, weighed in on the issue after the account for Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 television show asked on social media who was at fault for the close pass shown in the footage.
The now backbench MP responded on his own Twitter account and said: “The 5-year old's father.”
Ashley, from Kingston, London, UK said that recent confusion over verification of accounts on Twitter, following the platform's purchase by Elon Musk, made him initially think that Javid’s account was a parody.
“A London Assembly member and a Tory peer had said similar things to him [Javid],” he said. “To then see the man who could have been the Prime Minister and who until recently was Chancellor of the Exchequer say things like that made me think it was a parody.”
“With all the things going on at the moment on Twitter around verification marks, I genuinely didn’t think it could be him. I thought someone was just taking the piss,” he added.
The 5-year old's father. https://t.co/nMfncye03dNovember 10, 2022
Ashley told Cycling Weekly that he could not believe the former chancellor was wasting his time entering the debate.
“I thought there was no way that he, the former chancellor, was wasting his time with this. Also I was shocked that he was coming out and so obviously blaming me, not the poor driving in the video,” Ashley said.
Despite the mixed responses received on Twitter, Ashley said the initial response from other parents on social media has been supportive. He added that none have got in touch to say they have been put off taking their children cycling on the road by sight of his son being close passed by a driver.
“I’ve been so surprised by how many people have been in touch with me. People have said that this is exactly what they’re trying to do with their children. I don’t think I’ve had anyone get in touch who was debating allowing their children to cycle on the road and now are having second thoughts,” he said.
Ashley said that he was not surprised by the MPs response due to his record on funding for active travel while Chancellor.
“I saw that in a spending review in 2019 when Javid was chancellor, he didn’t announce a single penny of funding for active travel. Not a single one. Before Covid and the other financial issues, he had the purse strings but didn’t prioritise it,” Ashley said.
Cycling Weekly has contacted the office of Sajid Javid MP for comment.
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