Who is vigilante Mike van Erp and why is he Britain’s most hated...
Who is vigilante Mike van Erp and why is he Britain’s most hated cyclist?

Who is vigilante Mike van Erp and why is he Britain’s most hated cyclist?

VIGILANTE Mike van Erp is the scourge of many London motorists who see him as Britain’s most hated cyclist. The 51-year-old from Zimbabwe, who is better known as Cycling Mikey, takes it upon himself to travel around the capital on a bike looking for drivers breaking the traffic laws. In particularly, van Erp looks for people behind the wheel who are contravening the Road Vehicles Construction and Use Amendment No 2 under the Road Traffic Act 1988. This outlaws the use of handheld communication devices at the wheel. Over the four years that van Erp has been filming with his head-mounted video camera he has caught 1,400 drivers using their phones, leading to 1,800 penalty points and £110,000 in fines. His actions have left people sharply divided, either seeing him as a road safety hero or as a complete nuisance. No one is above his strict enforcement. While he was out with The Times , he caught an ambulance driver peering at his phone. After confronting the NHS worker, who apologises, van Erp says he will report him. Asked if there is anyone he doesn’t report, he replied: “I will occasionally let people off if the evidence is on the margin of what I consider prosecutable. Maybe slightly more likely to let them off if they’re polite.” To his 100,000 YouTube followers, van Erp is a fearless campaigner who posts the footage to his page, trying to make the UK’s roads a safer place. He has also inspired many other cyclists to follow his example to use cameras in order to bring potentially dangerous drivers to justice. To others he’s simply a self-righteous interfering busy-body. In 2020, he videoed Guy Ritchie texting while behind the wheel of his Range Rover, which led to the film director being banned from driving for six months, as he already had nine speeding points. He also caught Chris Eubank on the phone in 2021 , with the former world champion boxer telling him: “Go away. Off you go, off you go.” Eubank was handed three penalty points and fined £280 in costs – not for the phone use but because he jumped a red light in his Rolls-Royce convertible having driven away from van Erp. The former England footballer Frank Lampard was also caught by him in 2021 when he was behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon. Lampard, who kept his window shut and tried to ignore van Erp, was charged but the case was eventually dropped after Lampard’s defence team argued that the evidence failed to prove that the phone Lampard was holding was switched on or was being used for interactive communication. Within 20 minutes of catching the ambulance driver, van Erp catches three more people on their phones. A woman in a Mercedes winds her window up when she realises she is being filmed. Another woman in a convertible Mini speeds off when she is startled by the man. Van Erp often cycles along West Carriage Drive between Hyde Park and South Kensington because, he says, “it’s really easy to catch them.” He told the paper: “It’s like throwing fish guts and blood and fish oil in the water to attract the sharks . Entertainingly, people some years ago told me I should play the Jaws theme tune on my videos as I approach.” His last victim is a lorry driver, who also doesn’t get irate when he’s caught and even holds up his phone to show that the call has ended and reveals he has already got six points on his licence. The law was tightened in 2022 making an offence for a driver just to be touching a handheld phone that is switched on – even if the vehicle is stationary in traffic with the engine turned off. The maximum penalty is six points and a £200 fine. A driver clocking up 12 points on a licence can mean disqualification for six months or more. Asked if he is happy that the driver could face losing his licence and so his livelihood, van Erp replied: “I know, it’s a tough thing, especially if I have to face him in court . “Although it’s painful, I still think that I’m doing the right thing.” He did end up reporting him, saying: “He already had six points, so he’s not learning from the lessons. “I felt his pain but nice people still end up killing and seriously injuring others.” As well as his YouTube site, van Erp also uploads footage to a police website which is set up for citizen reporting. The Met Police use it to sift through looking for evidence to issue fines. Between 2018 and 202 the average yearly number of reports sent to the Met was 4,750. The latest annual figure is set to reach more than 8,600 by October. At least a third of the reports met the evidential threshold for fines or prosecutions, police say. The number of tickets issued by the Met’s traffic cops for phone use in the first half of this year was 3,476. The BBC and Channel 5 presenter Jeremy Vine , 58, is a big fan of van Erp’s, calling him an “inspiration, genuinely”. Vine said: “Mikey is not mad, not obsessed, not a vigilante. “He simply believes rules are there to be followed. The police can’t police everything, so people like Mikey fill in the gaps.”

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