'Disbelief' as sticker on haulage firm lorry labels cyclists as 'road vermin'
Horrified cyclists are up in arms after a lorry from a haulage firm was spotted in Northern Ireland carrying a sticker that described them as "vermin".
The EDS (Express Distribution Service) lorry was photographed at a junction in Mallusk bearing the 'road vermin' sticker with an image portraying a rat on a bike and warning them to be on the alert when the vehicle is turning left.
However, the Lurgan-based haulage company said the "unacceptable" sticker has now been removed from the back of the vehicle and had been posted by an employee who has been disciplined.
Niall Simpson said he was travelling as a passenger in a car behind the lorry when he spotted the sticker. He photographed it and posted it on Twitter. It read: 'Road vermin beware when driver is turning left'.
"It was right in front of me. I had to look at it a couple of times," he said.
"I've no problem with the message below which said cyclists beware when people are turning left.
"Disbelief is probably the best word. It was the picture and potential intent."
Mr Simpson said that as far as he knew the problem has now been resolved.
"I am used to not being treated the best by certain drivers.
"To be fair there was nothing wrong with his driving," he said.
"It was just the figure and it concerned me more that the whole company might be doing it, but apparently it was just one guy.
"The worry is that is how he views cyclists."
Mr Simpson said cyclists are particularly vulnerable around HGVs and he has had his share of scary moments.
In one case a lorry pulled out to overtake him on a country road, forcing an oncoming car to swerve into the verge.
"We were side by side - the car, the lorry and me.
"The lorry was probably closer to the car than me.
"If the car hadn't moved, I dread to think how close he was to me," he said.
David Neill, managing director of EDS, said the sticker had been posted on the lorry as a joke but it was not acceptable.
He said: "The guy did it off his own bat and as soon as we became aware of it, it was taken down and we disciplined the driver when he came back.
"I think it was more of a joke - he got the sticker from a friend. But it wasn't acceptable and it shouldn't have gone up - we don't want to portray our company with that sort of image."
A spokesman for Sustrans in Northern Ireland said it has been working very closely with the Freight Transport Association to improve lorry drivers' awareness of cyclists on roads.