If you’re going to break the law, it’s probably best not to do it in front of police officers.
But – in a classic case of picking the wrong targets – Thomas Harris did just that at the weekend, when he unleashed a foul-mouthed tirade at two cyclists on a Jamberoo road.
Harris wouldn’t have known at the time that he was venting his anger at two boys in blue, but the Mercury can reveal the Lycra-clad duo were in fact off-duty cops.
Mobile phone vision of the encounter, filmed by Harris, showed the 27-year-old hurling abuse at the pair as they rode two abreast on Swamp Road and he drove along a shared path next to them.
“What's the point of us spending this money if you’re not going to use it [the shared path], you f---ing d---heads,” an irate Harris, from Albion Park, shouted.
“Pull over, so I can have a chat,” one cyclist responded.
“F--k off, f---ing idiot. Use the f---ing bike track, you dumb c—t,” Harris yelled back.
The incident happened about 8.20am on Australia Day and the footage was posted to Harris’ Instagram account.
The video has since been shared on various social media platforms and viewed millions of times.
Harris was interviewed by Lake Illawarra police on Monday night and issued a future court attendance notice for using his phone while driving, offensive language, and for driving on the path.
Despite many online commentators suggesting the cyclists were required by law to use the shared path, Acting Inspector Lee Ingmire said that was not the case.
“The two cyclists, from the video, appear to be abiding by the road rules,” Inspector Ingmire said.
NSW road rules stipulate cyclists can ride two abreast on a road, but no more than 1.5 metres apart.
Read more: Drivers, you don’t own the road – editorial
Cyclists are required to use a “marked bicycle lane”, unless impracticable to do so.
However, the Jamberoo thoroughfare in question was a shared path, not a marked bicycle lane.
Cyclists do not have to use a shared path, but “must keep to the left of any oncoming bicycle rider or pedestrian” while on it.
“Regardless of whatever the bicycles are doing on the road, it doesn’t justify what the driver did,” Inspector Ingmire said of the Jamberoo incident.
“He’s on the path like a good hundred metres before he approaches the bicycles. The bike riders haven’t had the opportunity to drop back to a single lane.”
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help Harris pay the fines he’s likely to be slapped with.
The appeal had raised more than $1800 of its $2000 goal by late on Wednesday.
The fundraiser was created by Adam Dederer, from Stuarts Point – a village on the NSW Mid North Coast, some 600km from Jamberoo.
“Lets [sic] get behind this Aussie Hero and help put an end to this Sh#t,” Mr Dederer wrote.