'Road rage' lorry driver drenches Australian cyclists

Cyclists inside Sydney Tunnel from viewpoint of lorry driver Image copyright Supplied
Image caption The group of cyclists were riding two abreast in a tunnel when they were deliberately sprayed with water

Footage of a lorry driver deliberately drenching a group of cyclists in Sydney has ignited debate about who has the right to use the roads.

In a video posted to Facebook, the unidentified driver cackles as he steers his truck into a water-soaked stretch of road to spray the riders.

The cyclists reported the incident to police after seeing the footage.

While many have condemned the driver, some on social media criticised the cyclists for riding on a major road.

"So, we hate pushbikes," the driver can be heard saying as he films the video.

"We're not allowed to run them over. But hey, we can [mess] with them. Let's have a crack at [messing] with them."

"Yep - up ahead I see a little bit of water. So, now's a good time to start the overtaking manoeuvre, I believe."

The original video has been removed from social media, along with the profile of the person who posted it.

Analysis: Greg Dunlop, BBC News Online, Sydney

Regardless of the legal outcome of the incident, in a city of more than five million people, it is another avoidable confrontation between motorists and bike riders.

As someone who cycles in Sydney, it is easy to feel like a second class citizen on two wheels.

Investment in major infrastructure seems to favour suburban sprawl and car culture rather than high-density living and public transport.

New South Wales is building a motorway that will reportedly cost more than the Channel Tunnel, the new public transport ticketing system is seen as a debacle, and it brought in news laws to force cyclists to carry photo identification.

Cyclists, like motorists, aren't perfect. They run through red lights, hog lanes, cut off pedestrians and sometimes ride as though no laws apply to them.

But cyclists are also vulnerable. In a collision, a driver might walk away with a massive dent and steeper insurance premiums; a cyclist might not walk away at all.

One of the cyclists, identified only as Blake, said he thought the footage struck a chord because it "could've been any one of us".

"That's the scary part of being a cyclist in Sydney, 95% of drivers are very courteous, they can sacrifice the 15 seconds we may hold them up occasionally," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It only takes one split-second accident that can really change someone's life for the worst."

But on Facebook, many users were praising the truck driver for his actions and criticising the cyclists for being on a major road.

"Awww boo hoo, they shouldn't be on major roads anyway, got nothing against people cycling but in areas that aren't going to be a hindrance to traffic flow," said one typical comment.

The incident occurred on a stretch of road near Sydney Airport where cyclists are permitted to ride.

The cyclists were in the middle lane because all traffic in the left lane, which the truck driver occupied, is funnelled on to a section of a major freeway where cyclists are not permitted to ride.