A cyclist whose leg was broken when he was the victim of a bike jacking in north London was forced to call an Uber minicab to get to hospital when 999 controllers told him he wasn’t allowed an ambulance.
Paul Mullan, 32, was attacked by three masked men and pulled off his bicycle. He dialled 999 as he lay on the River Lea towpath near Tottenham but controllers told him to hang up and dial 111 for non-serious injuries.
Three police officers eventually came to his aid and drove him home, where he called an Uber to take him to A&E where his broken shinbone became obvious.
Paul told the Evening Standard: “I don’t know why they couldn’t send me an ambulance or doctor.
"That is the most disappointing thing. At the time I was incredulous. I’m always a defender of the NHS but I want to know why they didn’t listen to my call properly.
“They said, ‘Describe what is wrong with you’. I’m lying flat on my face. I’ve been hauled off my bike. I can’t move. I knew my leg was gone.”
Police have appealed for witnesses as they issued descriptions of the attackers, all black. One is tall, aged 18-20 and wore a burgundy bandana over his face, another of the same age had Afro-style hair and wore a black jacket and a short youth aged about 16 had a Somali appearance and wore a black bomber jacket and blue jeans.
London Ambulance Service said: “From the information given us, the patient was conscious and alert and had no immediately life-threatening injuries. We will work with him to review this case and are sorry if we have contributed to an already very distressing experience.”
Just last month we reported how an average of 10 cyclists in London are being mugged for their bicycle every week, according to the Metropolitan Police, highlighting the growth of what is termed ‘bike-jacking.’
The figures, obtained by BBC News London, show that as many incidents of riders in the capital being intimidated into handing over their bikes were recorded in the last 12 months than in the previous two years.
Police say that many of the 550 incidents involved cyclists attacked on quiet paths at night.
Chief Inspector Mike West of the Metropolitan Police commented: "We scan every day for crimes of note and if we pick up on any trends or analysis which would lead us to a hot spot area to deal with crime then that's what we'll do.
"We'll match our resources to where the problems are and you'll generally see an increased uniformed presence."
In March, the founder of a charity that aims to teach young people skills to help them avoid becoming victims of street crime said that older children were stealing bikes from younger ones, sometimes as part of gang initiation.
Nathaniel Peat, who set up the charity The Safety Box, said: “Often the way [cyclists] dress suggests they might have money which means the bike they’re riding is valuable.
"They wear high-end brands. The kids can tell somebody that’s picked up a top from Primark apart from Zara,” Mr Peat said.
“A lot of young people in affluent areas wear jumpers. In the community [lower socio-economic areas], they’re wearing hoodies.
"Young people can see the difference and can read somebody from the way they dress or the bike that they’re riding.”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.