There has been a dramatic rise in instances of cyclists being mugged for their bikes, according to bike insurance firm the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), with the problem not just confined to urban areas. The ETA says that in the first three months of 2011, it has received as many claims for this type of theft as it did in the whole of 2010.
The insurer added that there is also a variation in the value of bicycle stolen in this way, as well as the degree of violence used against the victim, ranging from “having the bike snatched to serious physical assault and in one case a cyclist was threatened with a knife.”
A spokesperson for the ETA, whose policies provide cover against this type of theft, commented: “The total number of cyclists affected by this crime remains thankfully small, but the increase is dramatic and of concern.
“We can’t know for certain why bicycle muggings seem to be on the increase. It may be that it is not a trend, but rather an unpleasant ‘fad’ amongst criminals, but whatever the case our perception is that the police are taking the attacks seriously and in at least one case a man has been arrested.”
The ETA says that in response to threats such as mugging and bike theft generally, some cyclists are letting their bikes rust to make them less tempting to thieves, and says that “such rat bikes look set to become a cycling trend in their own right” – although of course cycle couriers and others have been taping up their frames for years to try and disguise what’s beneath and make them less attractive to thieves.
The company also mentions the instance of a cyclist in Africa who reputedly became so fed up with his bike being stolen that he devised a spring loaded knife in the seat post that deployed when a thief began pedalling – in keeping, perhaps, with Corporal Jones’s advice to Captain Mainwairing in Dad’s Army that they really do not like it up ‘em.
The ETA, whose cover for bikes includes new-for-old replacement, accidental damage including while racing and third party and personal accident cover, itself built its own custom anti-theft bicycle last year, including a James Bond-style ejector seat, as shown in this video.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.