Cyclists in Pembrokeshire are being warned to take extra care after wire was stripped from a fence and left on a busy cycle track in what is thought to be an act of vandalism or sabotage that could result in riders suffering serious injuries or worse.
Paul Smith, Walking and Cycling Officer at Pembrokeshire County Council, told the Western Telegraph that he believed adults had been responsible for removing the 30-metre stretch of wire on a cycle path between Johnston and Haverfordwest, given that it had been secured to a series of 20 fence posts by one-inch long staples.
“Stupidity has consequences,” said Mr Smith. “It might have seemed like a good idea at the time but at that stretch of the path it could have been fatal.
“There are probably 50 cyclists a day, even in winter, and several hundred in the summer. It’s one of the busiest paths in Wales.”
The incident comes nine months after the same newspaper reported how a cyclist had been knocked unconscious and suffered injuries including a black eye and torn tendons in her left arm after being thrown from her bike when she rode across wire similarly left on a cycle track, this time close to Johnston School.
The victim in that incident, Lilian Vaughan from Haverfordwest, told the newspaper that she believed youths had been responsible for that incident, which also saw her partner come off his bike.
“We saw a group of youngsters in the playground at Johnston School just before the incident and a crowd laughing and running away afterwards,” said Ms Vaughan, who was unable to return to her job as a British Airways cabin attendant until her black eye went away.
“It was a horrendous experience and I won’t be smiling on any flights for a while,” she said.
Both incidents bring to mind the story we reported on last month in which a cyclist was left unconscious on the Bath and Bristol cycle path and his bike stolen. In that case, however, rather than simply being placed on the cycle route, wire had been deliberately stretched across the path, similar to a tripwire.
Mr Smith believes that the latest episode in Pembrokeshire could have had much more serious consequences than the one involving Ms Vaughan, given the location.
“People coming down the hill could have been doing 20mph easily,” he explained. “It could have been really dangerous and much worse than the incident in Johnston.
“This was beyond a joke, someone could have been severely injured,” he added.
Anyone witnessing suspicious behaviour of obstacles on cycle paths is asked to contact Mr Smith at Pembrokeshire County Council on 01437 775 435 or the police on 101.
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.