Are unprovoked attacks on cyclists on the rise? It's a qustion worth asking following a number of incidents reported in local press across the country in the last week alone.
With the exception of one incident in which a bottle was clearly aimed at a rider, it's not known whether the victims were specifically targeted because they were cyclists, but the assaults do highlight the vulnerability of bike riders, particularly when they are alone and in areas with little or no traffic or passers-by.
One attack, in Slough, Berkshire, was so serious that it left the 49-year-old victim with a broken leg and eye injury after he was knocked off his bike and assaulted by a group of six teenagers.
Meanwhile, a cyclist in Dumfries, Scotland was struck by a bottle thrown by a passenger on a passing bus. Although in this case the cyclist has not yet come forward, a motorist who witnessed the attack was so appalled by what they had seen that they reported the matter to the police, who said that the victim was clearly left shocked and in pain.
In Wythenshawe, Manchester, a 19-year-old making his way home from work was assaulted by a group of youths, leaving him with cuts and severe bruising. In this case, the police have at least been able to identify suspects, with two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old arrested on suspicion of assault and bailed while enquiries continue.
And in Horley, Surrey, a 49-year-old woman was attacked by four teenagers, themselves on bicycles, hitting hr head on the ground as she fell in what the police are treating as a racially aggravated assault.
What the attacks all have in common is that they were carried out on lone cyclists and, in the case of the Slough and Horley attacks, in secluded locations, making it difficult to trace witnesses.
The respective police forces are appealing for witnesses to all four incidents, and in the case of the Dumfries assault, are also asking the cyclist involved to come forward. Anyone with information about these, or any other assaults on cyclists, are urged to contact their local police station or to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
This latest spate of attacks comes just three months after cyclist Filipe Nunes David was almost killed following an unprovoked attack in Ewell, Surrey. The assault in August was so severe that Mr Nunes David spent two weeks in a coma and left his brain so badly swollen that doctors were forced to remove part of his skull.
He remains in hospital, and his partner, Helena Sousa, told the Epsom Guardian this week that “Filipe was a good father, but since the attack most of the times he doesn’t even recognise us. I am now mother and father to our children and it’s been really hard.”
Ms Sousa added, “I had a partner who took care of me and my children had a loving father who worked very hard to support us, but that’s all gone now.”
Police have charged a 20-year-old man and two 16-year-old youths with causing grevious bodily harm with intent, while two other suspects, aged 16 and 18, have been released on police bail while further enquiries are carried out.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.