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Police reaction to East London bike-jackings "shockingly poor" says cycling campaigner

Latest incident on Easter Sunday saw man robbed of bike at knifepoint

Cycling campaigners in east London have hit out at what they describe as “shockingly poor” police reaction to a spate of ‘bike-jackings’ in the Walthamstow Marshes area.

Simon Munk from Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign says he knows of five attacks on cyclists in the area during the past month, with the latest, on Easter Sunday, seeing a bike rider threatened at knifepoint before their bike was stolen.

He told the Waltham Forest Guardian that he believes people on bikes are being specifically targeted by gangs of muggers, and that police, who have said they will increase patrols in the area, should be doing more.

Police were called to an incident on Spring Hill at 10.30pm on Sunday evening after a man was threatened with a knife, punched, and robbed of his bike and other items by a group of 12 men.

Previous attacks include one on Coppermill Lane on 24 March when a man had his bike stolen and was punched by a gang.

The previous week on Orient Way in nearby Leyton, three would-be robbers dropped a bike they had just stolen after knocking the rider from it. Footage of the trio fleeing was recorded by one of two cyclists who gave chase.

“The odd extra patrol on the marshes is something they should be doing anyway,” said Mr Munk.

"The police's approach locally to crime against cyclists is shockingly poor and needs to change.

“One reason why so few people cycle is due to fear of the roads. 

"Gangs of muggers being allowed to operate for weeks on end in isolated spots with barely any police response adds to that fear.

“Forcing people on bikes to choose between dodging lorries on Blackhorse Road and muggers on Coppermill Lane is hardly a fun choice at all."

One cyclist posting about the incidents to the Stop Killing Cyclists page on Facebook said that the incidents had led to her avoiding the traffic-free route because of fears about falling victim to the muggers.

Emmeline May said: “This is part of my 'good weather commute'. I've been too scared to go this way since the attacks which means I'm forced onto Lea Bridge Rd at rush hour with all the HGVs and pollution.”

Mr Munk said people shouldn’t be discouraged from riding their bikes on the route, saying: “Keep cycling, but keep your wits about you", he said.

“What’s worrying is most of these attacks aren’t taking place in the dark but in the early evening.

“Maybe consider 'buddying up' by riding alongside others when going through isolated areas,” he added.

While the victims in the atacks highlighted above were adults, last month the founder of a charity that aims to reduce violence among young people warned that youngsters are increasingly becoming victims of ‘bike-jacking’ in London and elsewhere.

Nathaniel Peat’s Safety Box charity is now incorporating advice regarding how to avoid falling victim to robbery of bikes in the self-defence classes it offers at schools.

In February, 15-year-old Alan Cartwright died while cycling on Caledonian Road in Islington shortly after being stabbed, with a man subsequently charged with murder and conspiracy to rob.

The two friends with whom Alan was riding both had their bikes stolen in the attack.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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severs1966 | 9 years ago

"The police's approach locally to crime against cyclists is shockingly poor and needs to change"

Said every bike rider everywhere in the country.

Meanwhile, no cops cared.

Stumps | 9 years ago

jacknorell - i agree with most of your points but the last Labour Govt increased Police numbers year on year and didn't cut. Its only been the latest scum bags that have cut and cut deeply into Police numbers.

Simmo72 | 9 years ago

I fear this type of thing is going to increase - probably drug related and they will take the risk especially if the police are so overloaded and can't cope. Why are we cutting policing whilst our population is increasing?

ron611087 | 9 years ago

I wonder what the police response would be if these were car-jackings?

balmybaldwin | 9 years ago

Its a good idea to make the polices work easier by at least data tagging your bikes so they can be identified as stolen if they do catch someone.

jacknorell | 9 years ago

The MET's response to street crime including robberies (which this is) is appalling overall. This is simply no different.

Blame the MET or blame the politicians who have starved the police of resources for over a decade now... combined with a never-ending War on Terror which sucks up money like it's an infinite resource... and we get policing which ignores any crime less than murder at 'not important'.

A fresh culture of impunity (of which road policing's decline heralded the first view of this in our anarchic roads) builds up problems for the future.

That, of course, does not concern our current MPs as they cream off the taxes or accepting sinecures as delayed incentives to vote in favour of the 1% while sitting...

Airzound | 9 years ago

Don't be under any illusion the plod DGAF about cyclists or cycling. This is all.

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