An average of 10 cyclists in London are being mugged for their bicycles each 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.
Here at road.cc, we’ve reported on several such incidents in recent months, including one in which the would-be thieves didn’t get away with the bike after they were chased down by other cyclists.
One of the riders who thwarted that theft – and posted footage to YouTube – was Alex Sweeting.
He told the BBC: "It is concerning - whether you're locking your bike up, cycling along or waiting at traffic lights, you've always got this fear you could have your bike stolen and all because a bike is a quick sell."
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.”
Last month, Gary Munk of the Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign criticised the police response to a string of bike jackings on the Walthamstow Marshes.
He said: “The odd extra patrol on the marshes is something they should be doing anyway,” he said.
"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."
In February, 15-year-old Alan Cartwright died after he was stabbed while cycling along Caledonian Road in Islington, north London.
Both his friends had their bicycles stolen following the attack.
An 18-year-old man has been charged with his murder and with conspiracy to rob.
Simon joined road.cc 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.