A Sussex cyclist has sustained injuries including a broken collarbone as a result of a tripwire strung across a cycle path – the third such incident near Brighton in around a fortnight. One local sustainable transport expert believes anti-cyclist sentiment fuelled by the media may be to blame.
Darren Gibson, aged 49, was riding towards Rottingdean through woodland near East Brighton Golf Club on Saturday lunchtime when he was knocked off his bike after hitting the wire, reports The Mirror. He said he had no chance of avoiding it.
He said: "Sadly, even if you were going slowly you wouldn't have seen it. You're talking about a thin wire, there's nothing else to see - that's the worrying thing.
"It's quite a steep, wide path and normally you can go quite fast,” he went on. "I was with my brother and a friend and I was going very fast and suddenly felt my foot being dragged.
"I knew that there was something trying to hold me back but there was no way I could hold back because I was going too fast. I knew I was coming off so I went into a roll as I went over the handlebars and landing on my shoulder.
"There was a very large fence post with wire attached which had been dragged from one side of the path to the other so the wire was about two feet in the air.
"I've broken my collarbone, I've got bruised ribs, and my shoulder joints have been smashed about,” added Mr Gibson, who said he had been contacted by police about the incident, adding they appeared “very concerned.”
"There's no way that post could have been there on its own. I'm not saying it's definitely malicious. It could have been kids. But in the light of the other incidents you begin to wonder. I'll probably never know,” he added.
Mark Strong, who works as a consultant with Brighton-based firm Transport Initiatives, said: "This is just too depressing. I have feeling this is not 'just kids' but someone with a real grudge against people on bikes.
"I suspect this is a person or people wound up by anti-cycling biased pieces on radio, for example the BBC Radio 4 You & Yours feature a few weeks ago, and in print.
"Tripwires can be fatal, it is conspiracy to murder,” he added. "There is no justification for it, especially with the children. This is at the thin end of a wedge of anti-cycling sentiment."
The incident in which Mr Gibson was injured comes just two weeks after two other cyclists were injured in similar incidents at Coldean Woods.
After they happened, Sergeant Alison Penny of Sussex Police’s East Brighton Neighbourhood Policing Team said in an appeal: "These wires appear to have been deliberately placed across paths.
"There is a real risk that someone could run into them and suffer serious injury as a result.
"It is an extremely foolhardy thing to do and those responsible can expect to be dealt with robustly. Extra patrols are on the look-out for offenders.
"Meanwhile, I would urge people using the woods to take care and also to report any suspicious behaviour without delay."
The Mirror reports that rangers working for Brighton & Hove City Council are looking for more such traps and that extra patrols will be mounted.
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.