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Dublin's Royal Canal at risk of becoming no-go zone for cyclists after violent assaults

Cyclists advised to pair up for safety after two lone riders attacked by youths with metal bars in separate incidents

Dublin’s Royal Canal is at risk of becoming a no-go area for the Irish capital’s cyclists with two more riders attacked earlier this month in the latest of a series of violent assaults, one of the victims vowing that he will never ride there again. Dublin Cycling Campaign meanwhile is advising cyclists to pair up for their own safety.

Although police and other authorities have stepped up efforts to tackle antisocial behaviour on the towpath in recent months, assaults on cyclists by have continued, with one rider attacked by a gang of youths with iron bars as he rode near the Blackhorse Luas stop, the Times has reported.

Liam Molloy told the newspaper that he feared being “left unconscious” had a passer-by not intervened, resulting in the gang making off.

“I work in Park West and was travelling home to Clontarf after doing a 8.30am to 7pm shift,” he said.

“It was very strange. There was a line of fire that forced me to slow down, then I was surrounded by six or seven of them, they were hitting me with iron bars. Thank God I had my helmet on.

“This guy with a hoodie came out of nowhere and jumped in. He told them to stop hitting me, told them there was CCTV.

“He was a bit older, in his early 20s, but they listened to him. Otherwise they would have taken my bike, everything and left me unconscious.”

In a similar incident last Monday evening when another cyclist, Yaman Umuroglu, was assaulted by a gang of youths in the same area and had his e-bike stolen.

On Twitter, he said that ‘squeeze-stiles’ placed on the canal to prevent people riding dirt bikes on the towpath caused cyclists to slow to a halt to navigate them, leaving riders vulnerable.

“I was almost killed by a gang of lads armed with metal rods on the Grand Canal cycle path, ambushed at a squeeze stile. They made off with my e-bike but not before beating me up. See dents on helmet below,” he said.

“For the record, I commute along the canal every day and I look forward to it,” he continued. “There's so many birds to see and it feels a lot safer than sharing the road with SUVs. Would be so much better without the stiles, although I heard they were put in place to prevent dirt bikes coming in.”

He added: “As I sat and bled next to the Blackhorse waiting for the Gardai, several cyclists stopped to offer me help, some waited with me. The driver of the taxi I ended up taking to St. James' refused to charge me. Ireland has its flaws, but a lack of kind people is not one of them.”

However, Mr Molloy has said that the attack on him means he will not ride on the towpath again.

“I am taking the bus now to work. I will only cycle to college, but that is in a different area,” he said. “It is such a pity because the canal is a great infrastructure for cyclists, and takes them off the roads.”

Dublin Cycling Campaign had advised cyclists to ride in pairs for their own safety, waiting for another rider to arrive before continuing their journey together if necessary.

The group’s spokesman, Kieran Ryan, said: “The authorities say the gates prevent antisocial behaviour, the likes of scramblers and horses getting onto the canal, but there have been reports of scramblers and horses inside the gates so it’s not working.

“Why haven’t the guards [police] taken appropriate action? Are they doing anything proactive to catch who is doing this?”

He said that pairing up “puts the odds slightly back in favour of the cyclist. The attackers may think twice if they are not on their own.

“It’s shameful that it’s come to this, that we can’t promote this active travel route. It’s actually a beautiful route, ruined by kissing gates and antisocial behaviour. It could be a gem of a national cycle route,” he added.

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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