London bike-jackings on the rise, with lone riders vulnerable

Towpaths and Quietways the hot-spots for gangs targeting riders

Bike-jackings in London are on the rise, with lone riders on towpaths and Quietwaysparticularly vulnerable to attacks by gangs looking to steal bicycles or accessories such as GPS units. 

The London Evening Standard reports that the latest figures from the Metropolitan Police show a 13 per cent rise in recorded robberies of bicycles or accessories last year, up from 1,140 in 2018 to 1,287.

By borough, Haringey saw the biggest rise, more than trebling from 40 to 130. In Westminster, robberies near-doubled to 95, while the greatest number of incidents last year happened in Hackney, where they stood at 145.

While below the 20 per cent rise in all robberies across the capital last year – those involving bicycles or accessories account for 3.4 per cent of the total – the figures are a cause for concern and the incidents can be traumatic for victims as well as deterring people from riding alone or in quiet areas.

Among those targeted was Simon Munk, infrastructure campaigner at the London Cycling Campaign, who told the Standard: “I was riding along the Greenway, suddenly there’s loads of people on mopeds with metal bars riding after me, so I’m pelting it for my life, and managed luckily to get away.

“Cyclists are expected to use isolated, often dark, low-footfall areas,” he added.

In response, the Metropolitan Police have been targeting bikes they believe have been stolen.

The problem of gangs targeting cyclists, particularly on canal and river towpaths, has been of increasing concern in recent years.

In 2017, we reported how a cyclist said that a route along the River Lea near Hackney Marches had become a no-go zone for bike riders after he was assaulted and robbed.

Several other similar incidents took place nearby later on that year.

Other incidents we have covered in the past include ones on the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union Canal, and on the Regent’s Canal close to Victoria Park, but the issue is not confined to London, of course.

In recent weeks on road.cc, we have reported on how South Wales Police are urging cyclists to avoid the Taff Trail at night, advice that saw the force accused of “victim shaming” by Cycling UK.

We also covered an incident in Reading in which a group of 10 riders were targeted by a gang of youths who stole two bikes and left two riders needing hospital treatment.

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.

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