Bike-riding activist Mike van Erp, better known by his online alias CyclingMikey, has earned a reputation for catching law-breaking motorists in the act. But last month the camera cyclist played a key role in stopping a completely different kind of suspected criminal activity – by spectacularly using his bike to take out an alleged drug dealer who was fleeing from the police.
A video of the incident – which was posted on Twitter yesterday by an anonymous policing account (after Mike had uploaded the full footage to his YouTube channel) – has at the time of writing been viewed over 900,000 times.
Nice takedown by a member of the public around the back of Bayswater. pic.twitter.com/yLqJVwIacF
— PC Grouch (@PCGrouch) September 17, 2022
It shows the cyclist riding past a group of police officers talking to a man on London’s Inverness Terrace, near Hyde Park.
While Van Erp tells road.cc that he was initially tempted to film the incident, believing that the man may have been unfairly targeted by the officers, he quickly changed his mind as the alleged suspect began to flee, and used his bike as a barrier to send him clattering to the ground.
The man, who can be seen in the video throwing away a small bag as he is about to be apprehended, was arrested by police on suspicion of possession with intent to supply.
“It’s very hard to make such an instinctive snap judgement correctly, but his massive change in demeanour in a split second, when he went from affable and smiling to a powerful sprinter on the run, was enough to convince me, as was the instant loud shouting from the police,” Mike told road.cc.
“Briefly before this, I thought for a moment about filming the interaction in case it became one where the police were not treating him right, but I dismissed that thought and seconds later had entirely the opposite idea.
“These cops seemed very professional, and when they restrained the guy they used appropriate force and were clearly not angry with him, just calm and professional.”
Describing the spectacular takedown, Van Erp said: “Basically I put my bike in the way of his sprint, and he caught my front rack with a glancing blow at mid-thigh height, which sent him tumbling.
“I’ve played a fair bit of roller hockey in defence, including with body checks. I did the bare minimum necessary to impede his sprint enough for the police to be able to catch him.
“It felt a lot like playing hockey and taking a forward out of the play.”
Since being posted on Twitter, the viral video has divided those on social media. While many have praised Van Erp’s actions, others have accused him of “vigilantism” for his intervention.
Meanwhile, some users, such as broadcaster and cycling campaigner Jeremy Vine, pointed out the cognitive dissonance of those on both sides of the debate, whose reaction may have been different if Van Erp hadn't been on a bike or if the apparent lawbreaker had been behind the wheel of a car:
Angry people: “Well done that man for throwing an object at the fleeing suspect!”@MikeyCycling: “Thank-you, that was my bicycle.”
Angry people: “You should be DONE for ASsAULt On THAT POor BoY” https://t.co/txPVJKSTix
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) September 17, 2022
I came here for the comments from those in the Taxi trade who regularly demonise @MikeyCycling telling him to go away and catch "real criminals". Not much humble pie being shared around....
— Greg N (@n00dles71) September 17, 2022
But where are the usual "grass!" responses to Mike?
Oh, this offender was on foot, not driving. pic.twitter.com/fRNxtNfAyi
— Tad Piesakowski #FBPE #alsoacyclist (@tadpies) September 17, 2022
You can watch the full clip of the incident below (starting at 7.45):
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.