Hundreds of drawing pins were allegedly scattered along an Essex bike lane this morning, causing a number of cyclists to puncture during their bank holiday ride.
Today’s reported incident on the Epping New Road, near Epping Forest, comes just three months after two cyclists claimed that they were assaulted on the busy road by a motorist who allegedly pulled up alongside them before throwing tacks at the riders and along the bike lane.
— Rory McCarron (@CyclingLawLDN) August 29, 2022
This morning, cycling lawyer and road safety advocate Rory McCarron, who completed the self-supported Transcontinental Race across Europe in 2017, was cycling in the area when he discovered the pins strewn across the unprotected cycle lane.
According to the solicitor, who tried to gather most of the pins (a task not helped by the fast-moving traffic on the road), the plethora of tacks represented a deliberate attempt to sabotage cyclists using the road and adjacent bike lane. One stranded rider, McCarron says, was forced to call a taxi after puncturing without a spare tube.
And just like that, on the way back 2 cyclists unfortunately caught out by the selfish act of another… pic.twitter.com/xBaQg9yDs1
— Rory McCarron (@CyclingLawLDN) August 29, 2022
“There were hundreds of pins scattered on the Epping New Road, mainly in the cycle lane and a few in the main carriageway,” McCarron tells road.cc.
“I had stopped just prior to the main part as a cyclist had fallen victim to them but he had a tube and was okay.
“A little further along, there were loads and my interpretation was that they’d been deliberately put there as there were so many for quite a long stretch.
“I picked up as many as I could but, as the road is so dangerous with fast cars, I couldn’t get them all. On the way back another two cyclists fell victim to them.”
The cycling campaigner continued: “Not only is this a really horrible thing to do and a way to ruin someone’s bank holiday weekend – one of the cyclists had no spare so had to get a cab home – it’s really dangerous.
“It could cause you to lose control or swerve out the way of them with speeding cars in close proximity.”
Today’s bank holiday incident appears to mark the latest attempt to deliberately target people riding their bikes in Essex, and in particular on the A104 Epping New Road, located between Buckhurst Hill and the Epping Forest roundabout.
As noted above, two cyclists training on the road in May claimed that the driver of “a black Ford pickup truck pulled alongside us and threw several handfuls of drawing pins in our faces and along the cycle lane”.
The cyclists were riding in the area ahead of the following week’s RideLondon sportive, an event which moved to Essex this year for the first time after seven editions in Surrey.
The mass participation cycling festival appeared to attract the ire of the county’s motorists, who launched a petition protesting the road closures associated with the event, which some signatories compared to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Tacks were also thrown across another section of the route in the week leading up to RideLondon, causing Team Brother UK-LDN rider Tim Allen to puncture, while Ribble Weldtite’s world champion team pursuiter Charlie Tanfield was allegedly knocked off his bike by a motorist in an “intentional” hit-and-run incident while training with his brother Harry in Essex around the same time.
In the lead-up to RideLondon, road safety advocate and road.cc contributor Laura Laker argued that little has been done by Essex Police to promote engagement between motorists and cyclists in the county.
Laker pointed out that there are concerns over the inevitable rise in leisure cyclists inspired by RideLondon to cycle outside of the event on some of the country’s most dangerous roads.
While campaigners recognise forces are grappling with a decade of policing cuts, criticisms over a “lack of foresight” surrounding growing cycling numbers – and a potential backlash from motorists – remain.
As we’ve seen in Essex this summer, drawing pins have been long used by protesters wishing to attack cycling events in the UK, as well as those aiming to target individuals or groups of cyclists.
In 2019 hundreds of pins were scattered along a popular cycle path near Bridgend, while in the same year occupants of a BMW threw pins at a group of cyclists in Worcester, causing many to puncture, before reportedly returning to film the aftermath.
In 2015, both the Marlow Red Kite charity bike ride in Buckinghamshire and the Pedal for Scotland 50-mile ride between Glasgow and Edinburgh were targeted by saboteurs armed with pins. The year before, 20 riders punctured after protesters scattered nails along the route of the New Forest Sportive.
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.