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.
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.
“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.”
> RideLondon: Cyclists claim they were assaulted by motorist with drawing pins on sportive route
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.
> RideLondon: tacks strewn on route and angry petition gains traction ahead of sportive's Essex debut
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.
> Team GB's Charlie Tanfield struck by motorist in “intentional” hit and run
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.
> Is Essex ready for RideLondon? Police defends silence over road safety issues
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.
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