Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

“What sort of message does that send out?” – Cyclist mugged for bike on Birmingham canal advised by police to avoid route in future

Victim was left bloodied after being hit with hammer during “brutal attack”

A cyclist who was left with blood pouring from a head wound after he was attacked and robbed of his bike while riding alongside a canal in Birmingham by a pair of masked thugs, one of whom hit him with a hammer, has said that police advised him to avoid that section of towpath in the future, leaving him asking, “What sort of message does that send out?”

Birmingham Live reports that the cyclist, now aged 66, got in touch with the news website to recount his ordeal after the media outlet reported on a number of other incidents on the city’s waterways, including one in which a woman was hit with a brick as she walked along the towpath.

Recalling his own experience the cyclist, who was aged 64 at the time of the attack in October 2021 in which he was mugged for his bike, which he said was worth £500, told Birmingham Live that it happened as he rode through a tunnel along the canal in Small Heath.

The man, who was following a route he rides regularly, believes that accomplices of his assailants had texted them to alert them to his approach. After the attack, drivers on nearby road came to his assistance after he managed to reach it.

He says that police were on the scene within two minutes, and that officers advised him not to ride “that route again” – a warning that he has heeded.

He told the website: “I was coming up to Small Heath and there was a guy sitting on one of the lock gates with a phone just before a tunnel. And I said to the police ‘I think he texted the people in the tunnel’.

“As I went through the tunnel a guy pushed me and I nearly went into the canal. If I’d had gone in the canal that could have been ‘Good night, Vienna’.

“He came up and hit me a few times and then I was trying to sort of hold him off and then someone came up behind me and whacked me on the head with a hammer.

“"I fell down and as I got up they were going away with the bike and I grabbed the back tyre and they were going up the ramp to get on the road towards Small Heath and another hammer blow came on my head. I staggered into the road and my head was like that photo I showed you; all the cars were stopping.”

Officers took the cyclist, who also had money and his phone stolen in the robbery, to hospital where his wounds were treated, including stitches being inserted.

“I've come out alright but I do get flashbacks from it now and again where I think I'm fighting them - I think it's the trauma of it sometimes,” the man explained.

“There’s been quite a few attacks on there and police said to me ‘don’t do that route again’: what sort of message does that send out? You see the odd police now and again but they’re too stretched aren’t they?”

We’ve reported on a number of attacks on cyclists on towpaths in and around the West Midlands city in recent years, including one in November 2021 in which a rider was pushed into a canal by men wearing balaclavas who tried to steal his bike.

> Police hunt balaclava-wearing mugger who pushed cyclist into Birmingham canal in attempted bikejacking

That was one of several such incidents that happened in autumn of that year, the same period in which the victim speaking to Birmingham Live was attacked, leading to West Midlands Police stepping up patrols on canals.

“It’s getting worse now,” he said. “Someone's going to get badly hurt. CCTV would be ideal but to put CCTV in parts would cost a horrendous amount and it's all about cost at the end of the day.”

Away from Birmingham’s canals, last week we reported how a cyclist was robbed of his £3,300 bike by a group of thugs on his own doorstep in the Kingstanding area of the city.

> Man robbed of £3,300 bike on own doorstep by gang of thugs

Craig Pickering needed hospital treatment for a head injury he sustained during the violent attack, and believes the gang, whom he said were riding electric motorcycles, had deliberately targeted him after observing him riding his Trek Remedy 8 Bike to and from work.

Simon joined road.cc 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.

Add new comment

46 comments

Avatar
Benthic | 4 months ago
4 likes

So we now have West Midlands Police admitting that there are 'no go areas' in their patch.

Avatar
polainm replied to Benthic | 4 months ago
1 like

Surely easier for West Midlands Police to promote safe areas, as these are much smaller spaces?

Avatar
EM69 | 4 months ago
2 likes

Police should put more resource into these crimes, they surely have it - just misspronounce someones pronoun online and see how many turn up...

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to EM69 | 4 months ago
2 likes

WOKE!

I wouldn't mind a bit more policing of e.g. road crimes etc.  Clearly they've given up on stealing though.  I'd agree there seems to be a bit of a slump in policing but honestly - was there ever a "golden era" for police performance (which didn't involve lots of "he looked like a wrong'un sarge, so me and the boys helped him up when he fell down the stairs a few times and now he's confessed")?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
2 likes

chrisonabike wrote:

was there ever a "golden era" for police performance

Definitely not as far as bike theft is concerned. I first had a bike stolen in 1986, reported it at the police station and was given a crime number for the insurance and pretty much told that was all I could expect to get; got exactly the same reaction the last time I had a bike stolen in 2015. I suppose if one were trying to be positive it hasn't got any worse!

Avatar
wtjs replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
4 likes

I wouldn't mind a bit more policing of e.g. road crimes etc.  Clearly they've given up on stealing though

In some areas, they've given up on everything to do with offences on the road. I won't burden you all with yet another picture of WU59 UMH (last seen 8 days ago), but such determined inaction against someone with a Facebook page advertising his agricultural groundworks business, a pickup with no MOT, insurance or VED for 6 1/2 years which also bears his phone numbers, a failed MOT for dangerous defects, numerous reports to the police and PCC...? The PCC himself regularly launches PR campaigns about how much action the police are taking- the most recent was yesterday. Yet his email about WU59 UMH simply says he 'cannot interfere with operational decisions of the police' and suggests I complain to...the police.

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will | 4 months ago
2 likes

Times are a changing... once upon a time, you'd be mugged with the threat of violence, these days muggers go straight to hitting people in the head with a hammer. 

I'm sorry, but if I hit someone in the head with a hammer, I'd realistically expect to be doing permanent and potentially fatal damage to my victim. Which raises two questions;

1. are these people so scummy, that they'd happily take a life for a shitty second hand bike? 

2. are the police so underfunded / incapacitated that their only point of action in the face of such serious crime (and to me striking someone multiple times in the head with a hammer is a very serious crime) is to warn people to stay away from the naughty boys? 

And a third question... 

When does society say enough is enough? When do we say, well if the authorities aren't going to do anything, the community will need to come together and take action ourselves?

Avatar
Car Delenda Est | 4 months ago
5 likes

I'm beginning to change my views on the helmet debate..

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Car Delenda Est | 4 months ago
4 likes

Armed response.

Avatar
brooksby replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
1 like

chrisonabike wrote:

Armed response.

This is the Way.

Avatar
bigwheeler88 | 4 months ago
4 likes

I like to think I'm in good shape and could scrap if needed, but the scum out there targeting cyclists are going to be wielding knives or worse. We have the right to cycle everywhere, but until the police step up and protect us rather than persecute us, I will stick to the busier A-roads.

Avatar
wtjs replied to bigwheeler88 | 4 months ago
8 likes

I like to think I'm in good shape and could scrap if needed

Alexei Sayle, in his excellent Imaginary Sandwich Bar monologues (see Rage and Resentment) describes this as 'being all that'. They would, as you imply, just cosh and stab you secure in the knowledge that any crime against a cyclist would receive a sympathetic hearing from the justice system

Avatar
Flintshire Boy replied to bigwheeler88 | 4 months ago
2 likes

.

Wise move, Ren Dell. Look after yourself.

.

Avatar
polainm replied to bigwheeler88 | 4 months ago
3 likes

...A-roads where the Daily Mail wielding Range Rover driver can instead hit you with a 2 tonne SUV. Hammer to the head or body blow with heavy machinery? Either way, you're cycling scum and the CPS aren't interested. 

Instead, best to drive, get heart disease and die slowly soaking up NHS resources. 

It's what makes Britain grate. 

Avatar
Jules59 | 4 months ago
4 likes

In the past Ive cycled into Brum from Tamworth via the canal and road. The Tyburn Road (A38) was quicker than the nearby canal and actually felt safer.
Since I retired I have no reason to go into Birmingham, so problem solved. 
But IMO Birmingham is not a cycle friendly city and the canals (especially the little bridges) are quite scary at times.

Avatar
polainm replied to Jules59 | 4 months ago
1 like

I've had the misfortune to visit Birmingham a number of times. Each time I ask myself why I didn't just stay at home and punch myself repeatedly in the face. 

Avatar
squidgy | 4 months ago
2 likes

I've got to be the point where it's just not worth cycling any more. You risk attack on the roads, streets, paths and in the media. There's no enjoyment anymore. I'm selling up and moving on.

Avatar
S13SFC replied to squidgy | 4 months ago
1 like

squidgy wrote:

I've got to be the point where it's just not worth cycling any more. You risk attack on the roads, streets, paths and in the media. There's no enjoyment anymore. I'm selling up and moving on.

What a wet wipe.

Avatar
GMBasix replied to S13SFC | 4 months ago
7 likes

S13SFC wrote:

squidgy wrote:

I've got to be the point where it's just not worth cycling any more. You risk attack on the roads, streets, paths and in the media. There's no enjoyment anymore. I'm selling up and moving on.

What a wet wipe.

NOT the spirit. We need to pick up this and flag the issue to all powers that wish to be.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to S13SFC | 4 months ago
16 likes

S13SFC wrote:

What a wet wipe.

Yeah, ha ha, what a wuss, man up, the worst that can happen to you is that you can lose a leg, get smashed on the head with a hammer and live the rest of your life brain-damaged, or get killed. Violence against cyclists is a really serious problem and I wouldn't criticise anybody who decided they would stop cycling because of it – already in winter my wife only cycle commutes if I ride with her because of the risk she faces as a woman in the parks and quieter streets in the winter dark. Do you know the above poster's sex or age, where they live and the risks they might face in cycling? No you don't. It would certainly have to get a lot worse before I would even think of modifying my cycling habits, let alone giving up, but then I'm a 6 foot tall male weighing 85 kg with the (fading) remnants of a rugby player's physique. It's neither fair nor kind to mock other people's genuine and justifiable fears about the risks cycling may entail for them.

Avatar
Brauchsel replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
4 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

my wife only cycle commutes if I ride with her because of the risk she faces as a woman in the parks and quieter streets in the winter dark.

Statistically, you're much more likely (up to 10x depending on seriousness) to come to harm at the hands of a stranger than she is. And (statistically) by taking you with her she's bringing the person most likely by far to cause her harm. 

Anecdotally, while most women I know have stories of depressing amounts of verbal harassment and scary behaviour (likely in the same parks you go through), I can't think of any who have been assaulted by strangers so that they needed medical assistance. I have, and probably half the men I know well have. (And the majority of those not due to 'coming off worst in a fight', I'm neither 85kg nor rugby-minded). 

That's not to minimise street harassment, which is pretty horrific around here and needs to be clamped down on. But the focus on reducing violence (from strangers) against women misses what I think the actual problem is: a large subset of men are violent bullies, and will violently bully people where they think they can get away with it. The sex of the victims or whether they're a cyclist is incidental to their motivation. 

Avatar
Left_is_for_Losers replied to Brauchsel | 4 months ago
0 likes

Brauchsel wrote:

Statistically, you're much more likely (up to 10x depending on seriousness) to come to harm at the hands of a stranger than she is. And (statistically) by taking you with her she's bringing the person most likely by far to cause her harm. 

Aggghhh some FACTS!

It's very true what you have said, and often overlooked, because, well, men should be able to cope right?

Avatar
andystow replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
2 likes

Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Brauchsel wrote:

Statistically, you're much more likely (up to 10x depending on seriousness) to come to harm at the hands of a stranger than she is. And (statistically) by taking you with her she's bringing the person most likely by far to cause her harm. 

Aggghhh some FACTS!

It's very true what you have said, and often overlooked, because, well, men should be able to cope right?

The second statistic doesn't matter, though. I'm sure he and she are both aware whether or not he's an actual danger to her. He's not, after presumably being married for decades, going to suddenly assault her with no past history of that behaviour.

Avatar
Brauchsel replied to andystow | 4 months ago
4 likes

andystow wrote:

The second statistic doesn't matter, though. I'm sure he and she are both aware whether or not he's an actual danger to her. He's not, after presumably being married for decades, going to suddenly assault her with no past history of that behaviour.

With no offence intended to Rendell or his wife, people for various reasons do sometimes become dangerous after not having been before. Stress, affairs, mental illnesses etc. I wouldn't be overly surprised if the incidence of that was broadly similar for women to being seriously assaulted by a stranger. 

It was mostly a glib aside, but there was a point. If we can't eradicate male violence, it'd seem better to help women identify violent men (and to leave them safely when in relationships with them) than to make them frightened to go out at night when they're actually not at much risk of harm. 

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Brauchsel | 4 months ago
4 likes

I understood the point and it is a valid one. I also take your point about the relative levels of danger. However there are dangers out there for women alone at night (Wayne Couzens etc, and also the increasing danger of "live" bike theft), so as long as I have the opportunity of mitigating the danger, however small, I'll take it. Plus I enjoy it and it gets me out for 50kms+ that I probably wouldn't do on a winter's day otherwise!

Avatar
Smoggysteve replied to squidgy | 4 months ago
6 likes

If your concerned about the risk of being attacked, maybe joining a local club would be a far better solution that just quitting completely. The security of the group and the added benefit of a friendship group would still keep you riding. If you just stop you will let the scumbags win. Remember - together we are stronger. 

Avatar
polainm replied to squidgy | 4 months ago
0 likes

The growth in Zwift/SYSTM/Rouvy etc is because the UK is becoming an unpoliced chaotic collection of Mad Max roads. 

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 4 months ago
0 likes

Unless its ancient I would have though a Remedy FS would be worth more than £500....   Thieves probably thought so.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Secret_squirrel | 4 months ago
4 likes

Secret_squirrel wrote:

Unless its ancient I would have though a Remedy FS would be worth more than £500....   Thieves probably thought so.

The gentleman who was robbed on the towpath said his bike (no model given) was worth £500, the Remedy (stated here as being £3300, presumably that's the new price) belongs to another chap who was mugged on his doorstep in Birmingham last week.

Avatar
Sriracha | 4 months ago
9 likes

Hey, it's the same advice the police themselves follow; if it's good enough for them...

Pages

Latest Comments