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Cyclist shoved into ditch by hooded BMW passenger – spotted trying to “spook” other riders and locals – slams “complete lack of effort” by police to trace attacker

The cyclist broke his shoulder blade after being pushed from his time trial bike during the shocking attack, which also saw three motorists drive around the stricken rider as he clambered back onto the road

A cyclist who was shoved from his bike by the passenger of a BMW – which has been spotted by other riders and locals being driven in a dangerous and intimidating manner in recent days – during a shocking, unprovoked attack on Tuesday evening, suffering a broken shoulder blade in the process, has launched a scathing criticism of Northumbria Police, who he believes have displayed a “distinct lack of effort” after attempts to track down his attacker were swiftly shut down within a day.

Northumberland-based Carl Donaldson was riding his time trial bike on the A1068 just outside Ashington, heading towards Linton, on Tuesday, at around 6.15pm, as part of his training for this Sunday’s 47-mile Tyneside Vagabonds CC Mountain Time Trial, when a motorist drove extremely close to him before the car’s hooded passenger leaned out of the window and pushed him off the road and onto the grass verge.

The alarming attack is the fourth reported instance of the car in question, a red BMW 3 or 4 Series, being used to intimidate and “spook” locals over the past week, with another cyclist who got in touch with Donaldson claiming that the motorist deliberately drove at her and her father, narrowly missing them, twice in quick succession on Sunday.

Despite this growing list of reports of dangerous driving and seemingly targeted attacks, Donaldson has criticised the police response to Tuesday’s incident, which saw one officer allegedly tell the cyclist that there was “nothing to investigate” due to the lack of clear camera footage of the vehicle or its occupants, causing the rider to believe that the onus is now on him to gather the necessary evidence.

However, Northumbria Police has since told road.cc that an investigation has been launched into the incident and that enquiries are still ongoing to locate the vehicle and individuals involved.

Carl Donaldson (credit - Jack Earl)

(Credit: Jack Earl)

GS Metro rider Donaldson has been a prominent figure in the British time trialling scene over the past decade, clocking the fastest time for 50 miles in 2017, the same year he finished fifth in the British Best All-Rounder competition and helped secure GS Metro’s spot as the Best All-Round Team.

“I’ve got the mountain time trial on Sunday, so it was a chance to get on my TT bike on Tuesday afternoon, which I haven’t been able to do this year as the weather has been so awful,” Donaldson tells road.cc about the attack. “On the TT bike I try to go on the main roads here, but they’re still single-carriageway roads, not dual carriageway or anything.

“I had done my intervals, I just had three more ones to do, and I was riding along and I looked to my right – and a car came very close to me, about 30cm from my front wheel.

“And at first I thought it was a friend of mine or something, to say ‘get a move on’ or joke out the window, but then I thought ‘I don’t know anybody with a red BMW with black alloy wheels’.”

He continues: “And this all happened so quick, obviously. According to my Strava, I was doing 24mph at the time. I got past the car’s wing mirror and I looked to my right to see who it was. And I got the shock of my life, it was a guy with a hood pulled up over his face, with the strings drawn in.

“I thought ‘what’s going on here’, and then he was out of the window and he just pushed me. I couldn’t believe it. And next thing I know, I’m heading straight for the grass on the side of the road. I just hit the kerb straight away, there was no run-off or anything. I went over the handlebars and just clattered onto the grass.”

“They just ignored the situation and drove away”

As the motorist and his hooded passenger “just drove off” into the distance, Donaldson quickly attempted to clamber out of the ditch and take a photo of the car’s registration plate – a task, he says, made more difficult by the soon-revealed extent of his injuries, as well as the strikingly uncaring attitude of other drivers on the road.

A1068, Ashington, Northumberland (Google)

The A1068, out of Ashington, where the attack took place

“I thought that I need to get a photo of this, as I don’t have a camera on the TT bike because it’s too hard to set up,” he says. “And I went to get the phone out of my jersey pocket, and I couldn’t get it because my arm was so sore. And by the time I got it and crawled out of the grass, which was quite deep with weeds and nettles, I looked up and they were gone.

“So, I crawled onto the road on my hands and knees to try to stop some cars that were going past. If they saw me, there’d be a chance they’d stop and we could get onto their dashcam if they’ve got one.

“But they didn’t, they just drove past me – there were three drivers who just drove around me, while I was on my hands and knees on the side of the road. They just ignored the situation and drove away.

“But the next two cars stopped, they wrapped me up, called 999, the police. A driver who came the other way, an elderly gentleman, said he passed the BMW but he didn’t have a dashcam, so that was no use.

“I spoke to the police at the time, when I was sitting on the ground, and they said it would be treated as an assault rather than an RTC, and that a call would be sent out to officers to watch out for a red BMW. They then said, ‘get to the hospital, and we’ll speak to you in the morning’.”

After being driven to A&E by his wife, Donaldson – who initially believed he had broken his collarbone for a third time – was instead diagnosed with a fractured scapula, an injury that almost certainly spells the end of his time trialling season.

Carl Donaldson, GS Metro (Credit: Jack Earl)

(Credit: Jack Earl)

The crash, he says, could also well mean the end of his Scott Plasma RC time trial bike, a machine that has been heavily modified over the years through extensive wind tunnel testing and additional aero-focused purchases. While a mechanic is coming to inspect the damage on Thursday, Carl reckons he “won’t be able to race that bike again”, or be comfortable riding it due to the “speed it clattered along the ground at”.

“The bike is worth £7,500, plus a Kask Bambino helmet that’s worth £250, and I don’t know if my Oakleys survived, they were catapulted,” he adds. “It was an expensive night. I don’t think I’ll bother trying to fix it. I’ll just give it up for the time being, and review my situation in a year or two.”

Asked how he felt in the wake of the incident, Carl said: “I just couldn’t believe it. And afterwards, there was a lot of anger and emotion. I was a bit upset, and annoyed – this was deliberately to hurt, it could have ended really seriously.”

“There’s nothing to investigate”

Despite the promising response of the 999 call handler Carl spoke to as he sat on the road, the cyclist is scathing of Northumbria Police’s subsequent approach to the incident, which appears to have been scuppered by a lack of willingness to trace the red BMW – which, as Donaldson notes, appears to have been used in a number of other intimidating incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians in recent days.

Carl tells road.cc: “The police then rang me in the morning and straightaway asked, ‘have you got any footage?’ No. ‘Have you got any witnesses?’ Not really – those who stopped just saw the aftermath, 30 seconds after the incident.”

Donaldson then requested the police officer to ask local home or business owners if they had footage of the incident, to which the officer replied that the BMW may have either been missed by local cameras entirely or that any footage captured may not include a clear shot of the number plate.

“She then said the footage won’t be any good anyway, because that’s not correct evidence as it doesn’t prove that they hit me around the corner,” he says. “But I said that at least with a number plate the police could challenge these people and make their life difficult. And she said, ‘what do you want me to do?’”

> Police appeal over "serious assault" that saw cyclist pushed from bike by car passenger

While the officer noted that she would ask a community support officer to visit some local houses to request doorbell footage, she added that Carl “would be better” posting about the incident on social media as part of a call for dashcam or CCTV footage.

“She said, ‘Do that, and we’ll close the case. And if anybody contacts you, they can ring 101 and we can always reopen it if anything comes to light. But for now, there’s nothing to investigate, so it’s closed,” he says.

“I was raging. There’s just a complete lack of effort. Yes, you may not be able to get anything, but it’s a small world!

“I’ve been contacted since yesterday by three people who’ve witnessed the same car getting up to antics in the local area. One of those who got in touch was out cycling on Sunday with her father, and that car shot across them at a T-junction and nearly hit her. The driver then stopped, turned around, and did it again to them at the next junction. It was a deliberate attempt to spook them.

“Two of the others who contacted me also saw dangerous driving by the same vehicle in their village. One of them saw the driver doing slides around a corner, and the other saw aggressive lunges and stuff, in a red BMW M4. I passed this all on to the officer – no response. And I’ve had to find this all out myself through social media, with no help from the police.”

He continues: “There was an immediate and distinct lack of effort. It wasn’t like ‘we’ll give it a day and see what happens’. It was: ‘we’ll shut this down now and put it aside, and if you find anything let us know and we’ll pick it up then’. They didn’t do anything!”

> Female Ironman athlete deliberately pushed off bike by laughing car passenger into a ditch, breaking her collarbone

Responding to road.cc’s request for comment, a Northumbria Police spokesperson said that, despite Donaldson’s claims, enquiries were still ongoing into the cyclist’s report.

“Shortly before 6.20pm on Tuesday, May 14, we received a report that a man on a pedal cycle had been injured on the A1068 in Ashington,” the spokesperson said.

"It was reported that the man had been travelling north towards Linton when a red BMW drove beside him. For reasons yet to be established, it is understood that a male passenger from the vehicle has leant out through the window and pushed the man off his bike.

“The driver and occupants of the BMW left the scene. The man – in his 40s – sustained a fracture to his shoulder, as well as cuts and bruises.

“An investigation has been launched, and enquiries are underway to locate the individuals and car involved.

“We would ask the driver and occupants of the vehicle, or anyone with information or footage, to contact us via the ‘Report’ page of our website or by calling 101 quoting log NP-20240514-0964.”

> Cyclist pushed off bike by car passenger on Irish mountain pass says “they could have killed me”

Unfortunately, deliberate attacks on cyclists like the one suffered by Donaldson have become a depressingly common theme in recent years, although the time triallist can take heart that some of these have led to police investigations and convictions, belated or otherwise.

Last month, we reported that Kent Police had launched an appeal and released a photo of a man they wished to speak to in relation to a “serious assault on a cyclist” – nine months after Katie Good, a female Ironman athlete and immigration lawyer, suffered a broken collarbone when she was deliberately shoved from her bike by a laughing car passenger.

Ms Good had been out training with her boyfriend and fellow triathlete Olivier van den Bent-Kelly on 22 July 2023 when the incident took place. He later took to social media, stating that one of the people in the vehicle “leant out the window, and pushed her off her bike, before laughing and jeering at her as they drove away”, the incident coming after a motorist had “deliberately drove behind her”.

After an appeal for information and witnesses was launched at the time, a suspect was arrested on 8 September 2023 in connection with the incident and remains on bail pending further investigation.

In February, two men in France, whose “only motive was idiocy” according to police, were handed a two-year suspended prison sentence after a spree of incidents which saw cyclists pushed into ditches, apparently for “fun”.

Last January, a man was fined £200 by Kilmarnock Sheriff Court for leaning out of an overtaking vehicle and hitting a cyclist with a tub of hair gel, after becoming frustrated that the cyclists were not “moving fast enough”.

The previous September, a cyclist in Yorkshire feared that he could have been killed when a passenger in an overtaking car opened one of the vehicle's rear doors, hitting him on the hand.

Fortunately, Trev Walker escaped relatively physically unscathed, suffering swelling and bruising to his right hand, but said it “could easily have ended with serious injury or fatality” after a passenger sat in the rear of a passing car opened the door into his path as the vehicle’s driver passed on the B6248 near Wakefield.

And in April 2021, another cyclist, this time from Ireland, said that the occupants of a vehicle “could have killed me” after he was pushed off his bike by one of its passengers – who later posted footage of the shocking incident, which happened on a mountain road near Dublin, to social media.

> Jeremy Vine sues ex-footballer Joey Barton over "bike nonce" tweet

This increasingly long list of unprovoked attacks, Donaldson believes, stems from the anti-cycling vitriol spewed by well-known figures on social media.

“I don’t think it’s helped by all this Joey Barton and Jeremy Vine Twitter situation, and all the hate towards it, especially among young men. I wonder if that’s been a factor,” he tells road.cc.

“It makes me want to challenge Barton on Twitter on his views on cyclists – does he view me as a bike w***er, someone who’s just had an unprovoked attack, when I was on a busy road and I wasn’t slowing anyone down?

“I was just out on an evening bike ride, training for sport. I want to challenge him on it – his anger is encouraging that behaviour.”

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.

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33 comments

Avatar
mattw | 1 month ago
3 likes

Shocker of a case.

I draw two things:

1 - Something about running video cameras. Bullet helmet cams?
2 - Something about police laziness / priorities / attitudes.

On 2 it's worth remembering that a lot of areas have new Police & Crime Commissioners and Regional Mayors (esp in the North), which gives pressure points for pols whose policies are not yet cast in stone.

On Notts we have a real chance of improvement since our former contemptible PCC Caroline Henry was *literally* a Crime Commissioner, through her many speeding offences and driving ban within 3 months of getting the job, who then performed as if she was some kind of victim rather than a recidivist criminal.

On a tangential point, can "Joint Enterprise" be used against the driver and passenger in these cases?

Avatar
Stoobthealien | 1 month ago
5 likes

I tweeted this article to the local police and crime commissioner and to her credit the police have now issued a full public appeal for information which was also picked up by the local paper... obviously lots of nasty comments about it on socials but hopefully will help find the culprit

Avatar
exilegareth replied to Stoobthealien | 1 month ago
4 likes

Mmm, I've also seen some of the grumpy responses from the PCC to people who've raised the issue on social media.   I've known the PCC for decades, and remember how well she campaigned for a cycle path in her ward when she was a local councillor so I e-mailed the PCC's office last night asking some general questions about police policy about demanding video evidence and whether she was confident the police response was appropriate.

I got a reply from her office (on a Sunday night!) saying that they couldn't reply because of GDPR! I don't want to highlight Carl's case if that's not what he wants, but this issue of police gate-keeping complaints by insisting on video evidence isn't going to go away - it's a form of victim qualification where police keep issues off the books unless the victim has done all the 'right things' like having a camera pointing in the right direction at the time.

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wtjs replied to exilegareth | 1 month ago
0 likes

they couldn't reply because of GDPR!

The police and PCCs love this! It means they can get away with doing nothing at all about anything to do with offences against cyclists, or anything to do with offences by motorists. Forget about all this bollocks from the 'Head of Roads Policing' about harsher sentences, when she knows fine well that about 0.x% of offences never get anywhere near a court because the police can't be bothered or because they're in sympathy with the offenders.

Avatar
bikeman01 | 1 month ago
6 likes

"the officer replied that the BMW may have either been missed by local cameras entirely or that any footage captured may not include a clear shot of the number plate."

You wont know that unless you have a look though will you. Lazy bitch.

The Police are short staffed because they emply too many lazy useless c^&ts. Adding more wont make any difference.

Avatar
cyclisto | 1 month ago
10 likes

It is kind of funny because this is practically attempted murder, but the police attitude is "ok people at the bar push you too, no worries"

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to cyclisto | 1 month ago
0 likes
cyclisto wrote:

It is kind of funny because this is practically attempted murder, but the police attitude is "ok people at the bar push you too, no worries"

I don't know where you get that. The attitude is more "we have no viable way of tracking this guy down and getting a conviction."

No description of the perp

No witnesses to give evidence

No video footgae

No licence plate.

All they have is "red BMW with black wheels" and "guy in a hoodie"

I don't think there is any trivialising of the offence, only an acceptance of lack of evidence. Sure they could maybe get CCTV that shows the car described in that area, but the defence will argue that either it wasn't the same car, or that the car passed the cyclist, but the cyclist went off the road because he was head down looking at his garmin/being aero and not looking where he was going.

Avatar
stonojnr replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
5 likes

Maybe they could employ the same investigation techniques they used to track down the Sycamore gap tree cutters, just an idea.

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morgoth985 replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
2 likes

I rather think that this would be enough for them to find someone if they wanted to.

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EraserBike replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
7 likes

Yeah it was completely impossible to investigate crime before video footage existed. There are witnesses, there is a detailed description of the car, the direction it was travelling, the time of day and date. Plenty to get stuck into.

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KDee replied to EraserBike | 1 month ago
5 likes

Pfff...that requires a level of effort. Never going to happen.

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exilegareth replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
3 likes

Last time I checked it was the police's job to gather evidence, not to second guess what the defence might say in court. Since the case has been live on social media there have been all sorts of mutterings about similar offences or incident sinvolving a similar vehicle and occupants, but if every case is gatekept off the records, then there's no chance of either a pattern of behaviour being established or evidence being amassed.

Your last para thought is at the heart of my isssue with this. We have courts of law, with magistrates or juries (and I'd argue that this case should be S18 OATPA 1861, which means a jury trial in a Crown Court) to decide the facts and if the offence has been proven. What kind of country have we become where a junior police officer is expected to decide such matters on the doorstep?

Avatar
EraserBike | 1 month ago
7 likes

Police don't want to deal with difficult situations anymore. They don't go after career scumbags like this because it's too much hassle. I'm 100% sure they know exactly who these rats are but they won't do anything about it. They'd rather sit on twitter and police "non crime hate incidents".

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wtjs | 1 month ago
7 likes

I think it was Northumbria Police who, a few years ago, came up with 'don't go out cycling on public holidays', promptly followed by something like South Wales Traffic Partnership (or some equally idiotic name where you know all the 'partners' think it's all the 'other partners' who are responsible) saying 'don't go out cycling in the dark' or vice versa.

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Hirsute replied to wtjs | 1 month ago
10 likes

" Northumbria Police advise cyclists to “avoid busy areas in rush hour” https://t.co/XRzAKGuEaS  "

The tweet was deleted a day later.

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wtjs replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
3 likes

Roger. Thanks for the correction

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AidanR | 1 month ago
16 likes

So, crimes are now impossible to solve unless there's video evidence?

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Benthic replied to AidanR | 1 month ago
4 likes

...and the victim obtains it.

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wycombewheeler replied to AidanR | 1 month ago
0 likes
AidanR wrote:

So, crimes are now impossible to solve unless there's video evidence?

some witnesses might be sufficient, but there are none. The victim cannot identify the assailant, the victim cannot verify the car number plate. No one else saw the incident.

Avatar
morgoth985 replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
3 likes

Might need a bit of investigation then!

Avatar
exilegareth replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
3 likes

The victim is the witness. The police should believe victims, or are you engaged in some kind of situationist provocation to demonstrate, through the use of irony, why we only convict 3% of rapists?

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chrisonabike replied to exilegareth | 1 month ago
0 likes

As you say police should *investigate* (rather than "believe"). But... their investigating ultimately feeds the court system (via CPS). They have to operate with the end product in mind.

Limited resources, with the usual second door for those with deep pockets (private prosecutions).

I've got Police Scotland looking after me though, so I'm not certain we've the right balance here...

The balance points: while the police *are* a law unto themselves (discretion), I'd have loved the government to tackle the *other* end of the pipe in a serious fashion. With a something like a comprehensive review of road offenses.

... but what we got was "close that terrible loophole about deadly cyclists not being treated the same as motorists, clearly unfair" tacked on to another bill. 😒

Avatar
open_roads | 1 month ago
12 likes

Just the usual word salad from the police.

Unless someone can solve the crime for them, too many of them have zero interest in actually doing the job they were recruited to.

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The_Ewan | 1 month ago
12 likes

The passive voice is doing a lot of work in that quote from the police:

Quote:

An investigation has been launched, and enquiries are underway

It has, we know that - it's been launched by the victim. There's nothing there that says that the police are doing anything at all.

Avatar
Benthic | 1 month ago
12 likes

If the cyclist had been a police constable you can bet CSI, the dog unit, and the helicopter would have been deployed within minutes.

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Pub bike replied to Benthic | 1 month ago
5 likes

Perhaps the driver is known to the police and that is the reason for inaction?

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marmotte27 replied to Pub bike | 1 month ago
0 likes

Known to the police but not in a good way, if I may say so.

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momove | 1 month ago
15 likes

If it was a person on a bicycle that pushed a pedestrian over, there'd be a national hunt for them.

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Patrick9-32 | 1 month ago
17 likes

But you see what we need is tougher laws for cyclists....

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to Patrick9-32 | 1 month ago
5 likes

You are missing the point... tougher laws for cyclists mean less cyclists... less cyclists mean less incidents like this... winner winner, chicken dinner!

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