Two cyclists have claimed that they were assaulted by a motorist on the route of the upcoming RideLondon-Essex sportive. According to the two riders, who were not injured during the attack, a driver in a black Ford pickup truck pulled alongside them on the Epping New Road, near the Wake Valley car park, before throwing drawing pins at the cyclists and along the bike lane.
The alleged assault follows a difficult week for RideLondon’s organisers, who have been criticised for seemingly implementing a 22mph pace limit, set by a safety car, at the head of the event, which some participants claimed would lead to long tailbacks behind the lead car and increased danger within groups as faster riders intermingled with less experienced entrants.
However, London Marathon Events, the event’s organisers, have since claimed that the information included in the rider guide about the 22mph speed limit was “stated incorrectly”, and that the “event safety car would travel at a pace determined by the conditions and what is happening on the road”.
Yesterday we also reported that RideLondon’s event guide was again under scrutiny after entrants noted that their official ride time will seemingly be paused during breaks at feed stops, which some have argued provided further proof that the sportive has adopted a stern ‘this is not a race’ attitude, in the wake of the safety car controversy.
Reports of antagonistic motorists along the route will do little to brighten the mood of RideLondon’s organisers as the event, which also features a three-day women’s WorldTour race, prepares for its debut on the roads of Essex next weekend.
According to a Reddit user, as they were preparing for RideLondon with their sister earlier this week by training along the new route on the Epping New Road, close to the Epping Forest roundabout, a motorist attacked them with drawing pins.
“Whilst in the cycle lane, a black Ford pickup truck pulled alongside us and threw several handfuls of drawing pins in our faces and along the cycle lane,” the user wrote.
“Luckily we had sunglasses on so we were not injured and our bikes came out unscathed.
“I'm not sure why but I suspect it may be a local who is upset about the upcoming road closures.”
The incident has since been reported to the police, though the cyclists failed to take note of the driver’s number plate, while neither were wearing helmet cameras at the time of the alleged attack.
While there have been very few reports of locals unhappy about any disruption caused by next weekend’s event, last week we reported that the organisers of June’s Tour of Cambridgeshire – which implements similar road closures to RideLondon – were forced to defend the Gran Fondo after business owners along the route claimed that the event costs them £10,000 in lost revenue every year.
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.
As RideLondon approaches, road safety advocate and road.cc contributor Laura Laker has argued that there has been little done by Essex Police to promote engagement between motorists and cyclists in the county.
Laker has 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.
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.