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Female cyclist repeatedly punched during canal towpath assault

The victim was cycling along a Warwickshire towpath when she was approached and assaulted by a male suspect in what police have described as a "concerning incident"...

Police in Warwickshire have this afternoon said that a man they wanted to talk to in connection with an assault on a female cyclist on a canal towpath has come forward and is "currently helping officers with their ongoing enquiries".

Warwickshire Police said the incident happened on the morning of Sunday 16 July at around 7.45am as the woman was cycling along the towpath on Old Warwick Road in Leamington.

The victim was approached by another cyclist who then repeatedly punched her in the head before fleeing in the direction of Myton Road.

Officers last night released a CCTV image of the man who has since come forward, the police force thanking the public for helping spread word of the appeal.

Police described the incident as "concerning" and said they are continuing to support the victim who has been left "understandably shaken" by the attack.

Detective Constable Mike Woodland from Leamington CID said: "This is a concerning incident which has left the victim understandably shaken, and she is currently being supported by specialist officers. A number of enquiries are now underway to identify and locate the suspect.

"We believe the man in the image may have information that could help with our enquiries. If anyone witnessed the incident, any suspicious behaviour in the area or recognises the description of the cyclist, please get in contact.

"Information can be given by calling Warwickshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 72 of 16 July, or reporting online at www.warwickshire.police.uk/report

"Information can also be given anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website."

While canal towpaths offer miles of traffic-free, accessible cycling routes across the UK, they have also been the scene of worrying attacks on the cyclists who use them.

In March, we reported that a 73-year-old cyclist in London played dead to get rid of muggers who violently assaulted him before taking his electric mountain bike. As the rider entered a long and dark underpass with a number of concrete pillars — four men jumped him from behind before pinning him to the ground.

Many incidents have been reported in Birmingham and the West Midlands, where the network of canals is famous. At one point repeat incidents led to a Birmingham doctor, who was beaten up by muggers, saying the opportunistic attackers were "preying on cyclists".

One attack left a female cyclist needing rescuing from a canal and surgery on a broken elbow. More recently, in 2021 too, a cyclist was pushed into the Worcester and Birmingham Canal by a gang of teenagers, while later in the same year police hunted a balaclava-wearing mugger who pushed a cyclist into a canal during an attempted bikejacking.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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16 comments

Avatar
Fignon's ghost | 7 months ago
0 likes

Have they caught up with the cnut yet?

Come on Warwick police. What ya gonna do????? Pathetic.

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mattw | 7 months ago
6 likes

Tow paths are worse because that is the decision that has been made.

On tow paths, photos of the same spot from  2015 / 1914.

Shrewley Tunnel on the Grand Union.

https://t.co/kAmtanI2XT

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mattw replied to mattw | 7 months ago
2 likes
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andystow | 7 months ago
1 like

What scum.

Maybe they could catch him by having a sting at a local bike shop, with an offer of free bike fits.

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Owd Big 'Ead | 7 months ago
2 likes

What a coward!
I hope the woman makes a speedy recovery, both physically, but more importantly, mentally.
How on earth anyone can consider canalside paths as cycling infrastructure is beyond me.

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the little onion | 7 months ago
10 likes

I hope they catch this person, and the victim recovers quickly.

 

But it is even more evidence of why towpaths are NOT proper cycling infrastructure. They are beloved by councils because it is the "easy" option to claim to be doing something, and beloved by the Canal and Rivers Trust who can skim overheads whilst providing something that doesn't work for cyclists (deliberately so).

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mattw replied to the little onion | 7 months ago
4 likes

Towpaths *need* to be proper infrastructure.

Traditionally they were of a width to allow 2 harnessed working boat horses to pass each other - that is 2.5-3m wide.

Reading towpath design guides from the Canals & Rivers Trust and the British Waterways Association (yes, they exist), they are willing to put an imagined chocolate box version of 'heritage' above practicality and canal heritage being as working environments, and entertain path widths as narrow as 1m - which exclude all kinds of users.

LTN1/20 - broadened as in Wales to be "Active Travel" not "cycling" - must be applied.

Here are the guides - 1980s standards in 2023 and quite an eye-opener. Full of "if appropriates", "if feasible"s, and "heritage" considerations.

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/library/6873.pdf
http://www.britishwaterways.co.uk/media/documents/meetings/wusig/11-03-1...

Being a charity, CRT have a different set of tricks to avoid giving people their legal access rights.

 

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the little onion replied to mattw | 7 months ago
18 likes

The £2 million "upgrade" to the Leeds-Liverpool canal between Shipley and Leeds, paid for by specifically cycling and walking funds, contains the delightful combination of loose earth surfaces, cobbled speedbumps, 45cm-wide A-frames, and zero presence of anything making owners keep their mobile turd droppers (a.k.a dogs) on a lead. And that is before you get to muggers.

 

It is almost like the Canal and Rivers Trust want cycling funds, but don't want cyclists.

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chrisonabike replied to mattw | 7 months ago
1 like

Unfortunately many towpaths are what I'd accept as "the towpaths are too narrow" cases.  What makes them good for cycling (flat, often not been redeveloped) is also the cause of problems (indirect, narrow space with "hard limits" e.g. we'd need to demolish houses or build bridges for enough space etc, not "socially safe").

In many cases uncomfortably narrow even for pedestrians only!

Sometimes it can be great to accommodate cycling as recreation and possibly a route on them.  I'm not sure how often this is the case though.

As an aside it's common to find people who're objecting to cycle infra elsewhere saying "but they can use the towpath".  Often the same people who then decry "nuisance cycling" in that space...

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mattw replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
2 likes

I agree that the aqueduct comes under "unavoidable pinch point", but in general narrowings and exclusions have been deliberate or unthinking. I think "hard limits" are rare, but I am not sure how to get at sample data.

With respect to the Leeds Liverpool, A-barriers are unforgiveable and should be able to be force-removed by legal action if the right parties get their teeth into it.

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Car Delenda Est replied to mattw | 7 months ago
2 likes
mattw wrote:

exclusions have been deliberate or unthinking

I know someone who lived on a canal boat, it's deliberate, CRT are openly and extremely hostile to anyone not directly giving them money.

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Robert Hardy replied to Car Delenda Est | 7 months ago
1 like

I have considerable sympathy for them a substantisl minority of cyclists in canal tow paths are absolute pigs, expecting walkers to get out of their way. I both walk and cycle on tow paths, as a cyclist I consider that I should give way to walkers and stop and pull of the path to let them pass in safety unintimidated. We expect considerable space from passing motorists but often fail to give the same consideration to pedestrians on shared use facilities.

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chrisonabike replied to mattw | 7 months ago
1 like

BTW agree on the CRT / BWA apparently having a quite different agenda.  Unfortunately IIRC LTN1/20 still has a bit of "but if that's really the best you can do, OK..." and is just not really binding (or not at all).

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mattw replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
2 likes

It's not binding of course, though towpath renovaion funds should be insisting.

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Robert Hardy replied to mattw | 7 months ago
0 likes

The CRT are struggling with limited funding to maintain a 200 plus year old network of several thousand miles of canal. They are not in the business of maintaining peoples' Strava averages. I can remember a time that British Waterways didnt even allow pedestrians access to much of their canal towpath, If you want substantial cycling infrastructute along the canal then in general land would have to be provided and it would also have to be compatible with the perfectly legitimate desire that many users have for maintaining the character of the canal side. They were designed for progress at walking pace!

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Sriracha replied to Robert Hardy | 7 months ago
0 likes
Robert Hardy wrote:

They were designed for progress at walking pace!

Sure, horses walking. Two abreast when they crossed paths. So there should be ample width, yet there seldom is. But I'd agree, some cyclists are very inconsiderate.

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