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Cyclist warns of yet another terrifying knifepoint bikejacking

The road.cc reader was rammed from his bike as he cycled home from work before being surrounded by three masked attackers who pulled out a knife

A cyclist has recalled a shocking bikejacking which saw him knocked from his bicycle by masked men and threatened with a knife during an attack on his ride home from work through an East London park last week.

road.cc reader Christian Blunden was commuting on his regular route from his workplace at Tower Bridge's Shad Thames street to Walthamstow, a path he has plotted "a couple of thousand times" over the years, and passed through Millfields Park to access the River Lea towpath, just across the water from Hackney Marshes.

Riding through at around 7pm last Wednesday (8 February), the first part of the park was dark thanks to the poor lighting and limited British winter daylight hours, but there were plenty of people out running or walking their dogs.

> What can be done about the latest spate of bikejackings? + more on the road.cc Podcast

Christian recalled passing "three guys" walking their bikes through but "didn't think anything of it" and eased up to around 20mph as the lighting in the second half of the park improved and the number of pedestrians reduced towards the towpath.

"As I approached the sharp turn left to the towpath that takes you under the Lea Bridge Road, I had the sensation of someone rapidly approaching behind me, easily doing 30mph," he told us. 

"I remember thinking, 'this guy is an idiot trying to overtake me, he is not going to pull up in time' to make the sharp turn. Then next thing I know he is almost ramming me and shoves me to the point of losing control of the bike, I fly over the handle bars onto the path."

Having picked himself up from the shock of the fall, Christian suddenly realised the man behind, who had been riding an unrestricted e-bike, was trying to pull his Orbea away too.

"He was wearing all black with a dark beanie pulled down to eye level and also a dark face mask pulled up to his eyes," Christian explained. "There was nothing I could see of him except his eyes. 

"I started yelling at him 'what the f*** mate.. what are you doing?' and he was yelling back at me 'give me your f****** bike, walk away'. 

"I then for some reason, I wasn't really thinking about what I was doing it was just instinctual, I picked up my bike and started swinging it around at him like a weapon. He was yelling at his two mates who had circled round behind me to grab the bike.

> "Deeply concerned" British Cycling steps in following spate of violent bikejackings across south London

"I was surrounded and I think one of them was trying to push me round using my backpack but that was made difficult because I was swinging my bike around. It was then the main guy, the one who pushed me over initially, who reached into his jacket and pulled out a knife.

"As soon as he pulled it out it was the only thing I could see and I knew it was over so I backed away and they let me go. Meanwhile they had taken my bike and were already on the towpath escaping."

The whole frightening series of events was over in under two minutes and around 30 seconds later another cyclist passed, but did not stop when Christian explained he had been mugged.

"I noticed that I was cut pretty badly on my right arm and was covered in blood," Christian continued. "A runner came up to me and asked if I was okay and I told him I was just mugged for my bike. We both called 999 and the police were there within 15 minutes.

"The police officers were very nice and apologetic, but they did say it was happening a lot at the moment along the towpath area. They did a quick assessment on my arm and said I would need stitches so they took me to Homerton Hospital where they left me."

Christian is still yet to receive a crime reference number for the bikejacking despite multiple attempts to contact the police and was left in no doubt he was targeted for his bike as the offenders did not take his phone or laptop.

"The only thing that was taken was my bike which was a 2021 Orbea Gain D30," he explained. "It had some some custom upgrades like carbon rims and SRAM Red crankset but they did not take anything else like my phone or my backpack, which had a MacBook Pro inside."

Unfortunately, Christian's experience is nothing new, with criminals in London regularly targeting cyclists for their bikes, attracted by the high-value kit and what Cycling UK's Duncan Dollimore suggested might be a perception of it being a "low-risk crime" if the "numbers of people being caught are so low".

Last year we reported on a spate of bikejackings across the English capital, but mainly in the south of the city, often involving youths on mopeds threatening lone riders.

> "They said give us the bike or we stab you": Another cyclist targeted by motorbike-riding muggers on popular route out of London

In July, the situation was even so grim that British Cycling's policy manager Nick Chamberlain urged riders and clubs to "think carefully about the rides they have planned" and be careful when uploading rides to Strava or other ride-sharing platforms potentially easily accessible to criminals.

In October 2021, professional rider Alexandar Richardson — formerly a teammate of Mathieu van der Poel at the team then known as Alpecin Fenix and third at last year's national road race championships — was robbed of his bike by a machete-wielding gang in south-west London's Richmond Park.

Richardson was knocked off his bike and dragged for 100 metres by muggers on motorbikes who then pulled out a 15-inch machete and took his team-issue Canyon Aeroad.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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9 comments

Avatar
alotronic | 1 year ago
3 likes

Yikes. I ride that section of towpath every night. If someone wants to get you that is the perfect spot. I am going to amend my route. It's one thing to be conscious and ride a cheap bike, it's another when people are being targeted, outnumbered. Route changed! Also maybe I will change my camera (which is on my bike) and put it somewhere that won't go with the bike if it is nicked...

 

Avatar
Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago
4 likes

These scumbags must have a spotter who works the area and decides the desirable bikes that sit in a price bracket which triggers the risk reward decision. Sending in the cavalry when that decision is made.

If you're doing the commute run. You should do the ride on a well maintained, old school machine. Keep your shiny roller skate for daylight or group rides only.

Whichever way you look at it. This is organised crime and East London is full of opportunity.

This Orbea is a desirable machine. Easily moved on for cash. Ever since Brexshit. Pushbike prices have rocketed.

Stay safe. Stay alive. Commute old school.

Avatar
Rome73 replied to Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago
5 likes

I'm not sure if some of it isn't spontaneous - they see a bike and suddenly think let's do it. Obvioulsy it's already on their mind. I ride very expensive bikes and I have had gangs of hoodies give me the once over as I cycle pass - and you can see their thinking 'shall we, shan't we'. Luckily to date none of them have tried it on. I wouldn't cycle along the canals in London. 

Avatar
Fignon's ghost replied to Rome73 | 1 year ago
5 likes

I'm convinced these are well organised crims. Probably peddling wraps as part time jobs.
They know one day that they'll likely run into someone who is going to fuck them up properly. So, they will only go for speed traps and for the right price point.
One day an ex sas commando or increment quality target will be their judgement day. East London or East Timor. It's all the same....

Avatar
EddyBerckx replied to Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago
1 like

Fignon's ghost wrote:

These scumbags must have a spotter who works the area and decides the desirable bikes that sit in a price bracket which triggers the risk reward decision. Sending in the cavalry when that decision is made. If you're doing the commute run. You should do the ride on a well maintained, old school machine. Keep your shiny roller skate for daylight or group rides only. Whichever way you look at it. This is organised crime and East London is full of opportunity. This Orbea is a desirable machine. Easily moved on for cash. Ever since Brexshit. Pushbike prices have rocketed. Stay safe. Stay alive. Commute old school.

Honestly I've been a cycle geek for 10 years and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between most road bikes at a quick glance in the dark, I can't help thinking it was luck more than judgement that got them a nice bike. May be wrong

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
1 like

Possibly in this case just looking out for posh ebikes? The Gain D30 in this instance is "stealth" but it's quite easy to identify from the rear hub and the lit up control button on the top tube.

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a1white | 1 year ago
5 likes

it's scary as it's in an area I have and do cycle in. 7pm is not even that late. I know I've had threatening behaviour towards me on C10 (Quietway 1) route, in the past), but thankfully I cycled past - but they could have just left me becuase I was cycling on my cheaper hybrid. I generally stick with C4 along the main roads becuase of this now, when it's late.
 

Usefully, cycle.travel route planner, which is excellent for route finding, also now has a "night function" that cuts out parks and tow paths that can be dodgy after dark. I've used it a couple of times lately and felt much safer.

Avatar
peted76 | 1 year ago
6 likes

That's horrible and I honestly don't know what can be done about it.. more policing might slow this type of crime down in more urban areas but it won't stop it.. 

Inbuilt bike tracking could help IF the police were to follow up on them.. but I highly doubt they would. 

Avatar
nordog replied to peted76 | 1 year ago
1 like

Bring back the beat bobby they stopped rough stuff happening, much better than a detective solving the death.

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