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“Hundreds of pins” strewn across Essex cycle lane in bank holiday sabotage

This latest incident on the Epping New Road comes just three months after two cyclists were allegedly assaulted by a tack-throwing motorist while riding in the same bike lane

Hundreds of drawing pins were allegedly scattered along an Essex bike lane this morning, causing a number of cyclists to puncture during their bank holiday ride.

Today’s reported incident on the Epping New Road, near Epping Forest, comes just three months after two cyclists claimed that they were assaulted on the busy road by a motorist who allegedly pulled up alongside them before throwing tacks at the riders and along the bike lane.

This morning, cycling lawyer and road safety advocate Rory McCarron, who completed the self-supported Transcontinental Race across Europe in 2017, was cycling in the area when he discovered the pins strewn across the unprotected cycle lane.

According to the solicitor, who tried to gather most of the pins (a task not helped by the fast-moving traffic on the road), the plethora of tacks represented a deliberate attempt to sabotage cyclists using the road and adjacent bike lane. One stranded rider, McCarron says, was forced to call a taxi after puncturing without a spare tube.

“There were hundreds of pins scattered on the Epping New Road, mainly in the cycle lane and a few in the main carriageway,” McCarron tells

“I had stopped just prior to the main part as a cyclist had fallen victim to them but he had a tube and was okay.

“A little further along, there were loads and my interpretation was that they’d been deliberately put there as there were so many for quite a long stretch.

“I picked up as many as I could but, as the road is so dangerous with fast cars, I couldn’t get them all. On the way back another two cyclists fell victim to them.”

The cycling campaigner continued: “Not only is this a really horrible thing to do and a way to ruin someone’s bank holiday weekend – one of the cyclists had no spare so had to get a cab home – it’s really dangerous.

“It could cause you to lose control or swerve out the way of them with speeding cars in close proximity.”

> RideLondon: Cyclists claim they were assaulted by motorist with drawing pins on sportive route

Today’s bank holiday incident appears to mark the latest attempt to deliberately target people riding their bikes in Essex, and in particular on the A104 Epping New Road, located between Buckhurst Hill and the Epping Forest roundabout.

As noted above, two cyclists training on the road in May claimed that the driver of “a black Ford pickup truck pulled alongside us and threw several handfuls of drawing pins in our faces and along the cycle lane”.

The cyclists were riding in the area ahead of the following week’s RideLondon sportive, an event which moved to Essex this year for the first time after seven editions in Surrey.

> RideLondon: tacks strewn on route and angry petition gains traction ahead of sportive's Essex debut

The mass participation cycling festival appeared to attract the ire of the county’s motorists, who launched a petition protesting the road closures associated with the event, which some signatories compared to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Tacks were also thrown across another section of the route in the week leading up to RideLondon, causing Team Brother UK-LDN rider Tim Allen to puncture, while Ribble Weldtite’s world champion team pursuiter Charlie Tanfield was allegedly knocked off his bike by a motorist in an “intentional” hit-and-run incident while training with his brother Harry in Essex around the same time.

> Team GB's Charlie Tanfield struck by motorist in “intentional” hit and run

In the lead-up to RideLondon, road safety advocate and contributor Laura Laker argued that little has been done by Essex Police to promote engagement between motorists and cyclists in the county.

Laker 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.

> Is Essex ready for RideLondon? Police defends silence over road safety issues

As we’ve seen in Essex this summer, 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.

Ryan joined 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 Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’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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oceandweller | 1 year ago

Go tubeless! Just laugh at thumb tacks. Happened to me on Velo Birmingham in 2017. Someone had scattered thumb tacks on a section of narrow lane about 20 miles in. Long tail back, everyone carrying their bikes over 1/4-mile section, I ignored it & just cycled through, must've punctured coz a few minutes later noticed sealant spraying up off front wheel, stopped, looked, puncture already sealed & I hadn't even lost much air. Ha-ha!

kil0ran | 1 year ago

Riding without a spare tube? Tut tut.

Surreyrider replied to kil0ran | 1 year ago

That's not what the story says. Tut tut. It just says one of the riders "had no spare" so could have used 1, 2 or even 3 already. 

Global Nomad | 1 year ago

unfortunately this is so hard to stop, only takes one idiot and very hard to imagine how to spot or stop anyone throwing pins out of a moving car...even if the cameras were in the right place...and we cannot watch the whole network....part of the road through Epping forest has a seperate decent cycle lane finally but too much of it has a stupid line for bikes forcing us onto the worst surface/gutter and cats eyes, so it is already difficult enough to use...there is space for a proper dedicated lane if only there was the motivation - Essex  hasn't cared for years...

leipreachan replied to Global Nomad | 1 year ago

It's not just "hard to stop".
The most important thing - police won't give a damn thing and does absolutely nothing.
They won't even post in in social media.
Even if this person got caught by police they receive absolutely no punishment for doing this. Zero.

That what really pisses me off.

orangecannonim replied to Global Nomad | 1 year ago

The Epping new road cycle lane.... It's a fast 40mph road with gentle down/uphills so fast for bikes too. It's the main cycle route out of NE london.
.the bike lane is 60-75cm wide - I feel comfortable riding just where the white lines are .. but this is where multiple large cat eyes are too.
Inside the cycle lane, the surface is terrible - heavy chip and seal. Outside the cycle lane/ on the main carriage way, the contractors helpfully put a finer topcoat of gravel down.. guess where most experienced cyclists ride - especially as the last 5 years (since the resurfacing) has further smoothed the main road surface.
Car drivers get very pissed off with riders sitting just outside the cycle lane.
They do not understand the road surface, and just see riders ignoring a cycle lane.

So easily fixed. But it's been an unnecessary source of conflict for years

Ratfink replied to Global Nomad | 1 year ago

It's not down to Essex council the verges which would have to be removed to increase the cycle lane are part of Epping forest and since 1878 are protected under the Epping forest act. That road was built in the 1830's for horse drawn traffic to avoid the climb out of Loughton and has never been widened at all.The road i live on has a similar thing where the land opposite is forest land so there is limited road space and we have a pavement so narrow that pedestrians have to give way to each other.

Despite this i've always thought that road to be an ideal candidate for a segregated cycle lane and i mean a real one like in the Netherlands with a tall hedge seperating the traffic it would be bloody pleasant to just see the forest and would encourage more people to cycle out and enjoy the forest.


steaders1 | 1 year ago

There really are some complete tossers living in this country

ktache | 1 year ago

Are most tubeless sealants good enough to resist a tack attack?

IanMSpencer replied to ktache | 1 year ago
1 like

Yes, the main problem is that if you get a drawing pin stuck in your tyre, you have the potential for skidding, so they are worse than hawthorne thorns.

Dicklexic replied to IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
IanMSpencer wrote:

Yes, the main problem is that if you get a drawing pin stuck in your tyre, you have the potential for skidding, so they are worse than hawthorne thorns.

THIS ^^^^

I remember several years ago doing the Cardiff Velothon and there had been a 'tack attack' on the route. There was at least one nasty crash where the rider lost control because of the tacks. Even if your tyre (with sealant) stays inflated you still have that small but significant area of tyre that has zero grip, and can cause brief but sudden loss of traction when braking or cornering. The contact patch on a road tyre is so small that even a thumb tack can eliminate it entirely.

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