Birmingham Cyclist

Cycling in and around Birmingham England

Cyclists attacked on Grand Union Canal tow path

Posting on behalf of JRA

The ongoing improvements to the off-road cycle route going East out of Birmingham along the Grand Union Canal have been a big improvement to commuting, especially with winter coming. I felt there has been an increasing number of people using the route each morning and teatime.


Unfortunately, there have been a group of Asian youths gathering at the Ackers and/or Golden Hillock Bridges. There has been the odd jeer and incidents of them stepping into the path of cyclists, or nudging bikes when passing.

Last Wednesday on the commute home a determined attempt was made by two Asian youths to push me into the canal from my bike, which failed due to the railing at the Ackers Bridge. However, they then punched me repeatedly in the face, broke my nose and split my lip. They tried to steal my bike and money, but did not succeed. Fortunately, two more cyclists arrived and were very helpful.
I immediately called the police, who chose not to attend the incident, despite the fact the youths were still present. They are now taking action, as they tell me there was a similar incident at the same place 3 days before, where a lady was pushed in the canal.


I suggest we need a solution to this. The same youths are there many, possibly most evenings and they are going to destroy the hard work put in by everyone to create this vital cycle route.


Whilst the police need to act definitively and swiftly, I wonder if those using the route should think about stopping briefly to allow others to arrive and cycling in twos and threes on this stretch through Yardley?


I am sorry for the negative message, but I cannot find an alternative means of ensuring this issue is brought to everyone's attention.

If anyone has any similar experiences then please can they tell the police.

Thank you

JRA

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That's awful. I don't like cycling along the towpath because of the poor surface but I realise that for some it's the route they feel most comfortable with. I hate to hear of anyone being bullied, intimidated or just plain abused, verbally or physically,  and anything we can do to ensure people's safety while cycling into, out of and around the city would be worth making an effort I think.

It is awful and I was fortunate not to be their victim shortly before this happened. 

I'm going to lock this thread for the time being as I am away until Saturday night and want to check with JRA if he wants it to be a discussion or just to warn people.

I will reply again soon.

If anybody has camera footage from that route that might be useful please could you save it and let me know via PM. Thanks

Discussion is re-opened.

Update from JRA: from information over the last 24 hours I believe the result of police action has largely solved this issue. In the unlikely event that the groups of youths ( my experience suggests those to be concerned over will be in groups of 2 or occasionally more, usually at a narrow section such as under a bridge, who watch you approach, often on more than one day) are seen along the Yardley stretch of the Grand Union Canal then please contact the police, who will take immediate action. I am now confident in using the towpath regularly again and will be doing so next week

Reply from BCR team on Facebook

I've spoken with the relevant teams within the council who have been in communication with the police. There have been other incidents of a similar nature recently reported on this stretch. The police are aware of this and have been deploying plain clothes policeman to this section of the canal towpath. Last night they detained 4 males and this will be followed up with visits to family/schools to ensure they do not return to the location. Follow up visits to the towpath by officers will also continue for the next few days. 
Your idea of waiting for other cyclists is a good one, maybe take a look at the BikeBudi website:https://birminghambikebudi.liftshare.comwhich enables you to find people cycling the same journey as you, while we are not suggesting this is the answer to antisocial issues, it is always nicer to have someone to ride with smile emoticon 

This is shocking, I had a glass bottle thrown at me by a couple of lads from the opposite side of the canal near the bumpy bridge, luckily not injured but  did report it so police were aware.

I am glad some cyclists arrived soon after and were helpful.  It shows cycling is increasing on the Grand Union since the improvements as it used to be very quiet even in Summer.

It was probably the same morons. I have passed while two were on the towpath side and another threw something from the other side. I heard it hit the bridge and assumed it was aimed at or near his mates but perhaps not.




Cookie said:

This is shocking, I had a glass bottle thrown at me by a couple of lads from the opposite side of the canal near the bumpy bridge, luckily not injured but  did report it so police were aware.

I am glad some cyclists arrived soon after and were helpful.  It shows cycling is increasing on the Grand Union since the improvements as it used to be very quiet even in Summer.

I rode this route on Thursday -- It is sad to hear this ,  I was struck at how this route has potential to transform.

There were some middle aged couples rambling with maps - several dog walkers and couples just chilling and relaxing.

The pathway is civilized and offers  brummies a natural space and outdoor right in the heart of the city.

It is new and people will explore -- unfortunately those with bad in mind will also come to explore this as a new opportunity.

Which group will  prevail depends on the authorities - I hope that swift action  will see off the criminal types.

If there is a regular flow of cyclists and walkers it becomes safer.

After weeks of staring, obstructing, verbal threats and throwing things scross the canal they eventually plucked up the courage to attack a lone middle aged woman and an old bloke with grey hair and glasses (JRA's description of himself). Both victims were probably older than their parents. Scum.

Sorry to hear of this incident, but this is why building on road cycling routes is essential . Canal tow paths are not cycle routes made for commuting. Canal paths do not generally go where people want to travel as they are slave to gradients. Spray and chip on towpaths is not the answer, but it does keep cyclists off the roads which is good for BCC which doesn't really believe in treating cyclists like first class citizens.

LS said:

After weeks of staring, obstructing, verbal threats and throwing things scross the canal they eventually plucked up the courage to attack a lone middle aged woman and an old bloke with grey hair and glasses (JRA's description of himself). Both victims were probably older than their parents. Scum.

Reallly sorry to hear about this.

You  may already be aware that west  midlands police are required to keep victims of crime updated on any investigation and charging processes they are pursuing

I am sure many of us woulld be keen to know what actual convictions WMP are pursuing, or whether the are treatin g assaults on cyclists with their  customary indifference.

I disagree.  Canal towpaths are unsuitable for transport cycling infrastructure, but they're public green (if not natural) spaces and we should be able to use them for a walk or bike ride at any time of day without fear of abuse or assault.

While I'm all for proper cycling infrastructure on the direct routes that people actually want to be able to use, this shouldn't be an alternative to policing.

John K said:

Sorry to hear of this incident, but this is why building on road cycling routes is essential . Canal tow paths are not cycle routes made for commuting. Canal paths do not generally go where people want to travel as they are slave to gradients. Spray and chip on towpaths is not the answer, but it does keep cyclists off the roads which is good for BCC which doesn't really believe in treating cyclists like first class citizens.

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