Sick yobs laying booby traps on paths across Sheffield and the Peak District
Sick vigilantes are putting cyclists in danger by sabotaging trails with booby traps including branches at head height, rocky obstacles and tyre piercing pins.
The cycling community in Sheffield and Derbyshire are becoming increasingly concerned by the growing trend and fear it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or even killed.
In recent weeks thick branches have been cut down and fixed at head height along a bridleway in Bradwell, carpet tacks have been laid across a road in Bamford and a wall of rocks have been constructed across a path in Aston in the Peak District.
A number of pictures have also been circulating on internet forums showing how riders have been forced to pick up dozens of pins from roads in the Peaks. In addition, there has been reports of similar sabotage incidents in west Sheffield, Doncaster and along the Trans Pennine Trail.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesperson said officers are aware of “trail sabotaging and take all reports of this nature very seriously.”
Fulwood man Chris Maloney, who writes the Keeper of the Peak blog that promotes cycling, said these vigilante attacks are putting people's lives at risk.
The 37-year-old father-of-two said: “These are just idiots with a vendetta. The traps are designed to stop people cycling and enjoying the outdoors.
“If someone sees these obstacles late and comes off their bike then this could cause very serious injuries or even put people's lives at risk. It needs to stop.”
Dexter Johnstone, secretary of campaign group Cycle Sheffield, also condemned the vigilante actions.
The Walkley man said: "The people doing it are complete idiots. It is incredibly dangerous and there have been stories in the national media about people being seriously injured as a result.
“It is illegal and the people doing so should be arrested and prosecuted."
Mr Maloney said he does not really know why someone would do such a thing.
He accepted that, like within any group, there will be a small section of cyclists who on occasion go too fast.
But added: “Whatever people's gripes are there is absolutely no justification for putting people's safety at risk.
“We have a mantra in the cycling community of being respectful and thinking about other people enjoying the outdoors.”
Mr Maloney described how huge efforts have been made in recent years to encourage more cooperation between walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders.
This includes regular meetings to discuss ways of improving things such as access to routes.
But he said vigilante actions go completely against this joined-up approach and is “not in the spirit of the great outdoors.”
He added: “If the people sabotaging the trials have an issue then I would like to invite them to one of our meetings to discuss this, rather than setting traps that can hurt people.
“A lot of people from Sheffield visit the Peak District and more and more people generally are so we need to find a way so that we all get along.”
This latest issue comes as a magazine editor was criticised for an article that suggested stringing up razor wire to garrotte people riding bikes on the pavement.
The editorial in London Road-based Grapevine magazine, which is delivered free to 23,000 homes in Sheffield each month, recounted a conversation between the editor, Ian Macgill, and an “old chum Mr Smith” in which the latter called for wire to be introduced at head height so pavement riders are “taught a lesson.”
Mr Macgill expressed reservations about the idea but later highlighted to The Star an issue with “cyclists using Sheffield pavements as racetracks.”
The article did not go down well with cyclists.
Mr Maloney said: “This kind of comment – joking or otherwise – legitimises the anti-cyclist hatred and rhetoric that groups like Ride Sheffield, Peak District MTB and me – as well as others such as CycleSheffield have worked hard – successfully I might add – to combat.”
It also comes after figures revealed hundreds of cyclists have been injured and some killed on Sheffield’s roads over the past decade – incidents that are rising in number and severity.
The figures from South Yorkshire Police were uncovered using a Freedom of Information request and showed a total of 1,445 cyclist casualties – including three deaths, 314 serious casualties and 1,128 slight injuries – had happened within the last 10 years.
In a statement, South Yorkshire Police said: “Our officers are aware of reports of alleged trail sabotaging and take all reports of this nature very seriously.
“Trail sabotaging has the potential to cause serious injury, and we would encourage anyone who comes across evidence of this, or any suggestion of this taking place, to report it to the police via 101.”