Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

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MOARspeed
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Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby MOARspeed » 24 Jul 2019, 11:01am

Part of my commute takes me onto a national cycle route, I use it to avoid the main road which is basically two lanes up a long hill, with drivers so obsessed with racing each other that they'll pass cyclists stupidly close.

I've had no problem for around 3 weeks, cycling 4 days, driving on Wednesdays (shopping day), but twice now on that section i've encountered a 6-7 strong group of rough looking lads on tatty mountain bikes with the saddles dropped and tipped backwards, in their mid to late teens, first time they shouted some random **** and that was it, 2nd time next day the same but at least two of them tried to catch up to me, I'm not incredibly fit any more and I walk the final section which avoids a nasty roundabout. The whole of this cycle route is away from the road, it runs through the backs of houses and through wooded areas.

I may never see them again, but having these lads trying to catch up to me has got me spooked, it's the end of my commute home and i'm not fast enough at that stage to out run trouble, equally I consider the road route to be lethal (I even drive an additional 2 miles to avoid it in my car).

What's the best approach here?

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horizon
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby horizon » 24 Jul 2019, 11:06am

Lots of so-called cycle routes are lonely and isolated. I used to cycle the canal path in Stoke on Trent with old factories loomng out of the foggy gloom and who-knows-whom lurking in the undergrowth. When a new cycle path was introduced in Stoke I asked about night time use and was told that no lighting would be provided as night-time use wasn't intended.

As a practical suggestion, you might wait a couple of minutes and then go through with another cyclist or even a small group - it helps to talk to other road users.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

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mjr
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby mjr » 24 Jul 2019, 11:14am

Have they given you any reason to think they're doing anything more than silly commuter racing? If so, let the local police know there seems to be potential anti-social behaviour there. Maybe see if you can ride through near other cyclists as if they are bullies, they probably get more nervous with more people.

Groups of youths are reasonably common on cycleways here (including National 1) and were on the Redways when I was growing up too. Unlike road raging motorists, so far all of them have seemed harmless, but I know I am speaking from the privileged position of being a fairly tall guy on a big bike who used to do a martial art, so not an easy target. The most pain I've ever had was one fool in a so-called "bike storm" who decided to high-five my right turn signal and that was only a stinging smack, really - probably hurt him more. Mostly these groups are on urban sections, but there is one rural bridge they like to stop by, seemingly mostly swimming or fishing in the river below.
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MOARspeed
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby MOARspeed » 24 Jul 2019, 11:28am

horizon wrote:As a practical suggestion, you might wait a couple of minutes and then go through with another cyclist or even a small group - it helps to talk to other road users.


Good suggestion, but unfortunately i've never seen another cyclist on this section, a few dog walkers and that's about it. Commuter cycling isn't very common around here as the whole town is a mass of 70mph dual carriageways and some of the designated cycle routes have flights of stairs on them.

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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby Vorpal » 24 Jul 2019, 11:44am

I do agree with mjr, that if they are threatening more than just a wind up / bit of a game, the police should be informed. The lads should respect other users, and may not realise that they are intimidating. They may also be reacting to some extent, even unconsciously, to your nervousness?

Obviously we weren't there, and to some extent have to accept your reading of the situation, but I don't care for the demonising of youth. Gang and 'rough looking lads' both sound quite negative. Is it really deserved? I try to think these through objectively when I encounter a situation that worries me like that. Sometimes I find that there is some unconscious bias in my reactions to others.
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mercalia
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby mercalia » 24 Jul 2019, 12:29pm

maybe talk to them, treat them as human beings rather than possible muggers? they are on summer holidays now so have time to kill.

PH
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby PH » 24 Jul 2019, 12:43pm

There has been a problem on a stretch of Derby NCN over the last couple of months, sometimes involving stolen hire electric bikes which the youths discovered they could get up to speed, aim at someone and jump off. It was one of the factors that led to the scheme being withdrawn. I know of two injured cyclists, one with a broken wrist and the other got away with cuts and bruises. Police are aware and the PCSO's have been seen more often.
It's a section of path I ride several times a day, so far I haven't had anything I can't deal with, either by giving them a wide berth by riding on the grass verge or simply pulling over and stopping. I do always try and engage in a bit of banter with them, though the reactions are mixed. Now they haven't got the hire bikes their presence has dropped off, though the school holidays have just started so we'll see. It is a concern, though also needs putting in perspective, during the same couple of months, I've been put in more danger, on more occasions by inconsiderate motorists.

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horizon
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby horizon » 24 Jul 2019, 1:04pm

I'm not sure whether this is a further aspect of the "Get them off the roads and forget about them" approach to cycle provision or whether that's being unfair on what are actually good routes which suffer from a bit of ASB. I regularly ride the Rodwell Trail in Weymouth even late at night but although it is safe, there is always a bit of nervousness due to the fact that you are on your own and isolated and the route does attract maybe the wrong sort of hanger-abouter because it is, yes, isolated. What I have never seen (IIRC) is a cycling police officer on such a route. Policing should be very simple: a fast ride through with a cam should both check and reassure: police officers need to get out of their cars, get on their bikes and speed up.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

MOARspeed
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby MOARspeed » 24 Jul 2019, 1:21pm

mercalia wrote:maybe talk to them, treat them as human beings rather than possible muggers? they are on summer holidays now so have time to kill.


I'm sorry but that's the sort of thinking that got two student hikers beheaded by ISIS in Morocco and a group of 4 cyclists murdered in Tajikistan.
It's not a pessimistic view, neither am I an optimist, i'm an engineer and I take everything on the basis of history, evidence and probability.

Tangled Metal
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby Tangled Metal » 24 Jul 2019, 2:19pm

Okay! That sounds a bit of a stretch there.

Just where are you riding? Is it an area with high gun and knife crime? Or are you overreacting through fear by mentioning isis, etc?

pete75
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby pete75 » 24 Jul 2019, 2:22pm

MOARspeed wrote:
mercalia wrote:maybe talk to them, treat them as human beings rather than possible muggers? they are on summer holidays now so have time to kill.


I'm sorry but that's the sort of thinking that got two student hikers beheaded by ISIS in Morocco and a group of 4 cyclists murdered in Tajikistan.
It's not a pessimistic view, neither am I an optimist, i'm an engineer and I take everything on the basis of history, evidence and probability.


History, evidence and probability show it's unlikely in the extreme you'll be beheaded or killed by a bunch of youths on a UK cycle path. Your view appears to be based on paranoia driven fear.

pete75
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby pete75 » 24 Jul 2019, 2:24pm

horizon wrote:Lots of so-called cycle routes are lonely and isolated. I used to cycle the canal path in Stoke on Trent with old factories loomng out of the foggy gloom and who-knows-whom lurking in the undergrowth. When a new cycle path was introduced in Stoke I asked about night time use and was told that no lighting would be provided as night-time use wasn't intended.

As a practical suggestion, you might wait a couple of minutes and then go through with another cyclist or even a small group - it helps to talk to other road users.



Maybe because bicycles are expected to have lights at night. Certainly with a decent hub dynamo set up no extra lighting is required.

Tangled Metal
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby Tangled Metal » 24 Jul 2019, 2:26pm

Big bloke on big bike with martial arts training. Ditto!

Even before getting the training I never had trouble. Don't know why because I know more short @rsed people more able to defend themselves through their naked aggression than me. I'm a gentle giant really.

I had a friend who taught in a FE college. She had to discipline a petit lass in her early twenties who was out pending a manslaughter trial for killing someone with one punch! 5' nothing and tiny with it apparently. I doubt I would manage it despite training in where to strike for that effect.

Anyway that's a digression. Talking to them would only work with confidence and oodles of it too. If you had that they'd probably have picked up on it and never bothered you in the first place!

GranvilleThomas
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby GranvilleThomas » 24 Jul 2019, 2:32pm

mercalia wrote:maybe talk to them, treat them as human beings rather than possible muggers? they are on summer holidays now so have time to kill.


This is a good idea, I think. The kids tend to see me as a curiosity and a bit weird, more than anything, mainly because most people of my age (58yrs) around here, are usually driving cars or vans around the place and not cycling and the ones that I have ended up talking to have always been fine to me afterwards and usually shout 'alright mate' or 'do a wheeley'.

Even the older ones are Ok when I have got talking to them, they can look a bit intimidating at times but that is just them being 'young people' in my experience.

They sometimes want to 'race me' down the track as well, so I just slow down and let them win, once they've had their moment of glory they are happy.

Every generation for thousands of years has looked at it's youth and claimed that they are 'the worst ever' and that 'it wasn't like that when I was a kid' and 'they are all hooligans these days', but in reality, at least in my experience, they are just on the journey of life like the rest of us but at a different stage to me.

Look on the Police website to see if any crime has been reported there:

https://www.police.uk/

Also give the local police a ring on 101 - The police non-emergency number, maybe they are aware of problems in that area maybe they will be willing to patrol the area to give you peace of mind?

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horizon
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Re: Gangs of youths on national cycle route.....

Postby horizon » 24 Jul 2019, 3:17pm

MOARspeed wrote:
mercalia wrote:maybe talk to them, treat them as human beings rather than possible muggers? they are on summer holidays now so have time to kill.


I'm sorry but that's the sort of thinking that got two student hikers beheaded by ISIS in Morocco and a group of 4 cyclists murdered in Tajikistan.
It's not a pessimistic view, neither am I an optimist, i'm an engineer and I take everything on the basis of history, evidence and probability.


MOARspeed: I agree with others that you are probably safer than you think but it's nice to be sure. Most of us are also used to getting socially positive behaviour that signals that all is well - some young people don't do this so we feel threatened when in fact there is no threat.

I think you have a right to feel safe and my recommendation is that you do something locally: Saturday morning clean up, route check signage etc with local cycling officer, get the bushes cut back, get the local reporter involved. Anything that throws a spotlight on the path. It may not be your thing, but who knows.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!