Cycling world hits back after columnist says its ‘tempting’ to injure cyclists with wire traps

‘I am routinely abused, often threatened, and sometimes endangered by the actions of my fellow citizens’

(Image credit: Corbis via Getty Images)

It’s a familiar story that cyclists will no doubt be tired of, but another newspaper columnist has decided bike riders are an easy target for their latest provocative tirade.

Previously we’ve seen Janet Street-Porter roll out all the old anti-cycling clichés, while Jeremy Clarkson aired his views, alongside countless other anti-cycling rants.

But the latest instalment to the catalogue of unwelcome opinions has caught the attention of a number of high-profile figures in the cycling world, after Rod Liddle suggested injuring cyclists with “piano wire at neck height” is “tempting.”

The comments came as a cyclist in Wales suffered facial injuries after a similar trap was placed on a woodland trail.

Liddle’s words have been picked up by commentator Ned Boulting and professional rider Jolanda Neff, while charity Cycling UK has complained to the newspaper.

In a letter to the editor of the Sunday Times, Boulting said: “Responding to your columnist Rod Liddle feels like the wrong thing to do and yet here I am.

“I am routinely abused, often threatened and sometimes mortally endangered by the actions of my fellow citizens.

“When Mr Liddle jokingly calls for the garrotting of cyclists, he is playing the simplest, basest game of appealing to the lowest common denominator.”

Liddle wrote in his comment piece, which focuses on the BBC but starts with a section on cyclists: “My wife has persuaded me that, strictly speaking, it is against the law to tie piano wire at neck height across the road. Oh, but it’s tempting.”

Boulting’s words were echoed by Trek-Segafredo’s Neff, who said on her last training ride she a driver her sprayed her with windshield water, she was shouted at by two drivers and was near-passed by a lorry at 80km/h.

She added: “Cyclists are humans too.”

Liddle’s column has also prompted a response from charity Cycling UK who have formally complained to the newspaper over the “irresponsible column.”

Head of campaigns at the charity, Duncan Dollimore said: “The article in question is inflammatory, in seriously poor taste, and implies that a seriously dangerous and criminal act is somehow an acceptable course of conduct.

“Whilst humour, satire and irony have their place, I would politely suggest that a line has been crossed.”

The complaints have come as a cyclist was the victim of a wire trap in south Wales.

According to Wales Online, Neil Nunnerley was riding on a path in woodland in Radyr when he was wrenched from his bike by a wire that had been stretched across the trail.

He suffered injuries to his mouth, face and chest.

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Laying trips like this is a crime under section 162 of the Highways Act 1980, Cycling UK said, but could be a more serious offence if the injuries sustained were worse.

Cycling Weekly has approached the Sunday Times for comment.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.