Popular bike trails in the Peak District are being lined with dangerous hidden booby traps made up of rocks and nails.
Various obstacles have been found dotted along some of the routes winding through the area, including pins and other sharp objects being placed on the ground, and wires and branches being positioned at head-height.
With the national park especially popular at this time of year, and with the summer holiday period on the way, there are concerns that there could be serious consequences if the trend continues.
Experienced local cyclist Chris Maloney, 37, told Sky News the “medieval” traps seemed designed to put people off cycling and enjoying the outdoors.
Mr Maloney runs the Keeper Of The Peak blog, which he set up to promote cycling and provide regular updates on trail conditions in the Peak District, and is alerted to the traps by his followers.
“We’ve had rocks placed across paths, branches pulled down and placed across paths, branches placed at head-height, drawing pins placed on the road, nails put down,” he said.
“We’ve also had rocks placed across bridleways, like a rudimentary wall being built. One with spikes was buried and if someone trod on that it could cause them some serious pain. The head-height branches in low light could cause serious damage as well.”
Mr Maloney said he had been getting such reports for years, but that there had been a recent increase in the number of people sharing details and photos of the dangers they come across.
He said cycle paths having also been targeted in nearby Yorkshire villages like Bradwell, Bamford and Aston.
“There has been an increase in people using the outdoors, and a growth in the amount of people enjoying recreation in places like the Peak District, and some people don’t like change,” he said.
“Some don’t like this increasing use of what they might see as their trails. It’s really sad that it’s happening.”
Police have assured cyclists that they are on the case.
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 taking place to report it to the police on 101.”
The emergence of the booby traps comes after a report showing that 70% of cyclists in the UK are concerned about their safety while out on their bike in public.
The British Cycling report surveyed more than 15,000 people and resulted in calls for a new public mutual-respect campaign to protect cyclists.
Nick Chamberlain, policy manager at British Cycling, told Sky News at the time that cyclists felt “hostility” from other road users, and there are fears that attitude towards them has expanded.
Mr Maloney said: “Do people feel there is not enough access for them? Or do they feel they don’t have enough space to enjoy the Peak District in the way they’d like to?
“Advocacy groups like Peak District MTB are doing their utmost to build collaborative relationships. If we all work together, we can identify the cause of this.”
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