A cyclist was left “petrified, visibly shaking, unable to speak” after a man confronted her while she was on her bike.
Climate activist Clare James, 49, was cycling down Castle Street, Cardiff, on Thursday night, when a man grabbed her bike, refused to let go and ordered her to get off.
The incident happened as concert-goers were leaving Lewis Capaldi’s gig in Cardiff Castle.
Castle Street was closed to allow the crowds to leave safely, however, the cycle lane was still open for use, Wales Online reports.
As Clare cycled “at a snail’s pace” and politely asked pedestrians on the cycle lane to move out of the way, all of a sudden a man – who she estimated to be in his mid-20s – grabbed hold of her bike by the handlebars.
She said: “I said: ‘What are you doing?’ and he said: ‘Get off your bike now and walk.'”
After she told him she didn’t understand, the man told her she shouldn’t be cycling on the road.
She added: “I said: ‘No, no, it’s a cycle lane, and it’s open.’ But he was really aggressive and within a very short space of time I was really feeling very intimidated.”
Clare added that the man did not harass others cycling on the lane, who she noted were male delivery cyclists.
People started to notice what was happening and stopped to watch.
“People started to come over and people were saying: ‘Let her go.’ I think because they could see that I was in quite a bad state they were saying: ‘Are you okay?'” said Clare, who works for Climate Cymru.
Meanwhile, Clare said she “couldn’t compute what was going on” nor answer anyone.
She noticed three police officers nearby amidst the crowds and attempted to get their attention.
She started waving her arms around and shouting for help, but said the officers did not hear her.
However, in doing so, she attracted the attention of a steward at the event, who intervened and extracted the man from her bike, allowing Clare to leave.
She left the scene “shaking” but said she was fearful the man would grab the bike again or chase after her.
As she rounded the corner on the cycle lane in the direction of North Road, which was “practically deserted” compared to Castle Street, incredibly, another man, who was walking along the pavement, saw her coming and “aggressively” and “determinedly” jumped onto the cycle lane in front of Clare to stop her in her tracks.
Thankfully, the traffic lights changed and she managed to skirt around the man and cycle away.
Clare said she believed the incidents happened because she “stood out as a woman on a bike”.
She said: “It was so obvious [the first man] was just going to pick on me because because I was an easy target.”
While she said she could understand people’s confusion that cyclists could still use the street, she believed, “there’s no way he would have done that if I wasn’t a woman.”
Detective Superintendent Ceri Hughes from South Wales Police said: “Firstly, I am sorry to hear what Clare has experienced in Cardiff and encourage her to make contact online so we can investigate. Everyone has the right to feel safe, wherever they are, and nobody should be subjected to violence, harassment and intimidation.
“Tackling violence and abuse against women and girls is a long-standing priority for South Wales Police and we recognise that concern regarding personal safety and violence is as great as it has ever been.
“As well as high-visibility and plain-clothed patrols, we are involved in a wide range of initiatives to tackle violence and abuse including Safer Places, StreetSafe and the Cardiff Safety Bus.
“As part of the UK Government’s strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, we are part of a new online tool called StreetSafe, which allows people to pin-point locations where they have felt unsafe and to identify why that location made them feel unsafe.
“Using that information we can then direct our patrols and, with partners, make improvements to infrastructure such as lighting and CCTV.”