Yobs throw cyclist into canal

POLICE are hunting two men who pushed a 60-year-old cyclist into the freezing waters of the Union Canal.

The man was attacked for no apparent reason as he cycled past the pair at the Yeaman Place bridge this week. The incident has shocked community leaders who fear the man may have become a target of growing tensions between cyclists and pedestrians on the popular path.

The cyclist, who lives locally and does not want to be named, said: "The Union Canal is quite deep at that point, and when I was pushed in I didn't touch the bottom. I was wearing wellies at the time, which soon started filling with water and dragging me down, so it took me a couple of minutes to pull myself out.

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"It's the height of November so the water was very cold. Luckily, I wasn't far from home so I was able to get home quite quickly and dry myself off. It's also extremely lucky that I am able to swim. If it had been someone else, the police could have been dealing with a drowning."

He said that as he approached the men at around 10am on Thursday he slowed down to a walking pace to pass at a safe speed. As he did so, one of them stuck out a hand and pushed him into the water.

He added: "The local community police officer said there has been someone on the canalside ranting at cyclists who go tearing along the path.

"I have to say I do have some sympathy with this person's views as there are a number of inconsiderate cyclists on the path, but on this occasion I may have become the innocent victim of other people's bad manners."

Pentlands councillor Alistair Paisley, who regularly cycles along the route, said he had heard a number of complaints about inconsiderate cyclists. He said: "To push someone in the canal like this is highly irresponsible and cannot be condoned, but there are cyclists who, for want of a better word, terrorise pedestrians when cycling along at speed.

"Despite several speed calming measures, including chicanes and speed humps, these lycra louts continue to abuse the canal path. The strength of feeling is so high that I've even heard of 90-year-olds threatening to jam their walking sticks between the spokes."

Bridget Stevens, chair of Merchiston Community Council, said she was "horrified" by the attack. She said: "This is an awful incident that could have been a lot more serious. I hope the people responsible are caught and appropriately punished."

The suspects are both described as being in their 20s, each with a stocky build. One of the men had close-cropped hair and was wearing a dark jacket. The other suspect was wearing a florescent yellow jacket. A police spokesman said: "Following the assault, the suspects climbed a wall into Gibson Terrace and headed towards Dundee Street."