London ‘at risk of moped terrorism’ after barriers on bridges widened for cyclists

London could be exposed to attacks from terrorists on mopeds after barriers on bridges were widened to make more space for cyclists, a former Scotland Yard officer has said.

Anti-terror barriers on London bridges were fitted to stop cars ploughing into pedestrians after vehicles were used as weapons in three attacks in London, as well as in other European cities.

But David Videcette, who was in the Met’s counter-terror unit for six years until 2010, said the Government and other bodies need to be more “forward-thinking” when implementing such measures.

His concerns were raised after barriers erected on Blackfriars Bridge were widened to better accommodate commuters.

Mr Videcette, who was involved in the 7/7 bombing inquiry, said widening the barriers “too much” would mean the bridge is more likely to be targeted in a repeat attack.


Blackfriars Bridge: Cyclists forced in to single file through new security barriers (@citycylists)

Terrorists are “flexible” and will find ways around measures already in place, he said, citing a shocking recent surge in moped-enabled crime across London.

Westminster Bridge Security Barriers – In pictures

He told the Standard: “If these barriers are widened too much, we are open to more attacks like the ones we have already seen. If a vehicle of any kind is able to get through – they are useless.

“The Government needs to be more forward-thinking in its approach to prevention as terrorists are flexible and they will find a way around the measures already in place.”

On the barriers’ ability prevent future attacks, he said: “These bollards may stop large vehicles from entering the bridge, but what about mopeds? The recent surge in moped-enabled crime could mean that terrorists will adopt this tactic. 

“Even though motorbikes would perhaps not cause as much damage as a car or van, a knifeman on a bike would.”

The safety precaution on Blackfriars Bridge was installed to stop cars ploughing into pedestrians like what was seen in the recent attacks on Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and then in Finsbury Park.

Campaigners raised safety concerns amid the increased security measures that caused chaos for cyclists as they were forced to slow down completely before entering the barriers on the bridge.

The security barriers have since been widened after the short-term measure was seen to be affecting hundreds of commuters, City Hall’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman said.

“We recognise that the barriers the Met installed to increase security have affected many of the cyclists and pedestrians who use London’s bridges,” he said.

“That’s why TfL and I are working with the Met, local councils and others to deliver short-term improvements that maintain the security of all road users, such as these changes to Blackfriars Bridge, as well as longer-term solutions.”

Borough Market & London Bridge terror attack tributes – In pictures

Asked about the readjustment potentially increasing the chance of a terror attack, a London Cycling Campaign spokesman said: “It’s obviously vital that the Met Police can continue to protect all Londoners from terrorist attacks with necessary security measures.

“But it’s also vital that those measures don’t put people crossing the rive on bike at risk. It’s positive to see the barriers, which were put in quickly, being tweaked and adapted to improve safety day-to-day for everyone.”

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said the barriers are designed “specifically” for vehicle mitigation.

She added: “We recognise the public is anxious about security following the terrorist attacks in London, and we want to reassure them that we are taking precautions to make the Capital a safe place for people to live, work and visit.

“In addition to our efforts to pursue terrorists and prevent people becoming extremist, the police service carries out daily activities to help increase the protection and security of the public.

“This concerted effort includes a range of highly visible, covert, armed and technical methods aimed at protecting the public from the threat of terrorism, boosting security at key sites and reassuring businesses, workers and visitors as they go about their daily lives.”

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