Media Release 21-April-15

Kew Boulevard Protest Ride – May 3, 2015

In late January of 2014, someone started dropping tacks onto the road surface of the Kew Boulevard.

The tacks have one purpose and that is to cause punctures to cyclists who choose to ride along the Boulevard.

Punctures caused by tacks often result in explosive decompression, particularly on ‘road’ bicycles that have their tyres routinely inflated to over 100 PSI.

Aside from the inconvenience of having to stop to repair a puncture, explosive decompression of a tyre, particularly a front tyre, can result in loss of control of the bicycle causing the cyclist to crash.

Tacks have continued to be dumped on the Kew Boulevard since January 2014 with the latest “instalment” being last week.

Some cyclists now choose to ride on the main road surface instead of the shoulder to avoid the tacks. This not only irritates motorists but further increases the risk of an accident.

Both the Boroondara Council and Boroondara Police have been contacted, repeatedly. They are engaged and have been assisting.

But unfortunately, there is a lack of urgency and a lack of co-operation between the relevant authorities:

Inspector Frost told CyclingTips that while cyclists may be frustrated, they need to be aware that this case is just one of many requiring his team’s attention.

“Police have got a number of competing priorities,“ Inspector Frost said. “I’ve had members down there working [at Yarra Boulevard] and trying to … elicit some information about who might be depositing these tacks, when realistically [the officers] might have been deployed in some other area.”

“There are a multitude of other things police could be doing than looking for some fool depositing tacks on the road.”

–Source:  March 26, 2015.

and this:

Responsibility for the management and upkeep of Yarra Boulevard falls with the local roads authority, VicRoads. VicRoads would normally sweep Yarra Boulevard once every three months and inspect the path weekly. But VicRoads’ metro south east regional director, Aidan McGann, told CyclingTips that VicRoads is “currently sweeping three to six times a month” as a result of the Boulie tacks.

These extra visits come at a significant cost. VicRoads’ metro south east clean-up team is based in Dandenong and getting the team out to Kew to use the streetsweeper with its magnetised attachments (to pick up the tacks) costs anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500, depending on the length of road swept.

Yarra Boulevard sits within the City of Boroondara and the organisation’s sustainable transport officer, Chris Hui, told CyclingTips that the local council has been looking into a cost-sharing arrangement with VicRoads to reduce the burden on the roads authority. But reaching an agreement has proven difficult.

“Being quite a new issue and a different issue, nobody’s really been able to break any ground on that,” Hui said. “But that would certainly help … if that could be arranged.”

–Source: March 26, 2015.

and worst of all, victim blaming:

Guy Underwood, director of the risk management group RISQ which has been collaborating with Cycling Victoria (says) on the issue, it’s all about putting yourself in other people’s shoes.

“Imagine if you were a home-owner and bought a house in what was a really nice, quiet, leafy suburb and every morning at 5.30 a heap of blokes in lycra were chatting about their new SRAM Red or their PB on the weekend,” Underwood, a keen cyclist himself, told CyclingTips.

“We’ve got to accept some responsibility for our actions.

–Source: March 26, 2015.

The police have acknowledged that the majority of cyclists (including the early morning groups) are not breaking any laws or behaving inappropriately and the use of terminology like “blokes in lycra” gives some insight into the attitude of some towards the cycling community.

The bottom line is that 15 months have transpired and tacks are still appearing.

Unfortunately there is no data on how many punctures have been caused, how many crashes have occurred, how much damage there has been to bicycles or how many cyclists have been injured.

Fortunately, no one has been killed, yet.

The tacks however remain a clear and present threat to the safety of cyclists and others.

There have been verified injuries to pedestrians and pets. Tacks will also be entering the Yarra sewerage system, potentially brining harm to aquatic wildlife.

We acknowledge the efforts of the council and the police to date, however, the cyclists we are speaking on behalf of are tired of waiting for the tacks to stop.

We want action before someone is seriously injured or killed.

Minimum specific measures we are seeking are as follows:

  1. Daily sweeping with appropriate equipment of the Boulevard until the tacks stop and/or the perpetrator is apprehended.
  2. The installation of surveillance cameras with appropriate monitoring and recording capable of identifying persons at night as well as day.
  3. Increased police patrols of the area.
  4. Someone to take overall ownership of the issue, which we believe should be Victoria Parks.

On May 3, 2015, we have organized a protest ride along the Kew Boulevard, commencing at 9:00AM from the Walmer Street end. We will be riding a single lap of the Boulevard.

This ride is endorsed and fully supported by The Australian Cycling Alliance.

A Sunday has been chosen to minimize the disruption to motorists.


George Mihailides & Marco Luthe




Australian Cycling Alliance: