Since January 2014 tens of thousands of upholstery tacks have been thrown on Yarra Boulevard in Kew by an unknown individual in what appears to be a vendetta against cyclists.
Yarra Boulevard is a picturesque six and a half kilometre stretch of road that follows the Yarra River in Kew, surrounded by parklands and luxury houses.
The road is popular with cyclists because of its constant rolling hills and low traffic, making it an ideal training ride but since early 2014 it has become a nightmare for those who use it.
Over the past four and a half years, cyclists have experienced thousands of punctures with many being tacked multiple times which led cyclists to report what was happening to Victoria Police.
There was a six month lull in the second half of 2017 which had both cyclists and police hoping the person had stopped but the attacks started again on the Australia Day long weekend this year.
Victoria Police Inspector Stephen Noy said that situation was difficult to resolve because it’s six and half kilometres of winding road which makes surveillance challenging and the tack drops have occurred in a wide variety of locations and times with no clear pattern emerging.
VicRoads use a magnetic mat which is attached to a back of a car and dragged along to ‘sweep’ the road; this device collected 11,948 tacks and 408 staples in 2016-17 financial year.
It is estimated that over $300,000 has been spent maintaining the road and a spokesperson for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan confirmed that $124,000 was spent by VicRoads in the 2016-17 financial year in ‘sweeping’ the road.
“This is an extraordinary figure that could have been better spent on infrastructure and road safety improvements,” Inspector Noy said.
Organiser of the closed Facebook group Stop the Tacks, George Mihailides said that the tacks have been frustrating and dangerous issue for cyclists and he has repeatedly called on the Victorian Police and the Victorian Government to take action before someone is either seriously injured or killed.
There have been reports of cyclists crashing because of punctures and Mr Mihailides spoke about one incident in 2016 which was particularly bad.
“We had a cyclist, 82 years of age, who fell: cracked ribs, concussion, brain haemorrhage, lucky to have survived,” Mr Mihailides said.
“We weren’t able to absolutely prove it but where he fell was where we had other reports of people getting punctures from tacks that same day so even though there wasn’t a tack in his wheel I don’t think anybody, even the police, denied that it was probably because of a tack.”
A spokesperson for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan urged the public to talk to the police if they knew anything.
“This dangerous and illegal behaviour is putting lives in danger and members of the public should report any suspicious behaviour to Victoria Police.”
The community can report tacks to VicRoads on 13 11 70. Anybody with information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or lodge a confidential report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.