It’s been several months now since tacks were last dropped on Yarra Boulevard but the issue hasn’t entirely disappeared for Melbourne’s road cyclists. In the past few weeks, tacks have been dropped on several popular cycling roads in the Dandenong Ranges, a riding hotspot roughly 40km east of the CBD.
Perrins Creek Road and The Crescent (also known as Sassafras Creek Road) are two roads frequented by road cyclists, with both being popular for hill training and among those seeking quiet, picturesque roads in the region. Tacks have been dropped on both roads but, worryingly, it’s the descending lane on The Crescent that appears to have received particular attention.
Dozens of riders have taken to social media in recent days to tell their tacking stories.
Saw at least 10 guys with tacks on their ride down the crescent on Saturday morning. We went up Perrins instead and didn’t see and signs on tacks there.
Someone reported a tack on 1/20 last weekend (stop the tacks Facebook page)
— Michael (@LostSneakers) March 5, 2018
Local police said that, prior to being contacted by CyclingTips, they weren’t aware of tacks being dropped in the area.
“This is the first we have heard of tacks on the roads within the Dandenong Ranges,” said Sergeant Andrew Herdman, officer in charge at Olinda Police Station. “As you would know from other areas it is a very difficult issue to deal with. Even though the issue can cause a serious injury or worse, and if caught an offender would be charged, it is very hard to catch the culprit.
“We regularly drive and patrol the popular cycling routes. I have not experienced this tack problem and I ride regularly up either the [Mount Dandenong] Tourist Road or Mountain Hwy.”
Sergeant Herdman suggested that there’s unlikely to be a quick-fix for the issue.
“Unfortunately until we have tolerant drivers and riders we will continue to have this type of incident,” he said. “I am aware of the rules for cyclists but if riders were single file in the narrow roads in the Ranges it may alleviate the dislike and animosity drivers have for cyclists.”
Tensions between drivers and cyclists have long existed in the Dandenongs, due largely to the narrow and winding nature of the region’s roads. The Ascent, a cycling event held in the Dandenongs in April 2016, saw several roads closed and served to heighten animosity towards cyclists in the region. Tacks were dropped on the 1 in 20 in the lead-up to the event and on the day of the event itself.
While the local roads authority, VicRoads, has jurisdiction over the 1 in 20, Perrins Creek Road and The Crescent both come under the purview of the Yarra Ranges Council.
Like the local police, Yarra Ranges Council weren’t aware of the issue prior to being contacted by CyclingTips. UPDATE: Yarra Ranges Council said that it did in fact receive a request for street sweeping on Monday March 5.
“After receiving a request on Monday, our street sweeping crew and southern region infrastructure team inspected the site on two separate occasions on Thursday 6 March and we did not find any tacks,” said Yarra Ranges Council director of environment and engineering, Mark Varmalis.
He told CyclingTips that the council will continue to act swiftly to address the issue: “If Council receives reports of dropped tacks, Council’s roving crew will inspect and remove the hazard as soon as possible. Tacks will be addressed on an as-reported basis.
“The Dandenongs and Yarra Ranges area is an attractive area to cyclists, with many scenic and mountainous routes throughout the region. Council supports the safety of cyclists and motorists and encourages them to share the road. Council will continue to work with VicRoads, Victoria Police and the community to maintain a safe road environment.
“Should cyclists become aware of tacks or other hazards on the road, they are encouraged to report them to the Council as soon as possible. Cyclists and motorists are also encouraged to report any tack-dropping behaviour to Victoria Police and Crime Stoppers.”