Today we saw at least 1200 to 1600 bicycle riders, from experienced; elite racers to kids as young as 6, on Yarra Boulevard in Kew (aka Kew Boulevard) for a protest organised by George Mihailides and Marco Luthe. Supported by the Australian Cycle Alliance, St Kilda Cycling Club, The Freedom Machine, Peak Cycles, MediaWise, Cycling Victoria, Bicycle Network, and many more (please message us so we can add you here).
Well supported by Victoria Police, and VicRoads present, it was going to be an eye-opener for everyone. We can report the protest went with out a single hitch. No abusive behaviour from any car drivers during the ride and no people being silly, just a well organised ride over the Kew Boulevard.
There was no mistaking, this was a protest! As cyclists we are tired of having to retreat further and further from normal roads to ride on with the sheer freedom that this gives us, it is like a piece of the country in the middle of the city, a peaceful place we you will hear the birds chirping and the sound of the wheels on the asphalt, it is an area we can all enjoy.
But we have moved away from the shoulder of the road, that little 1.8m wide safe-ish zone next to the traffic lane. Now we have to use the same lane as the cars. They don't seem to mind, in fact if you give them a wave they often smile and wave back - they get it, they don't want you to have a flat.
So let's look at the problem, why all the fuss? It was around January 25th, 2014 when we received a phone call about tacks being left on the road in the boulevard, was it just an accident? we all hoped so, and in the coming weeks we thought they would stop. But they didn't. In fact they got worse, and with every story in the news we would see an increase, then they would almost go away. The cost, the cost is huge. Only a little is borne by the riders. We feel sorry for the locals, the rate payers of Boroondara Council (City of Harmony). The residents pay the most to clean this up.
All of us taxpayers pick up the bill too, from VicRoads and Parks Victoria as they have to clean the area all the time, and keep it safe. The Police have to run more patrols - this is all part of the cost. The inconvenience to the riders is low compared to the cost to the community.
Things are being done, well, some things are being done. Instead of 'hiding in the bushes' the council have put out several puncture repair stations. These already have a lot of signs of well use. Sadly they can't be every 100 metres, but they are handy.
It is some help with the aftermath, but is not fixing the problem. The problem is there is a human being amongst us (or more than one) that wants to kill another human being. This person is of the opinion that killing someone on a bike is sport and fun. IT ISN'T - and like many of my friends, we have our families use this road, to commute to work, to train on for kids racing and to have some recreational area that they can enjoy themselves.
Riding a bike through here is no different than driving a car or motorbike for fun or pleasure, or to get from Kew to Abbotsford. many people do it, so why the anger about bikes?
Well, as George said today in his speech - we will not be moved. We are resolved to continue to use the Kew Boulevard and to enjoy ourselves doing so. We are resilient and strong, we can fix a flat and move on. Nothing will change this.
But if you know how it is, if you know who is threatening the lives of Children, Women and Men, you need to speak up. Please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. They need to know, they need the information so they can find the perpetrators - we need this to stop.
Photos provided by @ShaunTPhotos
We disagree with the maths provided by VicRoads, we think it works a little more like this:
Every lap of the Boulie takes 30 minutes and you will normally see 2 riders in that time with flat tires.
Multiply normal riding time out, and you get:
2 x 10 (5 hours of riding time divided into 30 mins)
= 20 x 465 days x 10 a tube = $93,000
2 x $2,500 (per week to clean using magnet refitted sweeper)
=$5,000 x 18 Months (67 weeks) = $335,000
(police monitor the Blvd with at least 2 officers every day)
=2 staff to monitor (at $65,000 per annum) = $162,500
That is $93,000 to riders (at the top end of the estimate)
But a whooping $497,500 in Taxes and Rates.
There is a good reason to put cameras up just to save their own money.
7.45am Riders were already turning up in droves.
8.00am Police overview completed and safety discussion done.
8.30am Media were circulating and talking to the organisers.
8.50am The speech was delivered by George and a quick safety review by Cycle.
9.00am The ride was underway. 1200 to 1600 well organised and positioned riders with a police escort.
The Age newspaper: Stop the tacks: Kew Boulevard cyclists say enough is enough
ABC News: Angry cyclists launch protest ride over Yarra Boulevard tack attacks
3AW Radio: Stop the Tacks: Protest over dangerous anti-cyclist movement on Yarra Boulevard
Herald Sun: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/..../cyclists-protest-ride-calls-for-action-on-yarra-boulevard-tacking-vandals/
Please sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/please-sign-the-petition-stop-the-tacks-on-kew-boulevard
We have included some of the feeds from Instagram and Twitter for you to enjoy.