Sick ‘mantraps’ laid to injure cyclists
SPECIALLY created and camouflaged "mantraps" are being used to deliberately target and injure Australian cyclists.
Queensland bike shop owner John Williams has been victim to a few punctures himself over the years, some at the hands of "idiots" brazenly throwing handfuls of thumbtacks across popular cycling routes.
But, he says the attacks are becoming more sophisticated and frequent. He knows this because many of those with punctures come to his Wynnum shop in East Brisbane.
One morning a few months back, he had six customers in one morning complaining about punctures. All of them had been caused by deliberate traps.
Laith Beveridge, owner of a nearby establishment Cranks Bicycle Garage, reports of similar levels of traps being laid on popular cyclepaths in Brisbane - particularly along the scenic and popular Wynnum Esplanade.
"I was riding with my wife and a friend on the Esplanade at Manly when it sounded like a nail hit my friend's back wheel," he said.
"When he stopped to pull the object out, we saw that it was this long metal strip which had been painted black down one side, so it was impossible to see."
Spikes had been glued on to the snare before it was laid on the popular cycling route.
"We were lucky really, because it could have done a lot of damage," Mr Beveridge said. "I just couldn't believe that someone would go to this much effort just to hurt another person."
He said the issue locally could be caused by riders having loud conversations while cycling early in the morning - which reportedly infuriates residents along popular cycling routes.
But Mr Beveridge thinks there is a national problem with attitudes towards cyclists which has led to this type of behaviour - evidenced by the type of comments that emerge on cycling-related videos on social media.
"The level of hatred towards cyclists in this country is disgusting and it's just going to get worse," he said. "Cycling is becoming more popular, but the road infrastructure hasn't kept up with it.
"But for people to resort to this, where they are actively trying to hurt people, is scary."
Fellow bike enthusiast, Mr Williams said thousands of cyclists use the Wynnum Esplanade and the likelihood of somebody being injured was high if the attacks continued.
"If you get a flat, they don't always go down immediately," he said. "So if you're going through a roundabout and that's the first time you realise then you're going to end up on your backside."
Mr Williams believes there is now a "mentality of bullying" in Australia which has led people to attack cyclists.
"Would you do this to a car or a truck? No," he said. "It's a really poor way of bullying someone, by taking advantage of someone in a vulnerable position - which someone on a bike can be.
"But that rider is a son, a mum, a father or someone's daughter. They're human beings. They're not cyclists. They're people."
Bicycle Queensland CEO Anne Savage said somebody could have "easily been killed" by one of these traps.
"Deliberately endangering another person's life is not okay," she said. "We condemn this act in the strongest terms and urge anyone with information to go to the police.
"We hope to see the full force of the law applied in finding and charging the people who committed this act.
"No bike rider or pedestrian should ever be placed in a situation where they could be seriously injured because of the wilfully reckless and dangerous behaviour of others.
"While this type of behaviour is rare, we condemn it in the strongest terms, as would all law-abiding Queenslanders."