SECRET WEAPON: Hervey Bay Triathlon Club member Alan Whyborn with the
SECRET WEAPON: Hervey Bay Triathlon Club member Alan Whyborn with the "Tack Attacker", a cheap home-made device he and Neale Glanfield developed to pick up tacks from the road and improve cyclist safety. Matthew McInerney

TACK ATTACKER: The simple tool making roads safer for riders

MEET the weapon making streets safer for cyclists.

The "Tack Attacker" is not used too often, but almost nothing can stop the genius tool created by Hervey Bay Triathlon Club members Alan Whyborn and Neale Glanfield.

Mr Glanfield decided to take action before last year's Hervey Bay 100, and the simple contraption - made from a broom handle, length of wood, two trolley wheels and a strip of magnets - was developed in next to no time.

The duo demonstrated the Tack Attacker for the Chronicle just days after Point Vernon resident and Australian triathlon representative Peter Clatworthy encountered a sinister tack trap on the Esplanade, though the club has used the anti-tack weapon sparingly for more the past year.

"It came from last year's Hundy where we were setting up the bike course, just ahead of the bikes coming out," Mr Glanfield said. "We came across two sections where tacks had been spread across the road. We only just got the course set up in time.

"So we just thought of the idea after that, expecting the same thing to happen this year.

"We just thought we'd outsmart whoever is doing it because I imagine the IQ level of someone who does this is not up above the 100-mark."

"It's just something you can sweep over and suck them up.

"We got a vacuum last year but you're trying to be quiet in the morning when people are still sleeping. You'll be waking people up with a petrol-powered blower or vacuum.

"We figured we needed something more simple and does the job. A few magnets, a little frame and a handle and use it as a magnetic broom."

Mr Whyborn's physics background came in handy when they explored ideas to combat the recurring discovery of tacks on Fraser Coast roads.

"I suggested getting some permanent magnets and putting them on as I use them for human-powered vehicles (HPV), we use magnets to keep the tops down," Mr Whyborn said. "I think if we keep it right we should be fine."

The Tack Attacker is used mostly ahead of club events, but it is the regular discovery of anti-bike objects that frustrates and endangers local cyclists.

"I can understand the frustration as a few of the groups are a bit noisy when they're riding past in the morning, and I think cyclists need to have more respect sometimes of the residents," Mr Whyborn said.

But, Mr Glanfield added, deploying tacks and other materials to cause harm to riders was simply not acceptable.

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