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Police investigate multiple assaults on Melbourne cyclists

Two men interviewed after series of riders hit by vehicle passenger with rolled-up newspaper

Police in Melbourne, Australia, have interviewed two men after a series of incidents earlier today in which cyclists were allegedly assaulted by a vehicle occupant with a rolled-up newspaper.

Sergeant Wayne Carter of Bayside Police, quoted in The Age, said that the two men, both aged in their twenties, had confessed to the attack in the face of reports from a number of witnesses.

‘‘From about 7.50am onwards, there were several calls in relation to people causing trouble on Beach Road and assaults,” said Sergeant Carter.

‘‘They [officers] intercepted a vehicle. The offenders have hit people in the head and bottom with a newspaper.’’

A number of riders took to social media channels including Twitter and Facebook to report the attacks, with some posting pictures of the vehicle involved.

One, Peter Bulleen, was said by The Age to have had to duck his head to avoid being struck by the vehicle’s passenger, who was reported to have been leaning out of the window and striking riders as he passed them.

‘‘A large rolled-up newspaper, when you are cycling along at that speed, to my mind, is assault with a deadly weapon,” said Mr Bulleen.

‘‘A lot of people lost their balance and hit the deck at speed. They were lucky they weren’t hit by the wheels of their bike or the wheels of following cars."

Another, Jessica Lane, said that she was one of 15 people giving statements to police, and posted a picture to Twitter of the pick-up truck said to be involved.

She tweeted: “Be safe out there... There is an idiot in a white 4wd driving down beach rd with a peice of tubing... Hanging out the window hitting cyclist,” adding, “He hit me... And he at least 3 people in front of me... In 15 yrs of cycling I have never seen anything like it!”

Bayside Touring Club secretary Joe Astbury told The Age that it was the first time he had heard of bike riders being deliberately targeted in such a fashion.

‘‘We’ve never seen anything like it," he said.

“I don’t know whether it’s widespread or whether it’s a copycat of somebody else who’s done it. We just don’t know.

‘‘Riders come in all sorts of different flavours. You’ve got the type of ‘Hellfire’ riders who ride up and down Beach Road, then you’ve got mum, dad and the kids, and people who want to dawdle, go along the trails.

‘‘I think there needs to be consideration and respect from both sides, both from cyclists and from drivers,’’ he added.

According to The Age, “Beach Road is a notorious hotspot for conflicts between riders and motorists,” although several Twitter users took the newspaper to task for the original headline to its report, which read, “Feud between cyclists and drivers on Beach Road heats up.”

That has since been changed to “Cyclists allegedly assaulted on Beach Road.”

The Age has reported that no charges have yet been laid against the two suspects.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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