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.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.