"Tens of thousands" of tacks have been placed on one of Melbourne's most popular bike routes since 2014 in an ongoing battle being waged against cyclists by an as yet unknown belligerent.
At least 40 tyres were punctured this morning during a protest ride against the ongoing sabotage of cyclists on Yarra Boulevard. The saboteur managed to place the tacks in the short space of time between the road being swept this morning and the protest ride itself.
Despite months of tack incidents, risking serious injury and necessitating the road being swept "several times each week", the local roads authority and police have refused to place CCTV on the road, which is unlit at night, something protest organiser, George Mihailides is calling for.
Mihailides told The Age: "The road is secluded and it's unlit at night.
"There is no way they are going to catch this person until they put cameras there."
He said until something is done the incidents will continue to worsen, and estimates tens of thousands of tacks have been laid since 2014.
"There has been a brazen escalation," he said. "When the tacks go down, hundreds and hundreds go down at a time."
VicRoads is the local road authority, which sweeps the area several times each week in response to concerns from road users. Its metro south east regional director, Aidan McGann, called the tack sabotage a "serious issue".
He said: "Yarra Boulevard is one of the most popular and enjoyable cycling routes in Melbourne and it is incredibly disappointing that someone would purposely create an unsafe environment and potentially cause serious injury."
Sunday's protest follows the injury of 82-year-old Michael Waterford, who suffered bleeding to his brain following a puncture on the road.
Although no tack was found in Waterford's tyre, Mihailides said the incident highlights the dangers punctures pose to cyclists.
He said. "No one should trivialise this issue. Cyclists are at risk of serious injury and death.
"Making matters worse, there are recent confirmed reports of motorists menacing and threatening those cyclists who choose to ride on the main road surface as opposed to the shoulder to avoid tacks.
"These events are a realisation of the cycling community's most serious concerns."