ANY incident where people take the law into their own hands is dangerous.
But when it involves a piece of wire being strung between two trees, across a dirt track, at neck height, to target our youngsters, it is frightening.
The trap that caught Aberdare youth Mitchell Stockdale last month has also uncovered growing tensions between the Coalfields’ trailbike culture and residents who are becoming increasingly fed up.
On the one side are the children and young adults who are keeping themselves active, as well as their dreams to be the next big thing on two wheels, by doing something that remains illegal.
The law says that anyone without a licence, registration and insurance can only ride on private property – not the state forests and Crown land that adjoin many Coalfields towns.
But it is hard to blame them for trying to emulate their heroes, including world champions Casey Stoner and Chad Reed, who grew up in the same area.
On the other side are the residents who have clearly had enough of being terrorised by extremely loud machines tearing up and down their streets. Some have even labelled the troublemakers young hoons and not ‘‘real’’ trailbike riders.
Regardless, the evidence of several hundred complaints a week to the police says there is a real problem.
Whatever side you fall, the suggestions from a working paper put together by representatives of relevant government agencies and industry people, appears to contain a lot of commonsense.
Without re-inventing the wheel, the paper has taken on successful legislative changes in Victoria to recommend a reduction in registration fees for ‘‘recreational users’’, or those not using roads.
Some say this would have the extra advantage of promoting more contact between riders and authorities.
It also recommends identifying tracts of bush that riders could use, closely managed by authorities, as a safer option.
The proponents say this would make trail-riding safer because the tracks would remain closely monitored, they could be graded for difficulty and all riders would be travelling in the same direction.
Unfortunately, a change in government caused these solutions to be pushed to the side.
During the same period of time, at least two young men have lost their lives in trailbike accidents across the Hunter.
Commonsense says we should be blowing the dust off this report and giving it some considered thought.