THERE are two sporting codes in the Coalfields – rugby league and motorcycling.
But restrictive laws which continue to allow young trailbikers to legally ride in only a handful of areas or on private property, appear to be putting them at risk of injury and police attention.
Last month’s Mitchell Stockdale incident, in which the teen was knocked from his bike by neck-high wire strained up by suspected fed-up residents, has again put the spotlight on the issues surrounding the iconic Coalfields sport which has seen the rise of Kurri Kurri superstars Casey Stoner and Chad Reed.0
‘‘If there were designated areas, of course they would use them,’’ Mitchell’s mother, Vanessa Downes, said.
‘‘All they want to do is go out and ride.’’
Police say they have had up to 300 calls in just one week from Coalfields residents complaining about young trailbike riders who are constantly speeding along public roads and breaching the peace.
But respected Cessnock motorcycle dealer Chris Watson believes the high majority of trailbike riders were not responsible for the complaints.
‘‘There is a bad element, which is not really trailbike riders,’’ Mr Watson said.
‘‘It is people too lazy to ride around the streets on a pushbike. Instead they are riding thumpsters and other cheap transport and they are probably giving the trailbike rider a bad name.’’
Aberdare resident Mathew Nicholson, who lives near where Mitchell was knocked off his bike, said the noise of the machines was becoming more and more of an issue for residents.
Mr Nicholson, who rode bikes when he was growing up, said many youngsters were using very noisy bikes known as thumpsters.
‘‘And they are hooning around here.
‘‘They are not using any helmets, any gear and a lot of the time you will actually see them doubling each other too,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t like it, I don’t like them riding around – it gives us a bad name and then everyone puts us in the same category as them as well.’’
Mr Watson said he encouraged parents to take their children riding, just like he was when he was five years old.
He said there was still land that could be utilised and managed for the youngsters.
‘‘I say to parents all the time: it is better riding a trailbike than sitting in a park doing nothing,’’ Mr Watson said.
‘‘It is active, it’s physical, it’s reflexes. So when they go to get their licence they have half their coordination in hand.’’