VIDEO, POLL: Call for trailbike safety action

THE State government is being called to act on a dust-gathering report to increase the safety levels of young trailbike riders and reduce the impact they have on communities fed-up with loud machines tearing up and down suburban streets.

Less than a month after Aberdare youngster Mitchell Stockdale was ripped off his trailbike by some neck-high wire which had been tied across an Aberdare dirt track, the Newcastle Herald can reveal that a detailed working paper calling for cheaper registration and designated riding areas has not been acted on for more than two years.

It followed the Department of Premier and Cabinet setting up a Hunter-based forum of working parties and industry experts in 2008 to formulate a strategy to deal with significant increases in trailbike accidents and growing community angst against the riders.

The report, written by police Chief Inspector Dave Robinson on behalf of the Hunter Illegal Trailbike Riding Forum, made recommendations mirroring decade-old Victorian legislation which saw the introduction of affordable ‘‘recreational registration’’ for off-road machines as well as setting aside bushland for use.

‘‘Doing nothing is not a sustainable alternative however will postpone and increase the eventual cost of solution,’’ Chief Inspector Robinson concluded.

The Herald understands that the report never passed a meeting of key government stakeholders, and has been left to gather dust after the Labor Government was ousted by Barry O’Farrell a few months later.

Motorcycle dealer Graeme Boyd, who sat on the forum, has called for the Liberal Government to resurrect the paper and bring in changes to legislation which could see young and unlicensed riders getting experience legally.

‘‘You have got to give people an alternative to riding in the bush unlicensed and uninsured,’’ Mr Boyd said.

Cessnock motorcycle dealer Chris Watson, who sells more trailbikes than any other dealer in Australia, said the legislation needed to be changed to make the popular sport safer.

‘‘People are wanting to ride bikes and enjoy them and you are not going to stop that,’’ Mr Watson said.

‘‘You can’t just put a sheet over everyone’s head and say you can’t do it.

‘‘You have to make provisions for it.’’

Central Hunter police have received hundreds of calls a week from fed-up residents reporting illegal trailbikes riding through the Coalfields.

Local area commander Superintendent Garry O’Dell said unregistered bikes continued to be a ‘‘big concern for us’’ but warned about vigilantes, such as those who may be responsible for tying up the wire at Aberdare.

‘‘It is a problem, it is a difficult one for us to police and probably the only way we can is to get our trailbikes in there as well,’’ Superintendent O’Dell said.

‘‘We certainly don’t want people to take action into their own hands.

‘‘I would rather they let us know about it and we can respond to that as part of our operations.

‘‘Putting other people in danger or setting traps certainly causes problems for us as well – we do have our police riding in there and there are people who are riding quite legally.’’

A spokesperson for the Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, who has responsibility for Crown lands, said the report was only a draft and prepared for the former Labor Government.

VIGILANTES: Mitchell Stockdale suffered neck injuries after he was thrown off his bike by some wire that had been tied tied across a dirt track.

VIGILANTES: Mitchell Stockdale suffered neck injuries after he was thrown off his bike by some wire that had been tied tied across a dirt track.


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