Crushing message on monkey bikes

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Off-road: Frankton Council officers and police had the final word as monkey bikes were crushed at Seaford last week. Picture: Yanni

THE death of Carrum Downs mother-of-two Andrea Lehane in 2015 focused community attention on the illegal riding of monkey bikes in suburban streets and car parks.

Ms Lehane, 34, was knocked six metres when young hoon Caleb Jakobsson ran into her as she walked across a zebra crossing towards Carrum Downs Shopping Centre. He fled the scene leaving her dying on the road.

The tragedy played itself out in the courts last month with the 18-year-old being sentenced to seven years’ jail. The judge described his actions as morally reprehensible.

Ms Lehane’s death set in train a Frankston Council and police campaign to rid the community of the bikes – and send a strong message to young hoons that their actions would not be tolerated.

Frankston mayor Cr Brian Cunial joined police last Thursday to see 10 impounded monkey bikes be crushed at the Sims Metal yard, Wells Rd, Seaford.

Asked whether the council was “surprised or angry” that monkey bikes were still being ridden despite the Lehane death, Cr Cunial said: “We are concerned that, in light of this tragic situation, there is still a number of people still doing the wrong thing.

“We want everyone in our community to be safe when using the roads and footpaths.”

The number of monkey bikes and motorbikes seized since the ban came into effect in 2007 has dropped significantly.

In 2015-2016 council crushed 15 monkey bikes – up from 44 when the ban was introduced. Now that the police are also able to seize monkey bikes, Cr Cunial said he anticipated the number to fall to only one or two bikes each year.

The crushing came about after the owners of the impounded bikes failed to pay a release fee of $800 within seven days from the date of their infringement notice, giving the council the right to dispose of them.

“We urge parents to think carefully before buying monkey bikes for their children and, where they do, to teach and encourage responsible riding and ownership at appropriate locations,” the mayor said.

“We want everyone in our community to be safe when using the roads and footpaths.”

Monkey bike riders have been reported at Seaford wetlands and vacant land and parks in Langwarrin.

“We encourage people to report monkey bike users and hoon driving to Crime Stoppers and directly to council,” Cr Cunial said. “Council officers meet regularly with Frankston police to share information about illegal monkey bike and hoon activity within the municipality.”

Referring to the Jakobsson sentence, Cr Cunial said: “Tragic incidents such as this affect not only those directly involved but their relatives, friends and the entire community.”

First published in the Frankston Times – 26 June 2017

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