THE MELBOURNE HERALD SUN EDITORIAL (26/9/2015) on the tragic death of a woman in Carrum Downs, Victoria, was all about crackdowns and punishment and "the monkey-bike menace".
The Independent Riders Group offers sincere sympathy to Andrea Lehane's loved ones.
Monkey bikes are toy motorcycles that can be bought online for as little as $100. Teenagers hooning in a shopping centre car park hit a 34-year-old mother of two as she walked on a pedestrian crossing. Her injuries were not survivable. The hoons did not stop. That is the biggest crime here.
There aren't many adults who can say they never behaved irresponsibly when they were teenagers, I certainly can't make that claim. But these youths, young men, took the cowards way out and fled leaving their victim to die. That's unforgivable. To make matters worse, they did not give themselves up until the public outcry made it impossible to continue to hide.
But the hoons shouldn't take all the blame for this death. Their parents must take some for failing to supervise the boys and to teach them that if you cause harm you stop, you try to make it right and you accept the consequences of your actions. They were old enough to know right from wrong.
Police have to take some for letting the monkey bike situation fester in spite of many complaints over many months.
Government departments have to take some for failing to ban these dangerous toys as they ban other dangerous toys. Monkey bikes are not real motorcycles or even real mini bikes.
Local government across Victoria has to take some for allowing the mini bike and off-road bike club scene fail under difficult public liability insurance changes and impossible restrictions when responsible parents try to set up trail parks so kids can learn and ride under supervision, as in past decades. Councils set up skate parks in virtually every municipality. There are bicycle MX tracks and go kart circuits and pony clubs but mini bike clubs are rare. It's not fair to complain about kids on bikes when you shut down most of the places they can ride safely.
And, the media, in this case the Herald Sun, has to take some of the blame for not looking at the whole picture and reporting that the whole of our society has let "the monkey-bike menace" develop. The editorial is all about tracking and fining monkey bike riders and confiscating their bikes. I find this sad because I'm told the Herald Sun Editor is a motorcyclist himself.
Motorcycling has produced many of the world's best competition riders. Outstanding sports men and women who are honoured overseas for representing their country but not given the recognition they deserve at home. Was there sporting potential among the boys who ran down Andrea Lehane?
The Phillip Island motorcycle grand prix carnival in October brings $60 million to the Island and surrounds according to Tourism Victoria.
Touring riders put and estimated $800 million into the Victorian economy every year. The average road rider pays as much to register & insure his/her bike as 4WD/SUV driver does. BUT, we can't afford to bring back trail parks so kids can learn to ride safe instead of hooning in shopping centre car parks.
Damien Codognotto OAM
Independent Riders Group