Cyclists fear for their safety after motorbike assaults

Cyclists fear for their safety after motorbike assaults

Footage from a cyclist captured a P-Plater riding along a shared path in December last year.

Cyclists have reported being assaulted and left for dead by motorbike riders hooning along bike and pedestrian paths.

An exclusive WestCycle survey has found Perth’s cyclists are increasingly concerned about motorbike riders illegally using the city’s shared path network – with an elderly path user killed in Beckenham in 2023 and many others impacted and traumatised by motorbike incidents.

 “There’s low probability of me coming into contact with a motorbike but the ramifications are disastrous – death, serious trauma,” said one survey respondent.

“I need to ride these paths for my commute so do not have the option not to use them, however they have made me more anxious for this ride,” another said.

WestCycle’s survey revealed 262 of 272 Perth and Peel survey respondents had encountered motorbikes on the paths or were concerned about them.

One senior female respondent said they had been “assaulted twice” by motorised vehicles on cycle paths.

“Once [was] in June 2023 – it was dark – two young men on a petrol Vespa type scooter glided up beside me – bumped me and ripped my light off my handlebars – then sped off. Luckily, I did not crash. The second time was Nov 27 2023 – about 5:30pm – three young men all on the same blue full-size dirt bike glided up beside me – bumped me then purposely hit me on the head (helmet) then sped off – again lucky not to crash – I am an experienced rider,” she said.

She later revealed that she has had to change her route to avoid the locations of these assaults, “meaning I must travel on the road in heavy traffic – hazardous but no choice”.

Another cyclist said he was left for dead on the side of the road with a broken neck and spine after a run-in with a motorbike on a bike path in 2020.

About two thirds of survey respondents said they were ‘very concerned’ for their own safety. 78 per cent said they were very concerned about the threat motorbikes presented to the safety of other bike riders.

Three quarters were “not at all confident” authorities were addressing the problem.

“In fairness to police it’s hard for them to do anything as they would have to be in the right spot at the right time and even then actually physically stopping these people would be hard. I also am not confident that local councils will put appropriate barriers in the way and will just end up making it more dangerous for cyclists,” one respondent said.

In addressing the issue last year, Police Commissioner Col Blanch said WA Police had a unit focused on unregistered motorbikes that was “very good at tracking down these individuals”.

Commissioner Blanch noted the unit would, “go and seize their bikes, and will charge those individuals.”

The Kwinana Freeway PSP had the most reported incidents with 185. Roe Highway (64), Tonkin Highway (37) and Mitchell Freeway (36) were also hotspots. Como (47), Success (27) and Murdoch (21) were the areas with the most reported incidents, but these areas were also among those with the highest traffic.

Other user concerns included high-speed e-bikes and e-scooters and motorbikes damaging mountain bike trails.

WestCycle CEO Wayne Bradshaw emphasised the overall safety and bike rider satisfaction of Perth’s expanding PSP network but noted “concerns revealed by this survey are undeniable”.

“With many motorbike riders wearing full face-covering helmets and removing or obscuring license plates, or riding unlicensed trail bikes, we recognise it is a difficult one to police,” Mr Bradshaw said.

“We urge bike riders to be cautious if they hear or encounter a motorbike on a shared path and report all incidents to the police with as much detail as possible without engaging the motorbike riders.”