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Newcastle
Thursday, June 24, 2021

Dirt bikes “an accident waiting to happen”

Jake Smith says it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt on one of our city’s pathways.

The regular walker, who is too afraid to use his real name, believes a dirt bike gang that is terrorising his chosen pathway is “an accident waiting to happen”.

Mr Smith walks the shared pathway between New Lambton and Wallsend daily.

The young Lambton resident says a group of youths who ride dirt bikes along the 12 kilometre track are a community threat.

“It’s the same group that’s terrorising all three suburbs,” he said.

“Older ladies have been clipped, women with prams have been nearly run over and countless people have been punched, kicked, spat on and had threats of abuse from the gang.”

Mr Smith said the riders were illegal and dangerous.

“They start on the walking/pushbike track at Lambton and then fly down full speed following the path to Jesmond Park.

“Then they take the back way to Wallsend. They don’t care who is on the path, man, woman or child they will aim at you full speed.

“Everyone is sick of trying to avoid being run down by them.”

The threat, Mr Smith said, was constant.

“It happens at different times of the day, it could be anywhere between 11am and two or three o’clock and then it starts up again at night from 9pm to maybe 2am,” he said.

“We’ve contacted Crimestoppers and they promised to increase patrols of the area at all different times.”

A walker on the Jesmond Path this week. Photo: Peter Stoop

The group of youths are believed to be aged between 10 and 19.

“Some even look as young as eight,” Mr Smith said.

“And it’s because they’re so young that people are afraid to say something.

“The police say: ‘Unless you call us we can’t do anything’ but everyone knows they’re young enough to just get a smack on the wrist and that’s it, then we’ll face the repercussions.

“They ride together in groups of two or three, but I’ve seen up to eight before.

“The numbers vary but it’s the same people.

“The dirt bikes are not road-worthy, are unregistered and they are travelling up to 70 or 80km/h. They don’t move for you. The people walking are afraid of them.”

Mr Smith believes vulnerable community members are at the greatest risk but finding a solution has so far been unfruitful.

“The worst I’ve seen is the older ladies, they’re out walking their little dogs and they almost get knocked out of the way.

“They shorten the dog’s lead but they are still freaking out that one of them will get hurt, or worse.

“I thought speed bumps might take the joy out of it but the Council said it would be a liability for them and the Police say they’d be liable if they chase them and one of them gets injured. It’s like everybody’s hands are tied.

A City of Newcastle spokesperson said they were aware of the problem and were working with police to find a solution.

Wallsend State MP Sonia Hornery also acknowledged she was aware of the issue.

“This is not the first time that this has happened,” she said.

“We need to continue to crackdown on these motorbike riders before something serious happens.

“I will continue working with police to identify these people and take action to stop this idiotic action.”

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