Riders who staged a protest today (February 21, 2016) against a motorcycle footpath parking ban in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda have claimed it a success, despite a moderate turnout and some riders allegedly being booked.
The protest was sparked by rider Darren Carson when footpaths around St Kilda were ruled out for a six-month trial ban. He was concerned the ban would become permanent and spread throughout the city.
However, Darren said he didn’t attend after being warned off last week by Facebook posts claiming there would be a police crackdown and a bogus post that said the protest had been called off.
Independent Riders Group spokesman Damien Codognotto says that despite the bogus post, the protest attracted up to 700 riders throughout the day. He expected more, but says good weather encouraged riders to head for the hills instead.
He says he did not notice any bad reaction from drivers deprived of a parking space, local retailers and cafe owners or riders being booked.
“However, at 3pm I got a call from a rider in Acland Street saying police had begun booking riders. No details. The phone dropped out,” he says.
Acting Sergeant Van Maanen from the Port Phillip Police Service Area was not available for comment and no other police were available to confirm or deny that riders were booked.
Damien says IRG, Freedom Riders Australia members and a few other motorcyclists were on the scene by 7am.
“There were three police lock-up vans parked near the corner of Shakespeare Grove where some of the no-parking signs were,” he says.
“By 8.30am another van and a patrol car had joined the overtime fiesta. A few more motorcycles trickled in.”
He says Sgt Van Maanen told him no one would be booked if they behaved.
“By 9am more bikes were arriving. Police withdrew up side streets or went on patrol.”
He says a group of Tasmanian riders on their way to the Great Alpine Road stopped to take part in the protest, demonstrating how motorcycle tourism brings significant money to the state.
“Riders came and went. A highway patrol car cruised through a few times. I suppose at the peak there would have been 250 bikes with many of them taking up a whole car bay when parking.
“We handed out flyers explaining that if the police/council had not taken our parking without consultation we would not have to park this way. Sorry for any inconvenience. Car drivers were OK with that. Shop keepers were happy.
“All in all we all had a good time and did what we came to do which was to make the public aware that motorcycle and scooter riders had been treated most unfairly over parking.”
City of Port Phillip spokeswoman Fiona Blair says the six-month motorcycle parking ban trial was in response to “many complaints” about the large number of bikes parked on footpaths and “excessive noise”.
Damien says riders and local businesses were never consulted about the ban.
He says the next stage of the protest is to bombard council with “polite” emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) and text messages (0432 005 405).
“We need to establish a popular base to argue from and request a meeting with all stakeholders on parking,” he says.
Damien says it seems the council and some police officers want riders out of their suburb.