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Docklands residents menaced by hoons tearing up the neighbourhood

By Brendan Rees

Docklands residents fed up with hoons terrorising their neighbourhood with dangerous late-night driving and burnouts are calling on authorities to act.

Locals say the careless behaviour had been “impinging” upon their lives with the endless noise having become an almost nightly occurrence.

“There’s frustration with the residents,” one resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said, adding many have “lost faith that anything’s going to happen” to fix the problem.

“There’s also been quite a few people moving out of the area.”

The residents’ concerns come as a 28-year-old man tragically died after his motorcycle crashed into a car on Lorimer St on November 19 about 9pm, with his passenger (and partner) taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Police said the circumstances surrounding the collision had yet to be determined.

Sandra [not her real name], a resident of more than eight years, who saw paramedics trying to revive the man as he lay on the ground following the horrific motorcycle crash, said the incident was “heartbreaking”.

She said about 20 police and ambulance vehicles were at the scene at the corner of Lorimer and Hartley streets.

“You knew he was in trouble the way they were trying to resus him,” she said as she looked out from her apartment.

Sandra said family members were also “beside themselves” as they consoled one another at the scene. “It’s a horrible feeling and you don’t go to sleep after it.”

She said without knowing the full circumstances of the motorcycle crash she feared the fatality “won’t be the last one” as Lorimer St was regularly used as a racetrack.

“My husband won’t even drive down Lorimer St at night because he thinks it’s too dangerous.

 

You can’t leave your windows open or your balcony doors or sit out on a nice night because of this hoon activity. It’s something that needs to be rectified. It will happen again and again until someone takes some responsibility.

 

“This is avoidable. There is no reason for this to happen. If the majority of people had known about it they would never have purchased [homes] here.” 

A Docklands Representative Group (DRG) spokesperson said residents had become “distressed and concerned” by the number of cars and motorcycles meeting up in the precinct.

“There are motorcycle gatherings in Ron Barassi Snr Park which have returned in full force, there is the hooning in Lorimer St, there are the construction vehicles short-cutting along Harbour Esplanade and there are e-bikes speeding along footpaths,” the spokesperson said. “All these traffic issues can have deadly consequences and the DRG will again make representations to Victoria Police and the City of Melbourne for assistance.”

Anthony De Luca, chairman of The Quays owners’ corporation, said Docklands should be a “family destination where people enjoy the events, the harbour, the lifestyle but unfortunately the motorbike meets do nothing but degrade the area and endanger the local population”. 

“There are tailor-made events on racetracks where these bikers can meet safely and with as less risk as possible to any third parties and that’s where these events belong,” he said.

According to the resident, who asked to withhold his name, he said he had been trying to lobby the council for the past four to five years to address the issue.

“If traffic lights went in it’s not going to stop it [hooning] but it should in theory make it a lot safer,” he said, adding the noise from vehicles was unbearable. 

“We shut our doors and windows when they’re around. It’s noisy, it’s loud, it’s deliberate because they’re all trying to show off their cars,” he said after there was a “long break of lockdown when there was no activity”.

He added the November 19 crash was “very unfortunate and sad but we as residents have been expecting some form of accident to happen for some time but hoping that it would not be a fatality”.

Yarra’s Edge resident Keith Sutherland said he believed reducing the speed limit along Lorimer St to 40-50km/h would help save lives.

“We don’t hear very much of it [careless driving], it’s only sometimes when there’s a very minor number of idiots that take-off up the road and speed off,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Yarra Action group, which was formed four years ago in response to hoon activity, said it was still active and trying to bring about change.

“We are pressing for more safety measures in the area such as traffic lights on the corner on Lorimer St and Hartley St.”

The group added following meetings with City of Melbourne in 2019, there had been an apparent commitment by council to limit the intersection of Point Park Crescent, South Wharf Drive and Lorimer St to local traffic only and reduce illegal parking, but residents “doubt whether it’s going to happen”.

A police spokesperson said police would continue to run operations to “detect and deter illegal hoon driving, which has the potential to lead to devastating consequences”.

“While we don’t see burnouts and high-speed racing around the streets of Docklands on a regular basis, we will still continue to use intelligence to monitor the roads and proactively patrol the area to ensure it is safe,” the spokesperson said. “All too often this type of behaviour results in both death and serious injury which is why we will continue to target those who blatantly disregard the laws and put the rest of the community at risk.”

“Local police continue to work closely with council, Department of Transport and other stakeholders to share information and monitor emerging trends or issues.”

A City of Melbourne spokesperson said the council had recently installed road humps, created a “no stopping” zone on Point Park Crescent, as well as erecting fencing around the park to discourage vehicles from illegally parking, with safety cameras also having been installed. 

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure people can move safely around our municipality, whether it’s by public transport, car, bike or foot,” the spokesperson said.

The council said it was also working closely with police and was “considering the future use of safe city cameras which have the ability to measure noise in locations where noise may be considered a problem”.

In a statement, the Department of Transport (DOT) said while it had no plans to upgrade Lorimer St “at this time,” which had a current speed limit of 60km/h, the department would “continue to monitor this road for safety and mobility” and consider improvements.

“Our thoughts are with those affected by the November 19 crash, and we are working with Victoria Police to investigate the circumstances, as we do with any fatality on our roads,” a DOT spokesperson said.

“Keeping all road users safe is our number one priority we are always exploring ways to make our network safer, including along Lorimer St, working alongside road safety experts including councils and Victoria Police.”

“We welcome the community’s input in making our roads safer for everyone.”

Docklands News is making no suggestion hoon behaviour was involved in the November 19 fatal crash, only that it had shocked the community and residents want to improve road safety in the area. 

According to data from DOT, in the five years to December 2020 there were no reported crashes at the intersection of Lorimer and Hartley streets that resulted in injury. During the same period, 15 reported crashes resulted in injury in the 3.3km section of Lorimer St between Montague St and Todd Rd. Of those, six resulted in serious injuries and no fatalities.

The council said it was working with police in relation to the November 19 incident. Police said the driver of the car, an 18-year-old Greenvale man, was interviewed and released pending further inquiries.   

Anyone who witnessed the collision or with dashcam footage is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 •

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