Vigilantes attack bikers

Tacks and nails spread around the quay

This photo (above) shows a number of tacks/nails which had been deliberately spread at Strand Quay in Rye on Sunday, March 14, targeting visiting bikers.

[Editor’s note: Reports of this event were also received from Jonathon Davies and Steven Lancaster]

Dangerous and potentially very costly, the perpetrator perhaps felt that this kind of vigilante behaviour was a reasonable reaction to recent complaints about noise.  But this kind of response is surely never reasonable, and will possibly exacerbate the problems.

Many serving police officers and firemen are bikers, and I am informed that Kent Fire and Rescue Bike Team are in discussions with local authorities about this incident.  Some of Kent Fire and Rescue Bike Team were present at Rye Quay last Sunday and are working in partnership with Kent and Sussex Police.

The malicious and irresponsible behaviour of spreading nails and carpet tacks around the entrance to Strand Quay and the parking area not only endangers the bikers but also pedestrians, children and dogs.  A nasty injury could easily be inflicted on feet and paws by treading on a carpet tack.

Damage to motorcycle tyres can not only be costly to repair, but potentially cause terrible accidents, even fatal.

During the afternoon bikers themselves scoured the quay entrance and the parking area collecting more than 100 tacks and nails. Parked motorcycles were also checked for damage to tyres before they left the quay. This kind of public spirited act is more emblematic of Rye, and more typical of the message we want to send to visitors.

Image Credits: Kent Fire Bike .


  1. The targetting of bikers hasn’t just happened, i have been reliably informed, but whoever is doing this, has been doing it before, and needs to be apprehended asap, before somebody gets injured through this recklessness. hopefully the police can track this local down,and the best place to start is the Do it yourself shop,and builders merchants, and see if they can identify the culprit,who is giving this town a bad name., before it escalates out of control.

  2. Unbeleivable!
    If a bike tyre were to suddenly deflate whilst riding, the result could be tragic.
    It has not gone un-noticed the anti-bike sentiment in Rye News’ articles and opinion pieces. Well done Ed.

  3. I simply cannot believe this utter stupidity. I’m a motorcycle rider, I stick to the speed limits, don’t race, and don’t rev my bike up in public places. I often ride out with my wife on the back pillion. Suppose I got one of these tacks in a tyre, had a blow out and myself and my wife had got thrown off and ended up either dead or paraplegic? How would the person who put down those tacks feel? Not just that, but if you come off a bike it could slide down the road and take out an innocent pedestrian.

    This is totally indiscriminate. I think whoever did this isn’t just against bike noise, but ANYONE on a motor bike. I’m truly shocked and disgusted.

  4. The noise from badly-silenced motorcycles is annoying and breaches environmental limits but the deliberate sabotage described is criminal – quite a difference.

  5. I can’t quite believe what I’m reading and seeing here !!
    Bikers are spouses, parents and siblings like anybody else.
    This hugely ignorant person/people has to be caught very quickly.
    I moved down here at the end of November last year after planning it for years.
    I’m now deeply embarrassed to be a resident living in the same area as people that could be even think this, let alone carry it out.
    If I can be of any help catching this idiot then please let me know.

  6. Obviously throwing tacks on the ground is irresponsible and dangerous. But the person/s doing it are clearly
    at the end of their tether at the lack enforcement and behaviour of some of the bikers. If the local council
    weren’t so wishy-washy and made some proper rules, or employed someone to be at Strand Quay every weekend to take action against bad behaviour, there would become some harmony. Also the responsible bikers should form their own group and speak to those that do not abide by the rules and destroy the peace of others.

    I may be making a generalisation, but I suspect people only become anti-bikers when they break the law
    due to speeding through the roads leading to Rye ( and other market towns and villages ), and once they reach Strand Quay and rev their bikes or perform silly stunts on them. Sunday is supposed to be a day of peace and relaxation, so I’m not surprised at vigilantes taking action out of frustration, though I obviously do not agree with what they are doing. And due to having a dog I will be steering clear of the area. But can someone please find a way to create harmony so everyone can exist side by side ? It really is not that difficult, and abiding by the law would be a very good start.

  7. This is an incredibly scary story. I am a 60 year old biker and travel all over the uk and europe when allowed. Needless to say I will be avoiding your area in future and wont be spending any of my money in your local businesses. Thanks for reporting this story and probably saving my life@

    • John Hammond, that seems an extreme reaction to an extreme action. Most Rye residents and businesses welcome sensible, considerate, law abiding visitors to the town whether they arrive by bus,train, car or bike ! As others have said here, we need to work with the biker community not against them to work through and resolve the anti-social issues that have plagued the town and done a disservice to the majority of the biker community for twenty years or more.

  8. What were the bikers doing there in the first place? Essential journey, no, excercise, no. Maybe lockdown doesn’t apply to them. No masks or social distancing.

  9. I’ll see if I can get this one past the sensors.
    The problem is not on the Strand where the bikers generally carry on much the same as any other visitors, where they let themselves down is arriving and leaving.
    I live on the Strand and don’t really have that much of a problem with them and it certainly saddens me to see people carrying out criminal acts.
    To be totally honest with you at one time the bikers did worry me but the constant complaining week in week out has turned me the other way.
    I’m not sure the headline using the word vigilante is particularly helpful, or is there an active vigilante group that we don’t know about, I certainly hope not.
    Of course this could just be a case of mindless vandalism by people with nothing better to do than cause mischief who have not given a thought to the far reaching repercussions of their actions.

  10. I must agree with a lot Tony has to say, maybe speed humps on our B roads into town,(Udimore road and military road could be the answer to slow all traffic down,and would be a positive, instead of moaning everytime, anyone visits the town, which will always fall on deaf ears, as we are a welcoming town, to all visitors.

    • Speed bumps would be a brilliant solution on Military Rd, perhaps starting from the tennis club up to the junction of Rye Hill. That simple act would improve the quality of many peoples lives and significantly slow down the bikers who use that road as a speed track. But a camera is also needed on Rye Hill. Despite the 30mph signs, lorries, cars and motorbikes ignore them.

  11. Slow down traffic and then people complain about polution. Just put speedcams so they don’t have time to speed up and that should keep a steady flow. As for visiting rye on a bike, sorry just going to stay away, I’ve got a wife and 2 kids waiting for me at home.

  12. I have read on Motorcycle Forums that MAG (Motorcycle Action Group) is aware of complaints and has been talking to the Council to try and find a resolve?
    The biking community doesn’t want a bad tag so there is likely to be some action.

  13. The people laying tacks and nails are worse. Their Action is horrific to say the least and confirms the level of integrity that is not there.
    Yes it is the minority and spoils the area for all.
    I am a motorcyclist and where i live suffers from a local community centre which has parties nearly every weekend and the noise is unbearable after 10pm until 1am and when they leave the building some people shout and holler. The recent lockdown has made every weekend really quiet but I do hear motorcycles during the day which is nice to hear as its over before it starts.
    I have visited Rye on numerous occassions and always found it peaceful even with mototcycles going to and from Rye.

  14. I find it incredible that someone would even consider laying tacs down like that,do they have a brain we must ask ourselves,yes it can be dangerous to biker safty(I am a biker) but as has been stated the safety of dogs and children and other adults a biker I can understand some frustration with noisey bikes from the residents but this sort of reaction from the minority is potentially lethal, I wonder how the perpetrator would feel if someone had a serious accident as a result of there actions? I will freely admit my bike has a loud pipe on it which I try to keep on check in residential areas but that pipe has saved me on many occasions from being hurt by motorists who havnt seen me but have heard me , that’s why most not all bikers run loud pipes as on the roads we become targets of poor driving.hopefully rye will sort this out promptly as its a great little place that I like to visit as I know others do and spend some money supporting the local economy.

    • Simon, so you’ve got a noisy exhaust fitted as a safety device? I’ve heard this excuse before and it really doesn’t make sense, is it in the Highway Code? How do electric motorcycles protect themselves?
      Or people on pushbikes?
      Get some hi-vis apparel and turn your lights on or use your horn, that’s a safety/warning device.
      Just stop using illegal racing exhausts, then we can end this.

  15. I read the above with interest, how can having a loud pipe be of any use except warn a motorist that they are about to be overtaken at speed by a biker ignoring the speed limit? From where I live I can hear a loud bike from Jurys Gap all the way to Lydd one way and all the way to Rye the other way, a distance of 10 miles in either direction. That’s louder than any aircraft or other vehicle. I ride a 300cc scooter which is fairly fast, but is quieter than a car, it’s my responsibility to ensure other drivers I am in their field of view, why would I create a noise that travels ten miles or so to keep me safe? The argument is completely false and the perpetrator of creating such noise is a polluter of the highest level. That’s why noise cameras have been introduced on the continent and hopefully will be introduced here ASAP. And as per last year there are plenty of serious accidents involving bikers noise or no noise.

  16. The term vigilante conjures up heroism – the Lone Ranger!! However such people are taking the law into their own hands. At the risk of being labelled a reactionary where will this all end? There are often complains of dogs fouling our streets. What steps will our vigilantes take to prevent this abuse?
    David Barling Gasson

  17. I am a keen 68 year old motorcyclist and have been attending the Strand Cafe, the fish and chip shop and bike park for many years. In all that time I have not seen one unruly incident in all of the times that I have been there. The bikers that I have seen just come and get food or an ice cream and then go again and yes of course in the summertime there are more bikes gathering but also the same with cars and other tourists. Coming from a farming family and as country people born and bred in East Sussex we are absolutely sick and tired of city people that move to the country and seaside and try to take over and dictate our way of life. We have complaints of tractors and big farm machinery movements on our country lanes, of muck spreading, animals and motorcycles on country roads, at the seaside and now at the Strand. Bikers bring trade to Rye, particularly the cafe and fish and chip shop.The hard facts are if you don’t like aeroplanes then don’t move near an airport or airfield. If you move to Rye or any other scenic area for that matter then you put up with the local way of life or if not you clear off back to where you came from as you are not welcome in the area where we were born and bred. As for anyone scattering tacks or nails or forming vigilante groups I would hope that these idiots would get short sharp justice from the police and from the bikers themselves if caught in action. A quickly deflating motorcycle tyre can cause serious injury or death to a motorcyclist and if proven the culprit could well find him or herself on the wrong end of a ABH or manslaughter charge. From what I can see here this is the work of one stupid and selfish agitator trying to whip up support for his pet cause among the Rye public. There has not been problems at the Strand in the past and its sad individuals like him that come here and cause it.

    • I am happy to be corrected, but I don’t think most people object to the bikers enjoying Strand Quay. What people are mostly objecting to is the breaking of the speed limit and the noise of bikers entering Rye and other market towns and villages every weekend. The sound they make can be heard for miles around. On a sunny weekend, stand on Military Road. You will count in excess of 100 bikers speeding along that road, causing danger and noise. That may not be such a big deal in the 60mph areas where there’s open fields. But it’s a different story in the residential area, and around The Globe, towards the approach to Rye Hill. They are making our weekends a misery. Most people are looking for harmony. Few people want to ban bikers. We are looking for solutions. And a good start would be to stop breaking the speed limit, and to respect the environment and residents.

      • Spot on. We live just above Military Road and the first fine weekend, a few weeks ago, was marked by a constant stream of noisy bikes along this road, disturbing the peace. Walking along Military Road, as we do most days, any biker that is observing the speed limit stands out as being unusual. The bikers who post on here like to give the impression that members of their fraternity who break the law on speed and noise are in the minority. I think they are deluding themselves.

    • Anthony, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your numerous visits to Rye and hope you’ll continue, we’ll do our best to give you a warm welcome. I wish I could say though that your experience of never seeing unruly behaviour was one we could all share. I have personally witnessed both individuals and groups pulling wheelies as they exit the car park, overtaking at speed along South Undercliff into the face of oncoming traffic, mounting the pavement in front of pedestrians, “burning rubber” on the tarmac, parking on pavements, blocking exits, overtaking on the zebra crossing, excess noise and excess speed all in the immediate vicinity of the strand. None of that though deserves the irresponsible action of placing tacks and nails as sabotage, hopefully the culprit will soon be caught.

  18. There has been a very obvious and welcome decrease in motorbike noise the past couple of weekends, is there a reason why ? The weekends have been far more enjoyable. And moving forward, how do we start to propose speed bumps being laid at the residential end of Military Road which is bound to make a lot of residents happy, and any other areas where residents are suffering ?

  19. As i have said previously, Speed humps on udimore and military road should be pursued, and speed cameras on Rye hill,new road, and new winchelsea road,is the only answer to all speeding in Rye. With money awash being granted to councils from the government, it should be used to keep everyone safe in this town.As for the bikers being banned from Strand Quay, that will not be the answer, as they will just congregate in our car parks, which will cause even more problems, we need more traffic wardens in town, to police unruly bikers,and motorists 24/7, and that is the only way to get our noise and speeding issues under control.

  20. First time down to Rye yesterday since the lockdown in Kent in October, love coming to Rye, great place, either by bike or car and have been for many many years.
    As a biker, I sympathise with people having to put up with a section of the biking community who believe that speed and excessive noise is acceptable.
    The answers are already available to the police, they have the powers to stop those breaking the law and are used frequently against those at other popular biking locations, so why are they not doing this in Rye ?, those that have legal bikes have nothing to fear, so it will only effect those that don’t if the powers are used correctly and fairly, which is not always the case, but as a biking community we have to help ourselves before others help us in my opinion. Word will soon get round and either behaviour will have to change or people will be penalised in their pockets and on their licenses and at worst machines being seized.
    Nope I’m not some riding/motoring saint, but I do have respect for the local population and cringe when I see some of the muppets that ride and drive in and around certain areas.

  21. Easter Sunday has been a joy. Woken at 7.30am by the first biker revving his throttle on Military Road. And so it continued. The glorious sound of revving motorbikes coming from all directions all day. Lots of speeding up and down Rye Hill and over the bridge, Fishmarket Road and obviously Military Road. The 30 mph signs completely ignored. Of course, no police around for Easter to see what’s going on. Speed bumps are needed. They wont erase the constant noise, but they will slow vehicles down from using Rye as a race track. Please make your voices heard and write to Rother Council. And thank you bikers for destroying our peace and ignoring the rules and breaking the law. You’re certainly not helping me welcome you to our beautiful town.

  22. When complaining about the bikers in Rye a comment I’ve often heard from residents is

    “you can’t do anything about it”. “Why” said I.
    “They’ve been coming to Rye for years”.
    Its like saying about a lifetime criminal who robs banks,
    “You can’t do anything about him – he’s been doing it for years”.


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