Tacks Sprinkled On Route 9W

Yesterday an unknown person scattered tacks along Route 9W in New Jersey, presumably in an attempt to cause cyclists to flat on the popular route.

Route 9W is frequented by up to 1500 cyclists a day, especially on the weekends. Over 100 of the colorful tacks in yellow, green, blue and red were scattered in a 2-mile section on the northbound side of 9W, and were concentrated in the shoulder used almost exclusively by cyclists.

Alpine Police were notified by CI about the tacks at about 1 PM yesterday. Chief of Alpine Police Jerry Beckmann told us today that the tacks had been cleared from the shoulder after he notified the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

It’s anyone’s guess why someone would throw tacks on the road to give cyclists flats. For one, the tacks were of the pushpin variety, so their effectiveness in creating flats is questionable.

Some had been crushed by cars pulling onto the shoulder. But most created quite a problem for cyclists who had to veer out onto the roadway to avoid them.

The act, though likely the act of a person acting out against the presence of cyclists on the road–often a complaint of drivers even though most use the shoulder–was the cause of increased traffic conflicts as cyclists moved out into the roadway to avoid the tacks scattered haphazardly on the road–probably just the thing the  a-“tacker” was protesting.

Also a cyclist riding with an embedded tack could blow a tire and suffer a crash resulting in serious injury or even death if descending a hill at speed.  In such a case, the spreading of tacks would go from a misdemeanor to a serious crime, possibly even a murder charge if it resulted in a cyclist’s death.

The spreading of tacks started around Clinton Ave. in Tenafly, and stopped precisely at the Hillside Ave. stoplight, suggesting that either the a-“tacker” turned off into the hamlet of Alpine, or they ran out of tacks at that corner.

There are countless signs along this section of Route 9W warning motorists to share the road with cyclists, but this a-“tacker” decided he or she doesn’t want to.

If anyone witnesses a driver or other person spreading tacks, they should contact the Alpine police station at 201-768-0881.

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