Police in Oppland were investigating what they called sabotage against a major highway cycling race on Saturday, after large amounts of thumbtacks were found on the race route. Police believe the tacks had been intentionally thrown from cars by people who dislike cyclists, to cause flat tires and possibly accidents.
The thumbtacks (tegnestifter), short flatheaded nails that often land pointing upwards when dropped, were found in several locations, mostly along Highway 33 north and south of Gjøvik. One motorist reported that he had removed more than 200 thumbtacks from the tires of his car.
It wasn’t the first time the race was subject to a thumbtack attack, organizers said. Police said the incident was serious and was being investigated as a likely sabotage attempt, targeting the major cycle race known as Styrkeprøven (“Test of Strength”) in which thousands of participants ride 540 kilometers in one day from Trondheim to Oslo.
“Sabotage is the right word for this kind of act,” Bård Christiansen, operation leader of the Vestoppland police district, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “This could be very dangerous. If cyclists have a flat tire at high speed, serious injuries could occur.”
Traffic congestion and several accidents were reported during the race, but it was unclear whether any of them were caused by thumbtacks on the road. Police were asking for eyewitness reports and investigating whether local stores had sold large numbers of thumbtacks recently.
Growing road rage
The thumbtack attack occurred amidst rapidly rising traffic tension in many parts of Norway, with motorists and bicyclists angrily trading accusations of obnoxious, reckless and often dangerous behavior. On Saturday, NRK’s national evening newscast Dagsrevyen showed bicyclists riding city streets with a video camera mounted to their helmets, capturing aggressive motorists and sharing the material on video sites like YouTube. One of the videos shows an angry motorist threatening to kill a bicyclist.
Meanwhile, professionals like bus drivers and delivery services complained of overly assertive bicylists, riding dangerously through roundabouts, refusing to use designated bicycling paths and generally taking up too much of the shared road. During the Styrkeprøven race on Saturday, a bus driver had his driving licence confiscated by a police patrol who spotted him irresponsibly overtaking a group of cyclists and their accompanying cars.
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