Carlton residents plagued by post-lockdown hooning

Katie Johnson

Carlton residents have reported an increase in hooning and anti-social behaviour since lockdown restrictions were eased and have urged the City of Melbourne to act.

Locals are calling for noise cameras to be installed along Lygon St to catch hoons and deter others from offending.

A local, who did not wish to be named due to privacy concerns, said that he and his wife had not expected the “day and night” hooning when they moved to Carlton seven years ago.

“What we didn’t bargain for was that our 20-year-old third floor apartment, 50 metres from the intersection of Lygon and Queensberry streets, was only this far removed from a decades-long hooning circuit,” he said.

“It is traversed by hoons on motor bikes of all descriptions and, just as seriously, driving vehicles ranging from Toyotas, tradies’ utes, multiple exhaust-piped Maserati, Lamborghini, Ferrari, BMWs, Mercedes and others.”

He said that although the hooning was at its worst on Friday and Sunday nights, it was “a week-long phenomenon, day and night, 52 weeks per year”.

“You only need one car backfiring at 2am to wake you, even with our quadruple-glazed bedrooms,” he said.

“In summer, working from home or a meal indoors with friends cannot occur with windows open.”

Lygon St resident Fiona McConnell said she was considering getting a noise-monitoring device as many of the hoons “must be above legal levels”.

“It feels like every 15 mins some inconsiderate dick with a loud car or motorbike is revving their engine and hooning up Lygon St,” Ms McConnell said.

 

The rest of the time the background shushing noise of the traffic is quite nice – makes you aware that you’re living in a bustling metropolis – it was really weird during lockdown after 9pm when there was no traffic noise at all.

 

Resident Jocey Wright said the hoons also frequented Station St.

“Occasionally we get them fanging their last grasp at a memorable personality trait up Station St as well,” Ms Wright said.

Another local, who did not wish to be named, said the personal impact of hooning had been “quite deep” and caused “anxiety and apprehension” in her daily life.

“Due to hooning being mostly a night-time activity, the disruptive nature of the noise generated is magnified,” she said.

“The intrusion into my home results in poor sleep and declined daytime functioning – mental health is the first to go alongside physical exhaustion.”

She also said that since the lockdowns had ended the hooning had returned and become worse.

“My experience of living in Carlton is one of loss – loss of a safe and comforting home,” she said.

“The hoons determine the constant decline in Carlton’s urban amenity.”

Local Andrew Febbo has been living on Lygon St for 20 years and said that you “get used to it”, although he had enjoyed the quiet brought about by lockdown.

“When the weather warms up so does the hooning – we’re out of lockdown with warmer, longer days so I reckon it will be worse,” Mr Febbo said.

“I must admit I enjoyed the quietness of lockdown ... especially the curfew.”

The Carlton Residents’ Association (CRA) submitted a vehicular noise abatement proposal to the council in 2018 which outlined a number of solutions to the hooning problem.

Among them were instating a 20 km/h speed limit on Cardigan, Lygon, Elgin and Queensberry streets and the installation of speed bumps on intersections which often have their traffic lights used as “starting guns”.

Residents also suggested that noise cameras should be installed which detect vehicles that exceed legal noise limits – as seen in other countries such as the UK.

However, the council is yet to act on any of the solutions.

When approached for a comment, a City of Melbourne spokesperson said it was currently considering the “installation the safe city cameras at a number of locations across the municipality, which have the ability to measure noise”.

Carlton resident Louisa Mucciacciaro said that the hooning was a downside of the restrictions easing.

“I live on the corner of Queensbury and Drummond streets and I was grateful for the lockdown as the burnouts stopped,” Ms Mucciacciaro said.

Crystal Lee agreed, saying the hooning had started back up again from Friday to Sunday “late at night and to the wee hours of the morning”.

“They do burnouts on the corner of Pelham St and Cardigan [St] and occasionally speed down both streets repeatedly,” Ms Lee said.

Carlton local Tyson Campbell, a hoon himself, said that dragging “was the culture of Carlton”.

“If you don’t like it, bad luck!” Mr Campbell said.

“Boy[s] make noise and we[‘re] here to stay.”

Aside from hooning, residents have also complained of the noise and safety issues linked to public drunkenness around Argyle Square.

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said police presence was “a must” to deter the escalation of antisocial behaviour.

“Blood spattered street and pools of blood, broken glass covering the street, fights and assaults happening on our front doorstep, females screaming during an assault, groups drinking in the street and causing mayhem, cars blocking driveways,  blocking access in and out of the street … that’s our normality,” she said.

“The venues from which the patrons exit are the source of these street problems.”

Lord Mayor Sally Capp, who is also a Carlton local, said the City of Melbourne was working closely with Victoria Police to keep the community safe.

“We’re committed to making Melbourne a safer place for residents and visitors – whether it’s shining a brighter light on our city streets, or installing new bollards or CCTV cameras,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’ve recently invested more than $2.8 million to maintain and upgrade security measures across the municipality and supporting projects that improve women’s safety in the city after dark.”

Caption: A car doing donuts at Lygon St/Gratton St intersection. Photo: Elle Brooker

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