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Monday, 31 October 2011

WIRE ROPE BARRIERS - NSW 1 - NOV 2011.

My questions/comments are in your text in bold, blue italics.

I recommend you refer Vanessa Juresic (RTA NSW) to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Crashes Involving Roadside Objects - March 2005. 
Please note. The Executive Summary clearly documents the lack of hard evidence/data on crashes involving road furniture, including wire rope barriers (WRB). If that is true in Victoria, it is probably true elsewhere. 

Chapter 8 covers WRB. That the Federal ATSB did not continue with motorcycle & scooter safety tests on WRB because it would cost too much is clearly documented on page 209.

The bibliography indicates a paper avalanche. In the time available there were too many reports for the Victorian Road Safety Committee (VRSC) make a comprehensive, effective study of. We suspect many of these papers/reports suffer inadequate data collection, have poor methodology, or are not relevant to Australia's conditions and circumstances. To make sense of this large amount of material we need unbiased researchers to sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

Australian road authorities have spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars, maybe billions, in WRB. Exact information is not available. We think the Victorian Auditor General should audit all road barriers in use in this state. Given the massive amounts of tax dollars involved, road authorities might be accused of conflict of interest if they refuse to release raw data on WRB crashes and overall costs or refuse to allow independent studies of the material in the VRSC report on roadside objects and elsewhere.

Saturday, October 22, 2011, 9:36:48 PM, you wrote:
Damien,
Don't forget those questions re WRBs
Cheers,
....

From: Damien Cognotto OAM
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 9:16 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Wire Rope Barrier info

Hello ....,

Thanks for keeping me informed.

We have a Parliamentary Inquiry into motorcycle safety. The public hearings are after the Phillip Island GP so I'm busy but I'll try to get something done on this tomorrow. I appreciate the opportunity.

Damien
Melbourne
Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 7:54:13 PM, you wrote:

Damien,

Refer below.

I know this is for NSW but if you'd like to send me as many questions as you'd like to, please do.

Cheers,
....

To: Vanessa (RTA NSW)
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 8:23 AM
Subject: Re: Wire Rope Barrier info

Vanessa,

This may take a few emails as I have a lot of correspondence from my recent story to get through. I will be sending you comments/questions I have received from members and those that have been posted on the website discussion forum.

The most asked is "why does the RTA persist with installing a safety barrier that is potentially lethal to all motorcyclists?"

Could persisting with WRB have anything to do with financial commitments and/or career cultivation?

Also "why doesn't the RTA sheath or cover the wire ropes to protect motorcyclists in the event of an impact with them?"

Australia is the WRB capitol of the world. I'm told there are 3 local manufacturers - Brifen, BHP and another. In my opinion covering WRB has two problems for manufacturers and road authorities.

First, cost.

Ask Vanessa (RTA NSW) how many kilometres of WRB are on NSW roads? It should be a simple accounting query to find out. WRB sales to local and state road authorities must be recorded. If full records are too hard try asking for the last finacial year's state expenditure on WRB, include installation, maintenance and repair. One estimate was that WRB costs $50,000 to buy and install. Consider the freedom of information law. In Victoria it costs $24.
Second, liability.
Has a NSW road authority ever paid compensation to a victim, or a victim's family, after a casualty crash at a WRB site? Victims include truck drivers and car occupants. See attached.
Could covering WRB be seen as an admission that WRB is dangerous to riders so measures had to be taken to improve safety? Road authorities can't say they did not know about WRB safety concerns. Would this leave road authorities across Australia open to law suits including possible class actions? If road authorities knew WRB was dangerous and they did not do the research then fix the problem, is that negligence?

As you can imagine, a lot of our members are heavy haulage drivers by profession, they comment "unless a heavy haulage truck is fittted with a bull bar, the vehicle simply rolls over the top of the wire rope barrier, what's the point of them!"

WRB doesn't even stop cars, let alone trucks. Perhaps the worst truck/WRB crash was in Yatala Qld. in 2006. It made national media. RACQ Engineer John Wikman went on TV to call for WRB to be replaced.
The worst car crash was at Burrumbeet, Victoria, earlier this year. Five casualties in a 4WD. Three dead.
The road authorities in both above cases said that no barrier would have stopped that truck or that car ... but how do they know that. Where is the good science to prove it?

Has the RTA tested these barriers for impact with convertible (soft-top) sports cars? It has been shown that small vehicles can wedge themselves under and through into the oncoming lane of traffic, therefore occupant decapitation is a real possibility.

Can low/small vehicles, eg soft-top sports cars, get under WRB? Yes. Has it happened? Probably. Can we get details? Very, very doubtful indeed.

Does WRB deflect up to one lane width when hit by a car or truck? It does. That is plainly obvious in the crash test videos. So, leaving aside the fact that WRB does not stop cross-over or head-on crashes in all situations how can any road authority justify centre-of-the-road WRB installations, especially in high-speed roads carrying heavy traffic?

I have recalled that the 3 different types of wire rope barrier (2 wire, 3 wire and 4 wire) having mixed construction, can be seen between the Old Bar turnoff and the Cundletown turnoff along the centre divide of the Pacific Highway running along Taree NSW.

Given there are at least 3 types of WRB in NSW and a type using box steel posts on Eastlink in Victoria, can the RTA NSW supply a list of all the WRB types in use in this State?

The question has been asked "why are there different installations in the same location?", quite obviously, while the wire rope barrier is in itself a danger to all motorcyclists, the 2 wire is invariably much more dangerous then the 4 wire principly on the surface area to impact ratio.

Are there any safety/installation guidelines or regulations for road authorities in NSW when using WRB? If not, why not? How does this effect a road authorities duty of care to all road users? If guidelines exist but are not followed what is the legal liability of the road authority to the victim of a crash at that WRB site?

You were saying that the RTA doesn't have a set Installation Standard for WRB. Does this mean the RTA is erecting the barriers beyond the manufacturers specifications? I recall discussing WRBs with the Brifen Rep at the Motorcycle and Scooter Safety Summit. He was explaining that their system was uni-directional and not to be used as a lane divider or installed on curves, something I have seen in numerous locations.

So, if the brand is Brifen and their WRB is installed on a curve, then the road authority, it seems, is ignoring the manufacturer's advice on installing the WRB. How does that affect liability in the case of a casualty crash?

Road authorities and WRB manufacturers often say that there is no evidence to suggest that WRB is a danger to motorcyclists. Doesn't that just mean that WRB crash site data has not been collected or is not available?

If WRB crash site data has been collected, can we have it? There should be no privacy issues because victims do not have to be identified. This is road safety not national security.

About 2002 crash tests were carried out by Monash University Accident Research Centre using Toyota Echos at Laverton in Victoria. The full report has never been released. Can we obtain a copy through the NSW RTA?

VicRoads conducted tests on padding for WRB posts. Were there impact tests or just weathering tests? Can we obtain copies of the results of those tests through the NSW RTA?

Last question. Why did the RTA NSW get a spin doctor to respond to your road safety questions rather than a road safety and/or technical officer like and engineer?

All for now, regards,
.......

From: Vanessa
Sent: Monday, October 10, 2011 3:54 PM
Subject: RE: Wire Rope Barrier info

Hi ....,

I hope this email finds you well.  I will take care of this inquiry for you - could you please give me a call to discuss?

Thanks so much,

Vanessa
Media Officer
Media Unit | Corporate Communication | RTA NSW
From: ....

To: 
Sent: Sun Oct 09 21:46:47 2011
Subject: Wire Rope Barrier info

Shannon,

I am preparing to do a follow up article for anational club magazine with regard to Wire Rope Barriers. I would appreciate your assistance in getting a copy (electronic is fine) of the RTAs Wire Rope installation standards.

Also, can you please supply the names of the manufacturers/suppliers of Wire Rope Barrier the RTA sources from?

Perhaps someone from the new Transport NSW organisation would consent to being interviewed for the magazine?

Regards
....
www.rta.nsw.gov.au
 

WORK IN PROGRESS .........................................

Hello ....,

PARAMEDICS ON MOTORCYCLES IN VICTORIA


THE HERALD SUN
LETTERS

OUR AMBOS are sick of sooks (HS 29/10/2011). An ambulance and crew attending a woman with a finger stuck in a container or a man with an itchy tongue is a dangerous waste of resources.

A paramedic on a motorcycle can respond to a call quicker and assess the need for a full-size ambulance to attend.

Motorcycle paramedics can also get to medical emergencies through traffic jams to stabilise victims until an ambulance can get through.

Damien Codognotto OAM
Independent Riders' Group
Melbourne

THE HERALD SUN
LETTERS

They save lives in the US, the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong. They do it in Sydney and Adelaide. Now Melbourne will have paramedics on motorcycles too.

500cc scooters can penetrate traffic jams and move safely through crowds at major events carrying a full payload of life-saving gear. Medics on scooters will reduce ambulance response times. The riders will assess incidents and false alarms allowing full-size ambulances and crews to concentrate on serious cases. A better use of resources in a stretched system.

With a motorcycle paramedic stabilizing a victim and giving vital information on conditions at the scene, the ambulance crew can travel safer and arrive prepared. That's got to be better for everyone.

A very good move Victoria.

Damien Codognotto OAM
Independent Riders' Group
Melbourne

THE SUNDAY HERALD SUN
LETTERS

MEDICS  ON  MOTOR SCOOTERS! (SHS OCT 30, 2011) Brilliant! A better use of resources to help our stretched ambulance service.

The  idea  isn't  new.  The  UK,  US,  Hong  Kong  and  Singapore have paramedics on motorcycles. So do Sydney and Adelaide. These  riders  carry  a full payload of life-saving gear. They can get safely  through  crowds  at  major  events  and  can penetrate traffic congestion in an emergency as no 4-wheeler can. 

Bike  paramedics will assess a scene and let base know how serious the call  is.  This allows full-size ambulance crews to avoid false alarms and  prioritise  cases.  Crews can travel safer and be better prepared when they arrive.

With  our jammed roads and big crowds, paramedics on motor scooters is a very, very good move.

Damien Codognotto OAM
Independent Riders' Group
Melbourne

THE 34th MRA TOY RUN

RECREATIONAL REGISTRATION IN VICTORIA

Heather Ellis presented this paper on expanding the recreational registration system in Victoria on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.



Heather Ellis
independent motorcycle safety advocate

Mob: 0425 720 193                                                         PO Box 567, Healesville Vic 3777
Email: h.ellis@bigpond.com                                                Web: www.heather-ellis.com


19 October 2011


PRESENTATION OF EVIDENCE

Victorian Government
Parliamentary Inquiry into Motorcycle Safety


Thank you for the opportunity to present my verbal evidence to support my submission to the Committee* of the Victorian Government Parliamentary Inquiry into Motorcycle Safety. (*Committee: Victorian government MPs Bill Tilley, Telmo Languiler, Murray Thompson, Andrew Elsbury and Jude Perera).

My submission to the Inquiry is for the VicRoads club permit scheme to be extended to all road riding recreational motorcyclists.

I speak to you today as a concerned motorcyclist and as an independent motorcycle safety advocate. I am a motorcyclist with more than 30 years experience riding both sealed roads and off road. I travelled alone through Africa and Central Asia on a Yamaha TT600 – an enduro off-road bike. I was also a motorcycle courier in London for 12 months ‘on the same bike, it was all part of the journey’. In total, during my world motorcycle travels, I rode my motorcycle everyday for nearly four years.

There are two categories of motorcyclists – those who ride recreationally and those who ride to commute. Some, of course, do both. My submission addresses the rights of the recreational motorcyclist, specifically the road riding motorcyclist.

Presently, the club permit scheme can be utilised by members of VicRoads-authorised motorcycle clubs who own motorcycles older than 25 years. The scheme operates as road registration for the motorcycle. The club permit allows holders to ride for a maximum of 90 days per year and not just on club-sanctioned rides. A club permit costs $123 per year for a 90 day permit plus approximately $50 for club membership.

On a quick search through Google, I found listings for 50 recreational motorcycle clubs in Victoria (for both on road and off road motorcyclists), I estimate, assuming each club has an average of 250 financial members,  there is a total of about 12,500 Victorians who are members of recreational motorcycle clubs.

I presently ride a 1984 Moto Guzzi V50 which is registered under the VicRoads club permit scheme and overseen by The 59 Club – a 1960s-rocker inspired motorcycle club. I am also a member of the Moto Guzzi Club of Victoria, the MRA, the VicRoads-lead Motorcycle Advisory Group and the Victorian-based IRG – an independent think tank on motorcycle safety. Professionally, I am a journalist previously employed by News Ltd and have worked in PR for the international development organisation Plan International.

Motorcycling for me, as well as a large number of other motorcyclists, is not just a form of transport. In fact, from my own observations it appears that most of these recreational motorcyclists only ride their bikes on weekends during dry weather. They mostly drive cars for transportation. Motorcycling is our recreational activity. And for many of us, it is also our lifestyle. It is what defines us.

This is the changing face of motorcycling. A change that is rapidly growing. A change that this Parliamentary Inquiry has acknowledged in its Terms of Reference . A change that has also been acknowledged by the TAC, stating in its 2010 report that 2/3rds of motorcyclists ride recreationally. According to the TAC, this changing face of motorcycling represents nearly 110,000 of the 160,000 road registered motorcycles in Victoria in 2011.

If we can assume recreational motorcycling is equally as high nationally, this represents over 460,000 motorcycles of the 700,000 registered motorcycles as stated in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census on Motor Vehicle Registrations 2011. This represents a national growth of 47% and a growth in Victoria of 40% since the previous census in 2006.

However, our government, through its motorcycle safety advertising campaigns and by its own departments’ recommendations submitted to this Parliamentary Inquiry appears to be on a mission to portray motorcyclists as risk takers; as people who live outside the law; as temporary Australians that need to be protected from themselves.

This could not be further from the truth. In fact, motorcycle fatalities have dropped significantly over the past 28 years nationally from 482 in 1982 to 224 in 2010 as reported in the Federal Government’s Road Deaths Australia 2010 Statistical Summary. During the same period, motorcycle registrations have increased dramatically. In just the past five years, motorcycle registrations have increased by nearly 50%. Reports suggest that by 2016, there will be over one million motorcycles registered in Australia.

Motorcycling is here to stay as are motorcyclists who are passionate about motorcycling and their right to ride. For example, I am here today speaking to you to help bring about a positive response to increasing motorcycle safety that is based on community values and cooperation rather than control and conflict.

The reality is that the road recreational motorcyclist is often middle-aged and owns a car. As well as paying car registration, they also have a registered motorcycle or even two or three motorcycles, all of which are mostly used recreationally about 60 times per year. These motorcyclists may also be a husband and wife   - boyfriend / girlfriend or any other combination. They mostly own their own home, work full time and may also have teenage or adult children. They are often members of a recreational motorcycle club or group and when they ride on weekends they eat, drink and sleep in many small towns throughout regional Victoria.

They also support Victoria’s motorcycle retail sector through regular servicing of their motorcycles as well as purchasing motorcycle parts and accessories. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide statistical research to support my views as no such research on road-riding recreational motorcyclists has ever been conducted.  I can only go on my own observations as a motorcyclist and as a 10 year resident of Healesville at the foothills of the Yarra Ranges where hundreds of motorcyclists ride every weekend, particularly when the weather is fine.

So what has all this got to do with improving motorcycle safety? 

Within this changing face of motorcycling, lies an opportunity for our government to help improve motorcycle safety now and well into the future.

Extending  the club permit scheme to all road-riding recreational motorcyclists would operate the same as the present club permit registration system. That is motorcycle and even scooter riders (yes, some ride them recreationally!)  would be required to join a club that is authorised by VicRoads to issue club permits as their motorcycle registration.

In keeping with the Terms of Reference for this Inquiry, my recommendation is ‘a new initiative that will help reduce motorcycle crashes and injuries, particularly amongst novice riders’, for the following reasons.

·        When novice riders complete their learner permit training they would have the option to join a club and register their motorcycles under the club permit scheme. 
·        As clubs oversee the scheme, there is an expectation that members participate in club rides. Members registering their motorcycle under the scheme also must abide by road rules and if they do not, they can lose the privilege of their club permit registration. The safety benefit, as for all recreational riders, would provide safe opportunities for novice riders to participate on organised rides with experienced riders.

·        Organised club rides or just a ride to a regular club meet-up for coffee are usually held on weekends, particularly on Sunday with ride departure at 9am or 10am, one of the safest times for a learner rider to be on the road and riding to the departure point. The drunks are long gone, the shops are mostly still closed and church services have not yet ended. Learner riders and even those that have moved to a probationary licence can use the ride to the club meeting point to gain on-road riding experience in a relatively safe traffic environment. They can then participate in an organised ride and gain further riding experience on this group ride.

Channelling learner riders into the club plate scheme is also a more realistic option than the presently proposed supervised riding component of the Learner Phase of VicRoads proposed Motorcycle Graduated Licensing System.

For many of those on Learner plates, who do not know a licensed motorcyclist, it would be very difficult for them to ride on-road under supervision. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this would deter only the very keen from getting a motorcycle licence. Loop holes in the system would soon be found, new riders would still get their licence but with even fewer on-road riding skills.

But if novice riders on a learner permit were channelled into the club permit system they would not only be legally able to ride to the starting point of a sanctioned club ride, but would then participate in this club ride where they could concentrate on improving their riding skills and not on the route as they would be following a ride leader who also controls the speed of the group to keep within the speed limit.

By participating in a club ride, novice riders can also benefit from the advice of experienced riders on road safety, particularly on awareness of potential road dangers. It would be a sort of informal mentorship because after all when you get a group of motorcyclists together the topic of conversation is mostly all things motorcycling and this includes how to stay upright. Many clubs also hold regular service days where members can do basic maintenance on their bikes benefiting from the mechanical knowledge of other members and thereby ensuring safety components such as brakes and steering are operating properly.

 These learner riders once they have graduated to a probationary and then open motorcycle licence will do so with improved on-road riding experience. They then may also use their motorcycle for both recreation and as a form of transport and as such opt out of the club permit scheme and get full registration for their motorcycle.

Under the Terms of Reference, the Inquiry is also keen to learn of the attitudes of riders ‘to safety and risk taking including drugs, alcohol, travelling at inappropriate speeds, the use of protective clothing and fatigue’.

I can only speak from my own experience as a road-riding recreational motorcyclist with a motorcycle registered under the club permit scheme. On club sanctioned rides, riders follow a leader who controls the speed. Most experienced motorcyclists do not take drugs or drink alcohol over the legal limit while riding. This is why they have reached this point ‘of experience’  in their life.  To ride a motorcycle requires constant awareness. Awareness that is not possible if one is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Club rides usually often have a stop for lunch at a country pub with one or two light beers consumed with a hearty pub meal. On the return ride back to Melbourne, there is always an afternoon coffee stop allowing riders to rest and avoid fatigue.

Motorcycle culture, especially within a recreational motorcycle club is all about wearing a leather motorcycle jacket and, for some, a vest adorned with patches and badges as an expression of one’s individuality. If leather pants are not worn, then it is Kevlar-reinforced jeans which on first glance appear to be ordinary jeans. I seriously question any research that states motorcyclists prefer to wear jeans instead of protective pants. One just needs to ask for sales figures from motorcycle clothing manufacturers such as Draggin Jeans.

Black leather motorcycle boots and gloves complete the look. And of course,
we all wear helmets.
The Inquiry is also concerned about riders and drivers attitudes to each other.  Recreational motorcyclists often ride as a group and as such are highly visible to drivers. This coupled with headlights on, means that if they are not seen, it is the driver’s inattention to his/her surroundings beyond what is happening within their car that is at fault, and not the lack of visibility of the motorcyclists.
As most motorcyclists also drive cars and therefore pay car registration, they are already paying double the registration fees. In fact, it is not uncommon for a couple who are also motorcyclists to pay up to four or more registrations per household per year in Victoria. That is two cars and two or more motorcycles, which are all used recreationally. Due to this imbalance, and the fact that road safety is funded from registration fees for all other road users, the Motorcycle Safety Levy needs to be abolished.  If this will not be done, then the levy needs to go into training and  education rather than fixing potholes for the benefit of all.
As the government is seeking ways to work with non-government stakeholders to achieve motorcycle safety outcomes extending the club permit scheme would be a positive step to achieve this outcome.
As I have already pointed out, I do not represent any motorcycle club on my submission.  (I estimate about 50 motorcycle clubs in Victoria and a total of about 13,000 members).
A first step would be to bring non-government stakeholders together to determine how extending the club permit scheme may work.
I would suggest that it be a requirement that those clubs authorised to issue club permits or any new clubs that formed as a result of extending the scheme, need to hold at least one organised club ride per month and also have a regular meet-up similar to The 59 Club of Victoria, which meets every Sunday at 10am in Healesville.
Since my submission to extend the club plate scheme was lodged with the Inquiry in July this year, I have spoken to many motorcyclists. The majority feel this is a common sense approach to improving safety and rider skills after they complete training. Of course, all feel it is also a just and democratic approach as they are angry about the unfairness of the present registration system where they pay almost the same registration on a car as their motorcycle which is used only recreationally.
Then there are those that were angry with me for meddling with the club plate scheme in the first place. “You will ruin it for the rest of us” was often the comment. While undeterred, it does indicate that there is an unhealthy level of mistrust simmering in the motorcycling community toward government.
The other most voiced comment from my fellow motorcyclists and even friends who are not, was that: ‘the government will never do it because they will lose too much revenue’.
Well, let us take a close look at the likely financial benefit to the community if the club permit scheme was extended and thus further fuel the growth of recreational motorcycling.
If as the TAC states that 2/3rds of motorcyclists ride recreationally then that is 110,000 motorcyclists not including those who travel to Victoria from inter-state for events like the MotoGP. If each one of these motorcyclists spend, as I do about $50 on a day ride including petrol then this $5.5 million. But like myself, these recreational motorcyclists may also go on an average of 20 organised club day rides per year, then they could be spending approximately $1 billion per year and this does not include over night rides when the spend includes accommodation, extra meals and drinks in regional Victoria. As all reports indicate, recreational motorcycling is growing rapidly. The financial benefits to the motorcycling retail sector are an even more significant contribution.
But by far the biggest contribution if the club permit scheme were to be extended to all road riding recreational motorcyclists would be the opportunity for novice riders to gain road riding skills from experienced riders and therefore improve motorcycle safety.
I thank  the Committee for the opportunity to present my evidence to support my submission.

Heather Ellis    http://www.heather-ellis.com/
Wednesday, October 19, 2011. Heather Ellis presents her submission to the Road Safety Committee inquiry. Facing the camera: RSC executive officer, Bill Tilley MP, Telmo Languiller MP, Murray Thompson MP, Andrew Elsbury MP and Jude Perera MP.

________________________

Saturday, 29 October 2011

WESTMINSTER TO SPRING STREET DVD & PIMS.

PIMS = Parliamentary Inquiry into motorcycle & scooter safety. October 17, 18 & 19, 2011.

For a free copy of this DVD call 03 8682 2653 / 4.
For a free copy of this DVD call 03 8682 2653 / 4.



PARLIAMENT OF VICTORIA
ROAD SAFETY COMMITTEE

Inquiry Into Motorcycle & Scooter Safety

Submission by the Independent Riders' Group.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011.  4.30 to 5.30 pm.

The Independent Riders' Group

The IRG began in 2007 as a response to the need for grass roots representation for road riders in Victoria. The IRG's roots are in the Motorcycle Riders' Association (MRA) dating back to 1978. It began as a motorcycle & scooter riders' safety and rights think tank. There was no formal structure. Ideas and expertise were taken from a range of people with experience riding in traffic in this state, interstate and overseas. It has had a very positive response from the motorcycle community. The IRG will formalize its' structure and take memberships in the new year.

Presenters

DAMIEN CODOGNOTTO OAM, 61, bought his first motorcycle in 1967. Motorcycles have been his primary transport for most of 44 years. He has represented motorcyclists on local, state and federal committees over decades. He was founding President of the MRA in 1978, was awarded an MRA Honourary Life Membership in the 1980s and an Order of Australia Medal in the 1990s. At the start of the 1990s he wrote the terms of reference for the last Road Safety Committee into Motorcycle Safety.  He retired as MRA President in 1998 but has stayed active as a lobbyist for riders. Damien still rides.


MICHAEL CZAJKA, 48, bought his first motorcycle in 1983. Motorcycles have been his primary transport for 28 years. He estimates he has ridden around 2 million kilometres city and country. He joined the MRA in 1986 and served as the  MRA Road Safety & Research Officer for many years. He has represented road riders on local state and federal committees for most of 20 years. He was awarded an MRA Honourary Life Memebership in the early 1990s. Michael still rides.


GEORGES GOURON, 66, bought his first motorcycle in France in 1961. In France novice riders aged 16 begin on mopeds Georges says this makes them safer car drivers. Motorcycles have been his primary transport since 1973. He joined the MRA in 1985 and worked as a volunteer for the association as in various roles including lobbying. He has ridden motorcycles all over the world including most of Europe. He rode overland from  to Australia and around Australia. He particularly likes the Americas making two long trips to South America. He covered 205,000 kilometres on each of his last two bikes. His current bike has only 25,000 kilometres on it, but Georges will to increase that.

Background

Since the last Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Motorcycle Safety reports in 1992 and 1993 the motorcycle & scooter community has grown steadily. Powered two-wheelers are not a fad. Bikes are a legitimate choice whether it's commuting, touring, trail riding or competition, more people are going motorcycling. However, road authorities who have a duty of care for ALL road users, seem unable to recognise this simple fact.

The Victorian Auditor General's Report on Motorcycle & Scooter Safety came out in February 2011. In part it said:

"Motorcycles and scooters are increasingly popular forms of transport. Over the eight years from 2002 to 2010, motorcycle and scooter registrations increased by 58%, from 102,400 to 162,091, and the number of licence holders rose by 36% to 325,977.

These vehicles are being used for:

·     * daily commuting, because they are a more efficient way to travel in congested traffic   and are easier and cheaper to park

·     * recreation, especially along popular tourist roads such as the Great Ocean Road and in the Yarra Ranges.

* off-road riding where people use trail bikes on tracks and pathways in state forests and on private land that are not part of the public road system

FEDERAL CHAMBER OF AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRIES media release, October 13, 2011:

"Motorcycle sales  in Australia continued to grow significantly in the third quarter of 2011. … In the 9 months to the end of September, 77,129 (new) motorcycles were delivered to Australian customers, … an increase of … 4.5% … over the same period in 2010.

… sales of scooters also continued to expand, with the segment growing 12.1% YTD when compared to 2010. Strong growth of scooter sales and the resilience of overall road bike sales suggests commuters are finding motorcycles to be a practical solution to high fuel prices and inner city traffic congestion."

THE AGE. JULY 15, 2011. By Ian Munro:

"… As relatively low-speed urban transport,motor scooters are not prominent in accident statistics."

Bike registrations more than doubled in the 2000s and licence numbers increased by over a third. In spite of increased numbers, serious injuries and fatalities from bike crashes have decreased in real terms.

This graph is from the Victorian Motorcycle Council's submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry. It is shown here with Rob Salvatore's permission. The VMC submission was compiled and written by Rob Salvatore B.Eng Mech (Hons) with contributions from Bronwyn Sorenson B.Psych.Sc (Hons), Stuart Strickland retired Managing Director of Honda MPE Australia and Steve Scheffer experienced career-rider.

The VMC submission is at


and the graph, is on page 6.

The graph covers 3 decades and shows clearly the reduction in deaths from motorcycle & scooter crashes. There is no evidence to suggest that motorcycling in Victoria is safer than it has ever been.

The Elephants in the room.

One elephant is the positve data on motorcycling that VicRoads/TAC/Police just don't look for. Another is the attitude to motorcycling that too many in road authorities have to motorcycle and scooter riders. In the Inquiry Terms of Reference (K) can't lead to positive outcomes until government stops the bike bigotry among public servants.


Ian Munro reported in The Age on July 15, 2011 (submission 80):

"… As a state parliamentary inquiry uncovered more than 20 years ago, the state roads, licencing and registration authority, VicRoads, had a policy of 'not implementing any programs that could be construed as encouraging motorcycling'.

Having decided motorcycling was inherently risky, VicRoads thought it best to do nothing to make it safer in case this encouraged more people to take it up. VicRoads has formally abandoned the policy but in the licencing system its' legacy seemingly lingers. …

"… Mark Collins, national manager for Honda Australia Rider Training, which trains 20,000 annually … VicRoads has a position that training is of no value because there's no scientific proof of diminished crashing. Unfortunately they were quoting from papers in Scandinavia where drivers are being taught to drive on ice."

Vic Roads and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) combine with police to make a very big elephant in the motorcycle & scooter safety room. The bias against powered two-wheelers exists. Credible people like Ian Munro and Mark Collins publish their opinions on the antibike bias in The Age.

VicRoads may have "officially" abandoned it's antibike policies but, to me, the unofficial antibike policies are an elephant in the room. 

VicRoads firmly controls the advice the Minister of the day gets from the new Motorcycle Advisory Group (MAG). MAG was set up to replace the Victorian Motorcycle Advisory Council which was firmly contolled by VicRoads. VicRoads can "veto" who represents riders on MAG. Dissenting voices are not welcome. VicRoads takes care of MAG minutes and records. VicRoads is secretive about motorcycle & scooter projects and research.

Wire Rope Barriers

A threat that most road riders are extremely worried about is wire rope barrier (WRB). But it does not get a mention in the terms of reference for this Inquiry. Who wrote the terms of Reference?



VicRoads has a massive investment in WRB so that institution may have a conflict of interest when it comes to both safety and cost shortcomings of WRB. Stakeholders are not allowed to see VicRoads data showing that WRB does protect all road users. The Monash University report on WRB crash tests conducted at Laverton around 2001 has never been fully released.


THE RSC INQUIRY INTO CRASHES INVOLVING ROADSIDE OBJECTS, March 2005. The Executive Summary. Page viii:

"The Committee noted a number of areas where crash information was missing or could be more detailed. The difficulty in obtaining adequate data, in particular travel exposure information to better assess crash risk and target safety treatments, is a continuing issue in Victoria, coming up time and time again in Committee inquiries. Governments agree to improve crash information, yet crash and crash risk information continues to be an impediment to the improvement of roadside safety in Victoria. Crash information recording and publications need to be greatly improved."

VicRoads continues to install WRB right next to the road denying life-saving clear zones or run-off areas to riders. The RSC report and stakeholder complaints were ignored by VicRoads.

The Committee found nine metres is no longer world's best practice for the minimum clear zone distance for high-speed high-volume roads, such as freeways, and has recommended that this be increased. Clear zone widths should also be reviewed to take into account the vehicle speed-slowing effects of different road shoulder and roadside surfaces, especially in view of the recent widespread provision of sealed shoulders on Victorian roads."

Blame the victim

TAC spends vast amounts of our money on shock/horror advertising campaigns to tell drivers that riders deserve no respect on the road and to tell riders that it is their responsibility to "reduce the risk". Blame the victim.

TAC is a semi-government insurance company. TAC is a monopoly. TAC sells a compulsory product. TAC has no need for a corporate image, marketing department or spin doctors. The money TAC spends on self-promotion through expensive ad campaigns and various sponsorships is a disgraceful waste. That money should be invested in the welfare of victims of road trauma, better rehabilitation facilities, better home-recovery systems and real medical and safety research.

TAC's research is mostly market research. It's what you do when you want to introduce a hamburger or hair wash to a potential market.

TAC's Board has 9 directors. All are well-qualified in administration and finance in one form or another. None have much experience in transport or roafd safety, let alone experience of motorcycles & scooters on today's roads in Victoria.

GORDON RICH-PHILLIPS MLC, ASSISTANT TREASURER. March 2011. Letter to the IRG:

"…  I unequivocally concur that road safety and road transport issues are important. I expect the TAC and its' Board to consider such items at all times where appropriate so that the TAC can meet the needs of the Victorian Community. …"

Riders contribute financially to both the transport system and the economy in general. Road rider costs include a registration fee, the cost of the anachronistic registration label  holder and potential associated fines is extra.

The TAC compulsory third party (CTP) insurance premium and the discriminatory TAC tax of over $60 on most road bikes are included on the registration bill, but the TAC antibike tax is not shown.. No other transport type is subject to this type of rip off. The TAC antibike tax should be abolished.

Whether it is legal/ethical to present a bill where an item is not listed or costed is a matter the RSC should consider.

It costs more to keep a medium-sized motorcycle on the road in Melbourne than it does a 4WD. Most riders own cars so they pay road costs at least twice. Most car drivers have no motorcycle or scooter experience.

TAC premiums do not reflect powered two-wheelers' benefits to society in reduced pollution, traffic congestion, car parking shortages, damage to infrastructure and injury crashes. Commercial insurers offer incentives for safe road users in the form of no-claim-bonuses and reduced excess.

A comparison of public money on bicycling and motorcycling, at all levels of government, clearly shows motorcycle & scooter riders are being treated unfairly. TAC's motorcycle & scooter premiums, ads and policies are the elephant in the room.

The Victoria Police claim that 71% of riders are at fault in serious injury crashes is not credible. A rider by the side of a road who can't remember what happened is written up by an officer probably not trained or experienced enough to make an accurate assessment of the crash site. No other vehicle's involvement is obvious so the crash is deemed single vehicle and therefore the rider is at fault.

Statistics

To many road safety statistics used to justify motorcycle & scooter countermeasures are at best unreliable like the police' 71% figure above.

Statistics aimed at telling the public what riders' thoughts and morals are would not be tolerated by any other form of transport.

The use of fatality figures only is also misleading. The numbers are too small to be statistically relevant. ALL serious injury crashes should be included. The relatively small number of bike crashes where person dies may be good for media releases when converted to a percentage but they are misleading and bad for road safety.

Bike sales figures do not include the second-hand market.

TAC focus groups are market research not good road safety science.

Too many "research organisations" rely on revenue from the road safety authorities who prepare their research briefs so results can lean towards road authorities' theories. In a specialist area where the road authority has little or no expertise this can have negative effects.

Victoria needs to go back to an independent road authority if it wants to take the next step in road safety.

Terms of Reference

K is the term of reference that asks about the elephant in the room.

(k) the ways government can work with non-government stakeholders to achieve motorcycle safety outcomes.

The ways government can work with non-government stakeholders to achieve motorcycle safety outcomes is to work with the stakeholders. To do that, government has to change the unwritten policies, the antibike bias, in VicRoads/TAC/Police.  That is seeing the elephant and removing it from the room.

Preparing for the Inquiry.

In preparing for this Inquiry the IRG saw DVD documentaries on our system of government. We recommend them. The phone number to get free copies posted out is 03 8682 2653 / 4.

FROM WESTMINSTER TO SPRING STREET begins with a quote from Winston Churchill:

"… democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried."

The DVD continues:

"…A functioning democracy where the population's wills and needs are taken into account by elected leaders … " The RSC is made up of our elected leaders.

"When you have a society that does not have a voice, you have an oppressed society. … In Victoria the government is supposed to be accountable to the people. The overall principle is the rule of law. No one is above the law. Another of the principles of democracy is that the Premier, his staff and the public service are accountable to the Parliament and through the parliament to the people of Victoria.

The men who drafted the Victorian Constitution were determined that no single person, or group of people, should wield unfettered power, so they thought to confine the power of the parliament and government by various checks and balances to ensure that power is distributed, balanced and restrained, particularly within the institutions of government. The aim was to protect the liberty of the individual."

US PRESIDENT, BARAK OBAMA SAID:

"… if people are paying attention then we get good government and good leadership. When we get lazy, it results in bad government and politics."

The Independent Riders' Group
Melbourne