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Thursday, 19 June 2014

MEETING REPORT

To all Victorian Members of Parliament
Vicroads bungled its' response the Parliamentary Inquiry  (PIMS 2012),
into motorcycle & scooter safety.   Among other things,  the Graduated
Licence System (GLS)  has  been  so  badly handled by VicRoads that it
must  be  redrafted.    Roads  Minister  Terry  Mulder  MP  must  face
motorcycle & scooter rider representatives on the  Motorcycle Advisory
Group (MAG) in early July.

At   9   am   on   Monday,   June   16,   2014,  Michael  Czajka,  the
Independent  Riders Group (IRG) Road Safety & Research Officer,  and I
met  with  Ms  Alexandra  Douglas  adviser to Victorian Roads Minister
Terry Mulder MP. We were not permitted to meet the Minister.

The  message  we  took  from  the  meeting was that Ms Douglas was not
interested  in  logic,  let  alone  real research or  unbiased science
where  changes to laws & taxes effecting Victoria's 326,000 motorcycle
& scooter licence holders are concerned.

Ms  Douglas was poorly prepared for the meeting. She seemed unaware of
the  national  insurance claim data that in 40% of claims the bike was
hit   from   behind by a larger vehicle. That translates into a lot of
injuries. She said in most cases the bike hit  the car from behind. We
pointed  out  this  data  was flawed by by the inadequate tick-the-box
system  police use and that MAG had underspent on motorcycle & scooter
safety   research. Ms Douglas was not aware that traffic filtering was
not taught to novice riders.

Consulting stakeholders  was not an option. The  attached  flow  chart
from  the  STOP  THE  BLAME GAME paper by Steve Bardsley, Chairman  of
the    Victorian   Scooter  Riders  Association  (VSRA)  sums  up  the
situation.

THE PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY
Ms Douglas was very dismissive of PIMS  2012 and its' recommendations.
She said it was "not  being written by experts."

BUT    the   Victorian   Road   Safety   Committee  read   scores   of
submissions   by experts and stakeholders before writing their report.
Of  the  64  recommendations  in  the   PIMS  report,  none  have been
implemented.  The  "whole of government response"  to  PIMS  is  not a
credible document because it was mostly written by VicRoads. Catch 22.
www.parliament.vic.gov.au/rsc/inquiry/293

This  poses  an important  question  for  Victorians and their elected
Members of Parliament.  What  is  the  point  of paying a lot of money
for a Road Safety   Committee   when   it's   work can be dismissed by
non-expert  public  servants  if  the results do not suit departmental
policies?

In   this   case,  probably   the  same  public servants who fed their
Minister  wrong  advice  on  fatal  crashes  involving  motorcycles  &
scooters as a response to the May 26 protest rally at VicRoads.

This link is to a radio interview with VSRA Chairman, Steve Bardsley.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN5wI4CWVsc

The  MAG  at  VicRoads is dominated by public servants  and  political
appointees.  Vicroads controls the membership and  the  minutes. Roads
Minister Mulder sees only what VicRoads wants him to see.

DATA
Ms  Douglas admitted that crash site data and road safety research had
problems  but  was  non-committal  about  recommendation  1.  "That an
independent  office  of  road  safety  data  be created, which will be
responsible   for  collecting,  collating, interpreting and publishing
all data relevant to road safety ..............."

The police crash data collecting system is inadequate. The further the
crash  is  from  Melbourne  the  less  likely  it is to have a trained
officer   attend    in   timely fashion. VicRoads then "cleanses" what
data is collected.

BUS LANES

On  permitting  motorcycle  &  scooter riders to use most bus lanes in
Victoria   as  is done  interstate  and  overseas.   It  seems  riders
will   be  permitted    to    use  a very limited number of bus lanes.
This  will  be  seen  as  a token  gift  to  the  motorcycle & scooter
community   prior to the state election in November 2014.

We  discussed bicycles being permitted to use kilometres of bus lanes,
in  speed  zones  up  to  80 kph, even in very hilly suburbs. A single
cyclist    struggling    up  a  hill  in Doncaster and on other roads,
delays  bus  loads   of 50 + commuters.  Ms  Douglas  was not aware of
the distances or speed zones involved.

Significantly  the  Eastern  Freeway bus lane was excluded except, for
the  last  few  hundred  metres. Ms Douglas looked genuinely surprised
when I pointed  out  the   death   trap  VicRoads  had  created at the
Hoddle  Street  end of the Eastern Freeway with  the need to crossover
from   the   transit   lane to last of the Eastern Freeway bus lane to
access the Hoddle Street bus lane.

Steve     Bardsley  (VSRA)  and     I   met Simon Basic at VicRoads in
Sunshine  in December   2013. I   made   Mr  Basic  well-aware  of the
Eastern  Freeway  hazard approaching Hoddle Street. I drew diagrams. I
also  made  the  danger known to James Holgate at  VicRoads  Kew.  Now
Ministerial  Adviser Douglas has been shown the high risk area created
by VicRoads with diagrams and a witness.

If  there  have been no rider casualties on this part of the freeway I
would   be   very   surprised.   If   there   have   been  casualties,
VicRoads/TAC/police  are not likely to advertise them. When someone is
seriously hurt or killed there, VicRoads can't cry ignorance.

Surprisingly,  the   Victorian   Motorcycle  Council  (VMC)  supported
the   plan to  permit   riders only in the last few hundred metres  of
the    Eastern   Freeway  bus    lane.  The  VMC  rep  said  so  at  a
Motorcycles in Melbourne   (CoM)  meeting. We do not know of any other
motorcycle  or  scooter  organisation   that   supports  only  limited
access  to  bus  lanes, particularly on the Eastern Freeway.

TRAFFIC FILTERING
Traffic   filtering  is  NOT  weaving  through traffic at speed. It is
riding  between  slow-moving or stationary cars in traffic jams and/or
on  the  approaches  to  intersections.  It  is the safest way to ride
in  heavy  traffic.   It has existed as long as there has been traffic
and  happens every day, all over the world. Ms Douglas wants riders to
stop calling for filtering to be legitimised as in NSW and QLD.

Traffic  filtering  improves  traffic flow and safety. It benefits ALL
road users.

Ms  Douglas  was   completely   unaware   of  the need for the bicycle
"safety   boxes"     to    be   extended   across  the  approaches  to
intersections  to  give  pedestrians   unrestricted  access  to  their
crossings.

It  is  easy  and  inexpensive  to  fix/legitimise traffic  filtering.
Change  the filtering regulation for bicycles to include motorcycles &
scooters.  Extend  the stop lines for two wheelers across all lanes at
intersections.   But  the  public  servants    making    decisions for
our MPs  are apparently  ignorant  of  many  real  world requirements.
They consult only with people who fit their policies.

An  education  campaign  to  teach  car  drivers  about  motorcycles &
scooters  in  traffic is long overdue. It should be required knowledge
to get a car licence.

BAD ADVICE
On   May   26 there was an IRG protest rally at VicRoads. Shadow Roads
& TAC  Minister   Luke  Donnellan MP  promised  the  Opposition  would
legitimise traffic  filtering  if  it  won the November election.

Minister Mulder went  to  the  media  opposing  traffic filtering.  He
was given very bad advice  on filtering  and made a fool of himself on
the record. He told journalists that 3 riders died while filtering. It
was not even close to being true true.

THE TAC ANTI-BIKE TAX
Most  riders  are  forced to pay some $75 a year (and rising) as a TAC
"safety   levy".   No   other  vehicle operator suffers a targeted tax
like  this.  This  cash would be better spent by riders on bike safety
gear.

PIMS   recommendation   25.   was   to   abolish  the  TAC  tax.  PIMS
recommendation  24  was  to  audit the way  the  millions  of  dollars
taken    from  riders has been spent. MAG has underspent on motorcycle
& scooter safety research. PIMS recommendations have been ignored.

As our cities become more congested  the number of two-wheel commuters
must  increase. It  behoves our  elected  representatives   to  ensure
that  riding  for  work or pleasure is as safe as possible.

Reducing  costs  for  low-income  riders  so  they  can afford  better
safety   gear  and advanced  training  courses  did  not seem   worthy
of  Ms  Douglas consideration.

That   taxing   the   victims  of  most collisions involving bikes and
cars   was   inherently  unfair  did not appear to trouble Ms Douglas.
Most  riders  already  pay  the same as a driver for their bikes. Most
drivers   do not ride. Most riders have a car and so pay twice as much
to be on our roads. Read STOP THE BLAME GAME.

THE GRADUATED LICENCE SYSTEM
The   graduated  licence  system  (GLS)  cost was similarly dismissed.
The  GLS  was apparently developed with TAC bike tax money. Car driver
GLS  was developed   from  general revenue not a targeted, unfair tax.
The  added  cost   of  at   least $300 extra to get a bike licence was
blamed on the rider training schools.

Ms  Douglas  tried  to sell the compulsory conspicuity laws in the GLS
Trojan  Horse as the government showing its' love and care for learner
riders.  That the push for hi viz vests and lights-on is based on  the
opinions  of  non-experts,  not on any solid evidence that conspicuity
measures work, was water off a duck's back.

Ms  Douglas  did not say how the GLS, due in October 2014, will effect
the  Learner  Approved  Motorcycle Sytem (LAMS) currently operating in
Victoria.  The  motorcycle industry employs Victorians and contributes
to  the  state's economy. Stock has to be ordered well in advance. How
will the GLS effect LAMS and the industry?

The GLS must go back to the drawing board.

HIGH VISIBILITY CLOTHING
PIMS  did  not recommend hi viz gear or compulsory protective gear for
good reasons.

Riders generally are opposed to compulsory clothing, helmets excepted,
because  it  changes our legal standing and because any benefit can be
gained  through  voluntary  use. TAC has already raised the concept of
"contributory negligence".

The  motorcycle   helmet  ADR  is  a mess that prevents safer products
being  sold  in  Australia.  This  kind  of  problem  could arise with
compulsory protective clothing.

I  pointed  out  that   some 20,000 posties across Australia wear very
brightly-coloured  gear and they get hit on their motorcycles by  cars
with  sickening regularity. Ms Douglas made excuses but did NOT commit
to looking at the before and after data related to postie bike crashes
and  the  introduction  of  hi  viz  clothes and bikes. The crash data
exists  but if  it does not fit the agenda it seems the research won't
get done no matter how inexpensive.

PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
http://www.visordown.com/motorcycle-news-videos/first-motorcycle-storage-docks-installed-in-the-uk/25132.html

Secure  motorcycle  &  scooter parking with lockers for gear should be
required  at  park  &  ride  facilities  and  in  new buildings as for
bicycles.

THE LIGHTS-ON LAW
Michael  and  I  were  astounded  that  Ms  Douglas  did not even know
motorcycles  &  scooters are sold with hard wired headlights! There is
no  light switch. How can such ill-informed people be held up to us as
bike safety experts!

She  said  very  clearly that  the lights-on law was to stop learner's
switching  their  headlights off! That was as ill-informed as Minister
Mulder telling the media that 3 died traffic filtering.

I  explained  that  an  ADR  meant  that  for the last 20 years or so,
motorcycles  & scooters  have  been  sold without  light switches. She
did  NOT  know!  This is the level of expertise used when dealing with
our safety and it is not good enough.

People    with    such  a  lack   of   knowledge  of  motorcycling  in
traffic,  are  making  road  safety decisions for us. This is wrong at
every level.

CONSULTATION WITH STAKEHOLDERS
Ms  Douglas claimed  there  had  been  consultation with stakeholders.
We  said  we had not been consulted  and  were  banned  from  MAG even
as observers. There were several PIMS recommendations in Chapter 10 on
consultation   with   stakeholders.  We    told    her   the  "public"
consulting   sessions  were "information  nights" with the information
going  one  way  -  from bureaucrats to riders. And, the sessions were
invitation only. She did not know.

We   pointed out that many of their proposed moves against riders came
from well before the   PIMS  in 2012 so what was the point in spending
tax payers money on the inquiry?

Ms  Douglas  said that the PIMS report was written by non-experts,  in
other  words,   the  Victorian  Road  Safety  Committee, it's 494 page
report,  its'  64  recommendations  and the scores of submissions from
experts  and  stakeholders  did  not   equal  the  opinions  of public
servants  like  Ms  Douglas  and  James  Holgate who demonstrate their
dislike  for riders  daily  and  who do not even know that motorcycles
& scooters have not had light switches for TWO DECADES!

QUESTIONS
This meeting  raises  two  questions.

First,  why  waste  taxpayers dollars on a Parliamentary  Road  Safety
Committee  when they are overruled by the bureaucracy?

Second, who runs this state, our elected representatives in Parliament
or faceless bureaucrats at VicRoads and TAC?

TOURISM
Bicycle tourism is worth $362 million a year to Victoria. Motorcycle &
scooter tourism is worth at least twice that.

Later  on  June  16,   at   a   very   positive   meeting with Tourism
Victoria,  we  got  the  message  that  a  lot  of ideas for promoting
motorcycle  &  scooter  tourism  in  this  state  would  have  to  get
Vic  Roads  approval and should therefore be raised at MAG! Catch 22.

Bring on the 2014 Victorian election.

Damien Codognotto OAM
Spokesman
Independent Riders Group
Melbourne
 

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