Thursday, 7 July 2016
COUNTRY ROADS TOO
The Border Mail
Thursday July 7, 2016
Road upgrades in bid to curb bike road toll BLAIR THOMSON
June 22, 2016, 3:55 p.m.
HOWLONG motorcycle enthusiast Graeme Male has experienced so many near-misses while on the road over the years, he’s lost count.
During half a century of riding, he’s had people pull out in front of him, drivers change lanes without indicating and vehicles crossing double lines as they travel towards him.
The Albury Wodonga Motorcycle Enthusiasts Club president said his story was not unique.
“We have approximately 160 members in our club – you could talk to any of them and each one of them could tell you about all the close calls they’ve had,” he told The Border Mail.
In one of the most serious incidents, Mr Male missed a speed advisory sign, dropped his bike and slid onto the wrong side of the road and broke several ribs.
He has welcomed upgrades announced for the Omeo Highway on Wednesday designed to improve safety on the road.
The Victorian government announced $632,000 in funding for the highway between the Bogong High Plains Road and Anglers Rest. The route is popular with Border riders.
Cushions which wrap around sign posts to reduce the impact of a crash will be trialled on the highway.
The highway is one of three major roads set for guard rail barriers that prevent riders from cutting themselves, signage and guide posts warning of upcoming dangers.
Intersecting driveways will also be sealed to prevent gravel spilling onto the roads.
Mr Male said anything that could improve safety was positive.
Sealing the Omeo Highway has lead to more riders travelling on the road and in turn an increase in accidents.
In one of the most recent North East crashes, a 50-year-old Wodonga man died on the highway on June 13.
The man had crossed onto the wrong side of the road at Eskdale and hit a utility.
The rider died at the crash scene.
Police have been advocating for safety upgrades on the highway.
Club vice-president and secretary Paul Hare rides nearly every day and said accidents often came down to two things. “It’s speed and skill,” he said.
“You have to think to yourself that you’re not a good rider.
“If you think you’re a top gun rider, you might start to use a bit of speed when you shouldn’t be.”
Mr Hare said riding in close packs also caused problems.
“I think riders and drivers alike need more general awareness,” he said.
Roads and Road Safety Minister Luke Donnellan said motorbike riders were over-represented in serious and fatal crashes.