CREDIT where it’s due. The boffins in Victoria have delivered a pretty credible document in the shape of the Road Safety Committee’s hefty Inquiry into Motorcycle Safety.
The report is certainly timely. Victorian registration and licensing figures have been rising steadily during the past decade – a 70 percent hike in registrations over the period and a 37 percent increase in the number of licence holders in a similar length of time – and you need only to take a walk through the CBD of any of our major cities to realise just how much the game is changing. In days not so long past you couldn’t have sold a scooter in Australia to save your life.
Now look. And look, too, not only at the people riding them but at what some of them are wearing. Yikes. So the Victorian government decided it was time to take a fresh look at an old problem. The result is a hefty 535-page tome that pulls together data on accident statistics road and off-road, “the changing face of motorcycling”, attitudes to speed and risk-taking (eg. drugs, alcohol, fatigue), attitudes of riders and drivers towards one another, and plenty more besides.
Among the more tangible results is a list of 64 wide-ranging recommendations that include axing the $66 motorcycle safety levy, charged on every bike bigger than 126cc as part of its registration fee, and establishing an independent office of road safety to be “responsible for collecting, collating, interpreting and publishing all data relevant to road safety”.
It further recommends that “VicRoads initiate a consultation process … for motorcycle safety that involves all road safety agencies, motorcycle clubs, stakeholders and groups, and members of the broader community with a view to developing new safety initiatives”.
There is also a recommendation to run “a Motorcycle Safety Awareness Week be held annually in Victoria in conjunction with the Phillip Island MotoGP” and work up “a star rating system for protective motorcycle clothing, which includes boots, gloves, jackets, pants and armour, be established within 24 months, and be fully functioning within 36 mon ths, of the tabling of this report”; and examine “the benefits and risks of filtering, as distinct from lane splitting… with the aim of introducing filtering in Victoria”.
No doubt about it, it’s impressive stuff and at the very least Victoria’s Road Safety Committee should receive a pat on the back for its efforts in getting this far. I’m sure we’d all like to see a little more than that, of course, and I fervently hope not only that some of these recommendations become reality but also that transport ministers the length and breadth of the land have been requesting copies of the report to study. They haven’t discovered a way to tax hope yet.
The executive summary of the report wraps it up this way: “The current situation in Victoria, in terms of motorcycle safety, is characterised by opportunities for improvement. The opportunities arise from better engaging with the motorcycle community, improving the way road safety agencies regulate motorcyclists and applying new countermeasures, new approaches and new technologies to enhance motorcycle safety. Increased motorcycle usage means that Victoria needs to take a balanced approach to regulating motorcycle safety, but act where necessary to ensure motorcycle trauma continues to reduce over time. Victoria has always been a world-leading road safety jurisdiction. That also needs to be the case for motorcyclists”.
Well, hooray. Dare I say it, it’s all beginning to look like mature, responsible government making intelligent use of its taxpayers’ dollars.
Can’t speak for you, of course, but I don’t get to say that very often.
A plug for a website: www.classic-biker.co.uk. I found this crackling little spot the other day while riffling through the pages of history online. It’s all engineered by a bloke named Roger and as you’ll see, if you pay him a visit, it’s all a bit new and still growing.
There are some movies, pictures and bags of stuff for sale including books, scale models and DVDs (via Amazon UK).
What pulled me in, however, are several pages of neatly laid out exhaust notes: a click of the mouse and you’re listening to a 500 Manx Norton growling down Glencrutchery Road during the 1963 TT, hearing Honda six-mounted Mike Hailwood, or copping an earful of Giacomo Agostini sweeping down from Kate’s Cottage (I think) to Cregny-Baa on his 1966 500 MV triple.
And it’s all free of charge.
The website says you can download these delightfully fruity noises and use them as mobile ring tones, which I wasn’t able to do. I contacted Roger and he sent me the files I asked for. He’s a thorough-going gent. I still haven’t found out how to use the noise of Gary Hocking’s ’62 500 MV snarling its way round Governor’s Bridge as a ring tone for the mobile, but I’m hoping one day to use it on a crowded train.
I’ll let you know when I do.