Monthly Archives: July 2016

Changes to motorcycle licencing

Queensland Transport and Main Roads (TMR) recently outlined changes to motorcycling licencing laws that will come into effect in October 2016. These form part of their ‘Motorcycle Safety Initiative’ which TMR have indicated were developed considering feedback provided by Queenslanders through the Motorcycle Licencing Discussion Paper and accompanying online survey on the Get Involved website. Other more comprehensive research and findings by organisations such as CARRS-Q were also taken strongly into consideration.

Some of these changes relate to the duration of different licences, but of high interest to us at #ridesafely4me is the proposed changes with respect to required training courses at different stages of licensing. This is because through social media and face-to-face conversations, we regularly hear riders make statements such as “It’s too easy to get your licence” and “Q-Ride doesn’t teach you enough”.

Photo of Inspector Flanders, courtesy of MotorbikeWriter.Com
Photo of Inspector Flanders, courtesy of MotorbikeWriter.Com

Inspector Pete Flanders of the Queensland Police Road Policing Command is what I consider to be an exceptionally experienced motorcyclist. Not only has Pete been riding bikes for 34 years, he has also been heavily involved in training motorcyclists from novice all the way to advanced courses for 29 years. This training includes through QPS motorcycling courses, as well as a number of years as the owner/operator of the largest privately run motorcycle training company in the state – employing 11 instructors full time. He was also a voluntary instructor for the TMR motorcycle training program for about seven years.

Because of this experience, Pete was one of the people called upon along with other industry experts to consult with TMR on exactly what changes could improve safety for motorcyclists.

I asked Pete if he would be prepared to let us know his thoughts on the pending changes. We’d like to thank Pete very much for his time in giving us the following response:

“In essence, the current Q-ride course was found wanting as it was almost an entirely skills based course and was not developmental as it progressed from learner to open license. In fact students basically did the same thing for each license, just on a bigger bike.

The new courses build on each other in a logical and staged manner to where the unrestricted course has a major focus on the headspace of riding not just a reiteration of skills. The collective courses have a significant amount of road riding and self-reflection through group interaction. They are flexible in their delivery style whilst having a reasonably strict curriculum base ensuring all students are delivered a product of high standard.

There is a program of instructor training planned such that all service delivery organisations will be trained to the same standard and will know how to deliver the training in a professional manner.

The group designing the training encompassed TMR officers skilled in program development, representatives from training organisations to give a feet on the ground perspective, RACQ and me from the QPS. The group sought to get the very best product possible influenced by the mandate dictated by the high level of motorcycle crashes over the past number of years.

In my view this is a huge step forward in motorcycle safety in Queensland”

According to TMR there will be three mandatory courses prior to obtaining an unrestricted licence. All these courses are designed to work in an integrated manner. All courses will include theory, demonstration and coaching and practical application of learned skills. Feedback, self-reflection and higher order thinking will all be key elements of the program.

  • The Pre-Learner Course will ensure riders have the skills necessary to ride a motorcycle on the road, as well as instil an understanding that learning is a continual process. This aims to encourage appropriate attitudes towards safety with the aim of reducing the likelihood of rider injury as a result of crashes.
  • The Restricted Licence Course will ensure riders have progressed since the Pre Learner Course, and now possess the skills necessary to ride unaccompanied on the road. It will be competency based, and riders will be required to demonstrate they are competent in each of the competency areas. These will include being able to demonstrate riders can safely manage both routine and more complex riding situations.
  • The Unrestricted Licence Course will not only reinforce the skills learned in earlier courses, but will also further develop the higher order cognitive skills as well as strategies to manage risk ie both hazard perception and risk taking behaviour – particularly as they relate to larger motorbikes. Once again this course will require riders to be assessed as competent in a series of identified competencies as they relate to both routine and more complex riding situations.

Of course, it is extremely important to remember that passing all three of these courses qualifies you only as a competent rider. Too many people make the mistake of believing that obtaining an unrestricted licence means that you are a good or even a great rider.

To progress from being a competent rider to a better rider takes experience and of course we strongly advocate ongoing learning through attendance at advanced courses run by reputable training instructors.

If you would like to find out more about TMR’s Motorcycle Safety Initiatives, you can visit their website here.

#ridesafely4me

10 tips on how to be a better night rider

Article written by Motorcycle Writer.

To see more interesting articles by Motorcycle Writer visit their website here

Night rider

Not many motorcyclists purposely go out for a ride at night, but it’s exhilarating and we should do it more often to brush up on our skills just in case we are caught out still riding after sunset.

One of the joys of riding is isolating yourself in a bubble of mediation. These cocooning feelings of isolation are heightened in the dark where your vision is restricted to a tunnel of headlight-lit road.

However, there are hidden dangers out there in the dark and you need to arm yourself with special skills to survive.

Here are our tips for surviving and enjoying being a night rider:

1 Vision

Obviously your vision is restricted at night. So make sure you clean your visor and/or windshield very carefully. What may look clean in the daylight could be dazzling and blinding when a car’s headlights hit it, so remove all those smears. Clean with a dedicated cleaner, but make sure you wipe it all off. If you can dim your instrument lights, that will prevent distracting glare on your windscreen and visor

Night rider

2 Yellow glasses

Some people swear by yellow-lens glasses, saying they restore the three dimensions that become flat in headlights, reduce glare, improve contrast and give you better depth perception. However, be very careful of adding any tint to an already dark situation! If you wear prescription glasses or wear goggles, you can ask for an AR coating (AR stands for anti-reflective or anti-glare). Otherwise, don’t wear glasses unless you have no visor.

Yellow galsses night riding

3 Lights

Aiding your vision is a decent spread and depth of headlights. If your standard headlights are not up to par (and they too-often aren’t), you can supplement them for more powerful units or even a brighter bulb (halogen, xenon or LED). But be aware that some people don’t see as well with these white lights. Also, be aware of the laws regarding modifying headlights. There are also different laws in varying states about adding auxiliary driving or fog lights. Usually they have to be attached to your high beam switch only and/or be on a separate switch. Fog lights can only be used legally in foggy conditions.

4 Cornering

Headlights are focussed straight ahead, so when you corner, you illuminate the outside of the corner, not the apex where you want to go. The BMW K 1600 has lights that turn into the corners and there are others such as KTM which have LED lights that light up the inside of the corner when you turn. You can also now buy aftermarket lights that illuminate the inside of a corner. But if you don’t have these, be aware that all corners at night are riddled with blind spots. So don’t use all the corner as the apex and exit could be covered in gravel, oil or water.

J.W. Speaker 8790 adaptive cornering headlights                  J.W. Speaker 8790 adaptive cornering headlights

5 Road surface

Which brings us to the road surface. Normally you scan the road surface for gravel, oil and diesel spills, water, sewer covers, potholes, bumps, ruts, etc. At night, you may not see them until it’s too late, so ride as if there are obstacles up ahead.

6 Adjust your speed

Consequently you should slow down to a speed where you can stop within the reach of your headlights. Would you ride with your eyes closed even for a few short seconds? Well, if you ride too fast to stop within your lights’ reach, then that’s exactly what you are doing!

Night rider

7 Be seen

You and your bike will be more difficult to see at night, especially if you wear black leathers and ride a dark bike. We are not advising you wear hi-vis clothes as these can actually dazzle and transfix drivers’ attention. However, a bit of reflective 3M tape and stitched items on your gear and your bike will draw a bit of extra attention. Make sure your fork and tail reflectors are cleaned and that your lights are cleaned and working properly. It’s also important to move around within your lane as your headlight will attract a bit more attention from other traffic. Never ride in another motorist’s blind spot.

8 Riding style

Because you are unaware of what is on the road ahead, you should treat the road surface as if it is wet. Check out our tips for riding in the wet here. The main tip is to be smooth – brakes, throttle and steering.

9 Pillion adjustments

If you have a pillion, it may change the level of your headlights which could dazzle other motorists. You may think that should not concern you, but if an oncoming motorists is dazzled, their natural reaction is to flash their lights at you which dazzles you! If another motorists does flash their lights, don’t look directly at them. Stare down at the road that you can see. You might even like to put your hand up or use your helmet peak (if you have one), to veil their lights.

Night rider

10 Livestock, wildlife, insects and pedestrians

If you think roos are difficult to spot in the daytime, try night time! And it’s not just wildlife you have to watch out for, but also stray stock and stray pedestrians dressed in black and staring at their mobile phones. At least animals will look at your headlights and you will spot the reflections in their retinas, so be on the lookout for those little spots of reflected light. Bugs are another nighttime animal hazard. They are attracted to your headlights and will smear your visor and windscreen, so take some baby wipes or visor cleaner and a clean rag.

 

 

Get Hooked with Helmet Hook Australia

We recently purchased a Helmet Hook from Helmet Hook Australia, so this video is how you go about installing it onto your bike handle so that you can secure your helmet on it when not riding.

 

 

Better roads reduce bike crashes

Article written by Motorbike Writer. If you would like to read more awesome stories then head over here to Motorbike Writer

Austroads Better roads report lane filtering

Roads need to be better designed, funded and maintained to reduce the risk of motorcycle crashes, a 244-page Austroads report has found.

The report, titled “Infrastructure Improvements to Reduce Motorcycle Casualties”, is the result of a two-year study to identify infrastructure improvements to reduce motorcycle crash risk and crash severity.

It says motorcycles should be identified as a separate road user group and considered as a “design vehicle” when planning and maintaining roads.

The report recommends that engineering decisions on roadworks and planning should consider motorcycles, “even if outside of existing design warrants”.

That’s great news for riders as the current trend seems to be to ignore riders when situating and selecting roadside furniture and barriers; using slippery road paint; building roads with odd cambers; and allowing shoddy, patch-up roadworks.

While the report says the road environment accounted for only 2% of motorcycle road deaths in single-vehicle crashes between 1999 and 2003, “certain road elements have the potential to contribute to the actual outcome and severity of the crash”.

It says the first step is to identify roads that pose the highest crash risk to motorcyclists, then perform safety audits.

The report recommends a raft of motorcycle-specific road modifications including:

–   install flexible but durable materials or shields underneath barriers;

Wire rope barrier better roads austroads report

–  install attenuators or energy dissipaters on posts and poles;
–  relocate trees, poles, signs and other roadside objects;
–  recommended maximums for potholes, ruts and cracks before repair is vital;
–  rapid road repair including quick removal of oil, diesel and other spills;
–  fluoro warning signage at known crash zones;
–  better-designed crash barriers (read the latest Austroads view);
–  improve road surfaces for skid resistance, road camber, badly located drains,            rough edges, etc; and
–  add advance stop lines at intersections with filtering lanes for motorcycles to
reach the front of traffic.

Lane filtering lane splitting stop lines report                                 Advanced motorcycle stop line in Spain

The Austroads report is important because all state and federal road/transport departments in Australian and New Zealand are members. Their reports are used as the basis for government policy and practice on all things related to roads and transport.

Let’s hope the bureaucrats and politicians pay attention to this important report.

However, not all is good.

Riders probably won’t like the fact that Austroads advocates lower speed zones and ABS on motorcycles, the latte possibly leading to mandatory ABS on future bikes as has happened in Europe.

Article written by Motorbike Writer. If you would like to read more awesome stories then head over here to Motorbike Writer

Motorcycle tourism a $350m business

Article written by Motorbikewriter.  If you would like to read more awesome articles then head over here to Motorbike Writer

Charley Boorman rides the Moralana Gorge Rd tourism
Charley Boorman leads a Compass Expeditions tour of Outback Australia

Motorcycle riders account for about 1% of Australian tourism which is worth about $350 million annually to the economy, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

And that doesn’t even include the multi-million-dollar costs of buying an hiring motorbikes, petrol and accessories.

A report in the Australian Financial Review says the booming motorcycle tourism industry is dominated by domestic intra-state bikers taking short, weekend rides into rural areas and staying in country hotels.

“Others do longer inter-state trips through classic touring country such as coastal and alpine roads. Then there’s the motorbike tourists who tour for several weeks or months, either in a tour group or by hiring bikes and self-guiding,” the report says.

And it says the industry is booming with motorcycle registrations up 22.3% since 2010, twice the growth rate for cars (10.4%).

It’s no news to motorcyclists, though.

Our patronage of regional Australia is vital to the existence of many rural towns.

At the launch in 2013 of Texas as the first Motorcycle Friendly Town in mainland Australia, then Queensland Government minister Lawrence Springborg said biker tourists were mainly mature-aged riders whose numbers had tripled in the past decade.

Springborg (second left) at the Texas Motorcycle Friendly Town launch tourism
Springborg (second left) at the Texas Motorcycle Friendly Town launch

“People are buying bikes in retirement and couples are getting out together,” he says.

“These bike tourist are people with a bit of money to spend. They buy expensive bikes.”

He also said they spend an average of $120 a day when they’re on the road.

“Grey nomads are very important (to local economies) but they are more self-sufficient. These guys (bikers) stay in local accommodation and have to buy all their meals.

“A few dozen people per week makes a difference to a local community. There is a multiplier effect. It becomes infectious.”

He also pointed out that it was not just an economic benefit but motorcycle clubs also did a great deal of charity work in local communities.

It is ironic that less than four months later, his government introduced the so-called anti-bikie VLAD Laws which Australian Motorcycle Business Chamber Travis Windsor estimated had cost the motorcycle and tourism industry in Queensland $5m a week in lost trade as riders stayed home in droves.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Government’s Motorcycle Tourism Strategy 2013-2016 says “motorcycle tourism has the potential to make an important contribution to the Victorian economy, particularly in regional areas. Motorcycling is the fastest growing road user sector.”

The Financial Review says “motorcyclists pump money into an economy because they are independent travellers, likely to make spur-of-the-moment decisions and pay the full rates”.

Longtime motorcycle tour guide Peter Colwell says motorcycle tourists not only have an economic impact, but also a “positive mental affect” on rural communities.

“People come out of the woodwork to talk to us, celebrities even, where are we going, how far, etc, etc. This has a positive mental effect on everyone,” he says. 

“On the tours I have done, I can often feel the good vibes left behind when we move on. In Africa it might be from a chat with a pump jockey kid who is rarely spoken to by anyone, yet when you do chat to him, you will get the biggest smile you have ever seen. You make his day. 

“I always say that we can never know where intangible positive actions start and finish. But I do know that there is nothing like a group of dusty bikers on dirty KTMs in a small remote town to lift the spirits of all those they come in contact with. 

“Enthusiasm is infectious.  And who knows where it ends?”