Tag Archives: road hazard

Rider airborne over damaged road

A Victorian rider who got airborne over a series of potholes, corrugations and ruts on a regional road says the damaged section could kill a rider and their pillion.

Rodney Brown has long campaigned over road repairs and in April last year reported a massive pothole on McGeorge Road, South Gisbourne. To his surprise, the report to Victorian Roads Minister Ben Carroll resulted in a quick fix.

He has again reported the new road problem to the Minister and is awaiting a reply. 

The incident occurred last weekend on a 100km/h stretch of Anakie-Ballan Road.

Rodney says the road has “two gigantic deep ruts, potholes, corrugations and uneven road surface longer than the length of a cricket pitch” taking up most of the lane width.

Rodney Brown Melbourne city
Rodney Brown

“It is a perfect cocktail to kill motorcycle riders and their pillion passengers, especially inexperienced riders, riding in the wet at night and on a scooter with wheels not much bigger than a car steering wheel,”he says.

Rodney says he and his motorcycle went airborne when they hit the damaged section of road. 

“I landed on the bike seat half on and half off, with my right leg coming down missing the foot peg, and my boot slightly scraping the road at 100km/h,” he says.

“My right leg then flew back into the saddlebag. Meanwhile my motorcycle landed back down on the road and veered over to the oncoming traffic lane before I was able to fully get control back. 

“I was very lucky on this occasion not to run into an oncoming vehicle or crash my bike.”

Road hazard on Anakie Road

The issue of damaged and poorly maintained roads is obviously not just relevant to Victoria, but all states and territories, particularly those where recent flooding has ruined many regional roads.

As repair teams grapple with extensive repairs following the floods, riders are advised to exercise caution in these areas.

Rodney says the design of motorcycles and scooters means they have unique dynamic stability characteristics that make them more “sensitive to changes in the shape, texture or skid resistance of the road surface, including the presence of water, potholes, ruts, poor road matching or debris on the road”.

He advises riders to report damaged roads to their local authority for the sake of their fellow riders.

A 2018 British Automobile Association survey found that riders are three times more likely to be involved in crashes caused by potholes and poor road surfaces than any other vehicle type.

It found that while potholes cause damage to cars, they are a greater injury threat to riders as they have to swerve to avoid potholes which can also cause crashes.

A World Health Organization Global status report on road safety 2018 found that the motorcycle road toll could be reduced by improving roads along with other issues such as better speed and alcohol/drug use enforcement, safer motorbikes and mandatory helmet laws.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Oil spill claims motorbike in test ride

An oil spill has claimed a BMW R Nine T Racer that was being test-ridden by a potential buyer, highlighting the lack of effective standards in fixing such spills.

Brisbane rider Robin Greenfield says his mate was interested in buying the bike so he offered him a test ride over Mt Glorious west of Brisbane.

“Probably on the last hairpin bend at the base of the mountain on the way back and down he went,” he says.

“There was kitty-litter on the bend from an oil spill. Engine guard did its thing, gear leaver not so happy.

“I saw the kitty litter on the way out but due to the way that corner is, you could not see it on the return journey.”

Oil spill claims bike in test rideRobin’s BMW (Image: Facebook)

Robin says he will be discussing the bike purchase when the repairs are made.

“He is a mate so I’m not worried; things will work out,” he says.

Apparently the kitty litter was from a crash on the previous weekend.

The incident shows the danger to riders of oil spills and the need for an approved national procedure for reporting and efficiently fixing them.

Like most states, Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads relies on reports of spills. 

They deal with major spills, usually via a contractor, while fire and emergency rescue clear up minor spills.

Dangers of oil and diesel spills

An Austroads 2015 Motorcycle In-Depth Crash Study report found that a slippery road surface accounted for 13% of single-vehicle crashes.

“There is a need to find enhanced methods for preventing and/or mitigating oil/diesel spills to better reduce the risk to motorcyclists,” it found.

Despite spills causing just 0.12% of all crashes in the UK, a 2010 Transport Research Laboratory study of spills found they were a “legitimate concern” for motorcyclists.

It estimated the value of prevention motorcycle crashes caused by oil and diesel spills was about $30m in the UK in 2008.Diesel spill transport department NSW roads traffic motorcycles spills

Ride to the conditions

We all know that we should ride to the conditions, but you never know where an oil or diesel spill will occur and they can be difficult to spot.

Diesel spills are particularly difficult to see, but if the light is right, you may see a rainbow or a dark patch.

Usually the first sign of a diesel spell is the distinctive smell. By then, it may be too late as you are in the spill and hitting the brakes could lead to a crash.

Try to roll through with smooth steering and without any throttle or brake.

Spills can be caused by motorists overfilling the full tanks of diesel cars and trucks, not putting the filler cap back on properly, failed spill devices on trucks, old vehicles leaking oil and diesel, breakdowns and crashes.Diesel spill transport department NSW roads traffic motorcycles spills

How to report a spill

If you identify a spill, you should report it immediately to the local council, or the state transport department if it is a state-controlled road.

If you have mobile phone signal, go to the local or state authority’s website and look for a hotline or 24-hour line for reporting road damage.

Otherwise, file these away in your contacts: Queensland 131 940; NSW 131 700; Victoria 131 170; Tasmania 1300 139 933; South Australia 1800 018 313; Western Australia 138 138; and NT 1800 246 199. We couldn’t find a number for the ACT, but you can lodge a report online here.

If possible, stay at the site to warn other riders and motorists until the authorities arrive.

The AustRoads report recommends methods for reducing response times to emergency clean-ups and suggested the public should “respond quickly and call emergency services when debris, including oil/diesel is observed on the roadway”.

Diesel spill transport department NSW roads traffic motorcycles spills

A NSW report, titled “Making roads more motorcycle friendly”, says “any diesel or oil spills need to be cleaned up immediately and appropriate warning signs used”.

Despite this rhetoric, response to spills by authorities in Australia seems dreadfully slow, especially on weekends when most motorcyclists are riding.

But it’s in the interests of authorities to fix spills quickly, not just to avoid litigation from crash victims, but to preserve their expensive road infrastructure!

Diesel spills degrade the asphalt surface and can cause potholes over time.

So it’s a long-term cost-saving for authorities to fix them quickly.

Be aware that oil and diesel spills on the road can take more than 100 days to completely dissipate and they can resurface during rain, so steer clear for some weeks if there has been a spill.

Most state transport department websites will have a list of spill zones to avoid.

How to fix oil and diesel spills

The 2015 AustRoads report does not recommend best practices for cleaning up an oil or diesel spill.

Consequently, authorities in each locale use different treatments.

The traditional and cheapest method is sand which can cause motorcycles to slip and crash if not cleaned up properly.

It also doesn’t absorb very well and is not suitable when it is raining.

Diesel spill transport department NSW roads traffic motorcycles spillsLook ahead for hazards such as spills

Other absorbent materials have been used such as wood chips, hay, sawdust, cork, dried corn, wool, recycled newspaper and even old telephone books!

Chemical absorbents include polyurethane, polyethylene and polypropylene which react quickly but can be environmentally unsound.

The most common used in Australia is simply called “kitty litter” and combines several of the above ingredients.

There are also surface washing agents and degreasers which are quick and don’t affect the environment.

The US EPA has also used enzyme additives that speed up biodegradation of oil and diesel, but they are expensive, slow and only work in certain climates.

Some of the interesting names for oil and diesel clean-up materials on the market include Pig Peat, Rubberizer, C.I.Agent, Oil-Dri, Green Stuff, Sphag Sorb, Spill Hound, Biozorb, and Australian product KleenSweep.

The most suitable fix is to quickly apply absorbent material followed by vigorous sweeping with a stiff brush until the diesel or oil is removed.

The used absorbent is then removed and the area inspected. Reapplication may be necessary as dried diesel and oil can become slippery again if it rains.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Rider has lucky escape in oil spill crash

An 81-year-old rider is counting his blessings after hitting an oil spill and sliding his BMW until the front wheel hung over a precipitous drop into a deep gorge.

Allan Shephard of Brisbane says he was enjoying a midweek ride on his old R 80 RT on the Sunshine Coast hinterland when the frightening incident occurred.

He says he reported the oil spill to the Main Roads Department and was surprised at how quickly they responded to fix the dangerous spill and warn other road users.

How it happened

Mary River Valley a motorcyclist’s haven Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special oil spill
Obi Obi Rd is bitumen uphill and gravel downhill

“I left Mapleton after a pie and coffee at the bakery and approaching the unsealed divided down section on Obi Obi Rd I was being pushed by a four-wheel-drive ute in a hurry,” Allan says.

“I pulled over and let him go, then proceeded fairly slowly down the gravel section.

“Midway down the top section there is a sealed section through some tight down hill corners. On a left-hand turn a bit tight and steep I hit a lengthy oil spill that covered the left hand side of the road all around the corner.

“In the instant I saw it I thought it was water on the road.

“I was under gentle brakes just to steady my speed. The old R 80 had a very quick lie down, losing the front wheel.

“The left crash bar dug in and spun the bike across the road ending with the front wheel hanging over the drop into the gorge below!

“I bumped along behind the bike, covered my left side in oil and severely scratched my new Shoei visor. I said a big ‘bugger’, I think.”

Allan says he was pleased that about 10 vehicles stopped to help.

One woman helped him pull the bike back on to the road and a truckie helped him stand the bike up in a safe place and bandaged his right hand.

Oil spill

Oil spill
Contractors clean oil spill

Allan says that on his ride home he noticed many more streaks of oil all the way to Kenilworth where “the offending vehicle turned towards Imbil”.

Concerned that another rider may not be as lucky as he was, Allan rang 000 to report the spillage.

“The 000 lady was concerned that I was ok and said she would report the hazard,” he says.

“One of the guys who witnessed my fall reported the hazard to the off-duty police officer at Kenilworth.

“He reported to me that he had gone to the Council Depot at Kenilworth to report the hazard and was told that it was not a matter for the council but for the Main Roads Department.”

Main Roads action

Allan says he is pleased to find that Main Roads had a team on site by 3.30pm to deal with the spill and erect warning signs at the top of the range.

“Well done, I would think,” he says.

“I’ve put the Main Roads Traffic Hazard reporting number (13 19 40) in my wallet for future reference.”

A Queensland Transport and Main Roads spokesperson says they “responded immediately” and their maintenance contractor applied an absorbent treatment to the oil.

Hazard warning signs were put in place and a message published on the QLDTraffic website to advise road users of works underway,” the spokesperson says.

We are continuing to monitor the site.

All state-controlled roads are regularly inspected to ensure they are safe and traffickable, however, road conditions can change quickly.

We encourage the public to report safety hazards on the road, so they can be urgently assessed.

We had not received a road hazard report for this location before this incident.”

Report hazards 

Riders are urged to report hazards on roads by contacting the relevant authority.

The problem is that it can be difficult to ascertain whether the road is controlled by a local council or the state department.

If emergency services are required due to a crash with injuries, call 000.

If Triple Zero doesn’t work, call 112. You don’t need credit on your mobile phone to call 000 or 112 as it is free.

Motorcycle Council of NSW secretary Steve Pearce has called for a phone app for riders to record and report road conditions.

Steve Pearce chairman of the Motorcycle Council of NSW Look for motorcyclists in Motorcycle Awareness Month roadside assist ignores compulsory oil spills
Steve Pearce

There are various public, transport department and motorist club apps available.

However, the best advice is to phone the local council (use Google search) or state authority first.

How to report dangerous road conditions

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Grass clippings a real risk for riders

Riders should add grass clippings to their list of road hazards and stay alert, take avoidance action and consider reporting the hazard to authorities.

Grass clippings can not only be a slip hazard for motorcyclists, especially if they get wet, but also the dry grass can blow up into a rider’s eyes, blinding them.

As the United States celebrates May as Motorcycle Awarensss Month, American rider groups are alerting other riders and authorities to the dangers of clippings on the road.

In fact, some states such as North Carolina and Pennsylvania are now considering making it illegal to blow lawn clippings on to a road.

Grass clippings illegalgrass clippings road hazard

However, it’s already illegal in Australia to dump any substance on a road that could cause injury or damage. Fines range up to more than $4000 and/or six months in jail.

Yet we continue to see clippings left on the road by lazy and negligent slashing contractors and farmers, or deliberately blown on to the road by ignorant homeowners.

Contractors and council workers cutting grass on roadsides and median strips are obliged to put out appropriate warning signs.

Riders should slow down and be alert if they see these signs, mowing or slashing equipment on the roadside, or other hints that grass has recently been cut.

They should also do their best to alert other riders either by waving to slow down or maybe posting a photo on social media.

Report hazards

Riders should also report road hazards such as grass clippings to road authorities.

Grass clippings are considered as much a road hazard by authorities as gravel, sand, oil or other substances.

You can report hazards on local roads to the relevant local council.

If the hazard is on a state road, report it to the state authorities:

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com