In 2015, Maritha was involved in an accident when a vehicle legally crossed a double white line to pass a slow-moving cyclist and give them the required 1m buffer (or 1.5m in over 60km/h zones).
Cyclist passing rule
The laws actually state that you can only cross or straddle a solid white line or painted island “if it is safe to do so”.
However, the very fact that it is allowable creates the wrong impression for drivers.
Motorists already can’t see riders, don’t want to see us or simply ignore us as no real threat to them.
They wouldn’t cross a solid line if another car was coming, but they seem willing to do so for motorcycles.
Here is a video example of a close call as a rider nearly runs head-on into a van that is over the white line on a corner because of a cyclist on the side of the road.
While Maritha’s accident was not a head-on with the overtaking vehicle, its presence on the wrong side of the road led to a chain of events that caused the crash that left her with permanent disabilities.
Maritha had the support of Australian Motorcycle Council, the Victorian Motorcycle Council, BMW Clubs Australia and others.
Legislating to protect one vulnerable road user that heightens the risk of another vulnerable road user is simply wrong, they all said.
Now, the Motorcycle Rides Association of Australia has chimed in wth the introduction of the laws in Victoria.
“This is a very dangerous law on roads like the GOR, the Black & Reefton Spurs, the St Andrews / Kinglake Road and many others,” says spokesman Damien Codognotto.
“In my opinion the police crash reports on head-on and rear-end crashes will not mention bicycles in most cases so the data will be distorted in favour of the new law being effective. That is what happens with road barrier crashes. There is no oversight or control to ensure crash data is reliable.
“Double white lines are there because it is dangerous to go on the wrong side of the road where the lines are painted. On many 80 and 100 kph roads crossing double white lines creates an extremely dangerous situation. I’ve heard of at least one head-on in Queensland in these situations.
“Then there’s the danger of coming on slow moving bicyclists and braking to slow to their speed. The car/truck behind does not brake in time and hits the back of you.”
Most motorcycle road craft courses are only as good as the training on the day, but Riders Academy by motoDNA also provides riders with the tools to improve long after their street skills day-course has finished.
I recently sent our casual reviewer James Wawne for a day course in road craft at Riders Academy held at Brisbane’s historic Lakeside Driver Training Centre.
It’s a $350 full-day course on the tight asphalt course with alternating classroom sessions followed by practical skills tests on the course.
James says the day was well run, “with an emphasis on safety balanced well with providing enough breathing room and practice iterations to push boundaries and provide real learning & tangible skill development in a safe environment”.
“The guys talked about sports psychology and their interpretation of being in a state of flow and increasing boundaries in safe increments which was useful.” he says.
Riders Academy was started by Mark “Irish” McVeigh who has been a Racer, MotoGP Engineer and a V8 Supercars Engineer.
“I’ve seen a lot of my Irish racing friends die,” he laments, giving seem credence to the adage “ride like everyone is trying to kill you.
Furthermore, Mark bases all his training courses on science and statistics, not gut feel or conspiracy theories.
So when Mark speaks, the 25 riders at the street skills course listen intently, nod in agreement and soak it in.
“The classroom sessions were instructive,” James says.
“Irish struck a nice balance between covering important elements of theory but relating it to its application and the bringing the various elements together in the real world.
“The on-track coach also pitched in with useful, practical pointers, which he then emphasised during the on-track practice sessions.”
Mark pointed out early on that 50% of all motorcycle accidents are single vehicle and that riders underestimate available grip.
I’ve heard all this before, but there is a difference in how Riders Academy courses are taught.
It’s called “flow”.
Mark learnt the theories of “flow” when he was working with the Triple 8 Red Bull V8 Supercars team in Brisbane.
Basically, it’s a learning program where you take small steps at a time, pushing yourself about 5% beyond your limits. It’s also evidence driven with science and data.
The street skills course not only takes this approach during the duration of the day, but also arms the participants with the skills to continue to stretch their goals and improve as riders long afterwards.
“The course reviewed a number of useful fundamentals and then went further than you would during the process of getting your licence,” James says.
“It underscored the importance of using reference points and using them to optimise line in terms of entry, hitting the apex and exiting corners.
“A few items that we practised of particular use which I will continue to practice included emergency braking, steering with your eyes and using peripheral vision.
“I also plan on experimenting with my position on the bike; gripping the tank with my knees while keeping core engaged and arms relaxed while shifting my weight on the bike to increase turning efficiency.”
Riders Academy by motoDNA’s street skills course teaches cornering lines, emergency braking, hazard avoidance, slow speed control, scanning for hazards and body position.
Here’s a video showing the street skills course in action at Lakeside.
While the emphasis is on safety, it’s also fun and the skills learnt can be taken to their trackSKILLS days.
Mark says their training business ground to a halt under the pandemic, but since coming back in June, they have been busier than ever.
Reporting potholes and other road damage to relevant authorities can pay off, says a long-time advocate for better road maintenance to save the lives of riders.
Rodney Brown says he reported a massive pothole on McGeorge Road, South Gisbourne, to Victorian Roads Minister Ben Carroll and was surprised to find it had then been fixed.
He says the Minister passed the information on to the Macedon Rangers Shire Council who quickly remedied the dangerous road surface.
They also relied to Rod and said “I hope I have educated our road safety decision-makers to promptly fix our roads, especially for motorcyclists”.
Rod 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”.
“Too many motorcyclists are dying on our roads throughout Victoria due to road damage not being considered,” Rod says.
In fact, 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.
Also, 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.
Rod says road authorities are expected to establish reasonable standards for road construction, inspection, maintenance and prompt repairs so that roads are suitable for all vehicles, including motorcyclists.
“Maintenance contractors have an obligation to ensure that where works are carried out on the road, these are done in a manner that ensures the safety of all roadusers, and that the road surface is correctly reinstated or altered.”
However, it is also important for riders to be involved by reporting road damage to relevant authorities.
If the issue is not fixed, at least a rider who crashes as a result the damage may be able to sue council since it had been alerted to the issue.
Australia’s internationally awarded MotoCAP motorcycle gear safety ratings service has added ratings on safety and comfort for eight jackets and eight pants to its growing list of tested products.
The new ratings brings the total number of items of clothing to 297, comprised of 125 jackets, 80 pairs of pants and 92 pairs of gloves.
Draggin Holsehot jeans top-scored on safety with four out of fives, followed by the Klim Artemis with twi stars.
Only one safety star was awarded to Merlin Route One Hardy, BME Waterproof Herren, Melbourne’s Saint Unbreakable Straight, Bull-It Easy Tactical Cargo, Triumph Urban Jeans and Macna Club.
While the Holeshot jeans performed well, MotoCAP says it could have done better if the knee and hip impact protectors were better quality.
Many of the others did not feature both sets of armour, marking them down on impact protection.
It was a similar situation in the jackets.
The new ratings for jackets can be viewed here. The new ratings for pants can be viewed here.
Deakin Uni Institute for Frontier Materials Senior Research Fellow and Honda GB400 rider Chris Hurren says there is a need for a holistic approach to safety.
He says rider jackets and pants should include proper impact protection, as well as high abrasion resistance.
Chris says many garments don’t come with impact protectors or only a few protectors.
“Some of the garments could be five star if they just had a full set of certified protectors,” he says.
“Then it’s the rider’s choice if they want to throw them away if they don’t want to wear them.”
MotoCAP is a partnership between Transport for NSW, State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), VicRoads, Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC), Lifetime Support Authority (LSA), the Department for Infrastructure and Transport, Western Australian Police: Road Safety Commission, Department of State Growth, Insurance Australia Group (IAG), Australian Motorcycle Council and Accident Compensation Corporation in New Zealand.
Testing is carried out by the Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials on behalf of the MotoCAP partners.
A rider representative group fears that a Victorian Road Toll Increase Inquiry (RTII) report will vilify riders with inaccurate representations of the danger of riding.
This follows recent police media reports in most states that point out the increase in rider deaths this year but have so far failed to acknowledge the dramatic rise in new and used motorcycle sales in the past year.
One of the biggest concerns among motorcycle riders about the automated vehicle future is the ability of these vehicles to identify them.
We have already reported on several instances of riders being hit by autonomous vehicles and authorities are now aware of the difficulties of these vehicles identifying small road users.
However, the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney is working on the answer.
They have recently developed a perception system that will detect vulnerable road users even through buildings and around a corner.
Their “collective perception messaging” (CPM) system can even dodge running pedestrians and errant joggers.
Sydney Uni Research Fellow Dr Mao Shan says their CPM system is “more tuned for dealing with pedestrians, as they are the most common type of vulnerable road user you can find on a public road”.
“So far, we have not conducted experiments that focus on the interaction between connected automated vehicles (CAVs) and motorcyclists, but this is on the list of our future plan,” he says.
Dr Shao also points out that their roadside unit managed to detect motorcyclists in previous tests in an urban traffic environment.
CPM allows an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) station – or, for example in this research, a so-called intelligent roadside unit (IRSU) – to share local perception information with others by using vehicle-to-X (V2X) communication technology. This emerging technology not only makes roads safer for motorists but also protects vulnerable road users.
The two-year study funded by the iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre involved scientists from University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR), and engineers at Australian world-leading CAV technology company and V2X pioneers Cohda Wireless.
The study involved three experiments including a controlled live roll-out in Sydney’s CBD.
The Sydney test showed how a connected vehicle using CPM sensory information from an intelligent roadside unit fitted out with high-tech gadgetry including cameras and LiDAR laser sensors was able to provide a CAV with the capability to “see” through buildings and around corners onto side streets to detect pedestrians hidden from its view.
In another test using cutting-edge CARLA autonomous driving simulation software to recreate incredibly detailed virtual worlds, the research team demonstrated how a connected autonomous vehicle using CPM took measures to safely interact with pedestrians crossing the road at a non-designated crossing area.
In the third and final test in a controlled lab traffic environment with a 55m stretch of straight road, the research team showed how a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian running to make a pedestrian crossing “although he had not physically entered the crossing yet”.
The ground-breaking findings are being reviewed for publication in the academic journal Sensors.
The ACFR team has made significant progress in urban vehicle automation during the last few years. The team was also responsible for a number of successful demonstrations of driverless cars with only built-in sensors.
Despite significant advances in sensor technology, the perception capabilities of vehicles fitted with current perception technology is ultimately bounded in range and field of view (FOV) due to sensor’s physical constraints”, Professor Eduardo Nebot from the ACFR said.
“Hidden from view objects in urban traffic environments such as buildings, trees, and other road users impose challenges in perception.
“Unfortunately, failing to maintain sufficient awareness of other road users – vulnerable road users in particular – can cause catastrophic safety consequences.”
Dr Shan says the study confirmed using CPM could improve awareness of vulnerable road users and safety for CAVs in various traffic scenarios.
“We demonstrate in the experiments that a connected vehicle can ‘see’ a pedestrian around corners,” he said.
“More importantly, we demonstrate how CAVs can autonomously and safely interact with walking and running pedestrians, relying only on the CPM information from the IRSU.
“This is one of the first demonstrations of urban vehicle automation using only CPM information.”
Research co-author and Cohda Wireless Chief Technical Officer Professor Paul Alexander said the use of CPM and V2X communication technology “can be a game changer for both human operated and autonomous vehicles”.
“CPM enables the smart vehicles to break the physical and practical limitations of onboard perception sensors, and in the meantime, to embrace improved perception quality and robustness along with other expected benefits from the CPM service and V2X communication,” Professor Alexander said.
“This could lower per vehicle cost to facilitate the massive deployment of CAV technology,” Professor Alexander said.
“As for manually driven Connected Vehicles, CPM also brings an attractive advantage of enabling perception capability without retrofitting the vehicle with perception sensors and the associated processing unit.”
iMOVE Managing Director Ian Christensen said:
“These successful demonstrations will help engineers and researchers better understand the safety implications of cooperative perception and its impact on current and future transportation systems.
“The researchers from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at The University of Sydney and the engineers from Cohda Wireless have made a significant and important breakthrough.”
Just in time for Christmas, Australia’s internationally awarded MotoCAP motorcycle gear safety ratings service has added 16 new items.
The addition of safety and comfort ratings for ten jackets and six pairs of pants brings the total number of items of clothing to 239, comprised of 115 jackets, 56 pairs of pants and 73 pairs of gloves.
In the latest round of testing, the Alpinestars GP Plus R V3 leather jacket performed well, receiving four stars for safety.
Importantly as we start summer, the RJays Samurai 3 leather jacket also performed well for both safety and breathability, scoring three out of five stars in both categories. That comfort rating is pretty good for a leather jacket.
MotoCAP is a partnership between Transport for NSW, State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), VicRoads, Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC), Lifetime Support Authority (LSA), Western Australian Police: Road Safety Commission, Department of State Growth, Insurance Australia Group (IAG), Australian Motorcycle Council and Accident Compensation Corporation in New Zealand.
Testing is carried out by the Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials on behalf of the MotoCAP partners.
A 2018 British Automobile Association survey found that while potholes cause damage to cars, they are a greater injury threat to riders with riders three times more likely to be involved in crashes caused by potholes and poor road surfaces than any other vehicle type.
A 244-page 2016 Austroads report, titled “Infrastructure Improvements to Reduce Motorcycle Casualties”, found that roads need to be better designed, funded and maintained to reduce the risk of motorcycle crashes.
And while riders are urged to report road defects, that only yields a result if the problem is promptly fixed.
If a council or state authority is informed of an issue and a crash occurs before it is fixed, then the authority is culpable.
That may yield a result in terms of compensation, but it does nothing to prevent the accident from happening.
Rodney says there need to be roving road crews available to attend major roads hazards, especially on weekends.
“If not there soon should be road crews established to do so,” he says.
“With all the talk from VicRoads and local council nothing has changed in my 50 years as far as fixing regional roads.
He says the concerns of motorcycle riders in parliament have been abandoned.
“This (pothole) is just another example where our government doesn’t think motorcycle.”
Australian riders have long been asking for a bigger say in road safety issues that affect one of the most vulnerable groups of road users … and now it looks like that may be on the road ahead.
Last month’s Joint Select Committee on Road Safety final report, Improving Road Safety in Australia, includes 22 recommendations, including a Select Committee on Road Safety with a National Motorcycle Consultative Committee.
If recommendation 12 to establish the motorcycle committee is approved it is expected to include public applications and invitations to individual riders and rider groups.
The Australian Government is reviewing all recommendations and will provide a response in the first half of 2021.
The Office of Infrastructure told us that since it has not yet been approved, the timeline and logistics of invitations and applications have not yet been formalised.
However, they did point out that the Australian Government “supports effective communication with motorcycle groups and other road user groups”.
“For example, the Australian Motorcycle Council has attended two separate road safety ministerial roundtables, in September 2019 and October 2020, hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz.
“In developing the National Road Safety Strategy 2021–30, the Office of Road Safety held targeted consultation meetings with over 50 road safety organisations, industry and non-governmental groups including the Australian Motorcycle Council.”
If recommendation 12 is approved, we will update riders on how they can apply for a seat on the committee.