Tag Archives: road safety

Smart helmet calls for help after crash

Emergency call systems are coming to motorcycles and helmets with a French company the latest to release a helmet that calls for help if you crash.

The Kosmos Smart Helmet has sensors which detect a crash and then uses your paired phone and a proprietary app to contact emergency services.

However, just in case you’ve only had a small fall or dropped your helmet, the system first contacts the rider to check.

If the rider doesn’t respond to cancel within a certain time, the emergency call is placed and provides details on the riders location as well as relevant health information.

It’s not the first helmet with this technology.

Help helmets

Several other helmets that call for help after a crash are also being developed.

They include the Encephalon (Brain) from Nand Logic in the USA, the Indian-made Quin and even a Thai Helpmet. And in December, US college student Ty Uehara won $US2000 to develop his ConTekt helmet that will call emergency (911) if you have been in a crash.

Call bikes

These emergency call systems have been available in cars for some time and are now mandated throughout Europe with motorcycles and possibly helmets expected to be included in the future.

It also may not be long before it is mandated in Australia after an Austroads report last year found that motorcycles should be fitted with the automatic crash call technology to reduce emergency response times which are more lethal in our rural and remote areas.

It points out that motorcyclist deaths have remained stable in major cities over the past decade, but increased in regional and remote Australia by up to almost 50% in recent years.

BMW Motorrad was the first motorcycle company to offer an SOS button in Europe.

BMW's SOS button
BMW’s SOS button

It is not yet available in Australia because of an eCall hardware update and the lack of a nationwide rollout. Telstra also does not yet have the right hardware.

Germany tech company Bosch is the latest to join the hi-tech safety revolution.

The Bosch system uses an “intelligent crash algorithm installed in the vehicle’s inertial sensor unit” to identify a crash via the various sensors such as an accelerometer and lean sensor.

It pairs with their Help Connect phone app to send your location to a Bosch Service Centre.

All of these systems have similar failsafe

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Road safety program targets children

A new road safety program called RoadSet is targeting school children from Year Nine with plans to ramp up motorcycle awareness.

The free online interactive teaching program, launched by the Australian Road Safety Foundation, is designed to help young people become better road users.

RoadSet program

RoadSet combines original animation with “gamified” interactions to deliver engaging content in 10 modules that are age-appropriate.

ARSF founder and CEO Russell White says the Progressive Web App is a first step in teaching the next generation of road users.

Russell White - lane filtering - fatality free friday fatality free friday
Russell White

“We need to remember that safety isn’t just about drivers, but about all road users, and that includes children on bikes, skateboards, scooters or simply walking on foot,” he says.

“Our aim for RoadSet is to re-boot things in the road safety educational space and get younger road users thinking about these issues earlier.

“For example, in the module on cycling, we cover topics like wearing the right protective gear, being seen, having an awareness of what is going on around you and what other people might do that could increase risk.

“If we can embed that sort of mindset early, that same philosophy should continue on if the person starts riding a motorbike.

“As we expand the program content further, we will be adding more specific information about motorbikes.”

Kids don’t ride bicycles

Russell points out that kids these days don’t ride bicycles as much was they used to and therefore don’t have the road-craft skills nor awareness of their vulnerability when they reach the age of getting a learner’s licence.

He’s right. School bike racks used to be full in my school days. Now there is hardly a bicycle in sight!

In fact, in 1970 more than 60% of Aussie kids cycled to school and now it’s only 11%.

Parents now drive their kids to school, creating massive traffic jams in school peak hours.

Bicycle kids will become motorcyclists program
School bicycle racks in the 1950s

“Riding did teach younger road users a degree of situational awareness and some core fundamental skills. These skills did translate into later life,” Russell says.

“Not experiencing those basic things does create a learning gap and a range of additional issues that they need to process as they learn the mechanics of operating a vehicle.”

If more children rode bicycles they might not only have more awareness of motorcycles, they might also grow up to become riders themselves.

This is the basis of an American program called All Kids Bike program which is striving to get every child to learn to ride a bicycle in kindergarten PE class.

Russell says they have held discussions with high schools and community groups about RoadSet and report “fantastic feedback and really strong interest in getting involved”.

“Our goal is to reach every Year Nine student across the country,” he says.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Bull-It Tactical cargo pants tested

UK protective clothing company Covec Limited has released their Tactical range of jeans and cargo pants with a single layer of protective material.

Instead of a separate protective liner, these cargo pants are made with Covec’s “Oneskin” protective material made by re-engineering inflexible liquid crystal polymer.

Covec claim the material has abrasion resistance, is weather-proof, seam burst-resistance and low thermal conductivity so you don’t get a fraction burn as you slide down the road in a crash.

They also say they are tested to the new CE standard (17092) with AA protection and 75km/h abrasion resistance.

Despite only one layer of external protective material there is still a lightweight perforated liner that stops them sticking to your skin when you sweat. It makes them even more comfortable.

Unlike some riding pants where you have to buy the protectors separately, these come standard with CE 1621 Level 2 hip and knee protectors. They are soft and not uncomfortable.

Bull-It Tactical cargo pants tested

Australia’s MotoCAP motorcycle clothing ratings system hasn’t tested these cargo pants, but they have tested other Bull-It jeans with Covec material and rated them one and two stars for safety and three for breathability.

They would be suitable for urban and touring riding where comfort is a primary safety feature.

Tactical pants

Bull-It Tactical Cargo Pants cost $199.95 in Australia and come in black or dark blue in sizes 30-54 (Short/Regular/Long).

Some lined jeans and cargo pants are hot, heavy and uncomfortable. However, the single layer protective material makes them light and flexible for long days of comfort in the saddle.

There are seven belt loops so your belt and pants won’t separate as you lean forward over a sports bike.

Cargo pants always feature loads of pockets — hence the name “cargo”.

These feature the traditional five-pocket denim jean design (two rear pockets, two front pockets and a small coin/key pocket inside the right front pocket).Bull-It cargo pants tested

But they also have two handy thigh pockets with flaps that velcro in place and keep your valuables from falling out. They are great for storing a mobile phone or your wallet.

While I haven’t tested them in extreme heat, they are ok in mild winter conditions.

In extreme cold, they are loose enough in the leg to comfortably wear long johns underneath.

And the loose legs also allow them to be worn over bulky riding boots.

They aren’t waterproof, but are fine in showery conditions.

These pants would go well with the Bull-It Tactical Hoodie.

About Covec LtdBull-it Jeans win enterprise award

Covec Limited is the parent company of Bull-it Jeans.

In April, they received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise recognising their export success to 14 different countries in Europe, Australia, North America and New Zealand.

Covec developed their protective textile material by re-engineering inflexible liquid crystal polymer to achieve abrasion resistance, weather-proofing, low thermal conductivity and improved strength.

Covec’s material is used in sportswear, military clothing and their motorcycle clothing brand, Bull-it, which makes jeans, leggings and jackets.

It is also licensed to a variety of global brands including Triumph Motorcycles, Rokker of Switzerland, KLIM USA, RevZilla, IXS and The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Cars may soon ‘see’ riders in blind corners

Princeton University is developing an automated radar system that will detect and alert drivers and riders of oncoming traffic and pedestrians around blind corners.

Professor Felix Heide,an  assistant professor of computer science at the uni, says the system has ramifications for the safety of motorcyclists.

“We have already tested bicyclists successfully, so motorcyclists and scooter riders will also be easy to detect by our system,” he says.

The system has been tested successfully in cars, but could also be used in motorcycles.

“It would certainly be suited to be installed on motorcycles as well,” he says.

BlindFelix Heide

The system could be useful fr detecting a gaggle of cyclists just up around that next blind corner on your Sunday morning ride!

It’s not the first system for detecting smaller and more vulnerable rad users such as riders fo bicycles, motorcycles and scooters.

Volvo has developed technology that alerts drivers of cyclists and Jaguar is working on technology that makes A pillars “invisible” so drivers can see smaller road users such as riders.

While we applaud such technology, my concern is that drivers will become reliant on such technology and look for riders even less.

There is also the concern that the tech will fail.

Radar for blind corners

In the Princeton study, researchers combined artificial intelligence and radar.

The system uses Doppler radar to bounce radio waves off surfaces such as buildings and parked vehicles.

The radar signal hits the surface at an angle, so its reflection rebounds off like a cue ball hitting the wall of a pool table. The signal goes on to strike objects hidden around the corner.

Some of the radar signal bounces back to detectors mounted on the car or motorcycle, allowing the system to see objects around the corner and tell whether they are moving or stationary.

“This will enable cars to see occluded objects that today’s lidar and camera sensors cannot record, for example, allowing a self-driving vehicle to see around a dangerous intersection,” says Felix.

“The radar sensors are also relatively low-cost, especially compared to lidar sensors, and scale to mass production.”

In a paper presented June 16 at this Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), the researchers described how the system is able to distinguish objects including cars, bicyclists and pedestrians and gauge their direction and oncoming speed.

“The proposed approach allows for collision warning for pedestrians and cyclists in real-world autonomous driving scenarios — before seeing them with existing direct line-of-sight sensors,” the authors write.

In recent years, engineers have developed a variety of sensor systems that allow cars to detect other objects on the road. Many of them rely on lidar or cameras using visible or near-infrared light, and such sensors preventing collisions are now common on modern cars. But optical sensing is difficult to use to spot items out of the car’s line of sight. In earlier research, Felix’s team has used light to see objects hidden around corners. But those efforts currently are not practical for use in cars both because they require high-powered lasers and are restricted to short ranges.

Princeton University is developing an automated radar system that will detect and alert drivers and riders of oncoming traffic and pedestrians around blind corners.Car with radar and sensors

In conducting that earlier research, Felix and his colleagues wondered whether it would be possible to create a system to detect hazards out of the car’s line of sight using imaging radar instead of visible light. The signal loss at smooth surfaces is much lower for radar systems, and radar is a proven technology for tracking objects.

The challenge is that radar’s spatial resolution — used for picturing objects around corners such as cars and bikes — is relatively low. However, the researchers believed that they could create algorithms to interpret the radar data to allow the sensors to function.

“The algorithms that we developed are highly efficient and fit on current generation automotive hardware systems,” Felix says. “So, you might see this technology already in the next generation of vehicles.”

To allow the system to distinguish objects, Felix’s team processed part of the radar signal that standard radars consider background noise rather than usable information. The team applied artificial intelligence techniques to refine the processing and read the images.

Recognising small road users

Fangyin Wei, a graduate student in computer science and one of the paper’s lead authors, says the computer running the system had to learn to recognise cyclists and pedestrians from a very sparse amount of data.

“First we have to detect if something is there. If there is something there, is it important? Is it a cyclist or a pedestrian?” she says. “Then we have to locate it.”

Fangyin says the system currently detects pedestrians and cyclists because the engineers felt those were the most challenging objects because of their small size and varied shape and motion. She says the system could be adjusted to detect vehicles as well, which would include motorcycles and scooters.

The researchers plan to follow the research in a number of directions for applications involving both radar and refinements in signal processing.

The paper’s authors also include: Jürgen Dickmann, Florian Krause, Werner Ritter, and Nicolas Schiener of Mercedes-Benz AG; Buu Phan and Fahim Mannan of Algolux; Klaus Dietmayer of Ulm University; and Bernard Sick of the University of Kassel. Support for the research was provided in part by the European Union’s H2020 ECSEL program

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Motorcycle Connectivity: A Tool For Safety Or A Distraction?

(Contributor post)

The daily lives of people have always been heavily influenced by the technologies that are currently available to them. Whether it’s in the way that people are so heavily reliant on their smartphones to get them through the day, or in how people use vehicles to move from point to point efficiently is proof of how important technology is to the average person.

One piece of technology that is often heralded to be a technological leap comes in the form of the Internet of Things. Imagine a world where devices are able to share information and interact with one another. This creates a whole ecosystem similar to that of Apple and Samsung in how their devices are able to synergize with each other in order to create a seamless user experience that not only increases convenience, but also productivity. But first things first, what exactly is the Internet of Things, and how does this technology affect motorcycle safety?

The Internet of Things

Simply put, the Internet of Things refers to the concept of connecting devices to the internet. These devices can be anything from cell phones, headphones, lamps, microwaves, washing machines, etc. This interconnectivity is what allows these devices to interact with each other. Imagine opening a fridge and finding that the milk’s run out, and the fridge suggests to make an online purchase for milk. Or how a person can open their garage door, turn on lights, and heat dinner through a microwave, all while driving home from work. This interconnectivity is what allows for an unprecedented level of productivity and efficiency.

How Does This Relate To Motorcycle Safety?

Simply put, a motorcycle equipped with smart sensors can work in synergy with bio-sensors that can measure a rider’s health and it can also detect other vehicles to help reduce the risk of an accident. Data such as speed, road conditions, weather, and obstacles can be used to alert a rider of potential dangers ahead.

IoT-capable motorcycles might even be able to provide real-time diagnostics on the bike’s condition by collecting data from the bike’s sensors. A faulty part can be easily detected by the bike’s sensors, which would then prompt the bike to alert the rider that there’s something wrong with the bike. This extends to aspects of the bike such as suspension, oil levels, engine condition, etc. It can also be used by manufacturers to provide timely recall information, or to give riders a hassle-free diagnostic without the need to bring the bike to a mechanic’s garage.

The Human Factor.

While all these conveniences might sound nice, the danger here lies in the fact that riders might become too reliant on technology, and in turn, neglect the very basics of road safety. Even with all these pieces of technology, the ultimate determinant of whether a rider makes it to his destination safely will always be his decision-making skills, sobriety, and riding skill.

We should never forget that technology is merely a tool, and that it can be used or misused, just like any other tool. An overdependence on these technologies should not be a reason to have our responsibilities on the road diminished, especially considering the fact that according to these Pensacola Personal Injury attorneys, one of the leading causes of car accidents is distracted driving.

The road is especially dangerous to motorcycle riders because of the fact that motorcycles inherently have less protection than cars. While new safety tech is always good to have, riders shouldn’t rely too much on technology, especially when that piece of tech is merely in its infancy stage.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Sensory overload for Kawasaki

Kawasaki is seeking sensory overload with load, blinker, and position sensors complementing ABS and traction control to sense for “upcoming scenarios”, according to a filing with the Japanese Patent Office.

The company is not the only motorcycle manufacturer adding more and more electronic riders aids in an effort to make riding safer.

And it’s not the craziest patent Kawasaki has come up with. How about their application to replace handlebars with a fixed bar?

Is Kawasaki planning to axe handlebars?Kawasaki handlebar patent drawing

While any of the patents filed are to protect their ideas with little to no intention to produce them, this filing is more likely to find its way into production.

Sensory overload

Kawasaki hopes their sensory overload patent will detect “scenarios” such as an approaching corner or  impact with another vehicle and adjust the bike’s settings — throttle, suspension, brakes, etc.

Their sensory overload system consists of cameras, a laser sensor, satellite navigation and an array of load sensors in the seat and footpegs.Kawasaki sensory overload patent

These will sense other vehicles, line markings, roads and other physical and GPS indicators.

They work with existing throttle, speed, lean and brake sensors and feed information to a computer which will adjust various bike settings.

Interestingly the footage and seat sensors will sense how the rider is moving around on the bike.

So if you start to hang off the bike, it knows you are approaching a corner and may adjust brake, throttle and suspension.

The indicator sensor will tell the bike which direction you are going and communicate to the satnav system.

These will all be interpreted by the computer using artificial intelligence to work out what the rider is doing.

Just how much it then interferes with rider input is the big question!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Roadworks proposed for Mt Glorious Road

One of Brisbane’s most popular motorcycle roads up to Mt Glorious will receive major resurfacing plus the installation of motorcycle-specific lower rub rail barriers.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads has today provided details of the proposed updates on the Mount Glorious Road and Samford-Mount Glorious Road Route Safety Project.

Work will be carried out along sections of Samford-Mount Glorious Road (between Dawson Creek Road and Mount Glorious Road) and Mount Glorious Road (between Samford-Mount Glorious Road and Wivenhoe-Somerset Road).

In the supplied images below, orange represents resurfacing, yellow is the installation of a lower rub rail on an existing barrier and red is a new motorcycle-specific barrier.

Roadworks proposed for Mt Glorious Road

Rider concerns

The roadworks were first mooted in 2018 TMR when contacted members of the Motorcycle Advocacy Group (Qld) to advise they were starting design work on $11.3 million worth of roadworks projects in the Mount Glorious region.

Riders expressed concerns about the possibility of speed reductions and unsafe barriers in impending roadworks on Brisbane’s most famous motorcycling road.

There is no mention of further speed reductions in the proposed roadworks and the barriers are not wire rope as feared.

TMR has now completed surveying works, speed surveys and a preliminary assessment of options, taking into consideration crash history.

Proposed treatments for Samford-Mount Glorious Road include:

  • Road resurfacing;
  • linemarking improvements;
  • safety barrier upgrades with motorcycle protection rail;
  • road signage improvements; and
  • minor vegetation clearing to improve sight lines.

We expect “linemarking improvements” to mean more double white lines, which could mean no overtaking along the entire length of the road.

Sadly, there is no mention of suggested turnout lanes for slow vehicles to allow for safe overtaking.

Detailed design for Samford-Mount Glorious Road is expected to be complete in July 2020, with construction to start in late 2020, weather and construction scheduling permitting.

Mt Glorious west side

New roadworks on Mt Glorious broken legMt Glorious is glorious if the roads are in good repair!

TMR is also considering roadworks options for the western end of Mount Glorious Road between the Samford-Mount Glorious Road intersection and Wivenhoe-Somerset Road intersection.

Detailed design for this section is expected to start in August 2020.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Report slams wire rope barrier claims

Claims about the safety and cost effectiveness of wire rope barriers have been slammed by a damning report that also found Victoria’s WRB rollout is almost $100m over budget, over time and under-maintained.

The Victorian Auditor General’s report also found there was no evidence to support the claimed safety benefits for motorcycle and scooter riders.

It vindicates much of the criticism by riders skeptical of safety claims and view wire rope barriers as a particular danger to motorcyclists and scooter riders.

While the report looks at Victoria’s rollout of various “safety measures” such as rumble strips and line markings at 20 dangerous locations, it is largely focussed on wire rope barriers with ramifications for all states.

Safety claims overrated

The WRB rollout is a major part of the state’s Towards Zero Strategy that claims “flexible barriers” or WRBs would reduce run‐off‐road and head‐on “serious causality crashes” by up to 85%.

However, the auditor’s report found VicRoads did “not have strong evidence to support this statement” and found that a 46.5% reduction was “more statistically robust”.

More importantly for riders, it found that VicRoads’ crash reduction factors were based on crash data for all vehicle types, mainly cars, not motorcycles.WRB claims

The report says the VicRoads program to target 20 known danger spots contained “no information about how effective flexible barriers are for different types of road users, such as motorcyclists and heavy vehicle drivers”.

“While the Towards Zero Strategy references two studies about the effectiveness of flexible barriers for motorcyclists, neither of these studies have enough data for VicRoads to rely on.”

Maintenance and budget

The auditor’s report also found VicRoads has “failed to properly maintain and monitor the barriers it installed, which increases the risk that they will not perform as intended”.

“If flexible barriers are not properly maintained, then their effectiveness is likely to reduce,” the report states.

Truck wire rope barriers WRBsTruck demolishes wire rope barrier (Image: Seven Network)

It also says VicRoads did not sufficiently plan its flexible barrier installation projects, leading to a budget blow-out of about 22% or $99.9m.

“While flexible safety barriers save lives and reduce serious injuries on Victoria’s roads, they are not as cost‐effective as VicRoads and TAC intended,” the report found.

Australian Motorcycle Council secretary John Eacott says the report is “as damning as the Auditor General could give for a project that has always been queried by riders in Victoria”.

“From personal experience, I can confirm that VicRoads maintenance and repair of WRB relies upon public reports, and is grossly underfunded,” he says.

Motorcycle Riders Association Road Safety Committee spokesman Damien Codognotto says they predicted “the cost of VicRoads illogical fixation on road barriers, at the expense of more effective road safety measures, would prove very bad management of our roads”.

“The claim that wire rope barriers saved lives is not credible. Victorian crash data is inadequate,” he says.

“Add the cost of unnecessary deaths, injuries and property damage and it is obvious VicRoads should be held to account. Heads should roll.”


The report recommends VicRoads and the Traffic Accident Commission develop a better business case, provide “robust” statistics, source peer-reviewed evidence sources, maintain better records and conduct “better asset management maintenance repairs”.

VicRoads and TAC have accepted all recommendations and provided a detailed action plan to address them.

Meanwhile, riders can still make submissions about the perceived dangers of wire rope barriers to a Victorian inquiry into the road toll.

Submissions to the Legislative Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee will be accepted online until 30 June 2020.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Survey seeks to identify rider types

Queensland motorcycle and scooter riders are being asked to complete an online survey to help Transport and Main Roads identify rider types and develop relevant policies.

The research group running the survey, Enhance Research, has sought our assistance in reaching out to riders of registrable motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, so it excludes off-roaders, motocross, etc.

This anonymous survey only takes about 15 minutes to complete.

The research group has already held focus groups with various stakeholders including motorcycle retailers, riding and social clubs, riding schools and riders.

Rider types2016 big for official safety recalls - Sunshine Coast Black Dog Ride 1 Dayer entrapment slump

Now TMR needs to quantify those findings.

In general terms, the questionnaire asks riders about:

  • Demographics – age, gender, occupation, etc.
  • What bikes they own, number, type, capacity, etc;
  • For their main two bikes (if they have more than one), they ask for details about their use , such as frequency, distances, purpose, etc;
  • General attitudinal questions about their riding ability, bike maintenance, views about personal safety, safety gear, risk, etc; and
  • Crash and infringements history.

Questions about crash and infringements history may concern some riders, but the survey is totally anonymous and covered by the Market & Social Research Privacy Principals and Privacy Act.

Results will only be reported to TMR in aggregate form. 

Your responses go directly to Enhance Research who will analyse the information collected without the identification of individual respondents.

Enhance Research does not have access to your email address, and the company will maintain complete confidentiality of individual feedback. 

However, TMR is also offering a prize draw of five $100 GiftPay vouchers. Survey participants can choose to enter it they provide their details which are used only for the prize draw purpose.

Be quick, as the survey closes on Sunday, June 28 2020.

Please complete the survey by clicking this link.

Our view

We understand some riders may be concerned about a lack of privacy.

However, I did the survey and didn’t divulge any information that isn’t readily available, anyway.

Surely it is better for riders that the department that is making decisions that affect our riding are armed with relevant information.

Otherwise, they are making uninformed decisions that could have disastrous repercussions for riders.

In the absence of the Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland which closed in January this year it is even more important for your voice to be heard.

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