The study looked at traffic jams, parking, road rage crashes and fuel costs. Perth rated the best place in Australia for commuting at 19th, followed by Brisbane at 45th, Melbourne 55th, Adelaide surprisingly at 57th and Sydney worst 61st.
It’s not alone as cities around the world have introduced or are introducing congestion charges and bans on motorcycles not only to reduce traffic congestion but also air pollution:
Singapore has road-user charges in a CBD zone resulting in a 20% reduction in delays and plans to ban pre-2003 motorcycles throughout the city in 10 years;
Milan’s Ecopass charges all vehicles entering a designated traffic restricted zone and bans old cars and bikes that do not meet set emissions standards;
A cordon charge in Stockholm has led to 24% fewer commuter trips by car (motorcycles and scooters are exempt), with most people switching to public transport and Gothenburg following the same example;
China and Brazil are considering congestion charges in various cities;
Oregon, USA, has trialled a voluntary pay-per-mile distance charge resulting in a 22% drop in traffic in peak hours and a 91% approval by participants; and
London’s Low Emissions Zone charge has helped stabilise traffic congestion over the past decade despite population growth of 1.3 million. Motorcycles, scooters and electric vehicles are exempt, but from next month some older bikes will cop a £12.50 daily fee to access the new London Ultra Low Emissions Zone.
Vienna plans to ban all kinds of motorised vehicles, including even electric bicycles, motorcycles and scooters.
The only motorists excluded from the CBD ban are those who have a private garage in the vehicle-free zone and also have a parking permit.
Spread out over a week instead of a single day, it doesn’t have the media impact of the worldwide single-day event.
Our event is organised by motorcycle companies and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
They target riders (and inactive riders), rather showing the rest of the population that riding is a great alternative to being stuck in traffic.
There is no media event and virtually no broad-based advertising.
In contrast, the worldwide Ride to Work Day targets non-riders and seeks employer recognition and support for this form of transportation.
The focus is on increasing public and government awareness of the societally positive benefits of utility riding.
Adding motorcycles and scooters helps traffic flow better, according to Ride to Work, a non-profit advocacy organisation.
Studies have also shown that across the same distances, riders reach their destinations up to 20% faster than those using automobiles. Most motorcycles and scooters also consume less resources per kilometre than automobiles.
Ebikes or pedal-assisted electric bicycles are growing out of control in many countries, creating danger for other road users, robbing motorcyclists of parking and giving all riders a bad name.
There are now calls in Australia and around the world for regulation or registration for these vehicles.
In China it is so bad, more than 10 major cities have restricted or banned them, despite the bikes providing cheap and easy transport.
Many see them as a green transport alternative that free up the city and provide cheap transportation with some health benefits.
However, some Chinese authorities claim ebikes are dominating bike lanes, endangering bicycle, motorcycle and scooter riders as well as other motorists. They are also riding on footpaths and paying little attention to road rules.
Chinese bikes destined for Europe (Image: Electrek)
Many other countries are now finding similar problems with the burgeoning growth of ebikes and the EU has complained about China dumping bikes in Europe.
There is a fear that they will grow even faster in the post-pandemic world where people eschew public transport because of the dangers of infection.
Spokesperson David White says the current fixed-cost vehicle registration system is unfair, especially to those with multiple vehicles, while the current federal fuel excise is diminishing as vehicles become more economical.
The group wants rego axed and replaced by a state fuel levy on top of the current federal fuel levy.
“There is a need for a simple, efficient and effective way to improve road funding and a user-pays system for registered road vehicles could achieve this,” the MAG proposal says.
David White with his 2007 BMW R1200S
“A user-pays fuel levy system for internal-combustion-powered registered road vehicles could be in addition to fuel excise.”
However, they say there would still need to be a nominal annual fee for each vehicle to cover administrative costs.
“Trailers and caravans could have their registration and insurance paid through the extra use of fuel by the towing vehicle,” the proposal suggests.
“The levy could be based on zones, a higher levy in urban zones and lowest in regional and remote zones. This may also lead to a quicker uptake of electric vehicles in cities and urban areas.
“A zonal system would be fairer and more equitable as the average fuel consumption for country motorists is usually greater than the average fuel consumption of city motorists. City motorists commonly have a range of essential services close by and also have access to good public transport facilities.”
David says motorists driving and riding electric vehicles should have a user-pays system based on distance travelled via a secure tracking device that protects location privacy.
David says their proposal would “help meet the current needs of those in financial hardship, boost jobs throughout the economy, lower emissions and traffic congestion, add to the health and wellbeing of the general population and boost productivity quite significantly”.
Owners of multiple vehicles wouldn’t pay onerous rego costs per vehicle under the proposal.
“As motorcyclists, we have noticed repeatedly the omissions of motorcycles and scooters in most of the inquiries, reviews, reports and plans that deal with land transport reform and traffic congestion,” David says.
“It is also apparent that these inquiries, reviews, reports and plans do not address some of the basic needs and aspirations of private vehicle owners.
“Despite overwhelming evidence that reform of land transport is long overdue, these inquiries, reviews, reports and plans haven’t been embraced by the Australian people.”
Rodney Brown wants motorcycles and scooters t be allowed to use bicycle lanes
Long-term motorcycle advocate Rodney Brown made an application in 2015 for motorcycles and scooters to use bicycle lanes.
He is now calling for the issue to be reconsidered.
Rod does not believe motorcycles and scooters should travel in bicycle lanes for the whole of their journey.
He suggests a six-month trial where motorcyclists and scooter riders are allowed to use them only for short parts of the journey where traffic is congested, not just at intersections where they can access bike lanes now.
“This would have a number of benefits, including easing of traffic congestion, improving rider safety through reduced motorcycle and scooter crashes, better use of road space and an environmental win as a result of reduced emissions,” he says.
His initial proposal was backed by several rider advocacy groups, including the popular motorcycle riders’ rights group, Freedom Riders Australia, who would like the plan introduced nationwide.
Inactive motorcyclists who haven’t ridden for some time are being urged to ride again, especially for commuting, as the pandemic travel restrictions begin to ease across the country.
This comes as the national cycling lobby is calling for $300 million to be spent on bike lanes.
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries motorcycle manager Rhys Griffiths points out that there are about 2.1 million licensed riders in Australia and about 870,000 registered motorcycles and scooters.
That means there are about 1.2 million inactive riders with a licence, he says.
“COVID-19 has changed the way we go about our lives. Motorcycles and scooters present a clever solution to the challenges the pandemic presents,” he says.
“A motorbike might well be the best way to maintain social distance without creating congestion. Riders can avoid the contagion risks presented by public transport, while cutting commute times by lane filtering through increased traffic.
Traffic offences are understandably down as there are fewer vehicles on the road, but the lockdown is also creating lonely roads where motorists are hitting some ridiculous speeds.
We have seen several reports of high-speed police pursuits around there world, but the highest speed was clocked by a Nebraska motorcyclist at 170mph (273km/h).
The rider tried to exit an interstate but lost control of his Honda motorcycle and slid down an embankment. The state trooper dragged him out of a pool of leaked fuel and slapped him with a fine for suspicion of wilful reckless driving and flight to avoid arrest, among other offences.
Some riders in Australia are also taking advantage of the lonely roads, often with late-night and early morning high-speed runs.
It is among several relaxation measures that will be used as a test to see if the public can exercise some restraint and control.
Authorities say they will penalise flagrant abuses.
They may also penalise the rest of the community by tightening restrictions again if too many people flout the rules as we saw last week when Sydney opened beaches only to close them again after they became overcrowded.
Meanwhile, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says riding a motorcycle is exercise and therefore legal.
She says NSW Police have not booked anybody for riding a motorbike, “because that is akin to riding an exercise bike”.
The best survival tip for a bushfire is to avoid it.
Apart from the above, you can also check the automobile clubs’ websites for the relevant state, as well as transport department traffic sites.
Try searching the Facebook pages of local fire and police pages.
Of course, you can use your eyes to see where the smoke is and use your commonsense to gauge wind direction and potential fire direction.
However, don’t think you can outrun a bushfire. They can spread faster than any motorcycle can go, often jumping roadways, reducing your chance of survival.
It is not only stupid, but also unlawful to disobey a police or emergency services direction.
If you are told not to go down a road or there is a roadblock, you must not got that way.
The same goes for flood situations.
Don’t start a bushfire
Take notice of total fire ban signs and warnings as you don’t want to start a bushfire.
Fines are hefty and police have been severe in punishing offenders. Don’t expect a good-natured warning!
Riders should also be aware they can accidentally start a fire by parking their bike on dry grass or leaves.
Firefighters say about 40% of all bushfires are accidentally started by humans dropping cigarette butts, campfires, discarding bottles, sparks from machinery and motorcycles.
The catalytic convertor, which is often underneath, is the hottest part of your bike and can easily spark a fire.
Adventure riders who travel off road should take special care.
Caught in a bushfire
If you are caught in a bushfire, your phone (or EPIRB, beacon, etc) will be your best friend.
Work out where you are exactly and then contact police and emergency services to give them your location.
Park your bike behind a solid structure to block as much heat as you can.
Turn off your bike’s engine, but leave the lights and/or hazard lights on.
Stay near your bike, but not too close in case it goes up in flames.
Try to get down low, near a water source or below the level of the fire as they move faster uphill.
Also try to get upwind from a fire.
Dangers of bushfires
Riders are more vulnerable than motorists in cars because they have no air conditioning to regulate air and temperature.
The biggest dangers for riders are from smoke inhalation, low visibility and eye irritation from smoke.
Carry water with you to flush out sore eyes and to ensure you stay hydrated.
Tips to avoid dehydration in a heatwave:
Don’t drink too much alcohol the night before a ride. It has a diuretic effect which means it causes you to urinate more water than you take in which means you are losing fluid. And you can’t counteract that by drinking lots of water because most of it will go out in your urine. Obviously, don’t drink alcohol while you are riding!
Start drinking water as soon as you wake and keep sipping water right up until you get on your bike. It takes about half an hour for water to reach your muscles. Guzzling water just before a ride is not good as it can make your stomach to cramp. The Royal Flying Doctor Service which has attended dehydrated riders in the Outback, recommends carrying 10 litres of water per day! Read their Outback riding tips here.
Wear ventilated motorcycle clothing. Leathers may protect you better in a crash, but they create a “microclimate” which impairs your ability to lose heat. As a result you will produce more sweat to decrease your core temp. Instead, wear a flow-through jacket. There are heaps of options on the market. Make sure they have vents in the back so the air flows through. Also, loosen the sleeves so you get plenty of air on your wrists which have a lot of blood vessels close to the skin to effectively cool you down. However, be aware that a flow-through jacket cools you down because it is drying the sweat off your skin which can lead to dehydration. A set of Ventz up your sleeve will also keep you cool as air flows up your arms.However, don’t be fooled by your level of coolness as ventilation can also cause you to loose more water through evaporation. So you still need to keep drinking plenty of water.
Don’t be tempted to remove your jacket in the heat! Exposed skin may feel cooler, but that’s because the sweat is evaporating quicker, but that is just making you more dehydrated. And while your skin feels cool, you’ll be tricked into staying in the sun longer which leads to sunburn. That also leads to dehydration because your body needs water to repair and renew damaged skin.
Get a Camelbak or other brand of water-dispensing unit so you can continue to take small sips of water while you are riding. I’ve seen riders on GoldWings and other big tourers with cup holders so they can take slurps from a water bottle. That’s obviously not as safe as the hands-free Camelback option, but anything is better than nothing. Some people don’t like Camelbaks because the water gets hot, but the temperature of the water doesn’t affect dehydration.
Stop more often than usual and hang out in the shade or in an air-conditioned cafe. Since you are drinking lots of fluids, you will probably need to stop anyway!
While you’re stopped, have a coffee, but take it easy. No need to swear off your favourite caramel latte, but avoid excess coffee. That also goes for caffeinated drinks such as Red Bull. High levels of caffeine have a diuretic effect just like alcohol.
While having a coffee break, avoid having too many sweet cakes, donuts and muffins. Sugar can dehydrate you if it gets to very high levels in your blood. This can happen if you are a diabetic, take certain medications or have an infection or some organ diseases. Sugar causes your kidneys to produce more urine to eliminate the sugar, leading to dehydration. Likewise, don’t drink too many sugary drinks. Best to stick to plain water, real fruit juices with no added sugar or drinks such as Gatorade that replace salts and minerals lost in sweat.
We’ve talked a lot about urine and it’s important that you monitor the colour. It should be a straw colour. If it’s too dark, you are dehydrated.
Sweat also depletes your body of sodium and if it becomes too low, it can cause many of the same symptoms as dehydration. The average diet probably has enough sodium, but it’s good to have a little bit of salt on your meals or drink sports drinks that have a sodium supplement. However, beware of sports drinks with caffeine and sugar.
Aussie commuting traffic is fastest and safest in Perth and the worst in Sydney, according to a new statistical analysis of 100 major cities in the world.
The 2019 Driving Cities Index, commissioned by European car parts retailer Mister Auto, considers commuting traffic speeds, road condition, congestion, road rage, fatality rates, air pollution and costs such as parking and fuel.
Best commuting traffic
The best city for commuting traffic was Calgary in Canada, a country which had several cities in the top 10.
It was followed by Dubai, Ottawa, Bern and El Paso.
Perth was 13th, Brisbane 66th, Melbourne 83rd and Sydney 86th.
That is despite Melbourne rating much worse than Sydney for fatalities and road rage.
Canberra and Adelaide were not included as the study “focuses on the largest cities in each country”. However Mister Auto will “consider including these cities in expanded future iterations”.
Worst cities were mainly in Asia and Africa led by Mumbai in India followed by Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Kolkata in India and Lagos in Nigeria.
Prof Huggins says it would be a good idea “at least in Melbourne”.
“It would make the last bit of people’s commute much easier and safer,” he says.
“We had a very informal chat with City of Melbourne a few years ago about something similar (back then a narrow lane for single track vehicles) but as there were no regulations to cover such a lane it didn’t get to square one.”
Promote small cars and bikes
The Grattan Institute report says Australian cars are getting wider.
In the early 2000s, Aussie motorists started ditching their large sedans for hatchbacks.
However, in the past decade or more, they have swung over to SUVs and pick-ups which are much wider.
The report claims these wide vehicles are causing congestion because they limit visibility and intimidate other drivers.
They say adding a narrow lane would encourage motorists to switch to smaller cars and motorcycles and increase the capacity of roads to carry traffic.