Dumb move to cut SMART rider training

Road safety training

The rider death toll on the Gold Coast hinterland has been steadily rising since the council-subsidised motorcycle roadcraft course was axed, leading to calls for it to be reinstated.

The Safe Motorcycle Advanced Rider Training courses was cancelled in 2012 despite winning the inaugural 2011 Australian Road Safety Awards.

It was cut over financial concerns and complaints that council was subsidising riders who were not ratepayers.

However, critics didn’t recognise the economic benefit of riders coming to the area as well as the financial impost caused by those out-of-towner riders crashing and requiring emergency assistance and local infrastructure.

Despite the financial arguments, a senior police officer, five-time world motorcycle champion Mick Doohan and at least one councillor now hope to reinstate the training courses.

The courses cost $45 and were subsidised 50% by council but were open to all riders, including those from interstate, who use the region’s roads, not just ratepayers.

Gold Coast police traffic branch officer in charge Snr Sgt Bradyn Murphy says the course had contributed to reducing the region’s motorcycle rider toll from 25 in 2007 when it began to four in 2012 when it was cut. Last year it had grown to 14.

“If it’s a matter of money for council, I’m sure people wouldn’t mind paying at least $100 when you consider what other courses cost,” he says.

“What price do you put on your life? It’s like an insurance policy.”

He says most of the crashes involve middle-aged men who didn’t know how to handle big bikes on the challenging roads of the Hinterland.

Mick Doohan was the original ambassador for the course when they were launched in 2007.

Mick Doohan training
Mick Doohan

He says rider and driver training is too expensive and needs to be subsidised.

Councillor Dawn Crichlow, who chaired the relevant committee when SMART was operating, says she hopes to reinstate the award-winning training course.

Rather than just teaching riding skills, the SMART courses – which were held fortnightly from March to September – focus on road craft and the mental approach to riding.

In 2011, Gold Coast City Council was presented with the Australian Road Safety Founder’s Award for Outstanding Achievement (Overall Award) and the Local Government Award.

The judging panel included University of NSW Road Safety chair Professor Raphael Grzebieta, international road safety expert Robert Klein and National Transport Commission senior manager Jeff Potter.

14 Comments

  1. I still have my masterclass badge after doing two of the courses and I’d happily pay a larger fee to do another. I learnt each time and it made me safer and was a fun day out. Please reinstate the program and charge more if needed, the GC businesses will benefit in the long run, and the reputation of the GC as a place for fun will be enhanced with less crashes.

  2. I did the course a number of times too and am pretty sure I was on the last Master Class. As previously stated by others I learned a lot every time in real world situations. If I want to go racing again after nearly 4 decades there are plenty of track coaching options but SMART was… smart. Real stuff in real conditions, traffic, weather, roads et al and with superb admin and training staff. If my memory serves me correct we were told in the last course I did that there had been a significant reduction in accidents and fatalities in the area since the SMART training had begun, we were also told it was to be cancelled because (again as already stated) Tom Tate stood on (one of his many emotionally driven) platform of “rate payers of the GC shouldn’t have to subsidise training for out of towners. Never to mind about the more than 45 bucks we spent in his shire while we were there. Get it back re-instated, get it subsidised, get Karen and Ian back on board, get HART back involved and reduce the road toll. Tome Tate, one just wonders and sighs. I guess Honda didn’t get on board with a free car, free trips to Japan, free tickets to sporting events.

  3. When I returned to riding after an 11 year break in 2011, this course was one of the first things that I did. Mostly to appease my concerned wife, but it was a really awesome day. I learned a lot of good habits on that day which I had forgotten or did not even learn to begin with and which I still apply to my riding today. I hope they do bring it back as it was well worth it.

  4. I did the course 4 times over the 5 years & finished the Master-class. I found each time I did it I learnt something new, even after riding over 30 years! Ian & Karen were great in their role. I would be more than happy to support any lobbying of council to re-instate the course.

  5. I never heard of the course, I am a Ulysses member and may have gone if it was mentioned in the news letters if I didn’t miss that bit. So I have a suggestion for them if it’s started up again, get the major clubs like Ulysses on board to plug it and make it some kind of event with accomodation and such. Often these courses are run in odd places at odd hours with no other benefits but the certificate at the end. So if they make it an event that attracts tourists the whingers should keep their mouths shut.

    1. The program ran for 5 years between April and September every second weekend on Saturdays and Sundays between 9am and 3pm. As the article says, it was a great success.
      Maximum number of participants were 24. The day commenced with a presentation on why the program existed. basic roadcraft and what each participant wanted to acheive. The route for the day was outlined (there were 4 pre-planned courses) different roads for varying abilities as riders were grouped on experience and bike size/type. Guest presenters from QPS. all serving motorcycle patrol officers, gave talks on the current level of crash statistics and policing objectives.
      After a short practical demonstration of slow riding bike control skills. 4 groups of up to six riders rode on Gold Coast and Northern NSW hinterland roads under the supervision of professional riding coaches.
      Riders had the opportunity to be observed and critiqued individually on their riding and group discussions at pre-planned stops would include topics on bike control, road craft and mental attitude.
      The program was advertised in the lead up to the season and periodically throughout in local press and national magazines AMCN and Two Wheels. Many rider groups and clubs in SE Qld and Northern NSW were contacted, inc Ulysses and many members of the club participated as individuals and in groups from their branch, many participating a number of times over the years.
      At a cost of $45 dollars (subsidised by GCCC) it was widely regarded as good value for money. You didn’t just get a certificate but also a hat and polo shirt, oh, and lets not forget professional coaching, hints and tips from the trainers.
      How do I know all this? I’m one of those full time professional riding coaches who rode every one of those days and not just because it’s my job. I believe in what I do because I love bikes.
      Finally. It should not be forgotten who actually made the program happen. Karen and Ian Burton from the then GCCC road safety dept. If it were not for their drive, persistence and commitment to reducing the rider crash statistics none of it would have taken place. The credit is all theirs.

        1. Thank you Mark.
          I’d love to see the program revived. In it’s final 2 seasons there were specific rides for newly licenced and returning riders in smaller more personalised groups and they were starting to prove popular.
          I believe that new riders are often just left to their own devices after ditching their L’s and P’s and many may welcome the opportunity of some post licence on road training.
          Whilst it’s great and safe to learn and practice higher levels of practical skills in off street training venues like Mt Cotton how those skills are then applied on the road are rarely followed up.

          Cheers,
          Geoff.

      1. My wife and I are in our mid-60s, and we both ride. We were privileged to do the SMART course annually for four years until it was discontinued. We support strongly Julian Bishop’s comments above, as well of those of Geoff, who would have coached us so competently. The structure of the courses was excellent and enormously practical, and we always learned from the experiences. In particular, we endorse Geoff’s remarks – Karen and Ian Burton have done a superb job producing and administering the program. We ARE rate-payers on the coast, and we encourage GCCC to consider reinstating this outstanding initiative.

    2. Well I definitely missed all the advertising and regularly reading the riding on news letter/ magazine from Ulysses. But I was reading less and riding more at the time. Sounds like a fun day and I would be happy to part with the cash if it starts up again.

  6. Looks like the police have decided it better to bombard roads with police presence. I passed 2 police cars and 7 police motorbikes between Canungra and Beechmont on Saturday. About the same number on the way back!

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