Rider and local community outrage is growing over the reduction of speeds on the famed Oxley Highway motorcycle and tourism route.
In less than two days, a petition organised by local rider Ken Healey against the speed reductions has attracted almost 4000 signatures.
Meanwhile, local business people are organising meetings with the Roads and Maritime Services, Motorcycle Council of NSW chairman Chris CJ Burns is planning to meet with the Minister Duncan Gay and local TV and newspaper media have publicised the issue and its affect on business and tourism.
So far, the speed limit reductions are only in three areas east of the ranges, but there are plans over the coming 12 months to reduce the speed on the mountains from 100km/h to 70km/h and the 110km/h section to Walcha down to 100km/h among others. (See the full list at the end of this article.)
CJ says it all not only affect the region’s tourism potential, but also business with increased travel times for goods/services and locals.
Veteran motorcycle journalist Mick Matheson, who produced the tourism video below describes the speed changes as “ridiculous because it’s hard to exceed the limit anyway, so what’s the point?”
“It will only succeed in annoying people who can safely maintain a higher average without danger,” he says.
“The police will only be able to enforce it where it’s safe (ie, straight) enough to exceed the new slow limits, so there’s no road safety benefit.
“It looks to me like another case of either revenue raising or trying to get motorcycles off that piece of road. They’ll end up with another situation like the Old Pacific Highway, where even a diesel ute driver has to constantly watch the speedo. Stupid.”
Local rider and businessman Craig Windsor says outrage is growing among the business community and is organising a meeting between local businesses affected by the changes and RMS representatives.
Motorbike Writer has also contacted several tourist operators and business people in the region who have expressed outrage with the changes, especially the fact that they were not consulted.
Toni Heaney of the popular riders’ cafe, the Walcha Royal Hotel, says they are “very concerned”.
“It came to light over a week ago and we organised an immediate appointment with Jack Ohara (Walcha Council manager) who was unaware of any changes to the Oxley speeds. He is wanting to support us in any way,” she says.
Toni says business owners along the Oxley are getting their “strategies” in place to fight the speed changes.
The issue isn’t one that just causes outrage in this region as riders come from throughout the nation to ride the famed road.
It is also an example of how great motorcycle roads in Australia are being destroyed with reduced speed limits in an apparent effort to reduce motorcycle crashes. The infamous list also includes Mt Glorious Rd, The Great Ocean Rd, The Putty Rd, Bells Line Of Road and The Great Northern Rd.
Isn’t it time we took a stand on this nanny state approach to road safety?
The RMS advises the following specific speed zone changes:
Speed zone changes implemented
- Reduced from 60km/h to 50km/h on a 2.5 kilometre section of the highway, west of Beechwood Road to the Wauchope cemetery
- Reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h on a three kilometre section of the highway, west of Bagnoo Road to Long Flat village
- Reduced from 60km/h to 50km/h through Long Flat village.
Speed zone changes in coming months
John Oxley Drive and Wrights Road
- Increase from 90km/h to 100km/h between Wrights Road and John Oxley Drive (western occurrence). This will be implemented following the completion of road upgrade work on this section expected late this year.
Long Flat to Walcha
- Mountain section – reduce from 100km/h to 70km/h for 27km
- Next section – reduce from 100km/h to 80km/h for 4km
- Reduce from 100km/h to 80km/h for 8.3km starting 75km east of Walcha township.
- Reduce from 110km/h to 100km/h for 2km starting east of Hartford Road to west of Hartford Road. This is a transition zone leading into Walcha township.
- Reduced from 80km/h to 50km/h for about 700 metres west of Alford Street on the Oxley Highway.