A petition over the “ridiculous” speed changes was started last week by Wauchope resident Ken Healey after reading about it on Motorbike Writer and has already topped more than 5000 signatures.
Ken says the petition and a meeting he called this week between 20 local business people, local MP Melinda Pavey and the Roads and Martime Services has successfully achieved a “stay of execution” for the speed changes.
However, the fight continues and riders are encouraged to continue to sign the petition and join the motorcycle protest rally.
Ken says Melinda was “very concerned” about the impact on the businesses that serve the motorcycle tourism industry on the Oxley Highway.
The proposed speed limit changes of up to 30km/h in some places were only one of 14 recommendations in a July 2105 Oxley Highway Route Safety Review.
“The RMS were supplied with statistics they were unaware of, caught out being deceptive in relation to their own review report, but were very open to the opposition to the changes,” Ken says.
“For now, there has been a stay of execution with the RMS going back to consider the new information and the limits will remain the same. We anticipate an answer in approximately a month.”
He says residents and business people consider it “highly unlikely” they will still proceed with the reduced speed limits.
“They have met with huge community opposition which has taken them by surprise,” Ken says.
“The meeting went really well and the RMS left feeling good about it all. They were happy and think they will return again. There were no hot heads. Everyone got to say their piece of mind and ask questions.”
Tamworth MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Roads, Kevin Anderson, has also claimed a hand in halting the speed changes after holding meetings with RMS officials and NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay.
Ken says residents are now organising a motorcycle rally on November 5 or 12 with riders and supporters meeting in Walcha and Wauchope and riding to Gingers Creek with police escorts.
Stay tuned for more details on the rally.
Meanwhile, it appears the speed zones already implemented will remain, at least for now:
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.
These are the proposed speed zone changes which have now been halted:
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.
There is no word on the status of this increase in speed limit after upgrade works are completed:
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.