Riders to lose Oxley speed battle?

Tex and Bundy on the Save the Oxley ride - Motorcycle Friendly Town (Photo: Keoghs Vision Photography) reprieve - blitz battle

Riders seem set to lose their battle against speed reductions on the Oxley Highway with the mountain section to decrease as much as 20km/h.

The details of the proposal have not yet been made public.

However, the Roads and Maritime Services told us their speed review along a 44km section of the Oxley Highway between Long Flat and Walcha is “being finalised”.

The review has been carried out in collaboration with key stakeholders including the Centre for Road Safety and NSW Police. In the six years to 2017, six people have lost their lives and more than 55 people injured along this section of the highway. In response to the high crash rate, additional safety measures will be announced in the coming weeks to complement improvements completed earlier this year including pull-over bays and the installation of satellite emergency phones.

Motorcycle Council of NSW secretary Steve Pearce says they were called to a meeting with the RMS last week to be told of the changes.

“It seems that RMS are determined to impose changes to speed limits on the Oxley without consultation with motorcycling or other transport bodies,” he says.

“Their justification is crash ‘data’, which is based on local Police feedback when they attend crash sites.

“What we need is a more accurate, robust method of determining and documenting why a crash occurs.

“Too often we are being told that speed is a factor, when there are so many other factors such as road condition, environmental factors, fatigue, mechanical failure, experience and training, weather etc and these factors are not being captured.

“My question is, how can we address motorcycle death and injury rates without robust accident causation data?”

Oxley Highway speed review cameras- Oxley Highway may set safety benchmark battle
Oxley Highway

Several local protestors and stakeholders have been invited to attend a meeting with the RMS to explain the changes.

It is believed the speed will drop by 20km/h on the mountain section to 80km/h.

Local rider Ken Healey who organised a protest and petition on the speed changes last year says the RMS asked him to set up a meeting with other stakeholders to hear about the changes.

Ken says his petition has attracted more than 10,000 signatures and local Mayor Peta Pinson is “all over it and right behind us in our campaign”. 

“At the moment all I know is the RMS have said they want to put up 80km/h signs before Christmas,” he says.

“I don’t know the distances either side of Gingers Creek, however this is what the meeting is about.”

The speed review is part of a $60m plan to “improve safety” on the road. Read about the other measures here.

Emergency satellite phone Oxley Highway may set safety standard battle
Emergency satellite phone on the Oxley

Speed review history

The history of the Oxley Highway speed review starts in July 2105 with the publication of the Oxley Highway Route Safety Review.

It found the highway had just over twice as high a casualty crash rate as other NSW country roads (30% v 14%).

Of the 415 casualties from 2008 to 2012 on the Oxley, the majority were drivers (49%), motorcyclists (24%) and motor vehicle passengers (21%).

Motorcycles were involved in 96 casualty crashes from 2008 to 2012 with one fatal in 2013.

Just over three quarters (78%) of all motorcycle injury crashes involved a single vehicle and more than half (56%) of the riders involved were locals.

The review made 14 recommendations including removing roadside hazards, adjusting barriers, better line-marking, improving the road, expanding mobile phone coverage and an education campaign particularly targeting riders.

It also recommended reviewing speed zones.

Guess which won!

In September 2016, temporary electronic signs were installed warning motorists of speed changes which included dropping the speed limit to 60km/h from 100km/h on the mountain stretch.Oxley highway blitz battle

Speed battle

That triggered protests by riders and many local business operators and residents concerned about delays and impact on businesses with a subsequent drop of riders and tourists.

The speed battle included a petition and protest meetings.

In response, the RMS decided to review their speed review and promised a decision by Christmas 2016.

Meanwhile, a reshuffle of the NSW ministry resulted in the Member for Oxley, Melinda Pavey, scoring the roads portfolio.

Consequently the speed review was postponed and the RMS has been promising it is being finalised for the past 11 months.

Pavey’s office says they have no comment to make “at this stage”.

Now it seems the speed battle is lost and the review is imminent. However, speed reductions may be less than initially planned. It’s a compromise that doesn’t seem to satisfy anyone!

The Oxley seems doomed to join several other great motorcycle roads in Australia with reduced speed limits.

The infamous list includes Mt Glorious Rd, The Great Ocean Rd, The Putty Rd, Bells Line Of Road and The Great Northern Rd.

Oxley Highway

The 450km highway runs east-west from Port Macquarie on the NSW central coast through Tamworth to Coonabarabran.

It includes 160km of “motorcycle nirvana” from Wauchope over the ranges to Walcha.

Veteran motorcycle journo Mick Matheson says the Oxley Highway is a road all riders should travel at least once in their lives.

He produced this video extolling its virtues.

“There are about 300 corners, the traffic is usually light, and the experience covers more than just the ride because of the character of the places you visit along the way,” he says.

The Oxley is so popular with riders, the town of Wauchope has declared itself motorcycle friendly.

Last weekend they held their first annual Moto Fest, attracting more than 1000 riders and more than 180 bikes in the show and shine.

Wauchope motorcycle friendly town Moto Fest speed battle Oxley highway

 

13 Comments

  1. Fascist morons the lot of them, I’m angry they did the same to the old pacific highway, hardly anyone rides it anymore and business in Brooklyn is suffering,business in Mooney is gone completely the same will happen along the Oxley.

  2. A travesty by small minded individuals trying to destroy motor cycling. They dropped the speed limit on the Old Pac to 60km/h years ago and there are still fatal crashes many involving cars crossing lines and having head-ons with motor cycles. It doesn’t make any difference. Driver training is more important as far as I’m concerned.

  3. As crap as this is, we bring it on ourselves. I’ve ridden the Oxley a number of times and as good as it is, it attracts the morons who treat it like a race track. Cars as well as bikes.
    Yes, it’s unfair. Yes, it seems to specifically target bikes. But the horse has bolted. 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing.
    This kind of authoritarian reaction has been predictable for some years, yet we cry foul when it happens.
    To those who have brought this on. Hang a mirror at the end of you beds and wake up to yourselves!

    1. 100% agree, with “we” being riders in general.

      I live in an area near a road that is almost motorcycling nirvana and it is, as yet, undiscovered by most motorcyclists. The most wonderful array of hills and corners, signposted from 25ks up to 75ks, and I’m reticent to even hint of it’s existence, as I’m sure that as it becomes known, it will turn into a racetrack for us motorcyclists to saturate, and the end result will be that idiots on bikes (and in cars) will crash and kill themselves, and potentially others, which will result in the authorities putting up all sorts of draconian measures to slow us down. Yes, but sorry, there are a large number of idiots amongst our ranks; the sort of rider that uses track day tyres on the Snowy Ride, we’ve all seen them.

      Call me selfish, but I want to enjoy it a bit myself before it becomes like the Oxley; and I think it really is that good. How do we regulate ourselves to ride up to a point not beyond our abilities? Stuffed if I know, but for me, it’s just simply a matter of reminding myself that usually hurts when you crash and that it takes time to heal, and it costs a lot if you do. That’s if you don’t kill yourself but I want to live another day to enjoy another ride.

      So I’ll just shut up and think of any excuse that I can to ride my secret road as often as I can, and at a pace that is both legal and safe, but a pace that still allows me to really enjoy the ride. It’s not a race, nor a track, but a public road, and I think if we could all just settle down a bit and ride a bit more sensibly, roads like this could be enjoyed at reasonable but not stupid speeds.

  4. Roads and Maritime Services says “The review has been carried out in collaboration with key stakeholders ”
    Not True.

    “RMS are determined to impose changes to speed limits on the Oxley without consultation with motorcycling or other transport bodies”
    – Motorcycle Council of NSW

  5. I totally agree with all of the above. The powers that be can lower the speed limit all they want, and they can threaten with all manner of ridiculous fines, vehicle confiscation, standing in the corner wearing a silly hat… but there will always be casualties when it comes to transportation. Whether it be on foot, horse back or the space shuttle. It’s the inherent danger that goes with it.
    The government and RMS campaign ‘ towards zero ‘ is totally impossible. As long as human beings are moving around, whether it be in or on a push bike, car, motorcycle, truck, bus … there will always be a element of risk. That’s a fact. It’s totally up to the powers that be, politicians, RMS, police to use these powers, funds and resources that they have to make travelling in this truly great country of ours safer for all. Through proper road maintenance, removing dangerous roadside obstacles, much safer roadside barriers (not armco and taught wire cables) and much better education and training for All road users.

  6. Everywere I go speeds are going down 100 forn to 80
    80 down to 70, I believe ot is purely revinue based.
    Cars and bike are safer, look at all the electronic aids yet inthe old days you could drive a okd kingseood at 100 on most roads that are now 70 or 80

  7. Maybe get a 1000 bikes together and all go fast and clog the courts. Go fast enough to not use ur license and have minimum fine. All do 85kmh for example. Civil disobedience en mass.

  8. Anyone surprised by this action by RMS are just plain ignorant. The bunch of Muppets in CoRS are completed one-eyed when they comes to this sort of thing. They have a directive given to them, they have the mantra in which to use to drive their agenda and we have zero ability to stop them. RMS is a law unto themselves and operate with complete authority that cannot be contained or controlled by politicians. It’s such a shame they don’t use this for good and actually look at making the hard decisions that with have significant impacts on improving their so called ‘crash and injury’ figures – but those decisions would be politically unpopular.
    NSW Police are fools. They’ve been drinking their own coolaid for far too long and are more ignorant than RMS is many ways. They seem to feed off each other and use this mechanism to justify their actions and ability to ignore the public they are directly impacting.
    RMS needs to be given a good kick up the arse and reined in, a shift in attitude and culture would go a long way to fixing their issues. They’ve become way too big for their boots and it’s about time they were put back into a position of serving the public not lauding it over the public with a bigger and even bigger stick. Maybe they should start pouring money and effort into Roads, training and understanding the vehicles and users of roads today.
    Police need to be called out and made to stop being lazy and start proper investigations and gathering real evidence and data. The current effort is totally unacceptable and the process they follow is self-serving, it’s not dealing with the problem and taking steps to improve things, including appropriate recommendations to RMS which mean more than reducing speed limits (which are already arbitrary and irrelevant).

  9. The end result will be a downturn in motorcycle tourism in the area. So we’ll find somewhere else to go where we don’t feel as targeted, but rides like that are few and far between. Their loss in the area, but unfortunately, that won’t affect the bureaucrats making these decisions.

    So we either:-
    1. Don’t go there.
    2. Ride the Oxley and just try and stick to the speed limit (putting up with idiots in cars tailgating you)
    3. Just do it and ride to the conditions; hang the risk of fines, loss of licence, bike confiscation etc.
    But whatever you do, don’t have a crash as it will be the fault of speed and nothing else, well assumably, based on their logic already shown. And we all know that will result in even lower speed limits.

  10. What will the nannies do if the fatal accident rate goes up?
    On racetracks motorcycle riders survive crashes at 200kph or so without injuries unless they hit something. Any impact above 30kph can result in fatal injuries and even some impacts below that speed can be fatal . So the only people who will be better off at low speed are cagers based on the theory that the cage and its crumple zones will protect them. The number of “single” vehicle motorcycle crashes probably won’t change because as we all know a good number of those single vehicle crashes are the result of a cager doing something stupid that forced the rider to crash. I was once nearly killed by a complete and utter moron in a landcrusier who was not only speeding on a dirt road but hanging his head out the window with a large camera looking backwards while negotiating a bend, had I not seen him coming in the distance I wouldn’t have been able to find a hiding spot behind a large tree that he only just avoided. With idiots like that on the road I doubt very much that lower speed limits will do anything other than make the accounts happy.

  11. So looks like all the signatures that were against this meant nothing in the long run as the bureaucrats were never going to let this one go until they won. So much for Walcha being a motorcycle friendly town. It is getting to a point now that as a motorcycle rider you can’t even go for a nice mountain ride anymore because of a few idiots that cant ride or don’t know the roads that they are riding on that cause these false statistics to target motorbike riders every time. Heavy police presence reduced speed limits all aimed mainly at bike riders & not cars? ? How about since so many people ate killed on the Major Highways we reduce all their speed limits to 60ks or 80ks also because I’m pretty damn sure there have been more crashes & deaths on those roads than the OXLEY HIGHWAY.

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