Authorities have claimed no responsibility for at least one motorcycle crash in unattended roadworks with loose gravel.
Injured rider and civil engineer Simon Miller says that in his professional opinion, the roadworks on the Great Alpine Road where he crashed were not legal.
“The company I work for does pavement design so I know the road was no good,” he says. “There is no roadworks practice that allows you to place loose gravel on the road without an alternative route or appropriate traffic control. I am motivated to bring about change to this sort of practice. I don’t want contractors to do this again.”
Simon crashed his BMW F 800 GS bike over Easter last year while riding with a friend on the Great Alpine Road in Victoria when they encountered more than 70 square metres of crushed rock left by a contractors.
“We had noticed a couple of tiny patches where they had placed loose rock on the top, but we continued on because none of it was very substantial,” he says.
“But my last memory was coming around a bend at 85km/h on a 100km/h section and seeing the crushed rock all over the corner. Luckily I had a communicator and yelled out ‘Rock!’ and the bloke behind me was able to stop in time.”
However, Simon was not as lucky, coming down heavily and rolling about 15m from his bike.
He badly injured his arm, clavicle and shoulder, and suffered a major concussion which has resulted in short-term memory loss and up to three months off work.
“There were one or two signs, but none near the accident zone,” he says.
“The police officer said the accident was 100% caused by the road being in disrepair and my witness said the same thing in an affidavit.”
However, VicRoads didn’t see it that way.
“I submitted information to VicRoads and I received a simple two-line letter back saying they had conducted a thorough investigation and found no fault, but they haven’t supplied the details of their investigations.”
Yet Simon says the police officer at the scene remained for three hours until VicRoads arrived to clean up the loose gravel.
He also says an ambulance officer claimed they had attended a couple of other motorcycle accidents in the region the same day.
“It shouldn’t ever happen, especially not on the Great Alpine Road which is a major arterial road with countless cars, motorcycles, bicycles going through that site,” Simon says.
“There was a long weekend coming up and they couldn’t be bothered to clean up the gravel.
“Numerous accidents occurred. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Simon says he doesn’t know who the local contractor was and VicRoads has not supplied any further information.