The Queensland Labor Government has just made the affordable worker’s transport more expensive and more difficult to access with the country’s toughest motorcycle licensing laws.
Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey says the changes are to improve the skills and safety of Queensland riders in response to a rising road toll among riders.
The reforms will be rolled out from October 2016 and include:
- An off-road practical pre-learner training and assessment course (increasing the required number of courses to obtain an R licence from two to three);
- A minimum learner licence period of three months for all learner riders;
- The extension of the minimum RE (restricted) licence period to two years;
- Removing the restriction prohibiting R licence holders from carrying a passenger for the first year; and
- A stronger emphasis on riding behaviour and higher order skills in Q-Ride courses, and greater standardisation in the course curriculum
But the changes are flawed.
Queensland already has the toughest motorcycle licensing requirements with motorists having to hold an open car licence for a year first – frankly it should be the other way around!
Extra courses and extra time on restricted licences will make it more expensive to get a motorcycle licence and prohibitive for people in the country where these training courses are sparse.
It will only force more young people to opt to ride unlicensed which is what we are seeing in the road toll statistics in Victoria where tougher graduated licensing has been introduced.
Instead of a stick approach, how about a bit of carrot?
After all, motorcycles are an affordable, green, transport alternative that will help reduce traffic jams, avoid the need for extra infrastructure, ease demand on public transport, maximise parking spaces and reduce pollution.
The extra skills tests are based on he road toll statistics, but interestingly the growth rate in crashes is actually in returned riders.
Yet there is no extra requirement for returned riders to do a course.
When it was recognised that cyclists were vulnerable road users the government demanded motorists keep a 1m gap from them.
Where’s our 1m gap? Where is some sort of education campaign to motorists to leave a gap between the lanes for legal lane filtering?
If the laws are being introduced to reduce the risks to unskilled riders, how come Queensland still allows motorists with open car licences to ride 50cc scooters without having to complete any extra training?
No doubt the tourism industry pressured the government not to change that as tourists on the Gold Coast and Cairns regularly hire these scooters to get around.
It seems no one is concerned about tourists killing themselves on the road.