Saturday, 7 November 2009

Fear & Loathing on the Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road
Every motorcyclist in Victoria pays $60 extra on their motorcycle registration just to fund "nanny state" advertising like the sign below! This extra tax on motorcyclist started as a "trial" - but clearly has now become permanent.

As someone who has used the GOR safely for 35 years I resent starting my recreational ride by being subject to flawed advertising, which is funded from a tax that is fundamentally inequitable.

Guy Allen's interesting editorial on the Victorian "safety levy" here

I agree that wearing "all the gear all the time" (ATGATT) is a a pretty sensible approach for motorcyclists. However, one of the greatest threats for motorcyclists on the GOR is from tourists who are watching the scenery rather than the road, or who are not used to driving on the left side of the road. In both of these circumstances motorcyclists are put at risk as drivers cut corners and veer onto the wrong side of the road. The exuberance of youth and sheer stupidity of some motorcyclists themselves, have to be acknowledged as additional risk factors.

The sign below fails to address the root cause of problems on the GOR. I've seen no evidence at all that this sort of advertising has any affect on individual behavior. What I have seen in the past though is police use the safety theme as a justification for what boils down to virtually harassment of motorcyclists. I do not consider that singling out and pulling over motorcyclists only to do license checks repeatedly, sometimes within a few kilometers stretch of the GOR, a reasonable approach to road safety - though typically justified as a "safety blitz".

Another TAC shocking advertisement

This advertisement from SA seems closer to the target to me, but again, is there any evidence that it leads to behavior change?

Anyway, I managed to have a pretty enjoyable run early in the morning from Geelong to Skene's Creek before I traveled inland via the Otway Ranges.

Turned off to head inland here.

Near Tanybryn I saw two wedge tail eagles at close quarters which was quite spectacular - I've never seen them in the Otways before.

I got back home around lunch time, feeling invigorated from the run.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Spyder Experience

Back in May I booked a test ride on a Can Am Spyder. The Aussie importers are running an around Australia test ride promotion called the Spyder Experience.

Our ride was from the Melbourne city suburb of St Kilda. It was great fun. We had a safety briefing explaining the machine, some laps through the cones to show that we could handle the Spyder, then a 40 minute road test with a leader and a chase vehicle. The main thing that they stressed was not to lean or countersteer, turn the handlebars, stay relaxed and let the electronics package do its thing. I rode a manual with an aftermarket exhaust that enabled the 990 Rotax motor sound its best. Marty rode the semi-auto. There is no front brake lever on either model - front wheel braking is handled via the foot brake pedal.

Getting a feel for it. The ergos were great.

Ready to ride.

Here's Marty checking out the new full dress touring model. Just over $AUD40K

This was a great experience and very professionally run. There was no hard sell at all.

I guess what I took away from it was that this is a fun machine that has genuine touring ability. However, riding a Spyder is NOT like riding a motorcycle. If I were to own a Spyder, I would still need to have a normal motorcycle as well.