Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Social Engineering

There has been a disturbing trend growing over the last 20+ years in this country which I've now started to see creeping into other countries around the world.  It is delivered by our government and thrust upon us as road safety but in reality at a base level it's nothing more than social engineering.

Year after year the government pushes the road safety message with the subtlety of a sledgehammer heavily focused on you guessed it speeding. All other road safety issues are virtually ignored unless they can be easily enforced. They constantly advertise on tv and radio with their propaganda. It's brain washing on a mass scale, fed to the populace to induce them into believing falsely that speeding is the bane of all evil.

Over the years there has been countless campaigns in this country about speeding. For those Australians reading this you'll have probably heard of most, if not all of these.
  1. Clip every trip
  2. Wipe off five(kmh)
  3. Don't Rush.
  4. Slow Down
  5. Towards Zero
  6. Ride to live
  7. Every K over is a killer.
  8. Speeding, no one thinks big of you.
  9. Everybody Hurts when you speed.
Australia is leading the world in its nanny state approach to road safety with some of the harshest speeding penalties in the world. See my previous post on Australian Speeding Fines here. There's not much focus put on any other road safety issues except drink driving. I've hardly ever heard of police targeting people for sitting in the right hand lane when the left lane is empty, the police can't really book fatigued drivers, how do you know someone is about to fall asleep at the wheel? But speeding is easily measurable, definable and very easy to police and brings in massive revenue for our cash strapped government. How much revenue? In New South Wales alone its 496 million this year and rising. Annually the Australian government pull in 1.8 billion dollars in revenue every year from speeding fines. Too hard for them to give that up, they are are addicted like a drug.

The latest campaign 'Towards Zero' video below, not specifically about speeding but road safety.

What's wrong with Zero fatalities you ask? Well nothing and everything. Firstly this Utopian idea of zero fatalities is utter bollocks, its never ever going to happen. I'd love for there to be no road deaths, really I would but I am also a realist and recognize that you cannot stop this from happening. As long as people are driving on the roads there is always going to be crashes and deaths. We are human and humans make mistakes. We fall asleep, we have medical episodes, we get distracted we make stupid mistakes, there is wildlife, people commit suicide, there are mechanical failures, mobile phones, fatigue and the list goes on. Let me repeat its never going to happen. But you can see where this is going can't you, reduced speed limits and more police to relieve us of our hard earned money as often as possible. It's already started happening on Australian roads - see link. The following roads have already had their speed limits dropped including Mt Glorious Rd, The Great Ocean Rd, The Putty Rd, Bells Line Of Road and The Great Northern Rd, the Old Pacific Hwy and the Bonang. If you cannot accept that there will be deaths on the road then you have no place being on our roads. I accept and acknowledge the risk.

The thing that gets me about this towards zero bullshit is that we as motorcyclists are the most vulnerable road users there are and there is no room in the government's vision for motorcyclists on our roads under this Towards Zero propaganda. They will want us off the roads and will introduce any measures they can think of to do it. That will come in the form of insurances and registrations that are so high that no one will be able to afford to ride and road tax collectors will crack down on motorcyclists for anything they can think of to get us off the road.

So what is the result of all these lowered speed limits and higher numbers of police on the road. You'd think that our lives would be totally safe by now but no, Australia ranks fairly poorly against several of our European counterparts. Here is a list of the fatalities per 100k people.

Road Traffic Accidents - Death Rate Per 100,000:
Sweden 2.36
United Kingdom 2.9
Norway 2.86
Switzerland 3.3
Netherlands 3.4
Denmark 3.5
Israel 3.4
Spain 3.65
Germany 3.9
Japan 4.7
France 5.1
Canada 6.0
USA 10.6

Stats courtesy Wikipedia - Link

Most of the European countries listed above have speed limits of 130kmh whilst here in Australia our national limit is 110kmh or 100kmh in 98% of places. One notable exception in Australia is the Stuart Hwy in the Northern Territory which has been speed limited to 130kmh, which I might add was brought down from an unlimited speed limit. The Northern Territory Department of Transport records only 6 fatalities from 2004 to 2014 with 62 people badly injured. None of these deaths are directly attributed to speed however, with not wearing a seatbelt accounting for 63% and alcohol accounting for 31%. This data comes from times when there was no speed limits and when the limit was 130 kmh. Statewide the Northern Territory experienced its highest total road toll of 75 deaths on 2008 when speed limits were enforced. In the 30 years from 1981 to 2010 the Northern Territory had an average of 55 fatalities a year on the road. For most of this time there was no maximum speed limit. There were more deaths in the 6 years following the decrease in the speed limit than there were in the 6 years prior with unrestricted speed limits.

European Speed Limits

We have sections of highway in this country that are built to very high standards and are quite easily the equal of Germany's autobahns. Roads like the Hume Highway, a double lane dual carriageway which stretches from Sydney to Melbourne through some 878kms of mainly remote countryside. There is no reason that the speed limit on this road couldn't be raised to 140km or even 150km to be conservative. I'm not saying make every remote country road with speed limits like this but certainly the well maintained and built ones yes. Why not that's what they have been designed for?

Fatigue is one of the major killers on Australian roads with some 20% of deaths caused by fatigue. A study from the Adelaide Centre for Sleep Research found that a person who has been awake for more than 17 hours is twice as likely to have a crash as somebody who is not fatigued. This is the same probability as a person who has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 g/100 ml. The same study showed that a person who had been awake 24 hours was equivalent to a person with a 0.1 g/100 ml blood alcohol concentration, with a crash risk of seven times higher than normal.

If we consider 3 popular Australian Interstate routes, Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Brisbane and Adelaide to Perth, taking 9 hours, 10 hours and 28 hours by increasing the limits there can be considerable time savings.

Time at
Time at 130kmh
Time at 150kmh
Time saved
At 130kmh
Time saved
At 150kmh
Syd to Melb
2.02 hrs
3.27 hrs
Syd to Bris
Adel to Perth

With the potential to have more people completing their trips within the 17 hr window of fatigue there is actually lessened chances of an accident by driving at an increased speed.

This chart below shows the road toll in Australia over the last 40+ years.

It has been in steady decline over this time but has stagnated over the last 7 years. I'm sure the government would have you think its because of their numerous safety campaigns, speed cameras and strong police presence. Indeed drink driving laws came into effect back in the 80's which has helped. I would argue and counter with this - cars have become much safer with airbags, crumple zones, stability control, ABS etc, roads have been improving over the years. What hasn't changed? People's attitudes, training and education.

What needs to Improve?

One thing that needs to change in this country is the licensing system. Our licensing system is so antiquated to the point that getting your licence here is a joke. There's an old saying that we use here that goes something like this  "Where did you get your license? Out of a cornflakes packet" It would be laughable if it wasn't so true.

To get your license here all you need to do is sit a short test which doesn't even have to be in English, although all of our road signs are in english, go out on our roads accompanied by mum or dad who has a license and learn as many bad habits as you can for a few hours(120) then a short 15 minute drive with an RTA driving tester and voila you have a license.

Seriously how can you get a license if you can't read the road signs? That is a basic ability of being on the road. You need to be able to read the signs.

How's this for a comparison, a German driver’s license requires a minimum of 25 to 45 hours of professional driving instruction plus 12 hours of theory and eight hours of first aid training. Obligatory lessons include a minimum number of lessons each driving on: the motorway Autobahn; rural areas, and in the dark.

This should also be the minimum requirement in this country. We teach people how to pass a test rather than how to drive here and it needs to change. There are far too many clueless people on our roads. Who knows maybe the road toll might be a little lower if we had better trained drivers instead of licensed incompetents.

Even these measures of increased driver training, better cars and better roads are not going to stop fatalities on our roads. They may well reduce them but you cannot stop it completely and it is utter madness or plain wishful thinking to think otherwise. The government knows this and they actually have the power to stop all speeding vehicles. How? Compliance of every new vehicle to be fitted with GPS speed limiting devices therefore there would be no more speeding vehicles but they are not going to do this. Why? Because they know if that happened their revenue stream would instantly dry up and there would still be fatalities, making the whole road safety campaign of speed kills a complete fallacy. A 1.8 billion hole in the budget is pretty hard to fill. Makes me wonder what happens if they introduce driver less cars?

Our Victorian government would have us falsely believe that every 1 kmh over the limit is a killer. Well that's great, what about then that the NT speed limit is 130kmh with a lower road toll of their Victorian counter parts and the Victorians highly police their limits with a 2kmh over the limit speed camera tolerance has one of the highest road tolls in the country?

Now I am not totally against speed limits as I support urban area limits of 50, 60, 80 and then there are 40kmh for schools zones but there is a tendency in this country to change the limit every kilometre or 2 here from 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and back again making it impossible sometimes to know exactly what speed zone you are in, but completely perfect for mr plod to empty your wallet. These need to be consolidated back to a more simplified approach. We need to protect our kids from harm with the 40kmh limits but I do believe that out of urban areas in our rural areas with little traffic limits could be raised.

How about variable speed limits on our national highways so that in good conditions limits can be higher, but during night or rain & poor visibility the limits can be reduced. No, that all makes sense but it doesn't make for good revenue so therefore our useless bureaucrats would not even entertain such useful suggestions.

With never ending government advertisements on speeding being the evil of all evils the public has become brainwashed and no longer think that there are any other problems that cause road accidents whilst they blissfully stay under the speed limit, talking on their phones and not paying attention. Who are the real menaces on the road?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Wiseman's Ferry to Broke and Putty Rd

We had an nice warm 23°C winters day and the Slomax had organized a ride for us. We left Bushpigs place around 9:30am and headed up Windsor Rd and turned off up Annandale Road and past the old Amaroo park race track which is now sadly a housing estate. A few turns here and there we ended up funny enough at Glenorie bakery with a pie and coffee in hand. Don't know how that happened but it makes me think about buying a ducati. We left not long after and headed up towards Wisemans ferry via the old northern road. We had about a 5 minute wait to get on the ferry and took the spot right at the front. The water was calm today.

Once across we made our way along the river towards mangrove mountain. Such beautiful countryside through here I just wish the road was in better condition so that it would make the ride that much more enjoyable. We turned off and headed up towards Wollombi. Just short of the town we met up with one of Stu's friends that was on our Mudgee ride last month. He warned us of 2 Hwy patrol ahead but luckily we didn't see any and refueled both bikes and ourselves in Broke.

Wombat's ahead

After lunch in broke we headed around through the lower end of the hunter valley towards the Putty rd and back down towards Sydney. It was a quiet day on the Putty, not many bikes about and no highway patrol making it an enjoyable ride.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Motorcycles that make absolutely no sense!

Motorcycle manufacturers make bikes that they think they can sell and make money from but sometimes they don't always come up with the next big thing. That's right sometimes they get it very wrong, here's a list of bikes that make no sense what so ever. What the Fuck were they thinking.

In no particular order here is a list of 10 motorcycles that the manufacturers should have fired the designer.


Ducati 906 PASO

Aprillia Futura

Suzuki Hayabusa

Victory Vision

Honda Goldwing

Harley Davidson Electra Glide

Bimota Mantra

CAM AM Spyder

Yamaha GTS

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Brass Monkey Ride

I just noticed when I was about to hit the publish button for this post that I had 299 published posts, so in 6 years of this blogging gig this is my 300th post. Who would have thought that they would let someone like me clog up the internet with all this guff? The world is a strange place I guess, so on with the clogging.

We had a ride organized over 2 months ago now and last weekend saw that middle of winter ride happen. I'm not sure that was such a good idea but it was the only chance I've had for a overnight ride in a long while.

Setting off from home at 7:30am it was a chilly 4°C and by the time I'd gotten to the meeting point in North Richmond I was feeling the cold. I had a thermal and long sleeve top under my leathers but my hands and legs and body got cold and then it was just uncomfortable. I was the first person there so I got some fuel and looked for a coffee, but the coffee machine was broken so I had to scout along the road and found a coffee shop about 150m past the petrol station. The coffee was good and it warmed up my cold hands.

By the time everyone had arrived and we left around 9:15am it was up to 12°C and was now not so cold. Heading up into the Blue Mountains I thought it would soon get cool again and it did, dropping down to 8°C in places.

Bells Line of Road
We stopped for a break and for everyone to catch up at Bell in the blue mountains before crossing over to the great western hwy and going down Mt Victoria and out towards Oberon. Oberon in winter is a very cold place and they get snow there so I'm not sure that this was thought through that well during the planning?

Riding along on Duckmaloi road we crested a curve over a hill I saw the road where it was completely covered in shadow from tree's that surrounded the road, the surface was covered in white Ice. Yep ICE across the entire road! SHIT was my first thought then I was through it and looked behind and Bushpig went through it no problem. Maybe there is something to be said for traction control after all. Speaking with Dr Kwok later he said he span up and slid through it but we had no problem luckily.
Morning Tea and coffee
Bushpig and I filled up the tanks in Oberon and the local fire brigade was having a sausage sizzle so we indulged in some of the goodness on offer. We then went looking for the other who stopped at the monkey bean cafe for coffee and morning tea. It was only 8°C in Oberon and that was after 11:30am. I said to Dr Kwok that this is now officially the Brass Monkey Ride to which he agreed.

We left and head towards Bathurst and the others fueled up in kelso on the way. The route was to take a new route rather than up to Sofala we headed on a road to the west of that up towards Hill End. The road came to a T intersection that met with the road that goes back to Sofala but we ended up just heading straight for Hill End and the Pub.
Sofala Road

The Bushpig
Hill End is a historic mining village which was settled back in the 1800's. There's is virtually no one there these days and it kind of felt like banjo country. There was one pub and one bakery and that's about it. A few houses and streets. The pub was busy when we got there though with a few people out front and back, not so many inside.

Historic Hill End

Waynes classic 996 Ducati looked like such a modern icon in this place where nothing had changed in the last 100+ years. I would like to stay here one night as it could be interesting I think.

Hill End Main Street

This captured Nazi World War 1 machine gun sits atop the cenotaph in the main street. There were quite a few names on the plaque under neath with some 4 or 6 family members from this one little area that joined the war effort.

The road out of Hill End to Mudgee is a twisty little gem that deserves a lot of respect, narrow, twisting over crests and blind hairpins its got just about everything. It was along here one of the new guys to the group had a little parking incident, nothing major and the bike was back on its wheels in no time with virtually no damage.

We stayed at the Oriental Hotel in Mudgee and the pub was quite nice, reasonably priced and with spacious rooms. We had hired the house next door and that was also quite big. A nice little pub really but lucky for us they kicked us out by midnight otherwise we could have ended up a bit messy.

The next morning some of us just made do with a continental breakfast but I felt like something a bit more substantial so we went down to the local bakery and I got a bacon and egg roll and coffee. The B&E roll was good but the coffee was that bad that I could only drink 2 mouthfuls before giving up.

We headed out towards Rylestone and turn North onto the Bylong Valley way. It looks like several bits of the road have been resurfaced since I was here last. Also some of the road had some pretty heavy pothole damage on it as well.

Still it was starting to warm up and was soon over 20°C much warmer than yesterday and it was only morning. It was supposed to get up to 26 today.

There was a little bit of a stop in Bylong for some bike maintenance, with one chain needing some tlc but by the looks of it was beyond any real help. Best could be done was to tighten it so it wouldn't come off. Yes it was very loose.


There's some beautiful scenery along the Bylong Valley Way but we were having so much fun just riding along carefree that I didn't even stop to get any decent photos. There's always a next time.

We refueled in Jerry's Plains and then took Walaby Scrub road to Bulga where we stopped at the Cockfighter Tavern. It was their last day of trading as the mine had bought the land and are expanding the mine. Sad to see really.

We continued along down the Putty road heading for home, I was wary of tax collectors along here as there have been big blitzes along here in recent months but lucky for us we didn't see any today.

All in a good weekend away with the boys with some new roads explored and new places visited. A top weekend away. Cheers lads till next time.

Map Reference