Debate resumed on the motion:
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) motorcycling is an environmentally friendly and fuel efficient mode of transport which is rapidly increasing in popularity in Australia;
(b) motorcyclists make up about 1 per cent of traffic but account for 16 per cent of deaths in road accidents;
(c) most motorcycle casualties involve speed and hitting a fixed object; and
(d) motorcycle groups are concerned about the safety implications of the design and location of wire rope barriers; and
(2) calls on the Government to work with the States and Territories to ensure motorcyclist safety assumes increased importance in road design
Mr HARTSUYKER (Cowper) (20:19): I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion, as motorcycling is a great sport and a great means of transport. Motorcyclists come from all walks of life, and motorcycling is increasing in popularity. There are around one million motorcyclists in Australia.
Motorcycling provides a sense of freedom on the open road that car drivers stuck in traffic can only dream of. But with that freedom comes risk, and it is for good reason that motorcyclists are considered high-risk road users. Motorcycles play a role in performing the transport task; however, this role in my view is far below the potential to move people quickly and efficiently around our gridlocked cities. Each year, despite massive investment in road infrastructure, we see congestion worsening, average speeds reduced and, as a result, travel times increased. This comes at a massive economic cost through lost productivity. In many locations much-needed infrastructure is years, if not decades, away, and the only other alternative is tollways or the public transport system, which cannot provide door-to-door solutions to our transport needs.
The potential for motorcycles to do more of the heavy lifting in the transport task of moving people quickly and efficiently around our cities is largely untapped. ABS figures indicate that 90 per cent of commuter traffic in Sydney and 91 per cent in Melbourne consists of driver-only cars. That would indicate that car-pooling seems to have failed the convenience test. As an alternative, motorcycles would seem a sensible, cost-effective option for moving people around congested areas. Added to the saving of space on our roads is the ability to save car-parking spaces in our congested CBD areas.
A factor which constrains the wider use of motorcycles is the risk of riding on a congested public road. As someone who lives in a regional area, I find riding in heavy city traffic quite challenging and a lack of rider awareness amongst car drivers astounding, if not unexpected. Making car drivers motorcycle aware would seem an important step in improving rider safety and increasing the use of motorcycles for transport purposes.
It is a telling statistic that motorcyclists represent one per cent of traffic yet make up 16 per cent of road accident fatalities. European research by the EuroRAP Motorcycle Safety Review Panel indicates that 192 motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to be killed in a road crash than car occupants and four times more likely than cyclists. According to that research, hitting a crash barrier is a factor in up to 16 per cent of rider deaths. Studies have found that barrier support posts are particularly aggressive in causing injury to motorcyclists, irrespective of the barriers’ other components. Research from other jurisdictions around the world has provided similar results to those I have listed. EuroRAP also found that motorcycle-friendly crash barrier systems have been shown to halve fatalities and offer higher rates of return. The EuroRAP Motorcycle Safety Review Panel concluded that there was clear evidence to justify focusing the attention of road engineers on whether motorcycle-friendly barrier systems should be fitted at new sites and retrofitted at existing high-risk sites. An example of this in practice occurred in France, where a huge program had been undertaken retrofitting lower rails to crash barriers at high-risk sites to prevent riders hitting the support posts. In 2001, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that safety barriers must meet safety requirements for motorcyclists. In Australia, outcomes could certainly be improved by a more proactive approach by governments, both state and federal, towards motorcycle safety initiatives.
An issue which is the subject of much discussion amongst motorcyclists is the design and location of wire rope barriers. Whilst the energy-absorbing properties of wire rope barriers have considerable benefits in accidents involving cars and light trucks, the outcome is rarely a happy one when the impact with the barrier involves a motorcycle. I raised this issue with the New South Wales state roads minister, Duncan Gay, and the minister confirmed that he was aware that motorcyclists were concerned with the safety implications of wire rope barriers. The minister quite rightly noted that the Monash University Accident Research Centre reported in 2009 that no data had been found to show that wire rope is more hazardous to motorcyclists than more rigid types of barriers—but then taking comfort from that is like believing that what you do not know will not hurt you.
The important issue here is: given the love affair of road designers with wire rope barriers, can we make them safer for motorcycles, and if so how? It is pleasing to note that the New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services are supporting research by the University of New South Wales with regard to motorcycle crashes into barriers. Given the rate of deployment of wire rope barriers, I would hope that wire rope barriers will feature prominently in this research. I note that research is continuing.
There have been some welcome developments in motorcycle safety in recent years with the development of Victoria’s strategic action plan for motorcycles. The current plan, which has been in operation from 2009, will conclude in 2013. It is also pleasing to note that, since the introduction of the Victorian motorcycle safety strategy in 2002, there has been a 20 per cent reduction in rider and pillion fatalities. New South Wales has a motorcycle safety strategy which is currently in draft form and will be released to the public in due course. Improved rider training and making car drivers more motorcycle aware would no doubt enhance safety outcomes. There were some 198 motorcycle deaths in the year ended April 2012. There is scope for substantial improvement in this statistic through greater commitment to improved safety by state and federal agencies working together.
As the number of road registered motorcycles continues to increase, the issue of motorcycle safety will assume even greater importance. Whilst governments are moving in the right direction, a million motorcyclists around the country warrant an even greater effort to ensure that two-wheel transport is as safe as it can be. By making motorcycle safety issues and motorcycle policy more generally a priority rather than an afterthought, we can achieve better safety outcomes and better transport outcomes. Policy-makers could certainly benefit from greater engagement with groups representing motorcyclists. Enhancement of the consultation arrangements currently in place can only improve outcomes. For many Australians motorcycling is a way of life and as policymakers in this House we should aim to make the motorcycling experience as safe and enjoyable as is possible.
Mr HAYES (Fowler) (20:26): I thank the member for Cowper for moving this motion. He, too, is a keen motorcyclist. I speak on this motion with a degree of vested interest, as I have been riding motorbikes now for about 30 years and, as the member for Cowper has indicated, it is certainly a way of life and something we enjoy. I know the member for Gilmore also is a motorcyclist. There is something to be said for not simply watching the scenery but being part of it. Those who actually ride do fall into that category. So for me this is a very significant matter to bring to the parliament’s attention.
I also just remind the parliament that in September this year there will be a further Wall to Wall Ride for Remembrance, which will be a ride for police officers around the country. It will take place from the Wall of Remembrance in Sydney at the Domain through to the Wall of Remembrance up here in Kings Park in Canberra. Just about every police commissioner together with a number of members from each of the jurisdictions participate. Last year I think over 1,000 bikes were part of that.
The issue about motorcycle safety is an important one to raise because there is an increasing number of motorcyclists on the road. The rate of registration of motorbikes and motor scooters in the last 12 months grew by 10 per cent. Between 2010 and 2011 the purchase of new bikes went up by 3.1 per cent. There is now in excess of 500,000 motorbikes or motor scooters on the road. Over the period that motorbike registrations grew by 3.1 per cent, car sales dropped 6.6 per cent.
I acknowledge that not everyone who gets on a motorbike or motor scooter might do it for the same reason as the member for Cowper and myself. A lot of people have taken the decision because perhaps it is more fashionable but it is also about affordability, fuel efficiency and, in our congested cities, it makes manoeuvring a lot easier and it is also easier to park. You would see on regular occasions going down Macquarie Street in Sydney or through our law courts area an extraordinary number of people who ride motor scooters either in dresses or suits and ties. It is starting to approach European proportions.
It was only a couple of years back that I, together with a MotoGP star, Chris Vermeulen, was involved with Motorcycling Australia in opening the Motorcycling Australia: Rider Safety program to decrease the number of motorcycle accidents on our roads. Whilst we might enjoy being part of the scenery, the truth is that on the roads it is dangerous. I know the issue that has been raised about wire ropes. I have raised that previously and I know that was something that was hotly discussed in a number of the bike organisations, including the Ulysses Club when I met with them. The road protection measures being installed are things that in a modern society, where we are seeing a growth of motorbikes and motor scooters, we must be conscious of. I understand the issue about the safety wires absorbing vehicle energy but if you are a motorcyclist that energy might be felt slightly differently than is felt by the fender of a modern vehicle.
The truth of the matter is there is very little protection on motorcycles—a fact I keep trying to tell my sons. There is significantly less protection and stability than in cars and, as a result, motorcyclists are 23 times more likely to be killed per kilometre travelled than an occupant of a car. They are 41 times more likely to be involved in a serious accident. This is only a little part of the story. There is also the untold grief that is felt by families and loved ones.
Wearing appropriate safety equipment is something I have always tried to drum into my kids as well. Equipment such as gloves, pants, jackets and boots is essential. Unfortunately 23 per cent of motorcyclists in Australia admit they do not always follow safety guidelines, and that in itself is a big issue. If we are going to get out there and participate in two-wheeled sport or recreation, having the appropriate protective equipment is not an optional extra. It is absolutely essential because that gear really does save lives.
It is important for society as a whole to take a proactive role in reminding everybody that, while the roads are to be shared, there are some of us that are in a more dangerous position than others. It is important to look out for those more vulnerable road users, particularly motorcyclists and those riding motor scooters because, if something happens, they are certainly more likely to be worse off than the car involved. Simple gestures like giving motorcyclists a little bit more room or checking for motorcyclists when opening the car door or even looking for them in the rear-view mirror is not a bad way to start looking out for motorbikes because sometimes the difference between life and death is very slim.
Increased focus on motorcycle safety and awareness of motorcyclists on our roads, I believe, is essential in decreasing the alarming numbers of deaths and injuries to our motorcyclists. Deaths and injuries involving motorcycles are a lot more common, regrettably, than what they should be. Motorcyclists accounted for 16 per cent of our road fatalities in 2011. Those odds are not very good. Compared to other vehicles, motorcycle crashes obviously have a much higher severity rate. Motorcycle crashes represent 6.4 per cent of all crashes recorded but, as indicated, 16 per cent of all fatalities and 10.5 per cent of all persons injured.
We are not going to turn the clock back; we are not going to say that it is not wise to get on a motorbike.
We are not going to be able to say that in our bigger and more congested cities that the two-wheel option is not a way to go. The appropriate way to go in a modern economy such as ours is to look at the integration of transport. Motorbikes and motor scooters are an integral part of that modern society. I spoke of people around Macquarie Street, Pitt Street and George Street in Sydney and—I imagine it is the same in Melbourne—in our congested cities the two-wheeled option is something that people are being very much attracted to. That trend will not be reversing. Our transport planners and road safety planners need now to take into account the two-wheel option, which is so readily available to people. Two wheels are more affordable and more fuel-efficient than four. In manoeuvrability and in the access to parking, motorcycles are second to none.
We need to have a concerted view on this. Our planners need to incorporate motorcycles and motorcycle safety into planning our road rules. I take on board the view of the member for Cowper about the wire rope safety barriers. I am not sure what the answer is to that, but there has to be a better solution than what exists at the moment. Whilst they may be an overall safety feature, they are pretty deleterious when it comes to an accident involving a motorcycle. But, once again, I do thank the member for Cowper for raising this. I think it shows his commitment to motorcycle safety, which I applaud—notwithstanding the fact that he rides a Ducati and I ride a Honda! I am sure we always stay well within the road rules, particularly the appropriate speeds, and I would recommend that to anybody who rides two wheels.
Mrs GASH (Gilmore) (20:35): A few years ago I participated in the annual Motorcycle Riders Association Toy Run in Nowra. I rode as a pillion passenger with local Vietnam veteran Danny Kennedy, and I thank him for the opportunity of the experience. We were joined on the ride by former Leader of the Opposition Dr Brendan Nelson. The ride on Danny’s three-wheeler must have triggered some long suppressed and unrequited curiosity in me, because it was not long after that that I started seriously thinking about buying my own bike once again, having ridden many years before in the days when, you might remember, if you lost your licence you could still ride your bike. However, to cut a long story short, I relented to the temptation and bought a Piaggio. For those who do not know, it is a road bike with two small wheels at the front—and no, they are not training wheels! Being a member of the Ulysses Club, I fully subscribe to growing old disgracefully. My only disappointment is that I did not get the chance to ride as often as I would like.
So, speaking to this motion, I am confident in saying that I speak from personal experience. The motion cites a few brief accident statistics and illustrates the vulnerability of motorcycle riders. Between 1998 and 2008 there has been around a 60 per cent increase in motorcycle registrations nationally, an average increase of over five per cent each year. At the same time, accident fatalities involving motorcycles have risen by an average of over three per cent each year.
As an aside, on a recent visit to Indonesia I—and Mr Champion; I have forgotten his seat!—learned that one bike is built and registered every 10 seconds. Dedicated lanes for motorcycles have been set aside, and the cars have no special priority. Perhaps that is a mix we could explore here in Australia, especially with the narrow roads and lack of correct camber on many of the regional roads. In New South Wales over the last five years road crashes have actually decreased by eight per cent, whereas motorcycle crashes have risen by 17 per cent. As you have heard, in 2007 there was a small fall in the incidence rate, much of which was attributed to efforts of respective state governments. In 2004 the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Services recommended the development of a national motorcycle strategy. The 2011 Australian Transport Council report cites that motorcycles make up 16 per cent of the road fatality experience while making up only one per cent of traffic.
In 2012 we are still waiting, and the fatalities are continuing to rise. Of particular concern to motorcycles is the growing installation, as you have heard, of the wire rope safety barriers along major roads. The experience in Germany suggests that 82 per cent of motorcycle accidents involved a steel barrier. In 51 per cent of 57 cases analysed, the motorcycle impacted the barrier while it was being driven in an upright position, and 45 per cent occurred when the motorcycle slid on its side on the road surface before it struck the barrier. That alone gives me some cause for concern, not only as a politician but also as a motorcycle rider myself. According to the Motorcycle Council of New South Wales, more than four out of 10 reported motorcycle crashes are single-vehicle crashes. Each year in New South Wales almost 1,000 riders are involved in serious single-vehicle crashes, representing over one-third of all motorcycle fatalities. Almost half these accidents involve excessive speed for the conditions. This does not mean exceeding the recommended speed limit.
This motion is seeking to recognise the incidence of these accidents and to work with state administrations for a uniform code of road building to the world’s best-practice standards. Adopting a uniform national motorcycle strategy would be a good start. Much of the road work in place today is designed to cater for cars and trucks. I suppose that on a purely statistical basis that is a logical and pragmatic approach to take, but it does not take into account the vulnerability of a motorcyclist who is not encased in the added protective cocoon that a car or a truck affords. Slamming an exposed human body into a wire guard at a high speed can result in horrific consequences. This motion calls on the government to work with the states and territories to ensure that motorcycle safety assumes increased importance in road design. The motorcycle community often feels that motorcycles are misunderstood and ignored in favour of the needs of car and truck drivers. This motion sends the message that the coalition actively supports motorcycles. Supporting this motion requires no change in policy nor ending any spending commitments.
In 2008 the then Prime Minister met with the Australian Motorcycle Council and said that the government would be working to develop a national strategy to address what he called an appalling situation. The motorcycle community is still awaiting the outcome of those deliberations. In commending this motion to the government, I would hope that a degree of urgency can be attached to the undertaking of the previous Prime Minister. I encourage all politicians to go riding; it is a great way to stay in tune with yourself. So, if you see a yellow flash go by, it could just be me.
Mr MURPHY (Reid) (20:40): I thank the member for Cowper, my friend and colleague, for bringing this motion before the parliament. Sadly, I begin with the obvious statement that at the present time there are no motorcycle-friendly crash barriers. If a motorcyclist collides with a crash barrier, the likelihood is that they will be killed or severely injured on the spot. Tragically, I have become aware of needless motorcycle fatalities in Australia, including in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales, as a result of collisions with wire rope crash barriers. There was the accident that occurred a year ago on the Pacific Highway north of Taree, where a motorcyclist from Queensland collided with a wire rope crash barrier and had his leg amputated.
These days, crash barriers have been designed to reduce the severity of a crash when a car or truck leaves the carriageway. The welfare of a motorcyclist who collides with one of these barriers has not been considered. The road authorities that make the relevant decisions are usually indifferent to the needs of motorcyclists, and I believe that is because there is usually no motorcyclist representation on them.
Furthermore, sometimes road authorities have been installing the wire rope barriers inappropriately or not according to the manufacturer’s specifications, as lane separators or too close to the edge of the road—in which case they are not safe for any type of vehicle. For example, in such positions they can act as a slingshot to hurl the vehicle back into the traffic lane being used by other vehicles. Test footage available on YouTube or even from some manufacturers shows how this can happen.
The wire rope in the crash barrier usually consists of three to five ropes, each about 20 millimetres thick. The strands of the wire rope are much coarser than those used in winch cables. The wire ropes are under tension. The upper ropes pass through a hole at the top of the S-shaped supporting posts. The lower ropes are held in place by criss-crossing between the posts and are supported by pegs on the posts. Posts are spaced about two metres apart and the barriers are usually between 400 and 600 millimetres high.
Crash barriers can be classed into three types: concrete is classed as being rigid, Armco W-profile metal as semirigid and wire rope as flexible. Wire rope barriers, such as the one made by Brifen, seem to be effective in reducing the severity of crashes, as they absorb energy when cars or trucks hit them. The rigid barriers are less effective, as more of the energy of the impact is transmitted to the vehicle occupants, which results in greater injuries. This is why wire rope barriers are being installed instead of Armco or concrete barriers.
While the classifications of rigid, semirigid and flexible are relevant to car and truck crashes, they are meaningless in motorcycle impacts. Basically, there is no safe barrier for a motorcyclist because all barriers are rigid for motorcyclists. There has been little research into what constitutes a motorcycle-friendly barrier, nor how to make existing barriers less nasty in causing injury to motorcyclists. I am not aware of how or if motorcyclists are simulated in crash-testing. In fact, it seems that there are no real standards for crash-testing of barriers with regard to motorcyclists anywhere in the world. One research report, called Barriers to safety, was commissioned by the Motorcycle Council of New South Wales and can be downloaded from its website.
I believe that road authorities need to consider the needs of motorcyclists before installing crash barriers. These include: firstly, having no barrier at all in some places; secondly, placing the barrier as far away from the roadway as possible; and, thirdly, installing available products that make barriers less nasty. Funds need to be made available for research to determine what constitutes a motorcycle-friendly barrier, and the Australian Motorcycle Council should maintain its representation on the Standards Australia committee on crash barrier design. Motorcyclists have the right to use roads that are made safe to use for the most vulnerable road user, the motorcyclist. Most roadside furniture has been designed for cars and trucks, while motorcyclist safety is not taken into account. It is time to address road safety for motorcyclists, and I commend my friend the member for Cowper for bringing this matter before the parliament.
Mr CHESTER (Gippsland) (20:45): In joining the debate I must say I have been impressed by the contributions made by members on both sides. In my role as the shadow parliamentary secretary for roads and regional transport, issues of road safety are of pressing concern to me both personally and professionally.
This debate, particularly as it relates to motorcyclists, is an important one for us to have in this place. The number of motorcyclists on our roads is increasing, and, when you note that they still only make up about one per cent of the total traffic but account for 16 per cent of deaths, clearly we have a problem and clearly there are opportunities for improvement.
In my electorate of Gippsland, the motorcycling community is mixed. The local community has a very strong way of life, if you like. There are people who do it for recreation but also for commuting use. But then we have a massive influx of motorcycle riders associated with the Phillip Island Grand Prix. Every year we are inundated at least once—maybe twice, depending on the events at Phillip Island. Tragically, almost like clockwork, every year we lose people en route or returning from Phillip Island. The roads we are talking about are the Princes Highway, the Great Alpine Road and the Strzelecki Highway through Mirboo North. They are very popular motorbike routes, because they are winding and scenic. It is a way for them to get to the island and really enjoy their time getting there and returning.
Unfortunately, some of the riders perhaps mix their ambition with their ability when it comes to riding on some of these roads. When we have this debate tonight we need to be conscious (1) of building safety into the road environment but also (2) of the mutual responsibility that is placed upon motorcycle riders to ride within their own ability levels, to make sure they are not exceeding speed limits and that they are behaving appropriately. It is an important debate, and I do not stand here to chastise motorcycle riders for the freedom and the speed they enjoy as part of their recreational pursuit. But at the same time there are mutual responsibilities for all road users, to drive to the conditions, to recognise their own limitations and to abide by the speed limits.
The motion very clearly raises some important issues, particularly relating to building safety into the road environment. It is an issue that we need to think more about as a community. We have had a lot of campaigns about improving driver and rider behaviour and focusing on police enforcement, but I really think it has been an effort by governments perhaps to divert public attention away from the really big issue, which is the safety of the road environment itself. There is a lot more we can do as governments at both state and federal levels to make roads safer. The emphasis on enforcement and on driver and rider behaviour has been a way for governments to actually hand-pass some of the responsibility away from their own task, which is infrastructure costs. The simple fact is that all the assessment done in road safety over the last five years has indicated that most gains in reducing the road toll are going to come from improving the safety of the road environment, and that is something we need to all aspire to at both state and federal levels.
One of the other issues that has been touched on by previous speakers is about raising awareness among nonmotorcyclists about the other users of the road environment—the smaller users in this case, whether it be motorbikes or pushbikes. I know the member for Cowper is a keen cyclist as well; I have ridden with him, some vast distances at times. It is important that road users recognise the other road users, recognise that ‘might is not always right’, and that you have to start recognising the small users in the road environment. It is very easy when you are driving a car or driving a truck to say: ‘I did not see you. I did not see that motorbike. They were caught in a blind spot.’ Frankly, that is not a good enough excuse. ‘I did not see you’ is not a good enough excuse. We really need to look beyond the blind spot, to take a second look and make sure there is not a motorcyclist or bike rider there in that blind spot. So that issue of mutual responsibility I touched on before extends beyond motorcycle users to all road users. Drivers of cars and drivers of trucks, for example, need to take responsibility for looking for some of these smaller vehicles on the roads. In the time I have left, I just want to mention one promotion that we have done in the Gippsland area in the lead-up to things like the Superbike and the Grand Prix, and that is that we have initiated pit stops in some of our smaller towns, encouraging the motorcycle riders to take a break and get off their bikes, giving them a free helmet wash-down, getting them a free cup of coffee from the local shops and that type of thing. It is a good way of getting the riders to stop and take a break and enjoy some of the smaller towns along the way. It is something that the small communities across Gippsland have been very good at doing.
Finally, in the very brief amount of time I have left, can I just pass on my congratulations for the great achievements of Casey Stoner, a young man who has led the way in his sport and is retiring at the end of this year. We wish him well as he returns to the island in just a few months’ time. I am sure that many Australian motorcycle riders will be there to cheer him on.
Mr RIPOLL (Oxley—Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (20:50): It is a great pleasure to speak on this motion, and I commend the member for—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms O’Neill): Cowper.
Mr RIPOLL: Thank you. I commend the member for Cowper for putting this motion forward. I knew that; it just took me a second to think about it. It is a great motion, because it does draw the House’s attention to some really important issues about motorcycle riding and the inherent dangers of riding anything with two wheels, whether it is a motorbike or a pushbike, for that matter. I am lucky enough to ride both and enjoy both immensely. I think they bring a whole range of positive things to people that ride and to local communities, and they can be a really positive thing for the country as a whole. I think there are advantages in riding a motorbike, whether it is a scooter or a bigger bike. I have had all sorts of bikes in my life—some superbikes and some very large off-road bikes. Currently I ride a very nice Italian scooter, a Vespa. It is a beautiful black bike. It is absolutely lovely. From time to time I get around on a Harley-Davidson as well. I try not to admit it too often, but I do love them. They are a beautiful bike.
There are some really great things about bikes, and there are some great advantages in terms of being able to commute. They are just a cost-effective mode of transport, whether it is the motorcycle variety or just the push-cycle variety.
But there is no question that anyone who rides a bike knows the inherent danger, and it is quite serious danger. If you ever have a crash on a motorbike, even if it is on your own, your chances of a very serious injury are very high, and death is also a serious possibility. If you are in a collision with a car, a truck or another vehicle then you are going to get seriously hurt. I think the statistics bear this out. I will not go through all the statistics, because they have probably already been mentioned by a range of people, but the statistics just show that, while motorcycle riders make up a very small percentage of the total vehicles on the road, they make up a disproportionately large percentage of those people either killed or injured. I think a quarter of all accidents on motorcycles involve people aged 25 years or younger. It does not take Einstein to quickly make an assessment of the data to tell you that inexperience and big-bore, fast motorcycles are a dangerous combination. These are people who do not yet understand or do not have the depth of experience which makes an enormous difference.
These days I do not get a lot of time to ride a motorbike. It does not quite fit into our, as we always say, busy schedules. The reality of the job we do means we just do not get that much time to ride. When I do I am very conscious of what is around me. I find I am always looking at intersections way before I get there and trying to look into people’s eyes through their window to make sure they can see me. There is no point just having right of way, because right of way will mean very little when you are in the hospital. It will certainly mean very little to you or your family.
It is important that those sorts of issues are debated regularly and that we have continual improvement of our road infrastructure and continual improvement of driver and rider education. I think we are going down that path right. I think there are some really great improvements that are being made all the time. There are a number of programs that are supported by governments at state level, local government level and national level. In fact, the government has introduced the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020, which is a fantastic program looking at a whole range of issues about how you make more safety improvements from a rider perspective, from a vehicle perspective, on roads and in a whole range of other ways. We know that that does work and it can make an enormous difference.
Something that is always very close to my heart is infrastructure. If you have better roads, you have better safety. There is no question about it. In all the places where we have made those vast improvements, and the Ipswich Motorway that I have spoken about countless times—one day I will count them all—
Mr Hartsuyker: I wonder why!
Mr RIPOLL: ‘Why’ is easy: because it is, now, such a fabulous piece of infrastructure. Accidents have dropped off. Deaths on that road have been almost completely eliminated. We cannot say that nothing will happen in the future. But a safe, properly-built, 21st-century-style, modern piece of infrastructure means it is safe for all road users. No-one wants to be involved in an accident, but when you have really bad roads they really do contribute.
People have to take responsibility for their own actions as well. There are inherent dangers associated with riding very big, fast machines. People need to be responsible. They need to obey the laws of the land on all of those issues. So I commend the member for Cowper for bringing on this motion and giving us the opportunity to commend all bike riders and ask that all road users be aware of other people on the road.