A renewed push by the state government to bring down Victoria’s road toll through a $350 million plan to upgrade 2500 kilometres of rural and regional roads may be good news for drivers.
But another group of road users argues they have been left out of the conversation when it comes to road safety.
Macedon Ranges motorcyclist and Victorian Motorcycle Council spokesman John Eacott says the flexible roadside barriers earmarked for the Calder Freeway under the government’s plan pose a serious danger to riders.
Mr Eacott, who rides his motorcycle to Bendigo via the Calder at least once a month, said it was not the wire rope safety barriers themselves but the upright supports which were most dangerous.
“The upright supports of WRSBs are designed to give way under the weight of a car or something heavier, they don’t do that for a motorbike,” he said.
“That impact goes back into the rider, the barrier stays upright and causes severe injuries to the motorcyclist.”
Mr Eacott said solid concrete or steel “Armco” barriers provided better protection for all road users, but those options were often not considered.
“There are better alternatives but unfortunately motorcyclists, as only 4 per cent of the motoring population, are considered to be the sacrificial elements,” he said.
“There doesn’t seem to be much concern given to the damage that wire rope safety barriers can do to motorcyclists.”
Mr Eacott said concrete barriers were widely used in other parts of Australia.
“You come down around Melbourne, you go all through New South Wales, and concrete barriers are used quite extensively in the middle of roads,” he said.
“They must be acceptable in those situations, why can’t they be acceptable in regional Victoria for all road users?”
Mr Eacott said while the wire rope barriers were cheaper to install in the short term, they ended up costing more over time when maintained appropriately.
“All these different barriers have their limits, we accept that, but the WRSBs seem very much driven by economics because they are cheaper to install,” he said.
“But over a 10 year period, the maintenance costs of WRSBs is actually far in excess of either Armco or concrete, so it’s a short term saving which is detrimental to the safety of motorcyclists.”
Victoria Police announced a renewed crackdown on motorcycle riders yesterday, following a spike in the number of fatalities recorded in recent months.