Despite plenty of competition for riders at other events, some 100 bikes turned out for the Motorcycle Council of NSW (MCCNSW) Sunday ride from Berowa to Cessnock to kick off Motorcycle Awareness Month.
STORY: RODERICK EIME
The three hour, 170km ride was a gentle tour through forest and farmland via Calga and Wollombi with stops at familiar landmarks like Jerry’s Cafe at Kulnara.
Lovely as the ride was, there was a firm ‘safe riding’ message and a spot of fundraising for M.A.R.I (Motorcycle Accident Rehabilitation Initiative). Oh, and a sausage sizzle.
“Seeing the large group of motorcycles on the local roads helps the community to see motorcyclists as fun-loving people who enjoy life and care about road safety,” said Motorcycle Council of NSW treasurer Steve Pearce in the lead-up to the event.
“We want drivers to look twice for us on the road, so hopefully this will put us at front of mind and raise funds for MARI.”
Given that the Hunter Valley and its surrounding scenic feeder road network attracts many thousands of motorcycle riders every weekend, there is an understable focus on the quality of those roads and their logical connection to rider safety.
At the sausage sizzle and raffle draw, I spoke to Warren Jeffery, Cessnock City Council road safety officer, a former NSW Highway Patrol and advocate for safer roads. Of particular note, was the recent completion of extensive roadworks to remake the infamous ‘Lemming Corner’ section of the Great Northern Road at Laguna. So named by Cessnock Council for its ability to tempt riders’ fate.
“When I was in the job, we were being called out to locations like ‘Lemming Corner’ with monotonous regularity,” said Jeffery, “we would dread Sundays.”
Hearing our discussion, fellow rider Julia from Dee Why, piped up.
“I wrote my bike off on that corner a couple years ago,” she recalls with a quiver, “I came around the corner and fell in this culvert right on the apex.”
Criticism is mixed, split between riders not riding to conditions and those conditions being inherently unsafe.
After best part of one million dollars from the Federal Government as part of their Black Spot funding, Lemming Corner and its northern and southern approaches were extensively reworked. The camber has been corrected, surface resealed and the double radius removed. It wasn’t that long ago it was still unsealed.
“The difference is amazing,” Julia observed after our entourage passed through earlier.
Every Sydney road rider will likely have travelled these roads at some point or is likely to in the near future if sales are indicative of the growing number of weekend leisure riders. For example, in the ten years from June 2007, motorcycle registrations in NSW have risen from 125,000 to almost 220,000. *
Part and parcel with improved road conditions is the accompanying attitude and skill levels of riders themselves.
The Cessnock, Maitland and Port Stephens Councils are keen to promote their motorcycle routes and invite riders to share their thoughts with a survey:
Ride to Live: http://ridetolive.nsw.gov.au/