As this issue went to press we learned NSW CTP greenslips for motorcycles had risen by up to 85 per cent. Are you going to let them roll over us again or, like Peter Hawker are you going to start writing multiple letters to the government? A letter might not be as sexy as bike convoys that hold up traffic or chaining yourself to a toll booth but if you are relentless, it’s the only way to get things changed. Here’s Peter`s story.
I returned to motorcycling in 2004 and found motorcycling had changed. Gone were the days of kinship with fellow riders and the desire to fight the common cause for our rights as road users.
I don’t mean the yes-sir, no-sir, three-bags-full-sir approach of making out motorcyclists’ representatives are being heard by agreeing to whatever the powers that be decide on, supposedly for our own good. I mean the stick it to them, listen to actual riders, kind of representation.
During my 16 years on the sidelines, the constant barrage of speeding propaganda made its impact on me and I was far from impressed when realising it.
Back on a bike, I found and re-found lots of good bike roads that have such ridiculous posted speed limits that my surprise on seeing them and not believing it had me entering some corners on a few pretty hairy missed lines. Then as time went by, I found myself having my eyes half glued to my speedo, which also resulted in my missing my entry lines and having some more rather close calls. Finally up Bulli Pass one day I simply said bugger the speedo, watch the *#$*^&^#!! hell where you’re going, you idiot!
I also witnessed the big televised fanfare over the introduction of the wire rope barrier, better known to us as the cheese cutter barriers. I wasn’t impressed at the time and on seeing them from the seat of my bike, my head began to shake a lot harder.
By this time I was thinking I had better join some biker associations and add financially to the good fight and get some more information as to what is or, as it turned out, isn’t being done to counter some of this anti-motorcycle nonsense.
After a few years paying my dues, reading and discussing various issues with fellow riders, participating in various online forums, having the odd disagreement on various issues and how our supposed representatives were addressing them and spending mine and everyone else’s monies, I decided it was time to stop giving my money blindly to what I thought were fools who would simply stitch us all up and agree with the government, rather than fight for serious motorcycling community input.
About this time there was yet another rallying call from The Bear to stop moaning to each other about the various issues and get involved by writing to your local member at the very least. In doing so you’re supporting the fair dinkum organisations fighting for our rights and making our individual grievances count.
In April 2009, I began my own personal motorcycle and scooter safety and awareness campaign.
I’ve been writing to the NSW government on a variety of issues, including compulsory third party insurance, wire rope barriers, driver training, the demonising of motorcyclists, e-tags, mobile phones, unsecured loads, window/windscreen tinting, tolls, vehicle standards, policing minor traffic infringements, compliance of licensed RTA vehicle inspections stations and the black crack injection hazard latticing our roads.
I have written multiple times concerning each issue. If I receive a nonsense response that simply quotes the existing laws and figures from the previous year on fines issued, I write back expressing my displeasure. If I get a letter of acknowledgment and no proper response within a reasonable time, I write again. I began by copying in only various senior ministers and their counter parts in opposition. Now I include the entire cabinet and shadow cabinet and other select members, the MCCNSW, ARR and fellow activists such as Damien Codogmotto, OAM.
My initial goal was to simply get the various issues discussed in the halls of Macquarie Street, in support of our major lobby groups. That is why each issue got its own letter and follow-ups. I figured that if they didn’t want to discuss the issues, I would make them do so by default in talking about the nutter writing them lots of letters on motorcycle and scooter safety and awareness.
Lee Rhiannon has been good enough to offer her support by putting questions under notice to the roads minister on some of my issues. At her request, I have just submitted another list of questions to her for the next sitting of parliament, which Lee will put forward to the roads minister on my behalf.
Recently I wrote to the Premier, Kristina Keneally, in her capacity as local member for Redfern, regarding paving stones used on pedestrian crossings in Redfern, which are rather slippery in wet conditions. The Premier flipped it to my local member for Kogarah to write to the Lord Mayor of Sydney, who in turn has responded to me and advised that Sydney City Council has commissioned the “Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to further test these paving stones for safety and slip-resistance. The CSIRO will write a report on its findings.”
Within a year I have achieved my goal of forcing our NSW parliamentarians to openly discuss motorcycle and scooter safety and awareness on individual safety issues, including having it documented within Hansard.
As for the CSIRO being commissioned to test the slip resistance of the paving stones used in pedestrian crossings, the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, just can’t stop supporting the motorcycle and scooter community. It isn’t a result yet but it is a beginning of decisive action being taken.
The bottom line of my wanting to share my story on supporting the likes of the Motorcycle Council of NSW, Peter Thoeming and Damien Codognotto, OAM, to name just a few, is to prove to you that every voice, letter and email counts.
This will hopefully encourage you to write to your local member and join in the fight for motorcycle and scooter safety and awareness. It doesn’t cost much to send an email and you can copy a variety of people. Letters are good, too. Don’t feel you should sit on the fence with no computer. Write a letter, send it by post or even drop by their office and deliver it personally.