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Columnist crosses line on call for motorbike ban

Columnist Jeff Corbett calls for motorbike ban

A tabloid newspaper columnist who called for riders to be banned from “motorcycle roads” because they pose a risk to other motorists has attracted national and international attention and ire.

Newcastle Herald columnist Jeff Corbett (pictured above) has certainly done his job of attracting readers. Click here to read his column.

His column suggests:

  • Riders are “free to be daredevils” because they don’t wear a seatbelt;
  • “Statisticians keep pumping out motorbike-horror stats but they seem only to excite the risk takers”;
  • “Other road users are at high risk from motorbikes”;
  • Motorbikes should be banned on all “high-risk motorbike roads, starting with Putty Road and Thunderbolts Way”;
  • Lower motorbike speed limits should be introduced for winding roads;
  • “There’s not much more to riding a motorbike than thrills”; and
  • The motorbike would not be allowed on the roads if it were invented now.columnist calls for motorbike ban

Praise and criticism for columnist

His comments have attracted praise from some of his readers, but mainly criticism.

The article has also been published internationally by under the heading “Things could be worse: You could be in Australia”. The author says the columnist has “crossed the line” with his article.

columnist calls for motorbike banWe posted a link to the article on our Facebook page and some of our readers questioned his parentage, his sexuality and his sanity.

However, we question his professionalism.

Shock jock journalism

It’s ok to be a shock jock. I worked as a tabloid journo for many years and I know how to stir the pot to encourage healthy community debate.

But you have to back up your arguments with logic and facts or it becomes irresponsible.

The danger is that columnists such as this journo demonise riders.

This enshrines the old “temporary Australians” tag that seems to give license to motorists to bully vulnerable riders on the road and not show them any respect. That leads to road rage and death

We tried to contact the Newcastle Herald to redress the columnist’s dangerous rhetoric and interview the author to seek a valid explanation for his article, but we have so far not received a reply.

Fighting rhetoric with fact

So, rather than fighting baseless rhetoric with more rhetoric, we have answered each of his claims with logic and fact:

  • Daredevils: Yes, riders take risks, but so do many other motorists. At least most riders mitigate risks by wearing more than the bare legal minimum protection of a helmet. Riders are also far more likely to seek advanced rider training after licensing than car drivers;
  • Horror stats encourage risk takers: Really? Do horror stats about domestic violence encourage wife beaters, or do horror stats about fast foods and sugar encourage obesity, or do horror cancer stats encourage people to get a sunburn? We could go on …
  • Motorcyclists endanger other road users: In fact, a 2016 paper by QUT researchers Narelle Howarth finds “In multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes, the motorcycle rider is less likely to be at-fault but more commonly severely injured than the other road user”;
  • Ban motorbikes on motorbike roads: Trucks account for about 8% of traffic, but 11% of fatalities, so using this columnist’s logic, trucks should be banned from trucking roads;
  • Lower bike speed limits on winding roads: It’s the slow four-wheeled traffic on these roads that causes the problem of frustration for other road users, encouraging dangerous overtaking;
  • Nothing more to bikes than thrills: Agreed that motorcycles provide thrills, but they are also a practical form of transport and a solution to traffic congestion, limited parking spaces and air pollution. Motorcycle tourism is also conservatively estimated to be worth $350m a year, particularly to regional areas such as Newcastle and the Hunter region (the Blue Gum Cafe on the Putty Rd would close if riders were banned from the road); and
  • “The motorbike would not be allowed on the roads if it were invented now”: This is such a tired old aphorism that shows lazy journalism. By the same token, internal combustion engines would not be allowed if they were invented now!

What do you think of this columnist’s call for a rider ban? Leave your comments below.

  1. I wouldn’t waste your time on idiots like this. Ignore them and they’ll sink back into the obscurity they are so desperately trying to crawl out of. The Newcastle Herald…just another insignificant little provincial rag staffed by tired old hacks who never made it, and wet-behind-the-ears little snot-noses. OK if you are looking for a second-hand Yaris, but not much use for anything else!

  2. I don’t know if he is being professional, I suppose he could have written the article on orders from his boss but rather I suspect he is suffering from dementia! Mr Corbett claims to have been a motorcycle rider & still have a bike licence yet he immediately attacks other riders for perceived riding styles & errors but did he ever ride close to the edge when he was riding (if he actually was a rider)?
    The biggest danger to riders after wildlife is car drivers especially SUV drivers as they never seem to see anything smaller than their vehicle. Why don’t we ban SUV’s from the road?

  3. Where do we start? I obviously don’t agree with this guy, but where is he coming from? Well I had to drive my wifes car down Macquarie Pass a few weeks ago, and I saw some examples of where some of this guys stupid suggestions might come from. So rather than just calling this journo a total dickhead (which I think he probably is), let me relate an incident where attitudes and ideas like his take root.

    I was doing the speed limit just after the Robertson Pie shop and 3 dickheads on bikes (I suppose they would call themselves motorcyclists) overtook the car behind me (some distance away), me and a car a bit ahead of me. It is a 60kmph area, double unbroken lines, and not great vision; in fact almost blind corners where they overtook. These dicks went past us all at a speed that would have been up to 3 times the limit (I guess based on my experience and how quick they caught and went past) in places where my vision ahead wasn’t very far, and theirs would have been worse particularly at the speed they were travelling. Two on-coming car drivers would have shit their pants as to how close they came to having head-ons with these morons. Now I’m not saying I never speed or hook in around corners, but what these guys did really does not do any of us any good, publicity wise.

    I can understand their frustration at getting behind cars at the top of the pass, but I wasn’t slow in the straights or corners by any stretch of the imagination, and they proved to those who saw them, that they were morons of the highest order. I actually expected to find one of more of them stuck under the armco somewhere on the way down, but luckily that didn’t happen.

    There is no excuse for this sort of stupidity, and this is the sort of stuff that gives mis-informed journos like this guy an axe to grind. And I’ll bet none of these three morons would do track days.

    Before anyone reckons I was the problem in this situation, or I’m the dickhead whinging, I am simply stating a situation that I encountered as a tin-top driver at the time. I would have much rather been on a bike, but situations dictated the car. I just wish a had a dash cam just to show the stupidity and potential culpability these guys exhibited, as it would be bloody scary to watch how close 2 of them came to killing themselves and potentially the occupants of the 2 cars they almost hit.

  4. Sorry, but I forgot to add that I’ve seen way more dickheads in cars doing things just as and more dangerous things than these guys, but we as motorcyclist tend to get demonised simply because we are on motorcycles.

    The only consolation in the situation I saw was that they didn’t actually hurt anyone; the same situation in cars would have resulted in multiple fatalities.

  5. Thort journalism was about cheking the facts before punishing shit
    Maybe not in his case which just makes him look like a uneducated man
    Who gave him a job

  6. “International combustion engines”: er, perhaps “internal combustion engines”. Anyway, the bloke is clearly a dick-head.

    1. Hi Harleigh,
      Thanks for the correction.
      It was a bad case of a combination of fat fingers, autocorrect and not wearing my glasses when proof-reading!

  7. I wasn’t going too comment but then I thought of the consequences of this guys article.
    The problem is it holds just enough water to drown in. There are the idiot brigade who you see on YouTube doing exactly what he accuses often coming undone or just giving the rest of use a bad reputation even if they make up less than one percent of riders and unfortunately that gives the soapbox standers something to cry about.
    Normally you can ignore idiots on a soapbox as almost everybody else does but when you get someone like this crying what about the poor children other idiots start to gather and get emboldened!
    There have been numerous instances of wannabe cops attacking riders for perceived breaches of the road rules, one particularly nasty incident sent the psycho to prison fortunately but it still resulted in the pillion spending months in recovery from the injuries sustained in the attack.
    I wonder if this guy can be prosecuted for hate speech?

    1. Hi Al,
      I agree and I grappled with giving this guy oxygen.
      However, it’s dangerous to allow hate speech to go unchallenged with facts and logic.

  8. Just put it down to the “there’s no such thing as bad publicity as long as they spell your name right” to George Morabit.

  9. The ‘journalist’ is a complete flog! He has zero idea at all and should refrain from breathing until he is able to decipher why with the safer roads vehicles and other various improvements, we still have to drive at speeds setup in the 60’s (and regularly reviewed to decrease) and yet the road toll has stagnated or started to rise?

  10. Is the photo a add for Carlton Beer looks very much so
    Get off your high horse and out of the pub .
    This doesn’t follow the stats Motorcycles are only dangerous in the hands of crazies and around crazy car drivers eg on their phones , having a chat and not road checking and all over the road because they can’t concentrate or follow corners spurring up rocks debri or follow marked lines and maintain a constant speed .If they did this maybe the motorcyclist won’t need to accelerate and get away from these type driver’s .Why when riding a motorcycle which can pass with ease and not use much room would you sit behind another motor vehicle putting along and wait for them to do something silly i say let them see you and then get pass
    What do we law enforcement officers for they should be after the crazies guys cars or bikes Don’t remember when riding in these areas seeing signage warning beware tight corners, motorcyclist in this area don’t you think we need to protect our riders not try to maime their riding pleasure . Most riders are very responsible they shouldn’t pay for others being irresponsible From where i sit all drivers motorcyclist are let down by governments by allowing poor training which should start at the age of 15 while they are still maturing .Stop trying to take people’s rights away all the time and be positive push for the training at a younger age If we did a better job of training our kids we would have a better world to live in and less youths in lock ups.

    1. As far as I know no one even teaches the road rules before letting kids out on the road on a push bike!

      Having a weekly road craft class starting at eight or ten years old would not only improve safety but also benefit the children educationally as logical thinking and planning ahead are two skills often not taught to children because they are difficult concepts to create suitable subject matter for. Road craft is a subject that teaches these concepts by default.

  11. Free speech should be limited to verifiable facts.
    Oh, wait, that would stop politicians and cops too.

  12. This idiot Jeff Corbett retired about 6 years ago and we the citizen’s of Newcastle breathed relief, then suddenly about 15 months ago he is back. (My assumption is the wife kicked him out of the house although that’s just my theory). He is renowned for writing articles based on his version of ‘facts’. This article typifies his total lack of understanding of society as a whole let alone motorbike riders; he claims to have a bike licence but no doubt hasn’t been on 2 wheels for many many a year. I am hoping to get a class action against him for a collective defamation of character on bike riders. 🙂 🙂

  13. Well Mr Corbett, it appears from reading your other articles about road users, the only people that should be on the road in your opinion are young people and yourself. Your tirade against mothers and old people fell just short of calling for a ban on them as well. I guess if the only thing you have to do is drive around Newcastle trying to identify people who frustrate you because of the way they drive, your going to get upset with motorcyclists because they are more often not overly hindered by these other more annoying tin top drivers like you are. I think deep down you are angry with motorcyclists because you would like to have the balls to be one yourself, and be able to avoid the terrible frustrations you elaborate in your other boring scribes. You really need to dust off your bike license and get a life. Hopefully being as incompetent as I think you would be on a bike, you experience would be short lived.

  14. Crap journalism like this is not worth commenting on ..

    I’m off for a fang (oops ) ride on my Thunderbird…………………….

  15. “Idle hands are the Devil’s plaything” as the old saying goes, I suspect this also applies to an idle brain. It seems Mr Corbett has nothing better to do and his bike licence gives him self assumed authority to dig up real or imagined demons in the motorcycle world. Unfortunately there are too many so called journalists (who should be relabeled ‘reporters not journalists) with nothing to report on, many should be working for gossip magazines or Sunday tabloids. Some folks may remember some years ago when homosexuality was a sin, the do good reporters with nothing to do good about went on a rampage to ban Enid Blyton’s kids books “Noddy and Big Ears” because Noddy and his mate Big Ears slept in the same bed and were therefore homos AND Noddy’s car had no number plate AND had no headlights And no seat belts so the reports read. These horrific stories had to be kept away from children lest the kids grow up believing they should behave like Noddy. (The Noddy books were subsequently banned !! )
    It seems Mr Corbett may belong to this sphere of reporting, hoo nose ?

    1. What do you expect from the Murdoch Rags , truth ? More like “Opinion” than facts . I still have my ” Mr.Plod ” and I don’t think he was part of the raid of Noddy and Big ears house . 🙂

  16. Perhaps mr corbett should provide his driving history i.e. ticketed offence info so that we can all see whether this outspoken fool has the moral highground to judge others.
    If he doesnt like bikes on “motorbike roads” he is welcome not to use them.

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