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Riders challenge Oxley Highway ripple strips

Ripple strips on the Oxley highway bumps
Ripple strips on the Oxley highway

Ripple strips on double white lines and edge lines on two sections of the Oxley Highway have been challenged by local riders as slippery, dangerous and “madness”.

However, the Roads and Maritime Services says they will prevent drivers dangerously crossing on to the wrong side of the road and follow complaints raised by riders in November 2017.

One rider posted this video of a ute crossing double white lines along the mountain section.

Local rider and Save the Oxley campaign founder Ken Healey says if a rider clips the 2.5cm-high ripple strips, they will come off.

RMS calls the ripple strips “audio-tactile line marking”. They are part of $10 million in roadworks on the highway that also include reducing the speed limit from 100km/h to 80km/h along 44 km of the mountain section.

Local businesses have claimed the speed reductions have cost them dearly.

Click here to read of the economic impact of the speed zones on tourism and local businesses.

RMS defends ripple stripsRipple strips on the Oxley highway

The RMS says the two sections with ripple strips were “identified due to wet weather conditions throughout the year, reducing the visibility of road markings and surface of the road for motorists”.

“Motorcyclists have raised the issue of vehicles crossing the centre lines as a significant risk for them when travelling this route. The vibration of the centre tactile edge lines on roads help alert drivers when they are drifting outside their lane and reduces incidences of this occurring.

“Audio-tactile line marking has been successful in driver fatigue management and keeping vehicles in their lanes, improving road safety for all motorists, and motorcyclists in particular.”

Ken says the ripple strips would “make no difference to cars and trucks” that would still drive over them, but would “kill motorcyclists”.

“For motorcyclists it leaves no room for error,” he says.

Ken photographed the ripple strips which are “big chunks of some sort of epoxy resin that are about an inch high”.

If a motorcyclist hits these ripple strips he/she is off the bike and will slide straight across the road and into a wire rope barrier or Armco barrier.”Ripple strips on the Oxley highway

The RMS did not supply us with any research to prove ripple strips were safe for riders.

However, Motorcycle Club of NSW member Steve Pearce says we don’t need research to tell us how dangerous they are to motorcyclists.

“They are slippery, wet or dry and will make a motorcycle unstable at the slightest contact,” he says.

“It’s just a bad idea which will lead to more deaths and injuries to motorcyclists. The NSW Roads Minister and the local member is just plain anti-motorcycle.”

The ripple strips are placed on many corners where an errant rider might clip the centre line. Ripple strips on the Oxley highway

Petition the Minister

Ken has urged all riders who use the highway to call on local member and Roads Minister Melinda Pavey to remove the ripple strips.

He suggests riders participate in the minister’s current online survey here. Click here to fill it out.

The RMS had originally proposed to reduce several speed zones by as much as 40km/h along the length of the highway from Wauchope to Walcha.

However, local protests organised by Ken and colleagues forced a review of their proposals, resulting in the 20km/h reduction on the 44km mountain section only.

Save the Oxley protestors await result highway ripple
Riders at a Save the Oxley protest meeting

Ken suggests riders not only call for the ripple strips to be removed, but also to remove the reduced speed limit.

“The current reduced speed limit has had no effect on Road Safety,” he says.

“In fact, it has created an increased chance of head-on collisions with motorists attempting to overtake slower vehicles in short overtaking opportunities travelling at only 80km/h or far less.

“The speed reduction has seen a substantial decrease in motorcycle numbers to the extent of serious loss of turn-over for local businesses.”

His petition ‘Not to Reduce the Oxley Hwy Speed Limits’ attracted more than 10,700 signatures.

  1. Unbelievable, I would bet these lumps in the road are invisible at night or in the wet also?

  2. The theory behind the ripple strips is sound on a wide multi lane highway with very few bends to keep drivers awake but on a road the this one they are nothing but a bad joke.
    The majority of drivers who stray across the centre line on this road do so deliberately or due to incompetents very rarely is it accidental.

  3. I have ridden my touring bike along ripples to see the effect. No noted effect in a straight line, no extra noise and no significant effect on road stability (ie no benefit even for a dozing rider). But in a corner, absolutely dangerous and rather like lines of marbles until the tyre tracks out of the ripples. Deadly for bikes and useless as a warning device even if your bike is silent. Even on a silent bike, the helmet wind noise exceeds the extra tyre noise from the ripples making the ripples as helpful as loose gravel on roads.
    Ripples work well for cars, making a clearly audible resonance and a wake up noise inside the quiet cabin. Bikes don’t count when road marking decisions are made, probably because motorcyclists don’t have enough lobbying power.

  4. This is what happens when non motorcyclists make uninformed decisions affecting motorcyclists. If RMS are serious about saving motorcyclists lives and reducing injuries, it’s time to consult with stakeholders before making these decisions.

  5. I used to love riding the Oxley, but this is just another reason to give it a miss. I can’t see me going out of my way to ride it again. It’s a shame for the local businesses, but hey, that’s excessive government regulation for you!

  6. This road marking was done by stealth, so when a rider/s Dies, as in Killed & it will happen, Roads Minister Melinda Pavey will inform the media that the rider was to blame/at fault ( that’s code for: ” tough tittie”) & give Roads Minister Melinda Pavey all the excuse needed to further reduce the speed limit by 20km/h – right? of course right.

  7. The installation of the lumps seem like a good idea to remind drivers of cars, etc to stay in their lane – but will they work? Where is the study that proves that these little bumps work on winding rural roads?

    What “evidence” will the RMS use when answering questions from the Coroner and the civil litigation lawyers to explain why they went against the advice in the Austroads Reports and installed a device that they knew would (a) significantly reduce grip in a corner, and, (b) would make the road less forgiving when a rider makes a mistake?

  8. Brian
    A local from Port Macquarie I have been riding for at least 50 years continously
    We have only two wheels so it is imperative you have good grip especially when
    cornering,ripple strips especilly raised on the road will add significant risk.
    (ripple strips are slippery)

  9. I can’t agree with the thrust of this story or the respondents. If a person is riding properly, he should not be clipping centre-lines or edge markings. My biggest frustration when riding is the number of drivers who continue to drive around bends straddling double centre-lines, then when they see it is “only” a motorcycle coming the other way take no evasive action. If these tactile markings can help keep idiot drivers on the correct side of the road, the nett benefit for motorcyclists can only be positive. Any rider who is clipping these lines needs to go and do an advanced course and learn how to corner properly.

    1. Even when riding sedately and within the lines you can be forced to take evasive action to avoid a hazard.
      I was forced to cross those ripple strips to avoid a dog and had it been raining I would have gone down. Anyone who thinks they are a good idea either doesn’t ride except on sunny weekends or is a gullible fool.

      1. I’ve been riding for almost fifty years on all surfaces and in all weather (including much frost in Tasmania and the ACT); much of that time I didn’t even own a car, but have always had at least one motorcycle and sometimes up to four. I also drive school buses when needed and see constantly the stupid things car drivers do. To attack the person and make accusations such as “gullible fool”, rather than argue the idea simply shows that you lack a credible argument. So you had to avoid a dog: that’s like saying “my uncle smoked three packs per day and lived until he was ninety”. Most smokers won’t live to ninety; likewise there will be unavoidable incidents when driving. If you read what I wrote again, I said the NETT benefit can only be positive. If you cannot grasp what that means, it means, on balance, if one compares how many incompetent drivers can’t stay on their own side of double lines compared to how often you have to avoid a dog, there will be more crashes prevented by having the ripple strips rather than not having them. To use your logic, anyone who can’t understand that is an uneducated fool.

        1. Do you never make mistakes Harleigh Hayter? A mistake around these ripple strips may well cost you your life.

      2. Exactly, there are many reasons why you might inadvertently cross the centre lines, like avoiding a roo, dodging a pot hole, getting a flat tyre, gravel on a corner. Roads should cater for the unexpected or less than ideal conditions

        1. Better than trying to dodge cars on your side of the road, don’t you think? The events you have listed are infrequent; cars crossing centrelines are all too frequent on each and every ride (unless you happen to be a city dweller and don’t venture beyond the city limits).

  10. Why is it, in the interest of motorcycle safety, bureaucrats implement ‘safety measures’ that contravene the very safety of the motorcyclists they claim to be protecting? e.g. wire rope barriers, slippery ripple strips!

  11. Too bloody dangerous for any motorcyclist no matter what speed you are doing epecially on wet roads

  12. I thought the tactile lane edge markings on motorways and the like were to alert motorists if they drifted from their lane, so maybe for someone having a microsleep, texting or whatever they may help is some situations, but it is obvious that in the video of the ute using the whole road, these things would do nothing to make him stay on his side of the road. He was deliberately using the other side of the road, and i’d suggest that the only thing to stop him from doing that is either a barrier for him to hit (won’t go there), a copper up his arse booking him with hoon legislation, or a change in attitude. Obviously, he simply cannot drive to an acceptable level if he can’t get around those corners without drifting over the centre line, and the ripple strip things would do nothing to stop him, and, i’d suggest anyone else driving like that. To suggest they would draws a low bow, and i’d also think that on a motorway where corners aren’t tight, ripple strips might work in waking up dickheads who might drift, but on tight winding roads, surely if they fell asleep or simply misjudged the corner, the ripple strips would not help them in getting back on their side of the road.

    Where is the research into their actions? Mines anecdotal and makes more sense to me than the reasons the RMS use.

  13. If you keep your body within your lane and avoid having it hit by on-coming vehicles then yor tyres will be no where near the ripple strip especially on corners. Instead of complaining all the time may be a number of motorcyclist should learn to ride. A public road is not a race track so you can’t use the whole road for your pleasure.

    1. Ok, so a Highway Patrol car signals you to pull over and with a wet road, your front tyre looses grip on the edge ripple strip and you fall off. Thats how slippery they are, and while I agree with your comments about learning to ride (appropriately?) and not using the road as a race track, I can’t see how any changes that make parts of the road more slippery make us any safer.

      Any logic that includes ideas like “if you’re a good rider, you’ll never touch an unbroken centre line or run to the edge of the road” is simply not realistic. By the same logic, maybe wire ropes or armco could be put up in the centre of the road. At least it will stop willful crossing of unbroken lines, as damage will occur to the idiot doing it, but would you be happy to have solid lane marking on every lane of every similar road? That would ensure that even minor crashes would probably become fatalities, at least for motorcyclist. I just hope you guys never make a mistake and hit armco, wire rope barriers, or a tree for that matter.

  14. Personally I think the story is a beat up. No properly ridden motorcycle is going to hit these bumps. On a bike there is no room for error, so the white line never fell into that category. My only anxious moments ever, come from on-coming drivers taking up space on my side of the road. I think this will help the situation as painted lines in the middle of mountain roads does (if you’ve ridden in the Snowy mountains you’ll have seen drivers clearly on the wrong side because there is no line).

    1. So the pictures above show the ripple strips on the outer edge of your lane and a car runs over the centre line, forcing you wide, onto the ripple strip and your on your arse sliding down the road. Without the ripple strips on the edge, you have more chance of staying upright. And seriously, if someone driving like the guy in the ute runs over the centre ripple strips, he’s likely not going to suddenly realise hes on the wrong side of the road and not hit you is he. As the RMS says above, they “will prevent drivers dangerously crossing on to the wrong side of the road”. Really? How? The ute driver obviously doesn’t give a shit, so why would ripple strips make him not do it?

      I don’t quite get your point on the snowy roads, as there are plenty of country roads that have no centre line, and yes not ideal, but seriously, whats the difference if the snowy roads have a centre line marked with paint or ripple strips? They’re (ripple strips) simply not really going to help, and if they did, the opposite effect is going to be worse. That is, having centre line ripple strips would probably cause more problems than they solve. Anyone meaning to cross the unbroken centre line by using the road as a racetrack is an idiot, but if you have never had a situation when you’ve had a kiss the centre line even breifly, chances are you haven’t been riding for very long, or you’re better than most riders. I’ve done it once, and it was my choice as the least dangerous reaction (no oncoming traffic) and less chance of falling than the alternative. In that situation, these ripple strips probably would have had me sliding down the road.

      Lastly, if they were so good and saving lives, why don’t we have them on every road? The RMS are obviously confused themselves, as firstly they say they will stop drivers wilfully crossing centre lines, then they are citing how good ripple strips are in driver fatigue management, so I really do fail to see how they will stop wilful dangerous driving when their main advantage is in fatigue management? Makes no sense if you think about it.

  15. We need more active protests , the authoritues dont read these sites . A ride at the speed limit on the pacific hwy using all lanes mught be more use . And let them know how many people wont be votng for them next electiin

  16. I have written to the minister outlining my concerns and asking her to show the data that says these ripple strips are safe for Motorcyclist. If you all get onto her site (NSW Government) and send her the message, she may start to take notice, having said that, I did request a reply and got none, and I did explain if she cant substantiate that the strips are safe after she has been told they are unsafe by so many riders, that she can expect many law suites, when she starts maiming and killing riders.

  17. There is a major flaw in your logic; that centre line ripple strips would actually keep oncoming traffic in their own lane.

    If you go to the case in point, the guy in the ute would most likely not stay in his lane because of ripple strips. He obviously couldn’t give a shit, and would simply have driven over them; thinking otherwise would be extremely optimistic. He seemed to be using the whole road to simply discourage the motorcyclist behind him from overtaking him when it was legal and possible. I certainly wouldn’t try it with the way he was all over the road. In fact, in that situation, I simply would have pulled over somewhere and given the dickhead time to get well ahead of me so I didn’t have to witness his stupidity.

    Are you also implying that the authorities should put them on all roads, or just where they are? Maybe they should bring back silent cops as having them on the centre line might actually discourage drivers from crossing them. Going on your logic, thats a far better idea than ripple strips, as they would work, in one respect. Hell what does it matter if they catch out the odd motorcyclist and kill or maim them.

  18. These things are not just on Oxley highway they are popping up on all roads around Bendigo where I live
    Not just restricted to double line bends they are down middle of road in areas where one may pass traffic legally. They cause instability even at 80K/hr on a dry road .
    They are a damn stupid idea.

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