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Riders reject motorcycle friendly regulation

Avon Valley the first motorcycle friendly region
Avon Valley is the first motorcycle friendly region

It seems most motorcyclists do not support regulation of Motorcycle Friendly Town status, according to our online poll with 55% against the idea.

The survey was conducted after the Motorcycle Council of NSW created a committee to investigate regulation of Motorcycle Friendly Town status.

To help them gauge the level of support from riders, we created the poll which attracted more than 200 riders who took the time to complete the six-question survey. Read the background to the survey here.

Some riders also added their own comments and one rider even suggested a “motorcyclists welcome” status for towns if they don’t make the grade with regulators.

Springborg (second left) at the Texas Motorcycle Friendly Town launch tourism crows nest status
Texas Motorcycle Friendly Town launch

National regulation

If regulation does go ahead, half of the riders who responded said a national rider representative group should do the regulation compared with 35% support for a state body.

Some 19% said no one should regulate it and there were suggestions it should be regulated by the towns themselves, businesses, Chambers of Commerce, automobile clubs and even the Ulysses Club. 

Regulation criteria

The most important criteria for a town to be considered friendly to motorcyclists seems to be the provision of specialised motorcycle parking, according to 58% of respondents.

Next most important criteria was signage (26%), availability of premium fuel (18%), rider discounts (8%) and suggested route maps (5%).

Wauchope Motorcycle Friendly Town
Wauchope has declared itself a Motorcycle Friendly Town

Several riders suggested the only criteria needed was a “warm attitude” and/or a “welcoming face”.

Other suggestions were a puncture repair service, good coffee and winding roads, while one person said: “No police, unrestricted speed limit for at least 50km on either side of that town”.

Keep dreaming, fella!

Towns rejected?

We also asked whether Queensland towns that did not vocally oppose the VLAD so-called anti-bikie legislation should be banned from Motorcycle Friendly Town status.

The response was a resounding 86% no with only 6% saying yes. The others either abstained or said it wasn’t relevant to them in other states.

One rider pointed out that “some rider groups supported VLAD due to ignorance, so others with less connection shouldn’t be punished for not understanding the ramifications of VLAD”.

Crows Nest takes the cake with riders status
Crows Nest’s official Motorcycle Friendly Town launch

We also asked if towns that had already declared themselves Motorcycle Friendly should have to re-apply and that was also met with a resounding 70% saying no.

Some suggested these towns be given time to comply and others suggested regular reviews of towns’ compliance.

Another pointed out that the customer would be the regulator: “Seriously, it’s like anywhere I go if the service is bad e.g. garages, motels etc I don’t go back.”

Some 95% of respondents said there should be no compliance fee, but a few suggested a minimal fee to cover costs of checking compliance and/or to supply towns with signage.

  1. I don’t really understand the fee requirement, who is paying it and who is receiving it? Really the only need to be “motorcycle friendly” is that towns welcome motorcyclists and don’t rip us off. Having car drivers educated about motorcycles would be a bonus.

    1. To have a local motorcyclist awareness campain in a town and signage to that effect it would be welcomed by motorcyclists. As for the number of parking spots specifically for bikes it would only need to be a small number (2-3). Any more bikes in that group should be allowed to park 2 to a car slot without being ticketed. If they can have RV friendly towns, they sure can have Motorcycle friendly towns.

  2. One of the challenges facing the Motorcycle Press is credibility. A core problem contributing to this is the cosy relationship between manufacturers and journalists. In other branches of the media this issue is at least partly dissipated by disclaimers and disclosures at the end of the article or programme.

    This weekend’s issue the Sun Herald Traveller for example, contains disclaimers such as:
    “David Whitely has travelled as a guest of the state tourist boards and Tourism Australia”, “Sue Williams was a guest of Bunnik Tours”, “Craig Platt stayed with the assistance of Lux Le Morne” and so on

    But motorbike writers tend not to feel constrained by such ethics and, some more than others, prefer to hide their junkets and the fear that a critical review today may hamper their free trip to Milwaukee or the Canary Islands next year. Or more immediately they know the effect a poor review can have on their publication’s advertising income from that supplier.

    But most motorcycle riders are a pretty discerning and can see through the thinly veiled advertorials (usually complete with photographs supplied by the doting hosts and used without credit!)

    Like many I just skim over this journalistic prostitution But when I am named in piece of writing which is choc full of errors, distortions, untruths and misrepresentations then the time has arrived to respond.

    On June 19th an article appeared on the Motorbike Writer Blog with the heading: “Motorcycle Friendly status may be regulated”.

    It’s hard to know just where to start with the errors in this story but let’s take it from the opening paragraph.

    “There are moves to regulate the granting of Motorcycle Friendly Town status with a long list of essential and desired requirements for councils, pubs, cafes, restaurants, accommodation and service stations.. (and).. there are now plans to regulate the process.
    We understand there may be a national approach, but nothing has yet been confirmed.
    Meanwhile, the June meeting of the Motorcycle Council of NSW decided to set up a committee to “create a set of criteria for judging the motorcyclist friendly status of establishments, accommodation, towns and regions”.

    The underlying statement here, like the headline, is simply a lie.

    Nowhere in any literature, any discussion or any debate were the words, ‘regulate’, or ‘regulation’ used by the MCCNSW or any speakers. There was not any sense of regulation and no intention to regulate. Aside from being undesirable, regulation is not enforceable. It would be like trying to regulate against permitting a motorbike writer who turns up in small country towns with a group of other riders from pressuring the publicans into giving him a free room and dinner because he is the group leader!

    I am writing this letter a week after inviting Mark Hinchliffe to explain just where he read or heard the word, ‘regulation’ used but the normally loquacious gentleman has been mute, leading me to only conclude that he invented this emotive term for his own designs.

    (Oh and who is the ‘we’ in ‘we understand there may be a national approach’?)

    The words ‘accreditation’ and ‘endorsement’ were certainly used but ‘regulation’? Nah!

    “Concern has been expressed to us by those wanting to become motorcycle friendly that criteria could be too demanding and dissuade towns from seeking formal status.”

    Makes it almost sound as though the writer has been in contact with relevant bodies doesn’t it?

    But then this if quickly followed by:

    “Colin has also told us that any Queensland town that did not oppose the VLAD laws should not be granted motorcycle friendly status.”

    And this makes it almost sound as though the writer has been in contact with me doesn’t it? Almost sounds like he was diligent enough to check his facts and go to primary sources before making claims doesn’t it?

    Problem is, I haven’t. I’ve never told him/them anything of the sort! I’ve never spoken with him/them on this issue, either directly or indirectly. Just when did we have this conversation? The writer has taken this criterion (note singular form) from a discussion paper that I presented seeking input from as many sources as possible before formulating and set of criteria (plural) that may be applied in this issue.

    Since no council commented on the state issue as far as we can find, that may mean no Queensland town can become motorcycle friendly.

    Well, there’s a fair bit out there that you can’t find! Maybe it’s just that you don’t know where to look! I know of four different towns where the council and the police indicated, two actively and two passively, that they would not follow the instructions of the Newman govt in pulling over groups of over four un-badged motorcycle riders. In each case they’ve asked that their stand be recognized but not publicized. So this paragraph is misleading.

    The list of proposed essential criteria fairly covers my suggestions and each one can be strongly argued

    The rest of the article builds on the fallacies established at the top: a classic technique for creating logical but unsound arguments. Create apprehension by introducing a term (‘regulation’) with negative connotations rather then one which could re-assure and be truthful (‘endorsement’) then build on the anxiety.

    Then we come to the subsequent survey. One of the basic components of Questionnaire Design 101 is to eliminate bias by interested groups. If there is a fair judgment that one interested group could sway the results then the design must take this into account.

    In this case there is no entity or group with a vested interest ‘regulation’ (to stay in the terms of reference) although it’s my argument that riders could benefit from a system of endorsement. But there is a group with an arguably demonstrable interest in not being ‘regulated’ and that’s those who are self-declaring ‘Motorcycle Friendly’ entities.

    To avoid bias by, for example allowing multiple voting by vested interests, the survey should, to have any credibility, be designed to eliminate or minimize such tactics.

    No such safeguards were put in place for this survey.

    So ten days later on June 29th, Hinchliffe posted another blog under the heading, “Riders reject motorcycle friendly regulation”. (No, I can’t work out his criteria for capitalization either!)

    In this follow up he again trawls the same untruth:

    “…the Motorcycle Council of NSW created a committee to investigate regulation of Motorcycle Friendly Town status.”

    That being said, some of the responses as quoted are helpful for this project to investigate whether a system of national endorsement of motorcycle friendly status will be in the interests of both riders and localities.

    They have been noted and taken on board.

    A couple of points from this second article bear comment.

    “Some riders also added their own comments and one rider even suggested a “motorcyclists welcome” status for towns if they don’t make the grade with regulators.”

    Let’s ignore the Hindchliffe infected ‘regulators’ for a moment. This is exactly the path we are riding only phrased differently. Whilst the RV status is binary, either yes or no, any endorsement system would be graded, probably one to five with only places rating at least three endorsed.

    The most important criteria (sic) for a town to be considered friendly to motorcyclists seems to be the provision of specialised motorcycle parking, according to 58% of respondents.

    I am regular contact with people involved in several of the projects and I have a draft proposal from a council representative at one of them. (He must be impressed with some of my ideas as he’s adopted, sans credit, the concept of helmet ratings!)

    In his suggested list of criteria (plural) for rating a town he includes only those things which involve minimum expenditure and time involvement on behalf of the Council, ignoring anything like active support and political pressuring for underskirting on road barriers. He also ignores such things as opening up all Council owned free ‘self contained’ camping areas for motorcycle riders.

    He does however include, at number 6, Motorcycle Parking which would involve the main Council expenditure of anything on his list.

    Now this Council employee was the major mover in the self-declaration of a Motorcycle Friendly project and yet three months later I received a note from one of the committee. In part it read: “…almost have Motorcycle Parking organised .. has been difficult working with the local council..”

    This encapsulates the problem of places self-declaring without being prepared to invest time or money in providing better, specific facilities or joining campaigns for safer roads and riding routes.

    We’re not going to find out the agenda of the writer, he’s not one of the journalists who believe they are ethically bound to disclose freebees, junkets and vested interests.

    In the meantime, we can only wonder why, when he had the opportunity to pen a piece about an effort designed to encourage venues, towns and locales to lift their game when hosting riders that he chose instead to base his coverage on an invented, false spin and to go ahead without checking facts with any primary source.

    1. I posted this on your FB request for info about the committee:
      From your email to the MCCNSW: “At the June meeting of the MCCNSW it was decided that both riders and the towns and establishments would benefit from a central, authoritative and credible accreditation programme and that the MCCNSW was ideally suited to institute this programme.
      “I accepted a nomination to head up a committee to create a set of criteria for judging the motorcyclist friendly status of establishments, accommodation, towns and regions.”

      1. Colin Whelan’s message would benefit from a little more warmth and a little less steam.

  3. This is getting a bit labels on goods which imply they are made in Australia .The manufactures pay for the logo while others use elliptical wording like ” made from local and imported products” don’t pay for any logo but still grab on to the “local” feeling.
    Why bring on another committee to oversee motorbike friendly? If a town wants to be ‘sickle friendly let em go for it and do it with their own council and chamber of commerce within their own budget, if they get it right word will get around and if not well who knows .
    But whatever is done stop this notion of making people pay for some logo.

  4. YORK W.A. The day before the York Motorcycle Festival this year at one cafe fish n chips were $12.00 a serve. Sunday day of the festival and when York was declared a motorcycle friendly town, same cafe, same fish n chips, $15.00, Sure are friendly!

  5. Why does everything needs to be regulated?
    We already know which places are biker friendly and which ones to avoid.

  6. Looks like motorcyclists have decided that “Motorcycle Friendly” rules & regulation
    is not motorcycle friendly 🙂

  7. If they want to be motorcycle friendly, a paddock stand so you could oil your chain would be appreciated. $50 from Aldi in Aug/Sept.

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