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Road maintenance ‘critical for riders’

Road maintenance potholes

Road maintenance, design and construction is crucial to the safety of motorcycle riders and needs urgent attention, according to Victorian motorcycle advocate Rodney Brown.

The qualified Occupational Health and Safety Representative with the Victorian Trades Hall Council has written to the Victorian Minister for Roads and Roads Safety Luke Donnellan and Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas ahead of a meeting with the politicians on the issue.

It follows the recent tragedy in NSW of a rider dying after his motorcycle hit a large pothole near Canberra.


Rodney says planning, design, construction and maintenance of roads is critical for maximising safety for motorcyclists.

“The design of motorcycles and scooters means that they have dynamic stability characteristics that are unique when compared with other vehicles on our roads,” says Rodney who was, until recently, No.1 member of the Motorcycle Riders’ Association of Australia (MRAA).

Rodney Brown bike lanes
Rodney Brown

“They are very sensitive to changes in the shape, texture or skid resistance of the road surface, including the presence of water, potholes, ruts or debris on the road.

“The nature and likely consequences of hazards differ significantly for motorcyclists compared to drivers of other vehicles. Something that is of no real consequence for a car driver may present a serious crash and injury risk for a motorcycle rider.”

He calls for fast and appropriate road maintenance to ensure the safety of all road users and for proper warning signs to be posted of hazards.

“Road repairs, maintenance and reinstatement works should be carried out in a timely and effective manner to avoid creating significant hazards for motorcyclists. Adequate warning of hazards should be provided if repairs cannot be made immediately.

“Potholes can be a significant hazard for motorcyclists, and can cause a loss of stability and control.”Potholes and bumps Road maintenance potholes

His concerns about road and roadwork standards come as the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA) has released the first national code for the “Visual Assessment of Road Pavement Conditions”.

IPWEA CEO Robert Fuller says the benefits to motorists are obvious: “better and more efficiently managed and maintained roads”.

He says the code will provide local and state governments with “a true picture of our total roads network, its overall state of health, and how much will be needed to maintain or upgrade it”.

“Until now, councils and state governments have relied upon their own various internal methods of reporting upon the condition of their roads – if it was done at all,” he says.Road maintenance potholes

“They lobbied IPWEA to conduct research and to come up with a nationally consistent method of visually assessing the condition of roads whether they were in Mackay, Sydney, Alice Springs or Broome.”

The new national code catalogues more than 100 photos of various road conditions, including both sealed and unsealed roads, and will become the industry reference standard.

Local Government in Australia is responsible for the management of over 670,000km of road infrastructure valued at over $165billion.

Rodney says motorcyclists pay far more attention to the road surface than a car driver.

“Understanding where the rider will look for these clues and how they influence the rider’s eventual position on the road is a key factor for designers and contractors to consider in making roads motorcycle friendly,” he says.

  1. Mark, authorities, particularly State Road Authorities do plan, design and construct roads with consideration to motorcycles. Similarly there are plenty of effective guides for visual assessment. There is a shortage of appropriately qualified and experienced practitioners in authorities to manage these activities. But overall the biggest problem is funding which is restricting the ability to response and leads to prioritisation of works and repairs. Unfortunately many of the good riding roads carry little freight and often little traffic. They aren’t easy to prioritise.

  2. Unfortunately the greatest danger imposed by a pothole or similar road deformity comes not from striking it but by trying to avoid it. I once ran over a dead kangaroo that was hidden by a layer of fog, it was a painful experience hurting my wrists my jewels and my back but I didn’t come off and the bike was undamaged had I seen it the story might be different, with enough warning I certainly would have avoided if but if I had tried to steer around it or brake I might be writing this from a wheelchair

  3. Potholes risk riders lives as roadsafety advocate for IRG & Freedom Riders Australia spokesman
    I fully support reporting of dangerous road conditions to the stakeholders or agencies in your state in Victoria reporting on line or ph 131170 VicRoads gets results quickly
    Rod Browns work on this subject helps protect riders by making the agencies responsible look and riders take notice well don Rod!
    Nice Harley too!

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