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State removes some rider safety barriers

Changes to lower rub rail rules 

Steel Barrier with lower rub rail
Steel barrier with lower rub rail

Lower rub rails on safety barriers that are important for the safety of riders have proliferated in recent years, but now the Queensland Government is removing some where they trap wildlife on the road.

You could be forgiven for thinking that riders’ lives are considered less important than the lives of snakes, wallabies, possums, echidnas and bandicoots.

However, many lower “W beam” rub rails have been installed on benign straight stretches and the inside of curves, rather than the outside where riders are far more likely to crash.

Lower rub rails are about to be removed on a stretch of Gold Coast hinterland road to protect wildlife that is being trapped on the road and run over.

The rails are considered important in the event of a motorcycle crash as they prevent the rider hitting the lethal upright posts.

But a lot of money has been wasted over the years installing rub rails on sections where riders are highly unlikely to crash.

The money would be better spent installing the rails on more dangerous sections.

The Queensland Government’s Transport and Main Roads department is now believed to be rewriting its rules on rub rails.

Their first move will be to remove rub rails from sections every 2-300m in an eight-kilometre stretch of Beaudesert-Nerang Road at Witheren and Clagiraba, a popular motorcycle route to Beechmont and the Numinbah Valley.

This is an area where many wildlife have been killed because they are trapped on the road by the rub rails which are too close to the ground to squeeze through.

The rails are also so close to the ground that the grass and general debris has now blocked the natural drainage and water is retained on the road, increasing the risk to all vehicles of aquaplaning.

Transport and Main Roads south coast regional director Paul Noonan said in a statement that they have “worked extensively with engineering and road safety professionals to balance the need for guardrail to protect motorists and providing safe access for wildlife in the area”.

“A lot of analysis has been done to solve this problem, and I’m pleased to say we have a solution,” he says.

Work to remove the rails begins this month before the koala breeding season starts.

Let’s hope the rails are put to better use elsewhere.

The Australian Motorcycle Council has issued the following statement:

The Queensland TMR are to be commended for their previous introduction of a requirement for all new W Beam installations to have motorcycle rub rails, but they now recognise that the criteria in their guidelines was flawed.  Better consultation with knowledgeable and representative Motorcycle bodies may well have corrected these flaws and avoided the resulting problems with trapped wildlife and also with water retention on the road due to debris blocking drainage under the rub rails.
The danger to all road users from deep water retention in Queensland storms is a concern to all riders and would justify the planned removal of rub rails from the inside of bends and on long straights, but not on the recognised danger areas for riders, e.g. the outside of bends of defined radius.
The AMC would like to see better Motorcycle representation and consultation with all and any Government body in future Queensland road safety initiatives, especially the re-write of the W Beam Rub Rail criteria.