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Popular Coromandel motorcycling route to get safety boost

01 December 2013

A scenic loop in the southern Coromandel popular with recreational motorcyclists will serve as a test case for an innovative multi-agency safety pilot project launched this week.

Our Council is involved in The Safer Rides - Southern Coromandel pilot route, organised by NZTA. There is approximately 130km of state highway (SH) and incorporates SH26 (Paeroa to Kopu), SH25A (Kopu to near Hikuai), SH25 (near Hikuai to Waihi) and SH2 (Waihi to Paeroa).

The southern Coromandel route has been chosen for the pilot because it has experienced a disproportionately high number of serious motorcycle crashes in recent years. While just one to three percent of the vehicles that travel along the route are motorcycles, between 2008 – 2012, motorcyclists were involved in 44% of all fatal and serious injury crashes.

Motorcycle safety is a priority in the Government’s Safer Journeys action plan, and the new Safer Rides - Southern Coromandel pilot will trial and monitor a series of safety improvements aimed at reducing the number and severity of motorcycle crashes on the route.

Michelle Te Wharau, Transport Agency Principal Safety Engineer, says the Safer Rides project is the first time a safe system motorcycle project of this type has been applied to New Zealand roads. Initiatives from the project that prove to be effective may then be applied to other popular motorcycle routes around the country.

Mrs Te Wharau says the trial aims to improve motorcycle safety in three key areas:

Helping to keep riders on their bikes with innovative road markings and upgraded signage around some deceptive corners, improved surface condition as well as works to improve visibility.

· Creating a more forgiving environment by removing or modifying various roadside hazards to help reduce the severity of potential injuries if riders do crash.

· Getting injured riders access to medical treatment as quickly as possible via new rescue helicopter landing areas and improved cellphone coverage.

Mrs Te Wharau said the Transport Agency is working in partnership with other road safety groups on the Safer Rides project, including: Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council; NZ Police; Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC); The Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki District Councils; the Waikato Regional Council as well as motorcycling user groups.

Mark Gilbert, chair of the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council, says the Safer Rides initiative is a perfect fit for the motorcycle safety levy fund.

"The Council represents motorcyclists, to make sure the motorcycle safety levy is used on initiatives that will actually make motorcycling safer. The Southern Coromandel project improvements are a good example of this, as these road improvements will address specific hazards for motorcyclists."

Mrs Te Wharau says that helping riders to better understand and cope with the challenges of riding the route is an important part of the project, as mistakes can be a factor contributing to crashes.

“While the project focus is on motorcyclists, the initiatives planned for this route will benefit all road users,” she says.

Publicity to support the Safer Rides project starts this week and motorcyclists will be encouraged to give feedback on the initiatives once they are implemented. Some of the safety improvement work is underway and other initiatives will be in place after the holiday season including upgraded signage, road surface improvements, roadside billboards, removal or protection of roadside hazards, and information maps located in rest areas. Physical works will be completed by April 2014.


What is Safer Rides, Southern Coromandel about?

It’s a significant pilot project aimed at improving motorcycle safety along the scenic loop in Southern Coromandel, popular with recreational motorcyclists. The aim of the project is introduce a series of safety improvements in order to reduce the number and severity of motorcycle crashes on the route. What we learn can be applied to other popular motorcycle routes in other regions.

 It is the first time a project of this type has been applied to New Zealand roads. For more information visit www.nzta.govt.nz/safer-rides-sc


Where exactly is the route?

The pilot route is approximately 130 km long and incorporates SH26 (Paeroa to Kopu 26 km), SH25A (Kopu to Hikuai 28km), SH25 (Hikuai to Waihi 52 km) and SH2 (Waihi to Paeroa 20 km).


Why only motorcyclists?

In New Zealand, the risk of a motorcyclist being killed or seriously injured in a crash is about 20 times higher than for a car driver over the same distance travelled (2007–2011 MOT data).

1-3% of the vehicles that travel along the Southern Coromandel route are motorcycles, but for the period 2008 – 2012, motorcyclists represented 45% of all fatalities and serious injuries.

 While the focus is on motorcyclists, the measures used to raise awareness of potential hazards on this route will benefit all road-users.


Why is the route so popular with motorcyclists?

This particular stretch of highway is rugged and beautiful. The many sharp bends and steep grades present a real challenge for motorcyclists and many enjoy putting their skills to the test.


What are the planned improvements?

Improvements to the road and roadsides will improve motorcycle safety in three areas:

  1. They will help to keep the rider on their bike with best practice road markings and signage around deceptive corners as well as work to improve visibility.
  2. If a rider does fall off, removing or modifying the roadside hazards make for a more forgiving environment, reducing the level of potential injuries.
  3. If a rider is seriously injured, they can be transported to hospital quickly as new helicopter landing pads are planned, many with cell phone coverage.

Helping riders to better understand and cope with the challenges is an important part of the project, as we acknowledge that mistakes can be a factor leading to fatal or serious crashes.

 


 

 

How can motorcyclists find out more and give feedback?

Riders will be able to find out more about the planned improvements and can give feedback via www.nzta.govt.nz/safer-rides-sc

 This NZ Transport Agency link is repeated on www.rideforever.co.nz and other partner websites.


Who are the organisations involved in Safer Rides, Southern Coromandel?

The NZ Transport Agency, Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council, NZ Police and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), motorcycling user groups, The Thames-Coromandel District Council, Hauraki District Council and the Waikato Regional Council.  


What is the timing of these improvements?

Awareness-raising of the project and the challenges of the route starts in November 2013. The work involved in the safety improvements themselves has started already with other initiatives planned for after the holiday season in February 2014. Completion is planned by April 2014.


Where does the project fit in the Government’s wider Road Safety Strategy?

Improving motorcycle safety is one of the top five priorities in Safer Journeys, New Zealand’s Road Safety Strategy 2010-2020. This strategy adopts the safe system approach and recognises that people make mistakes on our roads, and that the human body has a limited ability to withstand crash forces.

Given that mistakes are inevitable, the road system should protect people from death and serious injury by focusing on the following elements - safer roads and roadsides; safer speeds; safer vehicles and safer road use.