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, says the NZ Transport Agency.
The Safer Rides - Southern Coromandel pilot route 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:
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.