Gear Sale

Looking for a bargain?  Riders Edge, the gear shop on the hill in Bell St, Heidelberg (Melbourne) is having a closing down sale.  Not sure why they’re closing down, but there are bargains to be had on the way there! Sale ends May 14, and it’s 20% – 40% off all gear till all stock is gone.  They’ve got boots, helmets, jackets, etc; for example, Thomas Cooke Road Boots are $139, down from $229, DVD’s are $20.  Check it out for yourself here

Is it legal?

Ever wondered if it’s legal to weave between stationary cars banked up in traffic?
I didn’t, until a driver told me it was illegal – then I began to wonder …
Well, I found the answer (that is, if you’re riding in Victoria, Australia!).  I stumbled upon this chatroom, set up by Victoria Police, and earlier this month a police motorcyclist was taking questions.  Check it out here.
The policeman was asked:-

(Comment From MiCCAS)  So Craig, just to confirm. If cars are stopped at the lights, a motocyclist is allowed to weave through the cars to get to the front?


LSC Craig McKenzie (Mac):

MICCAS, if you think about whether it is safe and whether you have committed an overtake to get to the position you end up with. If its that close that a door can open or the car diverge then its unsafe. An unsafe overtake is unlawful and you can be prosecuted for it.

Later, another entry from Twistngo:
Are police aware it is now legal to overtake stationary cars on the left? Under what circumstances would we be booked for this and what would be the charge?
LSC Craig McKenzie (Mac):

Twistngo, Yes, i’m sure all good police are aware of the current situation. It is an offence unless the vehicle being overtaken is stationary AND it is safe to do so in the circumstances. Think about it next time you consider the manoeuvre and think to yourself what might be the worse case scenario. Then think about it again whether it was safe?

Another interesting feature of the chatroom, is that at the bottom of the page, they ask for comments, and topic suggestions.  So if there’s something you are not sure of, suggest it for another session.

The BMW Concept C, launched at the Milan Bike Show.
So why now?  What has prompted the up-market auto maker to step into the scooter realm?
It’s got to be dollars.  Australia is not a big automobile market, but there is a trend, likely to be reflected overseas.
Scooter Registrations
Scooters sales are on the rise, but it’s difficult to find the data, as they are counted in the motorcycle figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.  ABS data shows that 4% of all vehicles registered in Australia (as at March 09) were motor cycles, and that motor cycle registrations increased by 57.5% in the 5 years from March 04 and March 09.
But how many of these registrations are motor scooters?  They are hidden in these stats. A search of each states registration body to possibly extract motor scooter figures would be very time consuming.
Scooter Sales
Sales figures are an indicator.  This site records scooter sales, but the raw data is hard to locate.  Nevertheless, it reveals 6 months of sales in the first half of 2009 to be in excess of 2,895.  It also records this as being a 29.3% drop on the same timeframe from 2008 (presumably the GFC).  Which means that roughly, there would have been closer to 4,000 registrations in the first half of ’08.
Australia is a small market by world standards, but no doubt this market growth explains BMW’s decision to step into the scooter realm.
BMW Concept Scooter video
Check out the video here.

About the Concept C

BMW calls it the Concept C which it describes as the scooter of the future, and a “highly promising business line” which will be manufactured in Berlin.

It’s aimed at commuters (hence the “C”) and former riders, who are undecided about motorcycles after a long period of absence.

It was launched at the Milan international bicycle and motorcycle exhibition EICMA in Milan (which finishes today).

Picture source:  BMW and Wired.com

More bike stats

The stats on fatal motorcycle crashes are chilling.

Overwhelmingly, those killed on motorbikes are  men, (93%).

Of the bike riders involved in crashes, most are aged between 22 and 40 years old.

One in 8 motorbike fatalities were 21 or younger.  Just 25% were over 41.

40% of motorbike fatalities involved no other vehicles.

In the year 2000 Australian motorcyclists died at a greater rate than those in the OECD.  In Australia 5.7 bike riders died for every 10,000 vehicles registered.  In the OECD, fatalities were 5.1 per 10,000 vehicles.

Nationally, one in ten road deaths are motorcyclists.  In NSW, motorcyclists represent 4% of all road crashes, but account for 10% of all deaths and 7% of all injuries.  Almost two thirds (61%) of motorcycle crashes involve collisions with another vehicle.

Victorian Crash Data by Gender

This is the TAC data on accidents in Victoria, by gender.

The stats themselves are revealing, but they also raise many questions.

Gender      Killed (2009)     Seriously injured (2008)

Female          1                            116

Male              37                          923

Unknown        0                                 5

Total              38                         1044

You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that men are much more likely to be killed or injured in motorbike accidents.


We know how many riders were killed or injured, but we don’t know how many riders there are in total.

We don’t know whether these deaths and injuries were to riders or passengers.

We don’t know what protective clothing the dead or injured were wearing.

How many of these accidents involved scooters?

Does anyone know where I can find data as specific as that?

Statistics Vic

In Victoria in 2009, 38 riders were killed on the roads.  That’s 13% of the total fatalities (290), and yet motorcycles make up less than 4% of all  registered vehicles in Victoria, and account for less than 1% of vehicle kilometers travelled.  The year before, over 1,000 Victorian riders were seriously injured.

So who’s at risk?

Well, if you are a bloke, riding in regional Victoria during the working day, you already share more of the risk factors than other riders.

Of the 38 motorcyclists killed in 2009:

• 97% were male,
• 45% occurred in rural Victoria,
• 55% were involved in crashes between the hours of 10am and 6pm, and
• 37% of deaths occurred on roads sign posted at 100km/h or more.
• 26% were involved in single vehicle crashes, 24% were involved in overtaking/manoeuvering crashes, 21% were involved in head on crashes and 13% were invloved in crashes with another vehicle at an intersection

These stats and more can be found on the Transport Accident Commission website.





I got pulled over by one last week.  Actually, thinking back, I’m not sure it was a cop.

I was in Toorak Rd, Melbourne, and traffic was banked up, and I wove around some stationary cars to cross the intersection (with the green light), and make my way between the parked cars and the banked-up cars, to the traffic lights near the Toorak shops.

Waiting at the lights, a bloke on a regular bike pulled up next to me, pointed to his police insignia on his arm, and asked me to pull over up ahead.

I did, and he pulled up next to me.  We both got off our bikes.  He proceeded to tell me everything he thought I’d done wrong.  He didn’t show me any ID,  & he didn’t give me a ticket.

He wasn’t wearing police uniform or riding a police bike.  He said it’s illegal to go past a stationary tram unless told to do so by a Tramways official.  Does anyone know if this is true?  I thought that only applied when the tram was setting down or picking up passengers, and that you could go at 5kph, if the tram was just stopped in traffic.

A quick check on the VicRoads site shows that you are supposed to go no faster than 10km per hour when passing a tram which has its doors closed & is finished loading passengers.  That was certainly the case here.

One of his other points, was that winding around cars that are stuck in traffic, can make the car drivers cross, and they might take that out on other riders when they get the chance.  This didn’t sound anything like a traffic offence, or a police caution.

Thinking back, I’m sorry I didn’t note his rego, because I’m not sure I was stopped by a cop.  It might have just been someone who likes telling people what to do.

Why do I love Vespas?

It’s not just because there’s only one brand with that unique style.

It’s not just because it’s Italian designed, nor because it was featured in that wonderful classic movie Roman Holiday.

It’s not even because it was invented in that romantic, rustic part of Tuscany around Pisa and Florence …

Nor because the first Vespa appeared around the time WW2 ended.

No, it’s the shape, the style, the colours, the topbox, the freedom, and size. It all suits Scooterchic!

Check out the local vespa site here

Shopping for Vespas

Do your research.  You will quickly realize that Vespa’s hold their value extremely well.  A second-hand Vespa will cost you not much less than a new one.  This means that if you buy a new one, you can be confident that if you ever come to part with it, you will get a good price – particularly if you have looked after it well.

Vespa’s are more expensive than many of the scooters now on the market.  The good thing about this is that it tends to mean that only people who are captured by the idea, the style and the look of them tend to spend that extra bit.  You already have something in common with other Vespa riders!

The other thing to be aware of is that there is very little bargaining to be done.  The price doesn’t shift much, and as there are far fewer dealers handling the Italian classics than the many other forms of scooters, you don’t have much option on where to go.

If price really is the key, second hand will definitely save you, and if that’s all too expensive, there are some pretty stylish “Vespa wannabes” about on the roads these days.  But a warning – you’ll always look at the real deal and wish….

Here’s a website worth checking out for a quick idea of what’s around, and what it costs




Safety Tips

Riding safety tips

As a regular car driver for many years, I was aware that bike riders often surprise motorists with their speed and agility, and motorists don’t always check as they should before merging / changing lanes / turning corners etc.

Here are a few tips I adopted quickly after I took to riding.

­1.  On a multi lane road, always ride in one of the outside lanes.

That way, you only have to worry about cars coming from one side.

2.  Always assume the car driver hasn’t seen you.

You may be in the right, you have your indicator on etc., but if you assume the driver hasn’t seen you, you will be safe even if they do things such as turn in front of you.

3.  Be seen.

Wear some bright safety-vest or similar over the top of your bike jacket.  It doesn’t matter that this look isn’t fashionable, it improves the chance that the motorist will see you.  And when you get where you are going, you can remove the vest, and store it in the scooter.

4.  Give motorists more room in wet weather.

We all know it is harder to see when you’re driving in the rain.  That means drivers have less visibility, and may not see you.  Even with your headlight on, and a safety-vest, they might not notice you.  Allow more room between vehicles, and assume they haven’t seen you.

The Victorian Transport Accident Commission site has some good info on rider safety.  Check it out here:

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