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Johnno down under

Street Skills And Road Engineering

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So part of my problems cornering turned out to be a front tyre that had given its best -cupping and old age (10 years). It still had plenty of tread it just wasn't providing reliable feedback.

So onto a new street tyre. And a slight increase n pressure from 32-34 psi cold to 36 psi based on the tyre gurus recommendation (Pirelli sport demon).

And a problem. While wearing in and adjusting to this new tyre I was riding very conservatively 75km into an unfamiliar long downhill sweeper with initially good banking. Weather was sunny, with warm dry road surface (not summer greasy). I was aware that a 50km sped restriction was ahead so I stuck with maintenance throttle only following a gentle trail break into the sweeper.

Just before the primary apex of the sweeper I spotted the speed restriction shortly after the second reducing apex, but well before the sweeper ended at the bottom of the hill, I thought to myself this is going to be fun! I wonder if I can slow enough to beat legal speed past the sign.

So shift to gentle trail braking -front and rear, move inside and down to counter the stand-the-bike up effect. Hmm, front end feels light and skittish - ahhaa the banking is rolling off prior to the second apex. Bugger. "Sit on the bike, sit on the bike" thought starts circulating in my head to forestall SR. Yes I'm still loose on the bars, nicely locked in but not wildly hanging off the bike, it's just I was maintaining just beyond the front tyres point of stability. A bike length before the sign I could see that I could straight line the remainder of the corner. Stand the bike up into the worn n centre, and whack the brakes on, and so I achieved the speed limit a couple of bike lengths past the sign. By this time I'd been speed cammed. Probably just a few km over the limit.

 

Having spoken with council engineers they have indicated that there is nothing wrong with the placement of the signage. And I know that in a tin top with adequate tyres and no regard for driving safely it is relatively comfortable to brake from 100 to 50 through the zone. On a motorcycle with warm, scrubbed in tyres at the optimum pressure I'd expect it to moderately uncomfortable, but wholely doable by an experienced rider. But for a novice, with new tyres, with a poorly set up road bike and a novices SR and poor visibility ( frequent mist, fog, and torrential rain) I would expect either a high side or low side off with the bike and rider almost certainly impacting the sign.

 

What advice would other skilled, and experienced riders give the council engineer?

 

Hint: in my view moving the sign to a point 25 metres ( 30 yards) later, down on the flat, 10 metres past the curve would enable most if not all riders to negotiate the speed restriction in a safer fashion. This would move the first sight of the sign maybe 1-2 metres later, and yet provide an additional 25 metres to break in, although much of this addition braking zone would remain in the exit of the corner.

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Maybe this could also use an additional sign warning of the curve and steep grade?

 

Many times there is the additional factor of other vehicles tailgating the motorcycle and not paying attention. Since speed tends to not be a concern for the driver of a car or truck, for any such drivers not paying attention, there is the risk of them going right through the motorcyclist during the slowdown. Thus, your warning of the signage applies just as well to the follower as to the lead motorcyclist, yet another reason to seriously consider the sign change.

 

Often here in the US the catalyst for additional signage is a certain number of accidents or deaths. Perhaps they mentioned this metric in the meeting? According to the local law, how many accidents or deaths would result in a change to this signage? A number of citizen complaints may not be meaningful to the council.

 

I have seen such on the news many times, dangerous areas where people complained to the municipality and they did nothing. After two or three or four deaths, that same area looks like a Christmas tree, with warnings and even superior lighting. In fairness to the council, citizens probably request expensive things from them daily. In unfairness to their decision, it sounds like you are the expert witness in this case. After some of the conditions I have encountered, it certainly seems like traffic design is universally engineered for cars with motorcycles being an afterthought. Looking at this from afar it appears that the council's decision reflects this tenet too.

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