Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Bikers at fault- gives all riders hope...?

The Age newspaper published [22/3/2004] a very interesting article outlining the Victoria Police Major Collision group inquiry into motorcycle accidents in Victoria:
Motorcyclists were at fault in three-quarters of fatal or near-fatal crashes involving them, according to a detailed Victoria

Police road crash investigation from May 2002 to April 2003.

The various motorcycle lobby groups (and of course seasoned campaigner, agitator and legend Damien Codognotto) will have a lot to say about this. Their argument will simply be "Yeah well cars caused them and drove off, meaning that a lot of single bike accidents have been recorded as biker's fault"

But I hold a different view. I think that bikers being at fault means that I, as a rider, am in charge of my own destiny. If three quarters of the current death rate was due to car drivers only, I would give it away. I am not taking a lotto ticket on my life, I would much rather "play" the stats. By this I mean I am taking steps to remove myself from the "likely to die" groups/demographics.

Further, I think the stats hold some secrets that reveal the age old "cars fault" argument to be false. Lets look at the stats:

[*note: Australian vehicles drive and ride on the left hand side of the road, so right hand corners are outside corners and vice versa for left!]
Inspector Geoff Alway, from the major collision investigation group, said the findings would not necessarily hold true for less serious accidents.

"With the 'at fault' we are talking about the major causative factor, but there's always more than one factor in accidents," Mr Alway said.

He said bike crashes were far more frequent on left-hand bends than on right-hand ones. On average, riders who crashed in left-hand turns were going 23 km/h faster than those who crashed on right-hand bends.

The huge over representation of accidents on left hand bends tells the tale. Left hand bends that are well cambered tend to encourage the average rider into going quicker than they would on a right hand bend. Over confidence=disaster. Anecdotally I have seen this in action:Road near Kinglake- CLICK FOR FULLSIZE
Case 1 Riding from St Andrews to Kinglake in January 2004, I was passed by a GSXR 750, 600 and Aprilia RS 250. They had been on my tail for a bit and were keen to speed where perhaps it was unwise (cops) and unsafe (cars, kids, etc). So I let them go. We left St Andrews proper and the really twisty bits began. The leader was on the 750, followed by the 600 and 250. I sat on the back of them as they slowed once in the hills. Despite being miles away from scraping their pegs on the road, they were all struggling with the tighter corners. The inevitable happened. On a left hand bend ALL THREE ran wide, onto the opposite side of the road, into the path of an oncoming car. It was a slow 25km/h posted corner, so the car was able to stop. Luckily. All three collectively crapped themselves, I passed them all and rode safely into Kinglake alone. They pulled up next to my bike and were sharing a nervous laugh about the incident. I'm no expert, but I know my limits and I know a bit about human nature. I gently pointed out a few things to them:
  • Never play follow the leader, ride your own bike to your own skill level.
  • Do a track day, training day, or have someone who knows what they are doing teach you.

  • There was NO excuse for running wide- ALL three bikes could have made the corner in question without going slower- they just didn't know how to get their bikes right over. An Aprilia RS 250 can corner like a rollercoaster, but this guy went wide and then put his goddamn foot down like a motocrosser!. Inexperience, group stupidity and bravado nearly killed all three of them.

    Case 2 In a group ride to Eildon, an experienced club rider went past me on his GSXR 1000 around the outside of a bend, on the white double lines at warp factor 9. I thank my lucky stars I was well within my comfort zone, because two corners later he went wide on a left hand bend and sideswiped a car. Bike written off, he's unconscious, and for a while there I wonder if he's going to make it. Three months of rehab and he's out of hospital. Over confidence, showing off, ego, and blind faith combine. It put me off club rides because the collective stupidity can be infectious if not headed off by cool, wise heads.

    In my time riding I've only seen one guy go off on a right hand bend, and he wrote of his bike and bruised his ego only. No oncoming cars in the left hand verge!

    Back to the article!
    Excessive speed and alcohol and drug consumption were found to be key elements in causing serious motorcycle crashes.

    The study raises the possibility of more interceptions and drug testing of riders in the early morning. This follows the finding that riders injured in all collisions between midnight and 6am tested positive for alcohol or drugs.

    I've read this before, and it makes sense. If you have an accident where it was technically the drivers fault, and you were over the (alcohol) limit, does it matter whose fault it was technically? If you were sober you might have avoided the incident altogether. As for speed- I don't think speed on it's own causes accidents, but combined with any one of alcohol, drugs, inexperience, stupidity, bravado, ego, fear of being last, etc and well, you know the rest.
    Solution: Don't drink at all before a ride. EVER. If you do get caught, I want you to lose your license.

    Unlicensed riders accounted for one in five motorcycle deaths. Learner and probationary riders were involved in a fifth of crashes. Almost half the crashes were at weekends.
    Get trained up dude!
    The unlicensed stat has been bandied about by the MRA and others as proof that the TAC increase here in Victoria was unfair given that unlicensed rider deaths and injuries were being paid for by legal riders. And fair enough too. In St Kilda recently the Vic Police were pulling over EVERY rider for a license check and rego label check. I have no problem with this at all. Some riders complained about being victimised, but you can't argue victimisation by the TAC and blame unlicensed riders on the one hand, and then complain about license checks on the other.

    Inexperienced riders (as outlined in case 1 above) are always a problem. Groups of inexperienced riders are the biggest worry of all. Their collective stupidity is your typical mob mentality and needs to be tackled by experienced riders- head on. Mentoring is the best way to turn a young, dangerous rider into an old, experienced and uninjured rider.
    Solution: Get your license if you want to ride. Police keep checking licenses. Older riders mentor younger ones. Even riders you don't know.

    The bikes were evenly divided between small, medium and large engine capacities.

    The focus on engine capacity, limits, Learner approved motorcycles etc are worthy, but do not go to the core issue of turning young, careless riders to experienced older riders. I am not a fan of legislation, but I do think that young riders should ride with older ones. A trial of this could produce interesting stats. I would like to see the MRA and Ulysses clubs get into the training centres and aggressively recruit new riders for a trial of a mentoring program. I think this alone would make a huge difference to the stats of young riders.

    Blaming car drivers is just spectating.

    The issue of mentoring is one I will address separately, as it opens a whole new can of worms...

    Bikers' fault in most crashes - National - www.theage.com.au
    Motorcycle training in Victoria: Evaluation of rider training curriculum in Victoria (Monash Uni Report)
    Turn Theory Into Reality With Stay Upright
    Australian Superbike School
    posted by thr at 4:57 pm 1 comments links to this post

    Monday, March 22, 2004

    ...and people say Phar Lap is a hero

    that's Paris, not the Horse
    "Paris Hilton was hospitalised after a horse she was riding threw her off and kicked her in the stomach during the taping of The Simple Life 2, a reality show featuring the hotel heiress and a friend on a 30-day cross-country trip."

    I love the way the horse threw her and then kicked her to try to finish the job.

    Bad luck big guy, you did yer best.
    Hilton hospitalised - People - www.theage.com.au: "
    posted by thr at 12:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Thursday, March 18, 2004

    A bottle o' Vodka and a shhhhlab of VB thanks...*hic*

    Woman is confused. Shouting. Horrible noises. Squelching, screeching OH NO!There she GOES!!
    A woman is facing a drink driving charge after she crashed into a car pushing it into a police booze bus at Pakenham, south-east of Melbourne.

    Police said the bus, which is used to test drivers' blood alcohol levels, was turning on the Princes Highway about 8.20pm (AEDT) last night, when a car stopped behind it.

    Reminds one somewhat of the old days (not that I recall them) of a sobriety test.

    At a guess, I'd say she failed.
    Woman crashes into booze bus - National - www.theage.com.au
    posted by thr at 10:25 am 0 comments links to this post

    Friday, March 12, 2004

    Go Postal!

    I have no idea whether this will be useful or just annoying, but here is all the info about getting, running and LOVING a POSTIE BIKE!

    …a what?
    A postie bike is a Honda CT110 four stroke motorcycle as used by your local postie. You can’t get ‘em new, only the Post Office can do that. You will need a motorcycle license in most states to ride one, but they are learner legal. It has a manual four speed gearbox but NO CLUTCH. No electric start (kick only). Their top speed is about 75 kph, and can out accelerate many cars. They are primarily single seater, but are versatile enough to carry pillions, dogs and rather unsightly large loads.

    Dry weight: 89.5 kg (197 lb)
    Capacities Displacement: 105.1 cm?
    Fuel Tank: 5.5 L (about $5 to fill at today’s prices)
    Output Power: 7.5 HP(DIN) @7,500 rpm

    Well many muso, punters and other poor characters have next to nowt money, but need to get around and the Postie Bike (PB) is perfect. Low cost to :buy, run and maintain, it’s also a lot of fun and can do all sorts of neato stuff.

    Auction is the go- Trading post is more expensive, but you might get one that has received some TLC . Fowles sell them the first Wednesday of every month. Don’t buy the first few that come up- there are usually about 50-100 per Auction, per month- plenty to choose from! Get the lie of the land in the early auctions and then swoop hawk-like when there is a lull.

    …How much?
    From around $450- $1500 depending on condition and rego details. Roadworthy certificates are a cinch and rego is about $300 a year plus $90 for 3rd party fire and theft.

    …parts and so on?
    Since the CT110 is still sold in Australia (to Aussie Post) you can order NEW parts for the later models from any Honda Parts Dealer. You can also get 2nd hand parts from Motorcycle wreckers and fellow CT enthusiasts(?!) oil filter runs to about $15 and you should always use the best oil possible (this goes for cars too!) about $20 a change (twice a year- plus top ups!) There is no reason that the most shithouse mechanic (i.e. YOU) couldn’t do almost ALL the maintenance on your own bike!

    Crash or crash through! CLICK FOR FULL SIZE!
    You can do all sorts of silly shit. Standard Postie pulls about 8 horsepower (my triumph is more like 130) You can remove exhaust baffles, get ‘em ported n polished, run ‘em on AVGAS or Methanol, get nitro kits, get it dyno tuned- all sorts of crazy shit. I even heard of one guy who turbo-ed it and it pulled a 14 second quarter mile (*which would beat a V8 commodore). Guys n gals race them, do huge trips and treat ‘em rough all the way.(the Cape York annual trip is, I gather a BEAUTY!).

    But without doubt the postie is great coz its versatile. The rear rack is big enough for a large crate (like from Ikea etc) drill holes through the lip of the lid and opposite ends, fit locks and its like a car boot! You will be amazed how much you can carry and how little you will use/need/miss a car. If you haven’t owned a motorcycle you are missing out. Cross town in peak hour? No worries! A park outside your favourite pub 2 minutes before your favourite band goes on? Done! OK so it rains… BMW sell a full rain suit for $190 that is so warm and dry- you’d hardly know its raining. A cheap open face helmet is about $100 and you can wear blunnies/docs. Cheap gloves are about $30.

    Total costs
    Start Up
    Bike and rego $1000, Gear $250
    Total $1250

    Annual costs
    Rego + Ins. $350, Tyres $ 100, Home service- oil, spark plug, filter $200 (for three services), Fuel (one tank a week) $250
    Total $800

    Weekly costs (all up) $15. (or $2.10 per day) Compare that with your car!

    In short GO POSTAL!
    ABC Radio Story about Postie Bike Challenge
    posted by thr at 3:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Wednesday, March 10, 2004

    Band Vans!

    The perfect Chatmobiles- A Thomasr investigation.

    In a slight departure from the usual shite, I thought I'd give over to another pressing issue- that is transport for bands, musicians and all other peasants.

    Before You Buy
    Channel [V] bus... whoa baby!If you know a bit about vehicles, have some mechanical knowledge or at least know someone who does, then without doubt, vehicle Auctions are your best bet. These are vehicles that have been leased,repackagedd, insurance jobs or stolen at some stage. There are also damaged vehicle auctions, but we'll stay away from them for the moment.

    The biggest and probably best Auction group are Fowles Auction group. They are in all states and are online:

    Their catalogues are online the week before, and you can inspect (though not start nor drive the vehicles) the day before the auction. All vehicles that are driveable will be driven into the auction arena and that is your ONLY chance to see them in action- so get up close and personal! I could go through the things to look out for, but really you need to take someone with you if you are unsure yourself. Most vehicles will have a rough inspection report, but it's next to useless (think "Does this car have a steering wheel YES/no" and you are close!)

    Trading Post/local newspaper/ Car dealerTerrence my son, help this man wif 'is mota
    Can be a good bet for certain types of vehicle, but make sure you know the market well before you go out and look at vehicles in these papers. You should know within 10% what a vehicle you seek is worth or you are going to end up a bunny in the headlights.

    The advantage of a car dealer is while you might pay a little more you can get a deal that incorporates a service or two, a limited guarantee and a walk away if you shit yourself the day after.

    Consumer affairs have a webpage (in Victoria anyway!) that have a whole section on buying a car second hand and it is simple, well defined and a MUST read. If you don't follow the info in it, you might find yourself with a bill and no vehicle- fun!

    Enough about that lets get driving!!!

    Transport for Bands.
    Unless you play in a tin whistle band or a Capella group, transport is one of the great bugbears for any band. Big (or indeed standard!) drum kits can drive a band to insanity and beyond all too easily. But there's no need to loose your lolly over it, just get smart about it.

    I will go through these in order of cost from most to least.

    The Ultimate tour vehicle.
    Load the truck and we're OFF!
    The Toyota Coaster van/bus is simply the greatest tour vehicle in history (Apart from perhaps a coach, but I am trying to be reasonable). Plentiful, but not cheap, it is perhaps not the first choice for the struggling musician/group, but certainly can do everything you want in style. Small enough to get up lanes and park in most areas, the Coaster can represent the ultimate in comfort for the touring band. The Surrogate had a beauty- complete with a couch, fridge and cage in the rear area for the gear. A pure pleasure machine!
    Details: There are many models, and a few sizes, but they seat anywhere from 5-22 people. There are petrol versions, but the diesel and turbo diesels (read on!) are best.
    Expect to Pay:
    From around 8 grand for older (like 80’s and earlier) through to 90K+ for a new one!

    Standard vans
    These are your ex delivery van types with petrol (or the better) diesel and turbo diesel variations. Some might scoff at diesel due to low power attributes, but it is reliable as hell, low maintenance and very economical. I highly recommend diesel- but people are starting to realise this so they are scarce and often hold their value.
    Expect to pay (trading post rates- auction less 30% plus!)
    Plain Hiace Van 30 K for 2002 model
    Hiace bus 42 K 2002 model
    Hiace Van 1987 model 5K
    Mazda E 1400 1982 model $3900
    1986 MAZDA E2200 Van $3,875
    1989 MAZDA E2000 Van $2,990
    2000 MAZDA E2000 Van $17,990

    Other Vans
    Get there NOW!
    Ex postie Transits, ex Telstra vans etc at the Auctions can go really cheap. Despite high kms, they have generally been warmed up and driven all day, have service histories and are no more than three years old. Don't be put off by them. I had an awesome ex postie Transit in the early 90's- complete with Chev 350 cubic inch motor. Went like stink but used fuel like a jet. Fun comes at an expense kids!

    Station Wagons…
    Are tough going because you won’t probably fit everything in and are highly visible for thieves (which I will come to shortly!) They have the advantage of driving like a car- but did you know that a van generally has a better turning circle and better seating position from reversing etc? No? Then get one!!

    Kitting It Out
    The single biggest problem is theft. Theft of, and theft from. The standard rules do not apply- car locks, etc are a waste of time. You nee to secure your van like Goddamn Fort Knox. I cannot emphasize this enough. Here's what to do:

    Get a mate who can really weld or find a pro. Have steel mesh welded between the seating area and the rear. Weld it in,ARC it up! not bolt. Bolts are a waste of time- my 6 yr old nephew can undo them. Have extra bars welded onto this mesh. It gives you something to tie bits to and stops access from the front. Next weld over the windows if there are any (rear windows) weld plate over them or more steel mesh. Once meshed, get curtains or paint them black from the inside. You are not advertising your new Gibson and Marshall amp so hide 'em. If the van has a side door you now need to WELD (notice I keep saying that?) a DEADBOLT in situ. A deadbolt that you can access from the front seat with a key. (So, a hand size hole in the steel mesh will get you there!)The back door can be tricky, but either don't use it and weld it shut, or find someway to get another deadbolt put in. You might also want to consider extra support for it to stop a crowbar from getting in the gap (I used aluminium strips riveted over the bottom). I don't advise an external old style latch and padlock because they advertise valuables and can be removed with a bit of grunt.

    When doing all of this, keep thinking "OK, I am junkie who wants to break in and steal all the gear, how do I go about it?" and then find ways to ensure you win! No vehicle is unbeatable, but slow 'em down long enough and they'll give it away.

    Protecting the van from being stolen is easy- kill switch. Get an auto electrician to install one under the dash or somewhere. One clever mate of mine installed one that requires you to plug a guitar lead plug (just the jack) in it to enable the ignition to come on. He keeps it in the ashtray and it's so innocuous that it pure genius. Essentially with a kill switch, they could steal your keys and they ain't going anywhere.

    park near one of theseLastly (this might sound stupid) make sure you lock the bloody thing! Many folks have had vans stolen or stolen from because they were rushing to their gig and left it unlocked or loaded it and then went and got pissed thinking someone else was going to lock it!!!

    I won't go into things like "park it somewhere visible under a streetlight", but try to park it somewhere visible under a streetlight. Sorry. Though if you are out the front of a venue, or round the back, it's worth asking the bouncers to peek at it on their rounds. Emphasise that you won't hold them responsible, but if they "just wouldn't mind"

    Ok so she's protected like a US President. Next you need to try to tone it down. No band stickers, guitar logos or similar. Why advertise "I have a van full of gear!" unless you are sleeping in the van? How do you think thieves decide your van is worth breaking into if the windows are all blacked out? Stay low profile in the street, while playing a ball tearing gig indoors!

    Insurance.Bung one of these in the back
    No matter who you are or how valuable your van, insure it from third party property damage. This is NOT your rego/ TAC insurance but rather the damage that your "drummer crashed into a Porsche" damage insurance. It's only about $100 (for most!) a year and NOT having it could send you broke (I found out the hard way back in '91!). Nominate all the possible drivers and even if it costs you more for having under 21s, pay for it. I cannot emphasise this enough, only rich people can afford NOT to be insured!

    Next TRY to insure your gear. It can be damn near impossible, but if you can get your van inspected, you might get it a reasonable rate.
    posted by thr at 5:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Tuesday, March 09, 2004

    Two Tribes

    I went to the Two Tribes event last Sunday night.
    The apparent OD of some goers on GBH has created a furore in some sections of the media. This is unfortunate because outside of the ODs, the event was excellent. Last time I checked however, there were no reports of the following:
    - Any fights.
    - Any bouncers punching patrons
    - Any arrests.
    - Any stabbings
    - Anyone getting a hand chopped off.
    - Any gang rapes.
    While the ODs are report worthy, the analysis should also include the fact that 15000 other Two Tribers danced their arses off peacefully til dawn and safely went home to bed as happy as Larry.
    posted by thr at 1:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Wednesday, March 03, 2004

    The Passion of the Violence

    My latest letter to The Age. I'd say it's unlikely to get published..:
    Mel Gibson's epic "The Passion of the Christ" has created an interesting paradox over its violence.

    The Pope may (or may not) have said of the film's accuracy that "it is as it was". (Though whether the Holy Father was at the Crucifixion is open to debate). Many critics have praised the film for its no holes barred approach to the death of Christ and the film has effectively erased the family friendly view that films of the past portrayed. American critic Roger Ebert says that "this is the most violent film I have ever seen". Few disagree.

    So what justification is there for showing such violence on the screen? Is it okay because there is a message? Because it is “Our Lord” being portrayed?

    I just wonder if there will be rumblings from the Christian right about other R-rated violent films that “have a message” in the future? Can we complain about movies and television violence anymore when the “most violent film I have ever seen” is about Christ himself?

    Roger Ebert's review
    IMDB listing of The Passion of The Christ
    posted by thr at 3:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Tuesday, March 02, 2004

    We are on the F*CKING moon!

    Jesus H CHRIST- We are on the F*CKING moon!

    The first time I heard this, I honestly laughed till I cried.

    It's that fucking funny.

    Blogjam presents: Neil Armstrong - The Truth LINK GONE

    On the effing moon- here @ thomasr.org
    posted by thr at 10:35 am

    Monday, March 01, 2004


    It is my intention to get to some regular bloggin- all thematic in an attempt to be a writer instead of just writing. So stay tuned...
    posted by thr at 10:57 am 1 comments links to this post