In response to the letter ‘Wrong place for dirt bikes’, South Gippsland Sentinel-Times, April 17.
I am thrilled to hear there is an application for an off-road motorcycle facility and I hope it is approved.
Off-road motorcycling is a legitimate activity, sport and hobby enjoyed by many.
The number of off-road riders is increasing yet there are very few places to ride.
Yes, there are clubs with tracks in Wonthaggi and Outtrim, however, these clubs are restricted with options for operating dates due to – in my opinion – over governance by the controlling body of motorcycle sport in Australia – Motorcycling Australia.
These tracks are generally only open one day a month. So where do riders go to enjoy this legal, healthy activity?
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that off-road motorcycle sales remain strong.
The FCAI first quarter report for 2018 shows there are two kids-size dirt bikes inside the top 10 sales figures across all motorcycle categories.
In the off-road category which includes road registrable trail and enduro bikes, there are five kids-sized motorcycles in the top ten sales figures.
Kids-sized motorcycles make up a huge amount of motorcycle sales in Australia. Yet where can they ride? Kids are too young to have a license. Not everyone lives on acreage.
Private off-road tracks allow for safe and legal use of off-road motorcycles of all ages.
Take a look at Krusic’s Ride Park at Dutson Downs, near Sale for what I think is the best example of a private off-road motorcycle riding park (www.krusicsridepark.com.au). I ride there up to six times a year.
I would ride there twice a month if I lived closer. It’s well run, safe and encourages riders of all ages.
Krusic’s Ride Park receives an average of 300 riders each weekend and at $40 a day for riders over 16 and $20 for under 16, it proves riders are willing to attend and pay for a suitable facility.
To put a comparative spin on this, you only need to look at the skateboarding boom of the 1980s and 1990s.
The activity of skateboarding became so popular that skaters became a nuisance.
As a result, skate parks became the norm with most towns across Australia offering a skate park for public use.
Like off-road motorcycling, skating is a legal and healthy hobby and sport. Ignoring users who are trying to do the right thing simply creates wider spread problems.
It’s astounding to think that the Australia widely celebrates the success of riders such as Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, Casey Stoner and Chad Reed and even more recently Robbie Maddison, yet conveniently forgets the grass-roots level of off-road motorcycling which continues to grow in popularity, in part due to the wide-spread success for Australia’s international superstars.
The Australian Institute of Sport has dedicated motorcycling programs. The governing body of motorcycle sport, Motorcycling Australia encourages and supports programs to foster young riding talent, yet state government and local council find it either too hard to comprehend or are unwilling to realise that off-road motorcycling is a legitimate activity and sport that not only encourages healthy lifestyle and but also contributes to local economy and it’s growing.
In the Parliament of Victoria, Road Safety Committee Inquiry into Motorcycle Safety, it is stated that, “motorcycle use is growing, irrespective of the usage measure, and is doing so at a rapid pace”.
“The growth in the motorcycle fleet has been significant, particularly due to the nature of motorcycle use in Victoria.
“Given that motorcycles used on private farms do not need to be registered, the actual growth in motorcycles use may be larger than indicated by the VicRoads statistics. Similarly, a proportion of motorcycles used off-road are unregistered (and used unlawfully). The cumulative effect of these nuances in motorcycle registrations is that the actual growth levels are, at the very least, likely to be higher than that collected by VicRoads.”
Riders require safe and legal places to ride. Forcing the legal activity of dirt bike riding underground is detrimental to all. The fallout is illegal riding activity with increased risks to riders and bystanders. The associated costs of high-risk, unlicensed and unregistered riding have a negative snowball effect that filters through the legal and emergency services system costing precious government money.
The two main factors against off-road motorcycling is noise and environmental impact. Noise tests have proven a correctly maintained motorcycle produces less noise than a chainsaw or a bellowing bull.
The environmental impact is minimal if correctly managed. Look at mountain bike track construction as an example.
Working with the natural contours and surrounding elements allows for tracks with minimal impact on erosion and flora. It just takes some education, understanding and an approach of an open mind.
So where can riders enjoy their hobby and sport? If the location at ‘Nortons Bush’ is deemed unsuitable, where is?
Stephen Tuff, San Remo.