Motorcycles taking over Queensland roads

By Ashley Porter.

Queensland drivers are leaning towards a cheaper, simpler and more enjoyable alternative to cars as motorcycle registrations have soared up 55 per cent over the past decade.

One in 20 vehicles on the roads are now motorbikes, according to an analysis of Queensland Government Statistician’s Office vehicle registration figures.

Between 2005 and 2014, motorcycle registrations shot from 2,485 to 3,847 per 100,000 of the state’s population.

While all vehicle types recorded had steadily increased since 2005, motorcycles had changed the most.

Despite 84,313 more motorbikes being used last year than in 2005, motorcyclists killed in road crashes have almost halved in that time, according to the Australian Road Deaths Database.

2014 had Queensland’s lowest motorcyclist death toll in 10 years, at 35, whereas 61 were killed in 2005.

The Australian Motorcycle Council Inc. works to promote safe riding, and secretary Tony Ellis said motorcyclists were less likely to be involved in a crash than car drivers because they “tend to have far better danger perception”.

“Motorcyclists are less likely to crash, but in the event of a crash they’re more likely to be injured,” Mr Ellis said.

“You’ve got far fewer distractions on a bike…you’re constantly looking out for what’s likely to kill you.”

However the drastic reduction in fatalities cannot cover up that in 2014 motorbike crashes accounted for 16 per cent of Queensland’s road fatalities when motorbikes only made up 5 per cent of road users.

Mr Ellis said this was partly because “even a minor ding on a car” is “quite likely” to hurt a motorcyclist much more than a car driver.

“Motorcyclists don’t have something around them and protective clothing won’t prevent a crash,” he said.

Mr Ellis said the most common cause of motorcycle crashes were being hit from behind by other vehicles, or cars turning across a rider’s paths.

Queensland’s motorbike increase is representative of a boom across Australia.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the nation has seen a 25 per cent surge since 2009.

Queensland had the second highest rise, behind New South Wales, to make up 23 per cent of Australia’s motorbike registrations.

Mr Ellis said the far cheaper costs of running a motorcycle than a car was the winning factor for most riders.

“Motorbikes are cheaper to run with fuel and a small motorcycle is certainly much cheaper to buy [than a car],” Mr Ellis said.

He said it costs about $10 a week to run a small scooter for an average amount of travel.

The increase also coincides with a continuous petrol price hike over the past decade, with Queensland prices going up 46 cents according to the Australian Institute of Petroleum.

Last year the average reached 151 cents per litre, up from the 104.9 cents in 2005.

Mr Ellis said “very good new motorcycles” were on the market for just $4000 to $5000, though top-end bikes could cost thousands more.

Mr Ellis also attributed the uptake to motorcycles making it “much easier to get through traffic” and Queensland having “generally good riding weather”.

He said some riders were attracted to motorbikes because they’re more environmentally friendly than cars but much easier and quicker than bicycles.

“Somewhere like Brisbane, that’s not a particularly bicycle friendly city in terms of terrain because it’s so up and down, a motorcycle makes it much easier to get around,” Mr Ellis said.

He was surprised the increase had not been higher.

“There was a big boom back in the 1960s…I think there’s a lot of people who started riding back then who have come back on board in later years,” he said.

Motorbike rider Jack Davies was attracted to the easier parking, faster transport and cheaper fuel perks of the two-wheeled option a few years ago.

“Filling up my motorbike costs about $20 and I get the same usage from that as I do from my partner’s car, so it costs half as much in fuel,” Mr Davies said.

He said riders need to drive sensibly and pay a lot more attention than when driving a car because cars often pull out in front of bikes or try to overtake them.

“You can’t turn off and just listen to music and not pay any attention, because if a car pulls out and you hit a car, you’re going to end up a lot worse off than the car,” he said.

While the motorcycle increase was the highest of all vehicle types recorded in the registration data, a 39 per cent rise in campervan sales correlates with Queenslanders choosing the fun option.

Cars had the smallest change over the past decade at 5 per cent, but make up 70.5 per cent of registrations.

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