Editorial: road rage over speed changes a catch-22

IT’S the ultimate catch-22. 

Plans to reduce the speed limit along the Oxley Highway from Walcha to Port Macquarie will come at a cost.

Proponents claim a slower speed limit means a safer road – and they might have a point. 

Since 2008 there have been 44 crashes along the road and 75 per cent of those were caused by speeding.

The stunning stretch is renowned as a motorbiking mecca, boasting stunning scenery and challenging corners. 

Riders who frequent the road are furious that an 80-km stretch between Walcha and Long Flat will drop from 100km/h to 80km/h, while 27km of the mountain section will go from 100km/h to 70km/h.

In retaliation, the region’s motorcycle enthusiasts have started a petition to reverse the changes.

The fact the petition has already garnered thousands of signatures in just two days speaks volumes about what the local community thinks of the changes. 

Tamworth Uylsses branch president Mark Paynter believes reducing the speed limit will take away the route’s appeal for motorcycle riders.

He argues local riders will boycott the region altogether, in turn robbing local business that relies on the weekend motorcycle tourist.

Parliamentary Secretary for Roads and Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson can understand why riders love to travel the route, but insists “safety and speed go hand in hand”.

But Mr Paynter – like many road users – is sceptical the changes will improve safety.

There is no denying that slashing the speed limit is going to affect the way motorists use the road.

You can see both sides of the coin. On one hand, a slower speed limit is going to add time to your trip and rob the route of its motorbiking appeal. 

On the other, given the road’s damning accident record, a slower speed limit can surely only reduce the number of crashes.

We can be the first to point the finger and blame the government when a crash occurs on a road that may be too windy, too dangerous or plagued with potholes. 

We call on them to take action – to erect barriers along the roadside, to fix up bad roads, to boost police presence or, dare I say it, reduce the speed limit. 

But when that action is taken, not everyone likes it. As is the case, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

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