Gardner speaks out on road bike safety

NT News - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - By MARK HINCH­LIFFE

FOR­MER world mo­tor­cy­cle cham­pion Wayne Gardner doesn’t want his two sons rid­ing on the road un­til they have de­vel­oped ‘‘ex­pe­ri­ence and ma­tu­rity’’.

His com­ments come as the the Na­tional Road Safety Coun­cil, of which he is a mem­ber, has called from more manda­tory re­fresher rider train­ing and bet­ter qual­ity safety gear.

Gardner says his sons will not be al­lowed to ride on the road when they are old enough to get a li­cence.

‘‘I didn’t ride on the streets un­til I was in my mid­dle 20s and I only ride oc­ca­sion­ally now for leisure or trans­port con­ve­nience,’’ said Gardner, whose old­est son Remy, 12, re­cently scored his first road race round vic­tory at Phillip Is­land.

‘‘He’s al­ready asked me if he can ride to school when he’s old enough and I’ve said no.

‘‘I’m con­fi­dent in his abil­ity on the race track but there are a lot of ob­sta­cles on the road and there’s far too many peo­ple who drive around in a day­dream and don’t look out for bikes.’’

While he sup­ports the Queens­land Govern­ment ban on li­cens­ing rid­ers un­til they’ve had a year driv­ing on a car li­cence, Gardner says the biggest prob­lem is ma­ture rid­ers re­turn­ing af­ter sev­eral years away from rid­ing.

‘‘As a racer, if you have three months off rid­ing, it takes quite a long time to build your speed back up again,’’ he said.

‘‘The same thing goes for these ma­ture-aged rid­ers, yet some of them have been off the bike for 20 years.’’

Na­tional statis­tics show the road toll de­creas­ing 7.8 per cent from 150 in the 11 months to Novem­ber 2009 to 133 for the same pe­riod this year, while mo­tor­cy­clist deaths have only de­creased 1.7 per cent from 232 to 228.

The high­est rate of biker deaths is in the age bracket from 40 to 60.

‘‘Their kids have grown up and left home and they have ex­tra in­come and go out and buy a flash, high-pow­ered bike,’’ Gardner said.

He warned rid­ers not to buy cheap safety gear on the in­ter­net from over­seas, say­ing a lot of repli­cas were be­low safety stan­dards. The Aus­tralian li­cens­ing sys­tem which re-tested hel­mets sold here made them more ex­pen­sive than over­seas.

Wayne Gardner says he’ll never let his son Remy, now 12, ride to school

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