I KNOW the world’s a complex place, and complex problems require complex solutions. But the fundamentals of this particular problem seem… well, fundamental. It’s my understanding that at some stage in Australian motorcycling history, front number plates were banned. Apparently they slice up pedestrians. At least that’s the ‘garage story’ I heard last week. Personally, I think that all sounds kinda strange, and that if I was hit by a bike I could be damaged by any number of protrusions from said bike. But let’s, for the sake of simplicity, say that this decision was not made lightly, and that indeed, number plates were banned from the front of bikes for pedestrian safety. In that case, it would seem strange to revisit this law decades down the track when, I believe, the actual physical makeup of sharp steel number plates has not changed significantly, and I’m sure there continues to be a lack of mounting solutions on motorcycles. So why the recent resurgence of this topic?
Well surely it’s clear as day to most. If you mention ‘number plates’ and ‘road safety’ in the one sentence, all arrows point towards speed cameras. Time to roll out the standard reason for every law adjustment in the history of Australian transportation: road safety. Road safety is akin to a VIP pass in the halls of government. It allows politicians to invent unsubstantiated facts like ‘speed kills’, then run major ad campaigns that reinforce the need to ‘slow down’, thereby justifying ‘safety’ cameras that coincidentally raise hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue! State governments are so excited about this relatively recent birth of such a huge cash-cow, that they seem to be focusing their entire road safety strategy around making the speed cameras a watertight trap.
The problem for governments…
The problem for governments, as I see it, is increasing revenue even further. In our commercially-driven world, where spending statistics are the number one indicator of whether a government body is doing a good job, incremental improvements in the figures from year to year are crucial. A quick way of ensuring a jump in the figures is to cut out what they see as a loophole. Road safety is just the condescendingly bullshit excuse they attach to it.
I can see the conversation already: “What did you do this year, Senator Fuck-knuckle?”
“I improved road safety 3 percent while at the same time increasing state revenue. Since motorcyclists paid a discriminatory levy, the implementation of this program for the government was cost-neutral.”
Time for a broad, sweeping statement here: society, police and politicians don’t give a flying fuck about bikers! This has been proven by the consistently negative portrayal we have copped for decades. I’m not saying that means we should face our lot in life, but just don’t for a minute believe that these wankers are doing it for our good!
Besides government motivation for power and wealth…
Besides government motivation for power and wealth, the other major source of bullshit ideas is money-grubbing, sensationalist, parasitic news program editors. You know, the ones who roll out whichever story will likely command the highest ratings that week. You can be damn sure that every couple of months, A Current Affair will run a story about wonder bras—running ads full of tits is a guaranteed ratings-grabber. Next week it’ll be about the old hag at Bondi who hasn’t cleaned up her yard for 25 years. Then there’ll be a story about the ‘bikie menace’, P-plate drivers, street racing, schoolies week, and so on. These editors are fire-starters. They light a fire then leave people scrambling to put it out.
Here’s my idea of a small litmus test for changing policy. Ask a cross-section of society these two questions: “Raise your hands those who are really busting to put front number plates on bikes? Okay, now raise your hands those who would be very upset about having to put a number plate on their bikes?” My point here, is that the motorcycling community are about the only people who give a shit at all about this as a significant issue, plus those bored bureaucrats in state roads governing bodies of course. Thankfully, that will hopefully be what saves it from ever happening. While thousands of bikers across Australia would be willing to protest against the number plate issue, there is not one person who would protest for front plates to be brought back in.
Since we have a lot of good people in the MRA and other motorcycling organisations fighting the good fight, the best thing we can do is support them and speak out when given an opportunity. This could be a letter to an editor of a paper, a phone-in to talkback radio, or ideally a word in your local member’s ear. If we show enough opposition to the idea, maybe they’ll go back to busting someone else’s balls for a while.
article submitted by Wasko.