The 130 kilometre-long Southern Coromandel loop is a magnet for motorcyclists. It combines breath-taking scenery with twisting roads and tight corners.
However, the route has seen a disproportionate number of motorcycle crashes. Between 2009 and 2013, motorcyclists accounted for 42% of the fatal and serious crashes along the route, yet they made up only 2% of road users.
To turn this around, the Transport Agency teamed up with the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council, ACC, the Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki district councils, Waikato Regional Council, NZ Police and motorcycling user groups.
The Safer Rides team has overseen a range of safety improvements aimed at:
Innovative road markings, known as perceptual countermeasures, were used on five particularly deceptive curves on the route in order to reduce riders’ speed on the approach and improve their lane positioning. These markings help signal to riders that the curve ahead is getting tighter and the lane narrower.
Four emergency helicopter landing pads were installed on State Highways 25 and 25A between Kopu and Whangamata, in consultation with the Westpac rescue helicopter service. Improvements in cell phone coverage also ensure that emergency services can be on the scene quickly if crashes do occur.
Other popular motorcycle routes in the region have been earmarked for similar work, including the Northern Coromandel loop and Pokeno to Raglan.
As with the Southern Coromandel Motorcycle Safety Demonstration project, the northern section of the loop will be co-funded by the Transport Agency and MSAC. The Transport Agency investment will be up to $3.7m and additional costs of specific interventions will be funded by the MSAC.
The Pokeno to Raglan route is primarily on Waikato District Council roads and is used by motorcyclists travelling from the Auckland area and beyond to Raglan. Pokeno to Raglan is also over-represented with motorcycle crashes. Waikato District has a programme of minor improvement works over the next three years to address motorcycle safety. MSAC has also expressed interest in co-investing in this project.
Although it is too early to formally measure the success of the investment, initial feedback from riders of the Southern loop has been positive. Early analysis of the effect of the perceptual countermeasures indicates that riders are reducing their speed and improving their lane position.