Overall, motorcycle riders are a particularly diverse group.
In NSW, there are around 140,000 registered motorcycles, of which, around one third are “dirt bikes”, i.e. registered motorcycles capable of operating on unmade roads.
The Motorcycle Council estimate that there are around 80,000 unregistered full-size motorcycles.
We estimate that there are around 100,000 unregistered “fun” or “mini-bike” motorcycles in two basic categories of (a) good quality machines from the major manufacturers and (b) poor quality, very cheap imports sold as motorised toys. This latter category represents a particular problem group.
We estimate that there are around 40,000 ATV’s in NSW, predominantly in the agricultural sector, with around 20% of these used purely for recreational purposes.
As a consequence, it is apparent that there is considerable pressure upon areas in which unregistered motorcycles may be used. A process of exclusion is leading to opportunistic use, despite legal issues. Further, the very cheap “toy” motorcycles are a particular problem in urban areas and responsible for many noise complaints, as well as a high incidence of illegal use in urban parklands.
Motorcycles are not included in State Plans or in Transport Planning.
Relentless urban housing development in NSW has proceeded with no allocation of space for motorcycle riding.
Sporting fields and facilities are provided for by Local and State government, yet motorcycles have not been included in planning for such facilities.
As housing subdivision has approached existing motor sport facilities, property developers and new residents have, in a number of cases, used Environmental Protection laws to have these facilities closed down, primarily by use of noise laws. Once closed, the motor sport facilities have become subsumed into property development.
The “ecological niche” occupied by species of motorcycles in the community has been steadily eroded. As a consequence, feral activity is emerging as riders attempt to find an alternative niche.
Private land available for trail bike riding has been pushed further and further from population centres, making it time consuming for travel and hence difficult to access.
For the vast majority of motorcycles in urban areas, there is nowhere to ride legally and no supervision of areas from safety or environmental perspectives. Enforcement is creating a game of “cat and mouse”, pushing riders into more remote and difficult terrain. This has consequences in recovering injured riders and environmental damage.
Government approaches are almost exclusively directed to exclusion and enforcement, forcing issues underground and making them more problematical.
The Victorian Government's Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) represents an example of a more co-operative attitude to conflict by actually talking to riders. Click here for more details