Ulysses Club members Josie Ure, Sue Bell, Rod Zaverdinos, Deb Barbara, Stephen Barbara and Rob Hall enjoy a social ride across the Sunshine Coast.
Ulysses Club members Josie Ure, Sue Bell, Rod Zaverdinos, Deb Barbara, Stephen Barbara and Rob Hall enjoy a social ride across the Sunshine Coast.

Horrific crashes and close calls paint 'nightmare' picture

HORRIFIC crashes and brushes with death have left Bruce Wilson's mates traumatised and turning away from their great passion, motorbike riding.

The Ulysses Sunshine Coast branch president said the camaraderie, protection and support he had found since joining the club was the "best thing that's ever happened" to him. So to lose loved ones or witness their suffering at the whim of distracted drivers had devastated the rider of 30 years.

Mr Wilson said there was plenty to love about getting on the back of a bike, but sharing the road with other vehicles could be an "absolute nightmare".

The passionate rider's insights came after Nambour road traffic unit officer-in-charge Shane Panoho pleaded with riders to consider their safety after eight crashes in Southeast Queensland on Monday, and four fatalities on the Sunshine Coast this year.

Mr Wilson saidthe biggest threat motorcyclists faced was mobile phones, which he believed were the "scourge of motorbike riders".

He said about seven in 10 people he or his club mates pull up next to were either talking on the phone or texting.

"People don't see us. The same as they don't see pushbikes," Mr Wilson said.

"Most of us are parents and grandparents and with our Ulysses mob we do a lot of social and charity works too.

"We have lost a lot of people we know because of (people in) cars basically thinking we are not part of the road."

Mr Wilson conceded the decisions of riders played a part in crashes, and said Ulysses ran safety courses to help people learn the right behaviour.

"There are idiot riders, there are idiot drivers," he said.

Snr Sgt Panoho said that selecting a motorbike suitable for your abilities was key to reducing the risk, as motorcycles today were far more powerful than their predecessors. Mr Wilson agreed, and said technology had outpaced some riders' abilities.

"If you have got a P-plate, you are allowed to go up to a 650CC motorbike," he explained. "Some of those can do over 200km/h, so they are quite fast compared to the old 650s that used to be around."

But Mr Wilson said there was safety in numbers, and the 180-member strong Sunshine Coast Ulysses branch welcomed people aged 40-plus. Members often host community fundraisers and support members from mowing a lawn to helping them in times of sickness.

"Join a club, listen to some advice, don't speed, and be aware of your surroundings, and enjoy yourself, it's an awesome experience," Mr Wilson said.

ABOUT THE ULYSSES CLUB

  • One of Australia largest social clubs open to anyone with a motorbike licence for 40 years and over.
  • Sunshine Coast Branch rides Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday.
  • They meet for a chat and drink every Tuesday night at the Kawana Surf Club.


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