Bikers protest limits

One for the road: More than 250 motorcyclists gathered in Walcha on Saturday morning before riding to a rally at Gingers Creek to protest the proposed speed limit changes to the Oxley Highway between Walcha and Wauchope.
One for the road: More than 250 motorcyclists gathered in Walcha on Saturday morning before riding to a rally at Gingers Creek to protest the proposed speed limit changes to the Oxley Highway between Walcha and Wauchope.

At least one thousand people, riding more than 750 motorbikes, convened at Gingers Creek on Saturday to protest the proposed reduction of the speed limits on large sections of the Oxley Highway between Walcha and Wauchope. 

So many bikes joined the cavalcade it had a police escort.

Two groups from both ends of the highway, one of about 250 bikes from Walcha and one of more than 500 from Wauchope, left at 9 am and met in the middle at Gingers Creek for a rally at 10 am.

Rally organiser Ken Healey said the event was a real success.

“While there was no representative from them at the rally, the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) would have got the message for sure,” he said.

“It was a fantastic turnout and all speakers made different points to reinforce why the changes should not be made.”

Mr Kealey said he instigated both a petition and the rally to protest what he believes is an infringement on civil liberties and the further development of a ‘nanny state’.

There was a notable absence of politicians present though with only Walcha Councillor Bill Heazlett making an effort to attend.

Mr Heazlett said the strong attendance at the rally showed the genuine concern of road users regarding the speed limit changes.

“This proposal ignores all the adverse effects that will happen if it is implemented,” he said.

“The primary purpose of having a roads and traffic committee is to provide community consultation. The unanimous advice given by Walcha Council was to leave the speed limits as they are. Possibly the worst "collateral damage" is the effect on tourism. The shopping area of Walcha depends on visitors, both bikes and vans. Without visitors, most cafes and food-selling businesses will go out of business. That effect will be dramatic and irreversible. Our community will be the poorer, and the decline will spread down the road all the way to Port Macquarie.”

Mr Healey said the RMS had agreed to another meeting with those opposing the proposal and further investigation before making a decision in the new year.