The RACV is a ‘HO

The Ford GTHO was the ultimate car of it’s time… big, fast and powerful. However, if it appeared on the showroom floor today, it would be a flop. Sure, there’d still be a hard core of enthusiasts who would find it attractive, but lack of comfort, lack of standard equipment and an astronomical fuel bill would limit it’s appeal.

This is the RACV as a lobby group – stuck in the 70’s, advocating policies that it hopes will restore, or at least prolong, the golden age of motoring that saw it rise as a power. Irrelevant to an increasing proportion of it’s members and the community at large.

Why am I getting worked up about this right now? Well, over the past few weeks I’ve been annoyed by my local paper (Moreland Leader) pushing an RACV initiative to identify ‘Red Spots’… locations where traffic causes driver delay and frustration. This week my annoyance spilled over into anger as the front page of the Leader once again featured the RACV banner ad, but this time with a front page story about a bicycle commuter who had been killed by a motorist. Does anyone else spot the irony here?

Lets get back to the survey. It is nothing short of a sham… designed to elicit one-sided, knee jerk responses to problems that cannot be easily solved. The basic problem is a no-brainer: roads designed 10, 20, 30 years ago struggle to cope with today’s traffic. Gee, why would that be? The roads haven’t changed, could it be the traffic? Hang on a minute – there are more cars than there used to be! Eureka!! Lets face it, if you are sitting in a traffic jam, steaming up about the time you’re wasting, you are part of the problem!

Where is the section in their survey that deals with alternatives? Questions like: “Would you support strategies to reduce traffic on roads?”, “How often do you travel alone in your car?”, “Would you consider using public transport or riding a bicycle if you recieved a subsidy?”. All pretty relevant questions, but maybe the answers wouldn’t be the sort of thing the RACV would like to publicise. When are they going to realise that an awful lot of their members who are car drivers are also bicycle riders, motorcycle riders and public transport users? Wouldn’t that have been a relevant question? They call themselve a motoring lobby group, but their members are not just motorists.

Why is the RACV stuck in the past? That’s actually pretty easy to answer too: take a look at the board of directors totally dominated by old men in suits. Probably haven’t had a progressive idea between them in over 30 years.

How about pushing for real change – policies that reduce the number of cars on the road, because that’s the only way to fix this problem. Lets see them come out and support a congestion tax, or a halt to new roads and diversion of the funds to bike paths, motorcycle subsidies and free public transport. Then the RACV will start to look like a hydrogen powered car, something I would want to be seen driving in for the next 20 years.

5 replies on “The RACV is a ‘HO”

  1. Thanks for your comments and your assistance in drawing people’s attention to the RedSpot survey – an important initiative aiming to give road users the chance to nominate congested locations on the road network.

    Please also note that we are actively seeking feedback from all road users, including public transport users and cyclists (this was highlighted in an interview I did a few weeks ago on ABC 774 amongst many others). Given that many Redspots are in outer Melbourne and busy rural centres where the only public transport is on-road, this feedback is important to allow RACV to analyse bus and tram Redspots and advocate improvements to government.

    In relation to your other comments, RACV represents Members in all aspects of their mobility. We do this through many activities in both the public view and behind the scenes. As one example amongst many, we are a major sponsor and provide logistical support for ‘Ride to Work Day’ (as we have for several years). I also sit as a member of a number of peak bodies advising government including the Road Based Public Transport Advisory Council, the Bicycle Advisory Council and the Motorcycle Advisory Council. You only have to look at the great work these councils do to see how all the representative bodies work with government to improve mobility of all types.

    We have more information about how we represent Members in all aspects of their mobility on our new website, We are still transitioning material from our old website and better documenting what we actually do on behalf of Members, so please be patient if what you are looking for isn’t there yet – it’s a big task.

    We will also launch the latest version of our public policies and activities (replacing the ‘Focus’ publication) in the next couple of months, so look out for this also.

  2. Thank you Peter, always delighted to get a response from the main players. Your response is everything I’d expect from the RACV, and I’ll admit to a degree my initial post was deisgned to elicit a response. Sure, the RACV does do lots of good things (my father was a 50 year member, I’m up to 27), however, I think my criticism of the survey still stands – it will only provide a very narrow set of answers.

    The real problem is that there are more cars – the only real answer is to cap/reduce that growth. The cycle of building new roads and then filling them up has been going on as long as the RACV. It’s not going to change.

  3. Yes, the RedSpot survey will draw out where the problem locations are – this is what it’s designed for. And it’s very sucessful at doing this. Again, let me emphasise that it’s not mono-modal: buses and cyclists use roads as well as cars. We’ve been able to highlight the need for bus lanes in previous surveys and these have now been built. This year, we’re also trying to find out from cyclists where they see the congested bottlenecks occurring so we can advocate for cycling infrastructure improvements on a location-specific basis. That said, most of the feedback will continue to be from motorists, but that’s not surprising either. Hopefully we can build up the response from bus users and cyclists over the next few iterations of the survey. At this stage, rail Redspots are a bit beyond what we can do with existing resources.

    I guess the other point I was trying to highlight is that the Redspot survey is only one of many tools we use, and it is clearly ‘supply side’ oriented. We also do an enormous amount on the ‘demand side’ as well, trying to increase transport options and reduce reliance on cars. Most of this work we don’t do through the media, so it’s not as visible to the public. Rather we do this through detailed submissions to government (e.g recently the Transport and Liveability Statement), through participation on committees/councils/forums, and through joint campaigns/activities with (e.g) Bicycle Victoria, Bus Association of Vic, Yarra Trams, etc.

    One of the things RACV needs to do better is to communicate these other activities to our Members and the general public. We will be trying to do this. Hopefully as we add content to the new website, it will at least give those searching for information better access and functionality in this regard.

    Thanks for letting RACV contribute to your forum.

  4. Pingback: Treadly and Me

Comments are closed.