Dear Members and Friends,
The recent proposal that NSW bicycle riders should compulsorily carry Photo ID is a classic example of trying to use legislation to solve a problem where none exists. It is bad public policy. The NSW Government has a stated policy objective to encourage a mode shift to cycling for short trips (Sydney’s Cycling Future, 2013). This new policy proposal not only does not encourage cycling, it creates a barrier to cycling.
At Bicycle NSW we exist to create a better environment for cycling. We do this because we believe that cycling has high societal benefits for recreation, transport, health and the environment. This is why we have consistently opposed the proposal of Photo ID – it just does not help fulfil these outcomes.
Firstly, let’s look at the “issue” of identifying riders. During the Government’s committee process there was no hard evidence presented that Police have issues identifying riders who may have committed an offence. Police already have the power to request a name and address, and are pretty savvy in recognising false information. Besides, a large number of riders already carry some form of ID, be that a Drivers Licence, credit card, work ID, student card, etc.
In the case of a collision involving a bicycle, nothing will change. A rider or driver is only obligated to provide their name and address (and the vehicle owner’s name and address) to the opposite party. Only Police or Authorised Officers can demand that a Drivers Licence be produced.
So what exactly was the problem that demanded such a heavy response from Government? How does it increase rider safety? How does it promote a healthy lifestyle?
Now let’s look at some of the many problems that compulsory Photo ID will cause:
- For some people it will be a disincentive to ride. It does nothing to promote bicycle riding. It does nothing to promote safety for bicycle riders.
- Not everyone has a Drivers Licence or NSW Photo Card. The cost of the Photo Card is $51 which will hit disadvantaged people hard.
- How will Interstate and Overseas visitors be catered for? Bicycle riders in NSW will become the only group required to carry Photo ID while carrying out a perfectly legal activity in a public space.
- You have to ask the question of who’s next? Pedestrian fatalities are at least seven times greater than bike fatalities in NSW. So why are bicycle riders being singled out?
- How will a mature looking 17 year old “prove” they are under 18? They are not required to carry ID. Mistakes with unfortunate consequences will occur.
- Don’t forget your Photo ID while riding on fire trails in NSW National Parks! They are classified as roads.
At Bicycle NSW we will continue to work with the Government to achieve a better solution. To aid this, we suggest that concerned riders should:
- Write to their Local MP, and to the Premier seeking a reconsideration of these new laws
- Sign an online petition, such as: https://www.change.org/p/nsw-government-stop-the-nsw-law-requiring-cyclists-to-carry-id
CEO Bicycle NSW – Creating a Better Environment for Cycling
(PS: Next week we will look at the cycling fine increase issue.)