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The first steps toward police ‘hearing’ the concerns of bike riders

Bicycle NSW
We’ve taken the first steps to address the
imbalances in enforcement, evident from 1 March, by initiating open and honest conversations with NSW Police. The meeting orchestrated by Bicycle NSW was held on Monday 23 May with senior members of Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) and NSW Police. The key concerns of bike riders were presented in regard to the recent surge in cyclist fines and the lack of enforcement of the Minimum Passing Distance.

Key outcomes and steps are:

  1. Police have agreed to publicise pedestrian/bicycle compliance campaigns in advance – as they do for other campaigns (eg Speeding; Drink Driving etc). This will be combined with education on bicycle safety and regulations.
  2. All parties agreed that better and increased publicity and education on the Minimum Passing Distance (MPD) would increase the safety of vulnerable road users, and that compliance monitoring is still required.  Police have agreed to run publicised compliance campaigns on MPD and to evaluate new technology to help monitor compliance.
  3. Importantly, Police have agreed to review video evidence of possible MPD offences.  Signed statements will be required. We note the challenges of providing proof beyond reasonable doubt.
  4. Police have agreed to meet with representatives of cycling clubs to discuss bicycle safety and compliance issues.

Bicycle NSW CEO Ray Rice said “Although not unexpected, we were extremely disheartened to hear of the steep imbalances with the release of statistics yesterday on the increased fines and minimum passing distance. It further emphasises the need for open and honest dialogue which we’ve been able to facilitate. The outcomes will remain to be seen but we’ll continue to press for the positive steps agreed by all parties above.” 

Bicycle NSW pressed for this meeting at our March Board meeting, attended by the top executives of TfNSW. Representatives from the Amy Gillett Foundation and Cycling NSW also attended yesterday’s meeting at the request of TfNSW.

At the board meeting it was recognised and agreed by both Bicycle NSW and TfNSW that cyclists need to obey all road rules. It was also recognised by all parties that the more that people are positively encouraged to cycle – the better the outcome for all road users in NSW, particularly in Sydney. The positive outcomes being better journey times for all and the underlying health and environmental benefits from an active cycling transport initiative. Therefore it was agreed to arrange a tripartite meeting between BNSW,TfNSW and NSW Police to actively work with the Police to achieve this outcome, with our objective to move away from specific campaigns that may potentially scare off cyclists and move toward better education.

 

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#BikeToWork Day Competition – Making #CommutesCount

Bicycle NSW is getting behind Strava‘s Global Bike To Work Day this Tuesday 10th May, 2016. By encouraging our members and social media fans to participate, we can envisage a real impact on the future of cycling in Australia. The more data identified on Strava as a commute, the more well informed decisions can be made by designers when considering an integrated bicycle network across local government boundaries, and right across the State. As a key part of our advocacy, we want to see strong decisions on cycling infrastructure made on information and evidence.

To support the initiative, Bicycle NSW are offering two prize packs for participants who share photos of their commute on our social media pages. Simply share a photo of the favourite part of your commute and use the hashtags #BicycleNSW and #CommutesCount to be in the running to win. The photo with the most likes and the most creative photo, as judged by the Bicycle NSW team, will both win a Bicycle NSW prize pack each.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to participate in the competition and share your photos. Make sure your posts are public so we can see them!

 

#BIKETOWORK COMPETITION TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  1. The promoter:

Bicycle NSW

Bicentennial Drive

Bicentennial Park

Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127

Call us: (02) 9704 0800

Email us: info@bicyclensw.org.au

 

  1. Who can enter:

People aged 18 years and over.

Exclusions: Employees and contractors at Bicycle NSW

  1. How do people enter
  • Follow @bicyclensw on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter
  • Post an image of your bike commute and tag it #bicyclensw and #commutescount between anytime between Thursday 5th May and 5pm Wednesday 11 May  
  1. How is the winner chosen?

The winner will be judged by staff at Bicycle NSW who will be judging based on creativity and the number of likes (on Facebook and Instagram)  or retweets/likes  (on Twitter)   the post receives.

  1. When will the winner be announced publicly?

The winner’s name will be announced on the Bicycle NSW Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on Wednesday 11th May 2016

  1. When and how will the winners be informed?

The winner will be informed by direct message on the social channel they have entered their post on and has until 21st May to respond

  1. What is the prize?

The prize is: A Bicycle NSW pack containing drink bottle, bag, stickers and promotional items

 

  1. When will the prize be delivered.

The prize pack will be available to be picked up by arrangement at the offices of Bicycle NSW, Bicentennial Park, Homebush or posted to you upon arrangement with the winner, by the end of May 2016

  1. Special mention

The promotion isn’t sponsored, endorsed or administered by Instagram, Facebook or Twitter

$39M investment for cycling – What does it really mean?

The NSW Government recently announced a $39 million “boost” to deliver new cycleways and walking upgrades in NSW for the 2016-17 FY.     

This is not increased funding by any means, and is already part of the longer term budget.  Bicycle riders should consider some key facts:

  • This $39mil is less than the $40mil allocated in 2015-16.
  • It represents only about $5 per person in NSW.
  • The annual budget for transport infrastructure is around $10.3 billion per year (ie over $1,300 per person).
  • The $39million for cycleways and walking upgrades is less than 0.4% of the transport infrastructure budget.  
  • By comparison, London has been spending about $33 per person, just on cycling infrastructure – and achieving great results.  It is anticipated that by 2018 more people will be cycling into central London than driving.

Bicycle NSW believes that this level of funding does not show real commitment by the NSW Government to active transport.   The Government’s aim of a 5% share transport mode share for cycling cannot be achieved with this meagre level of funding.

To produce real transport, health and environmental benefits in NSW, we call on the Government to allocate 5% of the transport infrastructure budget to cycling.  Such funding will help achieve the Inner Sydney Regional Bike Network, the Newcastle CycleSafe Network, and many more worthwhile cycling projects across suburban and regional NSW.

If you agree, you can write to Andrew Constance, Minister for Transport & Infrastructure to demand greater consideration for bike riders and cycling infrastructure within transport funding.     

See the projects to be funded through the $39 million on the RMS website.

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Bicycle NSW – working with Government to achieve positive outcomes

At Bicycle NSW we seek to work collaboratively with the NSW Government to achieve better outcomes for all NSW bicycle riders. A great example of this was the recent March BicycleNSW Board Meeting when the three top executives of Transport for NSW attended – including Mr Tim Reardon, Secretary for TfNSW. A range of matters were discussed in an open two way conversation.Bicycle NSW presented five major recommendations to TfNSW: 

1. Provide a stronger public awareness campaign on the new Minimum Passing Distance Rules.

Bicycle NSW have long supported the introduction of Minimum Passing Distance Rules, and commend the Government for the recent introduction of a two year trial. However, the present campaign is not cutting through, and will not achieve the objective of improving safety on our roads. We offered to work with Government on this improved campaign.We reiterated our reasoning behind our opposition to the fine equivalence and mandatory photo ID.  

2. Plan and build comprehensive networks for cycling and walking – Sydney CBD.

The comprehensive “Active Transport Access to Sydney CBD” has been placed on theInfrastructure Australia Priority List. This plan for a co-ordinated network of cycleways across the 15 Councils close to the CBD addresses urban congestion. It has a very high benefit-cost ratio of 3.88:1 on a construction cost of $175 million.Bicycle NSW recommend that the Government fund and lead the Business Case Development in partnership with the Councils, and then co-fund the delivery within the next four years. 

3. Plan and build comprehensive networks for cycling and walking – Newcastle CycleSafe Network.

The CycleSafe Network is a system of safe, easy to follow walking and cycling routes across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. It has strong community and business support including from Newcastle Cycleways Movement, Heart Foundation, and University of Newcastle. It is estimated the project will cost around $100 million.Bicycle NSW recommend that the Government fund and lead the planning of this project in partnership with the CycleSafe Network supporters, and then co-fund the delivery within the next four years. 

4. Ensure NSW has the mechanisms to deliver its policies for cycling and walking.

While the NSW Government has many individual plans and policies that recommend that active transport be considered when infrastructure is planned and constructed, the reality is that there has been an ad hoc approach to actual delivery.Bicycle NSW recommended that an overarching policy mechanism be developed and approved that requires cycling to be incorporated into the planning and delivery of all major transport projects.Over the coming year we will continue to lobby the NSW Government on these matters and other matters so as to build a better environment for cycling. 

5. Tripartite Liaison with the Police Minister.

It was recognised and agreed by both Bicycle NSW and TfNSW that cyclists need to obey all road rules. It was also recognised by all parties that the more that people are positively encouraged to cycle – the better the outcome for all road users in NSW, particularly in Sydney. The positive outcomes being better journey times for all and the underlying health and environmental benefits from an active cycling transport initiative. Therefore it was agreed to arrange a tripartite meeting between BNSW,TfNSW and NSW Police to actively work with the Police to achieve this outcome, with our objective to move away from specific campaigns that may potentially scare off cyclists.

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“Go Together” Under the Microscope

The Government’s “Go Together” campaign has now been in place for one month. While it is technically only early days, there are already fundamental and underlying issues that need to be addressed. Firstly, while the Minimum Passing Distance rules are welcomed by Bicycle NSW, we maintain that the limited public education campaign is not “cutting through”. For example, online education campaign statistics presented to Bicycle NSW by Transport for NSW indicate only a very, very small percentage of the State’s five million Drivers Licence holders have viewed the explanatory animations for the passing distance on the “Go Together” website. Fundamentally, with websites and social media forming the foundation of the Government’s education campaign – it comes as no real surprise that many drivers are confused about the details or even unaware of the minimum passing requirements. Bicycle NSW has called on the NSW Government to step up the public education campaign on the Minimum Passing Distance rules.  For instance, there are numerous interstate examples where TV, cinema and online advertising were used to successfully educate the masses. Even the new NSW “Hey Tosser” anti-littering campaign is receiving mainstream TV coverage.  The safety of NSW bicycle riders warrants a better campaign, and one that genuinely promotes acknowledgement and inclusion as opposed to just deepening the ‘us and them’ divide.

Secondly, the ‘grey’ areas that have been highlighted by the increases in existing bicycle fines need to be addressed and clarified. Especially where the application is purely subjective – eg ‘dangerous’ riding.  There is the real and publicised example of this whereby a cyclist was fined for ‘track-standing’ at a red light in Sydney, having been deemed as ‘dangerous’ by the Police. We have asked the various arms of Government to supply details of the criteria, and to date have received a range of replies. So we will continue to push for clarity on these subjective and hefty bicycle fines and also for the Government to define and publicise the respective criteria applied.

And finally, to clarify what has been yet another area of initial confusion, there is currently neither regulation nor legislation in place that requires bicycle riders to carry Mandatory Photo ID. We are told this will now effectively be introduced in March 2017.  In the interim, Bicycle NSW will maintain our position of opposing this proposal, while continuing to educate and lobby Government to shift their focus toward more tangible measures to increase cycling safety – like safe, separated cycleways and improved cycling infrastructure.

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Disallowance motion in the NSW Upper House

Dr Mehreen Faruqi of The Greens will this week move a disallowance motion in the NSW Upper House to block the recent increases in fines for cyclists.

Labor’s transport spokeswoman, Jodi McKay, said the party would support the disallowance motion. The motion will also need the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democrats to successfully block the fines. Bicycle NSW has written to both parties to ask for their support.

You can read the letter to the Christian Democrat MLCs here [PDF]. A similar letter went to the Shooters & Fishers MLCs.

You can write in support of the disallowance motion. Follow the links below to find contact information for the Christian Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers party.

Christian Democrat Party:
Reverend the Hon Fred Nile MLC
The Hon Paul Green MLC

Shooters and Fishers Party:
The Hon Robert Borsak MLC
The Hon Robert Brown MLC

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NSW Nanny State Bike Laws – A Cost Too High For Cyclist Safety

Controversial changes to laws and their enforcement targeting bicycle riders will come into effect across NSW on the 1st of March 2016. A community run petition “A Cost Too High For Cyclist Safety” with 10,000 signatures, is part of a campaign by Bicycle NSW demanding the NSW Government immediately rescind the proposed fine increases and mandatory photo ID for bicycle riders.

CEO of Bicycle NSW Ray Rice said, “The community has come out in their thousands to say these new bike laws are heavy handed and unjustified. Regulation should be a last resort, not a first one. These new fines, a 500% increase over current ones, have no evidence basis.”

“Fines of this level for bicycle riders are unprecedented in Australia, as is the requirement to carry photo ID. NSW is fast becoming Australia’s nanny state.”

 “Bicycle NSW is demanding the NSW Premier Mike Baird halt the introduction of these punitive measures against cyclists, and insist the Government conduct an independent, transparent review. The priority is for evidence based strategies and education that create safety and mutual respect on our roads, in addition to safe infrastructure for riders.” said Ray Rice.

“With high levels of congestion on NSW roads, and high levels of obesity in the population, the NSW Government should be looking at how to encourage bike riding as a form of transport, rather than blatantly discouraging it”, said CEO of Bicycle NSW.

24 community groups are supporting the petition and campaign across NSW and state based organisations around Australia. It is not just the cycling community who are alarmed by the proposed changes. Business leaders recognise the regressive nature of these proposed changes.

“Property investors are investing millions of dollars to increase the quality and size of end of trip cycling facilities as demand has skyrocketed in recent years. Employers know the efficiencies and productivity gains of active travel in the workplace. Rather than disincentives the Government should focus on all road users, including cyclists, motorists and pedestrians doing the right thing with the focus on individual safety first and foremost,” says CEO Daryl Browning, ISPT Super Property.

The penalties will allegedly ‘equalise’ bicycle riders with motor vehicles drivers. But this ignores the hugely different risk exposures and consequences of an impact. Most fully loaded bicycles weigh less than 150kg, a tenth the weight of a small car, and a hundredth the weight of a loaded truck. A motor vehicle causes far more damage to other people and property than a bicycle.

“Only the new rule requiring drivers to leave a minimum 1 to 1.5 metre distance when passing bicycle riders is evidence based and demonstrable in improving safety on our roads. The minimum passing distance will bring NSW in line with the majority of States and Territories in Australia, and we commend the Government on catching up with this progressive legislation. However introducing laws making it compulsory for an adult rider to carry photo identification and increasing cycling fines by up to 500%, is regressive and a distraction from the real safety priorities”, says Ray Rice.

What the NSW Government is proposing contravenes its own target to double the number of people riding bicycles through improving infrastructure and encouraging broader community participation. Instead these punitive measures will put people off riding now and in future. A family out for a casual bike ride could face $850 in fines simply because their bicycles don’t trigger the traffic signal on a quiet road; and a further $106 each if they’re not carrying the required type of photo ID.

The direct impact on individuals is profound. Stephe Wilks has written to the Premier and NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian to express his personal experiences. “I am a parent, a lawyer, a driver and car owner, and a bicycle rider. I cycle for health and fitness, riding to my city office. I don’t need to carry ID to walk to my office. Why do I need it on a bike? Why should I be treated differently to the rest of society?”

“The Government should be doing all it can to maximise healthy activities, minimise congestion and danger. The Premier must champion an agenda that prioritises the safety of all road users and encourages active travel including cycling. Laws which encourage sharing of the road and recognition that cyclists are a fragile road user (compared to cars, an order of magnitude heavier), is surely a better use of the legislature than creating some sort of false equivalence with fines.”

“As a State, I believe we are charting a course that will have long term negative effects on our society, our culture and our freedoms. Instead, we should be seeking to build closer relationships between road users.” Says Stephe Wilks, Bicycle NSW Member.

Bicycle NSW demands the NSW Government drop the proposal to introduce mandatory ID and increased fines for riders because they risk severely hampering the growth and safety of cycling in NSW.


Please sign the petition to support the future of riding in NSW.

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Letter from Jodi McKay (Labor Shadow Minister for Roads, Maritime & Freight)

Following our meeting with Jodi McKay (Labor Shadow Minister for Roads, Maritime & Freight), we have received some great support.

“NSW Labor believes that cycling is good not just for cyclists but for the environment, public health, and for dealing with congestion in our cities. That’s why we have always taken a positive approach to encourage cycling in our state”

“In summary, we believe Go Together targets cyclists with little concern for justifying evidence”

The full text of the letter can be read here [PDF]

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Government Response to Your Letters – Inaccurate

Dear members and Friends,

Recently many of you have written to the Premier and your local MP to express your concern at the proposal for bicycle riders to compulsorily carry Photo ID and the large increases in fines for bicycle offences.  We thank you for this, and the many emails of support we have received.

Some of you have received detailed replies which seek to justify the changes.  However, some of the included information about the 2015 Round Table on Cycling Safety and Compliance is inaccurate.  Bicycle NSW is writing to you so that this information can be corrected quickly.

The quotes below are from various Government replies to our members.

“There was unanimous support for some of the initiatives, including:

  • A trial of the new minimum passing distance rule
  • The bicycle crashes compensation working group
  • A public education campaign to support the introduction of the packages
  • A review of penalty levels.”

Please note that any “support” for a review of the penalty levels was highly qualified.  Our policy remains that any such review should be contingent on taking into the account the consequence of the offence – much like the existing differential in some speeding fines between cars and heavy vehicle.  Automatic equivalence of fines does not exist now, and it is illogical to use it now for bicycles.  The increases are ad hoc, and create many anomalies, eg:

  • Not having a bell on a bike: $106
  • A pedestrian using a level crossing when a train is coming: $71

Which is more unsafe?  And:

  • Car drive in bicycle lane: $177
  • Car drive in bus lane: $319

Who is the vulnerable road user here?

“Most stakeholders supported harmonising penalties for high risk offences such as running a red light and riding dangerously.  In response, we are increasing these penalties from $71 to $425”.

Bicycle NSW, representing the largest group of riders in NSW, did not support this, and specifically asked for this to be noted.  The use of the word “harmonising” conveniently hides the extent of the increases, up to 500%!

“All stakeholders supported the idea that adult riders, 18 years and over, should carry photo ID, particularly in situations where bicycle riders require emergency assistance.”

This is inaccurate.  This implies a sense of compulsion.  We encourage riders to carry a form of ID for emergency purposes.  This could be a smart phone app, medi-alert bracelet, student card, etc.

“This matches the requirement for motor vehicle drivers to carry their licence.”

This seems to equate the Photo ID with a Licence to drive.  This is inaccurate.  A Drivers Licence requires training, testing and monitoring due to the inherent risks involved with motor vehicles.  No such requirement applies to bicycle riders.   Similarly, on the water, boat drivers require a licence – but sailors, canoeists, paddle boarders, etc do not.

“I understand an electronic photograph of ID on a smart phone will suffice.”

This aspect was not discussed at the Round Table.   Not everyone has a smart phone, or wants to take it to the beach (for example).  Not everyone has or needs a Drivers Licence or NSW Photo Card.  Bicycle riders will become the only group to require an identification document while carrying out a legal activity in a public place.  Who’s next?  Pedestrians? (who unfortunately have over seven times the number of fatalities as bicycle riders).  Surfers?

Our position on the Photo ID issue is that no firm evidence was provided that mandatory Photo ID is really required.  What exactly was the problem?   It is creating a problem where none existed.  It will be a disincentive to some people to ride.

Likewise with the fine increases.  No firm evidence has been put forward that these massive increases will be any more effective than a good education campaign.  Behavioural change is best driven with education and not a big stick.

What could have been an incentive for people to ride bikes has now been turned into a disincentive.  The State Government has an aim of doubling the mode share of cycling for transport.   Apart from the minimum passing distance trial, we doubt that any of these measures will help.

If you have not done so already, we suggest that concerned riders should write to their Local MP, and to the Premier seeking a reconsideration of these measures.

Ray Rice
Chief Executive Officer
Bicycle NSW