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.
Chief Executive Officer