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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

Bicycle Fines – More Education, less Big Stick.

Dear Members and Friends,

Recently we discussed the mandatory Photo ID issue, and this elicited a great range of responses. Thank you for this.

This week we wanted to present the Bicycle NSW position on the large increases in fines for bicycle offences:

  • Not wearing a helmet: from $71 to $319. Equivalent to the motor cycle fine, even though a motor cycle has much higher power and can reach much higher speeds.
  • Running a red light: from $71 to $425. Equivalent to cars, even though at many intersections bicycles are unable to trigger the traffic signal. This is a 500% increase.
  • Riding dangerously: from $71 to $425. This is a 500% increase.
  • Not stopping at children’s/pedestrian crossing: from $71 to $425. Equivalent to cars.
  • All other general bicycle fines: from $71 to $106.

10867-NMSMVMOur position remains that we oppose the automatic equivalence of bicycle and motor vehicle fines. The fines should be based on the potential negative consequence of the offence. For example at present, some speeding fines for heavy vehicles are much greater than for cars because the potential consequences are considered.

At Bicycle NSW we believe any policy or regulatory changes should make riders safer and encourage riding, so as to benefit health, transport, community and the environment. We do not believe that these fine increases will help achieve these aims. As NSW roads face more and more congestion, the Government should be looking at ways to encourage bike riding as a form of transport, rather than discouraging riding.

We encourage all road users to follow the rules and share the road. We know that a good education campaign is the key to behavioural change. During the Government’s committee process there was no hard evidence that higher fines would produce greater compliance than an effective education campaign. The recent Queensland “Stay Wider of the Rider”, and the NSW motor cycle safety “Ride to Live” campaigns are good examples.

The proposed new fine levels seem ad hoc, draconian, and particularly to target bicycle riders. In fact, the new bicycle fines lead to some interesting anomalies, eg:

  • Ride bicycle without working warning device (eg bell, horn): $106
  • Pedestrian crossing a level crossing when an approaching tram/train can be seen/heard: $71

Which of these is far more dangerous? And look at:

  • Car driving in a bicycle lane: $177
  • Car driving in a bus lane: $319

Who is the vulnerable road user here?

At Bicycle NSW we will continue to work with the Government to achieve a better solution.  To aid this, and support our voice, we suggest that concerned riders should write to their Local MP, and to the Premier seeking a reconsideration of these measures.

Ray Rice
CEO Bicycle NSW – Creating a Better Environment for Cycling

Photo ID – creating a problem where none exists.

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:

Ray Rice
CEO Bicycle NSW – Creating a Better Environment for Cycling

(PS: Next week we will look at the cycling fine increase issue.)

NSW Minimum Passing Distance Announced

Dear Members and Friends,

We are delighted that the NSW Government announced yesterday that a two year trial of Minimum Passing Distance Legislation (MPDL) would commence in NSW in March 2016.  Bicycle NSW has campaigned hard for this for many years.  We believe this will produce a marked benefit to rider safety in NSW.   It will bring NSW into line with Queensland, ACT and South Australia.

An adjunct to this legislation which was not mentioned in the Minister’s Press Release, is that car drivers will be able to cross double lines to overtake riders when safe to do so.  This helps allay the concerns of some drivers.

Bicycle NSW believes that MPDL is not a silver bullet for rider safety.  We will advocate for an effective education campaign from the NSW Government, combined with further measures including cycling infrastructure.

However, the MPDL has been coupled with two items of major concern:

1/  A massive increase in some cycling fines, to bring them to equivalence with vehicle fines.   Let us be very frank on this matter – Bicycle NSW have consistently, both in committee and publicly, voiced our opposition to this measure, and will continue to do so.

We have always said that any review of fines should be balanced and take into account the relative consequence of the offence.  We have also encouraged riders and road users to obey the rules at all times.

There has been no cost-benefit analysis on the increase in fines, and no evidence to justify the level of fines or that they will be effective.   Big fines are not the best way of producing compliance with rules – education is the best answer.

While MPDL is a significant step, we will continue to advocate to the Government on how we can increase active transport in an already congested city, and the safety of all road users.

Bicycle NSW will be further presenting these views to the NSW Government and calling for an evidence based approach.

2/  Bicycle riders must compulsorily carry photo ID.  At Bicycle NSW we recognise that many riders already carry ID.  We encourage this.

However, we see that making it mandatory for those over 18 years old to carry photo ID (Drivers Licence or NSW Photo Card) as unnecessary and a possible disincentive for some people to ride.

This measure has little to do with increasing rider safety.   There has been no hard evidence put forward that Police have issues in identifying riders.  We believe that there are far more important bicycle safety issues that the NSW Government should be looking at.

Fortunately, this ID proposal will not be enforced until March 2017, ie there will be a 12 month “grace” period.  This period will be required to sort out the practical issues – which even now are appearing, eg will a photo of your Drivers Licence suffice as Premier Baird has suggested?   How will Police determine the age of a rider?  Why should riders without a Drivers Licence be forced to buy an NSW Photo Card for $51?  What about interstate and overseas visitors?

During this period, Bicycle NSW will be working to have this measure reversed.

At Bicycle NSW we will continue to help build a better environment for cycling and fairer treatment of bike riders.  One of our top priorities must now be to have active transport “friendly” traffic signals.  For too long these signals have prioritised vehicles at the expense of pedestrians and bicycle riders.

I will keep you posted on our efforts and priorities into 2016.  We wish everyone safe riding over the Christmas period knowing that Minimum Passing Distance Legislation will be introduced in the New Year.

Ray Rice
CEO   Bicycle NSW – Creating a Better Environment or Cycling

 

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BNSW supports Minimum Passing Distance Announcement

Bicycle NSW welcomes the introduction of a trial of the Minimum Passing Distance Legislation in NSW, announced today (December 21) by the Minister for Roads Duncan Gay.

“This is a major advancement in bicycle safety in NSW and brings us into line with Queensland, ACT, and South Australia,” said BNSW CEO Ray Rice.

“We’re proud to have consistently lobbied for this measure in NSW which will bring about changed road user behaviour, and a better and safer environment for cycling.

“The success of the trial in other states is testament to the effectiveness of this initiative.”

The news comes as the NSW Government also announced a number of increased penalties for bicycle riders, and the compulsory requirement of carrying ID.

“Bicycle NSW agrees that safer roads is the joint responsibility of all road users. However, if fines are to be raised to such a high level, then bike riders need to be treated fairly in terms of road design,” said Mr Rice.

“What NSW needs is a stronger investment and commitment to safe cycling infrastructure, for example fully separated cycleways on key routes and proper traffic light phasing with sensors for bikes.

“Bicycle NSW believes that the majority of bicycle riders are law abiding, and that riders wish to share the road safely.

“Bicycle NSW looks forward to continuing to work with the NSW Government to develop the infrastructure and education to support this Cycling Safety Package.”

For more information of the Minimum Passing Distance Legislation head to http://www.amygillett.org.au/new-south-wales-says-a-metre-matters

For more information regarding the Cycling Safety Package head to http://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/campaigns/go-together/index.html

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CEO Report | December

Dear Members and Friends,

In the lead up to Christmas, the team at Bicycle NSW have been wrapping up the Spring Cycle and moving onto our next great event, the ladies Gear Up Girl ride to be held on 13 March 2016.  We are pleased that the Heart Foundation are again sponsoring this event, and together we can make a difference to women’s health.  More news on the Gear Up Girl event will be out soon.

Advocacy News:

In 2016 we will be looking at four main aims in the advocacy area:

  • Introduction of Minimum Passing Distance Legislation in NSW
  • Improving Cycling Connections – with a first emphasis on the Harbour Bridge
  • Regional Cycling – with a first emphasis on the Newcastle Cycle Safe Network
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Cycling

At every Government forum we attend, we continue to press for the introduction of Minimum Passing Distance Legislation in NSW – most recently at the Road Safety Advisory Council, where I was able to meet with Minister Duncan Gay before the main meeting.  Queensland, South Australia and the ACT have all introduced this critical safety measure for bicycle riders – why not NSW?

The question of improving cycling connections is always important, and we have continued our work with RMS on the Harbour Bridge. However, sometimes we must work to maintain what we have!  An example of this is the Old Meadowbank Rail Bridge which is a critical active transport link.  Just this week we met with Ausgrid to help ensure that this bridge is not fully closed for a month while they install a new high voltage cable in the area.   Ausgrid received over 600 replies to their survey on this potential closure – mainly due to publicity from Bicycle NSW and local BUGs.  Many thanks to all those who voiced their concerns.

This is what Bicycle NSW is all about – Advocacy in NSW – for NSW.

Ray Rice

CEO

Bicycle NSW submission on the proposed Jerra Circle Upgrade

Jerra Circle Upgrade

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Jerra Circle Upgrade. In looking at Active Transport (ie walking and cycling) it is worthwhile considering some facts from RMS and TfNSW publications:

    • About 70% of people in NSW either ride regularly or would like to ride more and say they would if bike riding was made safer for them.
    • There has been a 50% increase in riding to work in metropolitan Sydney since 2006. This would be indicative across the State including Queanbeyan.
    • Bicycle sales exceeded 1.4 million in 2012-13 and have outstripped car sales for over a decade.
    • The NSW Government has an aim of reducing cycling fatalities and injuries by at least 30% by 2021. Cycling infrastructure is a proven method of reducing cycling fatalities and injuries.
    • The NSW Government also has an objective of doubling the mode share of active transport to 5%.
    • A primary method of achieving this aim is to consider cycling safety in every infrastructure project. This strategy is included in the RMS’ own Bicycle Guidelines policy (p5)”

“To improve the bike network by making comprehensive provision for bicycles on all new major road infrastructure projects with a strong preference for off-road cycling.”

 

We are most concerned that the proposed “upgrade” plans for Jerra Circle do not meet the basic criteria of making riding safer. Forcing all local riders through a major, at grade, signalised intersection will be both unsafe and a discouragement to active transport.

Ask yourself this question: “Would you let your children ride through this intersection?” The answer should be a resounding NO.

This proposal fails a basic town planning test of connectivity, ie it reduces active transport community connectivity across a major road. It increases division, and increases the need for car transport. Surely a counter-productive result?

The solution to this deficiency lies with the provision of a number of underpasses, so that all arms of the intersection can be crossed safely by walkers and riders. Yes – this will add expense. But again ask the questions:

    • Can you afford the issues of a community divided by a main road?
    • Can you afford the decrease in local health as people drive more?
    • Can you afford the eventual injuries by forcing riders through an at grade intersection?

View the full submission here.

To have you say and make your own submission contact Queanbeyan Council.

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Wylde MTB Trail scores two state awards for landscape architecture

The Wylde MTB Trail is proving to be a popular addition to the Western Sydney Parklands after winning two state awards for design in landscape architecture – the 2015 Premier’s People’s Choice Awards in Landscape Architecture and the NSW Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Design Award.

Group GSA won the AILA award in collaboration with Western Sydney Parklands Trust for the Wylde MTB Trail. The Trail won 41 per cent of the vote in the Premier’s People’s Choice Award, with the next placed Cronulla Esplanade & Seawall upgrade taking 33 per cent of the vote.

Western Sydney Parklands Trust’s Director Suellen Fitzgerald said the success of the Trail is a result of collaboration between the Trust and Trail users and welcomed the awards as validation of its popularity.

“The Western Sydney Parklands Trust has received very positive feedback on the Wylde MTB Trail since it opened in 2014 and we are very pleased that it has been recognised with these two awards,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“A lot of hard work has gone into the development of the Trail and I thank all of those involved for their efforts in making the Trail the success it is today.”

Western Sydney MTB Club Vice President and Bicycle NSW CEO Ray Rice said club members who use the Trail were more than happy to recommend the Trail for the Premier’s People’s Choice Awards.

“The Wylde MTB Trail is an excellent facility for mountain bike enthusiasts in Western Sydney and beyond and it deserves the recognition through these awards,” Mr Rice said.

“I was pleased to work with the Western Sydney Parklands Trust in the development of the Trail and can say that it is a very valuable addition to recreational activities in Western Sydney.”