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.