Late yesterday, we were disappointed to see esteemed medical practitioner and recently elected Councillor and Deputy Mayor at the City of Sydney, Dr Kerryn Phelps, make comments in the media regarding a scheme to “require all cyclists to sit a compulsory test, carry a licence and have insurance.”
While a Bicycle NSW membership offers the best available personal accident and third party public liability insurance for bike riders and encourages everyone who rides to join, we cannot believe the discussion of mandatory ID and licencing continues to arise, in spite of our work with the NSW Government in 2016 to demonstrate the idea did not have merit.
Bicycle NSW continues to advocate for a better environment for bike riders and works towards the goal of increasing the number of people riding bikes of all ages, skill levels and life circumstances across NSW and Australia. By increasing bike riding participation, the issues of traffic congestion, mental health and obesity within our society can begin to be tackled more effectively.
Introducing tests, licensing and registration for bicycles is unnecessary, impractical and obstructs people from choosing a bike for their mode of transport. How would any government test and licence a child, for example? Bicycle NSW recently demonstrated, to the former NSW State Minister for Roads and Maritime Services Duncan Gay, through a survey of almost 4,000 riders that compulsory identification for bike riders was not necessary, nor improved the safety for cyclists on the roads and therefore should not be implemented. The then Minister agreed and rolled back the proposed legislation, instead opting to recommend that bike riders carry some form of ID and emergency contact information.
Perhaps Dr Phelps has not read our 2016 Bike Riders Survey results which demonstrated that 92% of respondents hold a Full Drivers Licence, 86% own a registered vehicle and 93% carry some form of ID when out riding a bike. These results would suggest the Dr Phelps’ assertion that “People don’t know what the rules are a lot of the time because they don’t have to pass any test to get on a bike…” are not founded in fact but instead based on opinion which has not had the benefit of broader exposure to the bike riding community. The City of Sydney’s own bike riding training delivered at Sydney Park is an excellent example of Government delivered capacity building and education programs for bike riders who want to improve their bike riding knowledge and skills and better share the road with other road users.
Instead, Bicycle NSW advocates for better education for all road users, through robust campaigns and engagement programs where bike riders are made aware of how the road rules effect them, but also for drivers and pedestrians to better understand their responsibilities when sharing the roads and paths with cyclists. Bicycle NSW applauds the great work and strong leadership demonstrated by Clover Moore and the City of Sydney and regularly recommends their SydneyCycleways Resources to it’s members and supporters as well as supporting key infrastructure developments and behavioural change projects like the Sydney Rides Challenge.
We invite Dr Phelps to reconsider her proposed scheme and instead look to how the Local and State Governments can better work together to deliver integrated biking networks and routes across the broader city and a matched, thorough education campaign to ensure all road users understand their rights and responsibilities and to finally put this “war between drivers and cyclists” to rest. We look forward to hearing from Dr Phelps to further discuss the work we do and the greater benefit bike riding offers to the community.
For further commentary on the previous proposals and how they would affect bike riding and the wider community, the following news articles discuss the issues:
Photos ID and Fines Campaign – Bicycle NSW Advocacy Campaign
Licensing Riders. Registering Bikes – no way! Bicycle NSW statement
18 reasons why registering bicycles is a bad idea – by Michael O’Reilly, Executive Style
Fewer People are cycling in Sydney – by Steven Herrick, The Guardian
To help us protect more bike riders and create a better environment for cycling through advocacy and community building, please join any Bicycle NSW membership today.