Punitive Laws Against Cyclists Do Little To Increase Safety
Tough new laws governing cyclists and motorists sharing the roads came into force from March 1 in NSW and those who breach them face stiff fines.
* Drivers must leave at least one metre of space when passing a cyclist in speed zones of 60km per hour or less. In higher speed zones drivers must leave more than 1.5 metres. The fine: $319 and two demerit points.
* If it safe to do so, drivers can cross centre dividing lines or continuous lane lines to pass a cyclist. If it is not safe drivers must slow down and wait to pass with the one metre gap.
Good drivers have always done this but it does clarify the law on crossing the dividing lane when passing a cyclist. Stacks lawyer Nathan Luke says this legal common sense hasn’t been applied to cyclists with fines jacked up by almost 500 per cent.
*All bike riders must now carry photo ID – No ID and cyclists will be fined $106 from March 2017. It is to help identify cyclists in an accident, but many see it as an unnecessary crackdown on riders and cite these fine increases from the current $71:
* Not wearing a helmet – $319
* Running a red light – $425
* Riding dangerously – $425
* Holding on to a moving vehicle – $319
* Not stopping at pedestrian crossings – $425
* Riding at night without lights – $106
Transport NSW says the increased fines increase safety as more and more cyclists share the road with motorists. But cyclist groups say the stiff fines are anti-cycling and not based on evidence they improve safety.
Nathan Luke, a solicitor with Stacks Law Firm, sees more and more cyclists with injuries caused by poor driving by motorists.
“The emphasis must be on driver education. No bull bar toting 4WD driver ever got killed in a collision with a cyclist,” Mr Luke said.
“These laws seem to be just about trying to make cyclists ‘obey the rules like drivers do’ which is a common complaint of driving hoons. Cycling should be recognised as an activity which is good for roads, reduces traffic, is zero pollution and is healthy. Drivers should exercise patience and common sense to avoid accidents.”
Mr Luke lives on the north coast and feels it would be excessive to fine a surfer cycling to the beach with a surfboard under his arm for not wearing a helmet.
“It’s worth it for both motorists and cyclists to get legal advice on challenging fines as magistrates often recognise good records.