Cyclists, you'd better have your ID on you at all times next year, the NSW Government has some harsh new rules in play. Rolling out on March 1, 2016, a brand new set of laws for cyclists will hit the road, and will mean a few big changes for all the bikers amongst you.
Primarily, it will mean an increase in the cost of fines. Currently in NSW, most cycling offences rack up a $71 fine. Under the new laws, riding without a helmet will incur a hefty $319 fine, running a red light will incur a whopping $425 fine — the same amount for 'riding dangerously' and failure to stop at a pedestrian light. And don't even think about hitching a ride, it's $319 for holding onto a moving vehicle.
But the new laws aren't just focused on road rules. From March 1, 2016, all NSW cyclists must carry photo identification at all times — so all those fine notices are sent to the right address, we assume. The fine for not carrying photo ID? A cheeky $106, the same as drivers — with a 12 month grace period from March 2016.
Casual riders will be pleased to know the government considered and rejected a bike licensing and registration system, so that’s one good thing. And another win for riders, as we’ve seen introduced in other states, a compulsory minimum distance of one metre between cyclists, cars and pedestrians will be introduced — 1.5 metres when travelling faster than 60km/h. Drivers will risk a penalty of two demerit points and a $319 fine — so back the hell up.
So why the main focus on pesky, eco-friendly, space-saving cyclists instead of drivers with the new legislation? The NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay, instigator of the cycling package, isn’t giving much away. Perhaps the big problem in the government's eyes is that cyclists aren’t paying enough money to use a vehicle — the reforms are primarily fine hikes, and fear of a $400+ dollar fine sure is a good motivator for safe driving, apparently. The scheme has been criticised for its blatant revenue raising agenda, failure to improve safety for cyclists and that the mandatory identification rule will discourage cycling. We'll see how this one pans out next year.