By Sonia Hickey and Ugur Nedim
As the NSW Police Force released footage of cyclists risking their lives on busy Sydney roads, it simultaneously warned that cyclists are not above the law and will be fined for breaking the road rules.
Police also issued a reminder that cycling on the city’s major expressways, motorways and tunnels is prohibited because it’s just too dangerous. Banned Sydney roads include: The Sydney Harbour Tunnel, Lane Cove Tunnel, Cross City Tunnel, Eastern Distributor and M5 East.
Bicycle riders on the rise
With major traffic hassles around most of the CBD, as well as the increasing cost of car parking, many are taking up cycling as a way of getting to and from work without having to deal with the stress of gridlocks and parking costs.
The City of Sydney estimates that twice as many Sydney-siders are riding bikes for transport than the national average, with some 31,600 residents using a bicycle on any given week.
Cameras are watching
Transurban NSW general manager, Andrew Head, urged cyclists to do the right thing – not just because they’re otherwise putting themselves and other motorists at risk, but also because CCTV cameras are monitoring our roads more thoroughly than ever and offenders are likely to be caught.
“There are always eyes on the road. Our control room operators identify these people going through the tunnel, and then we take action,” Mr Head said.
Many in the cycling community were outraged by the introduction of new rules and tougher penalties in May of this year, but Roads Minister Duncan Gray has defended the laws, saying they are designed to keep everyone safer on our roads.
Aside from hefty fines for not wearing a helmet, cyclists can be fined $425 for running red lights and not stopping at pedestrian crossings.
They can also face fines of $319 for holding onto a moving vehicle, $415 for riding recklessly and $253 for riding through a tunnel. Penalties can be a lot higher if cyclists elect to take the matters to court.
Bicycle riders are also reminded that, just like drivers, they can face tough penalties for riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Cyclists at high risk on our roads
For several years, the number of cyclists involved in collisions has steadily increased, largely due to a rise in the number of bicycles on our roads.
National figures suggest that 17% of Australians cycle weekly, and about 5.1% of all commuters are now cyclists.
But the increase also results in greater congestion, and frustration for both cyclists and drivers. With more people sharing our roads, there’s a greater need than ever for us to be aware of each other when we’re out there.
The NSW road toll is already at 332 for 2016, up 13% on the same time last year.