The New South Wales cycling community delivered over 10,000 signatures opposing new laws affecting cyclists to NSW Parliament House this week, but the government says it won’t budge.
Labor’s roads spokeswoman Jodi McKay came down and accepted the petition from the group in the front courtyard of parliament.
“I think the Premier should show these groups, these 26 cycling groups, the courtesy of actually meeting with them and hearing what they have to say,” Ms McKay said.
The right of petitioning Parliament is a means by which an individual or group can directly ask the Parliament to take action or trigger a debate. However, there are strict rules for formally petitioning Parliament and electronic signatures are not acceptable.
The new laws affecting cyclists, which come into effect from the beginning of next month, impose fines of $106 for riders who do not carry photo ID and increase fines for cyclists riding without a helmet to $319 or running a red light to $425.
Bicycle NSW says the fines are a punitive measure which will discourage cycling altogether, and goes against the government’s stated objective to double the number of cyclists on our roads, and thereby combat pollution and congestion.
“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,” said Chief Executive Officer of Bicycle NSW, Ray Rice.
“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.”
Stephen Wilks wrote to the Premier and NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian personally, raising his concerns about unfair treatment.
“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?”
While cyclists feel they are being unfairly targeted by the new laws, a bicycle is considered a vehicle and NSW Road Rules apply, as they do to other vehicles.
The NSW Government’s ‘Go Together’ campaign argues the new rules are being introduced to help drivers, bicycle riders and pedestrians share the roads safely, and that changes are needed to promote road safety.
Jodi McKay wrote to Bicycle NSW on behalf of the Labor Opposition to support the campaign against the Go Together package.
“NSW Labor believes that cycling is good not just for cyclists but for the environment, public health, and for dealing with congestion in our cities,” she wrote.
“The recently released ‘Go Together’ package does nothing to encourage people to take up cycling, instead effectively targets cyclists by taking a ‘stick approach’ that focuses on increased rules and regulations.”
Ms McKay says there is no evidence to suggest carrying photo identification will improve safety for road users, and has written to the Minister requesting such evidence.
“We are very disappointed that we have over 10,000 concerned bicycle riders [and] 26 bicycle groups from around NSW and the Premier has not taken any notice of this,” Mr Rice said.
But despite the vocal opposition, it seems the tough new measures will come into force as planned.