Cyclists in NSW can now be hit with massive fines and have to carry photo ID

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty

The New South Wales government will force adults cyclists to carry photo IDs when riding as it increases the fines for infringements by up to 600%.

NSW roads minister, Duncan Gay, announced the changes yesterday saying a number of penalties will rise, from $71 to up to $425.

Running a red light or not stopping at a children’s/pedestrian crossing will now cost a cyclist $425, the same penalty as car drivers (who also receive 3 demerit points). Not wearing a helmet will now cost cyclists $319, along with holding onto a moving vehicle. Riding dangerously will be a $425 fine.

The changes come 12 months after 24-year-old nurse Emily Greenwood was struck by a cyclist who ran a red light at a pedestrian crossing in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville, fracturing her collarbone, knocking out several front teeth and leaving her with $15,000 in medical bills.

The fines for other offences, such as riding at night without lights, will increase from $71 to $106.

From 1 March 2016, cyclists over 18 must carry photo ID and if they don’t have a driver’s licence, can get a $51 NSW photo card.

The changes are part of the government’s “Go Together” safety program, which will expect motorists to maintain a 1 metre distance from a cyclist when passing at speeds of 60km/h or less, and 1.5 metres at speeds over 60km/h.

Failure to keep the minimum distance when passing a bicycle rider is a $319 fine and a two demerit points penalty.

Under the new rules, bicycle riders should also keep a metre’s distance from pedestrians on shared paths, where possible.

The minister said the cycling reforms were designed to improve safety for all road users

“The changes we’re making are about striking a balance for everyone on the roads and footpaths,” Duncan Gay said.

Sydney already has a poor reputation when it comes to the attitude of motorists to cyclists. Twelve months ago, when Danish cyclist Thomas Andersen, who’s ridden more than 31000km in 25 countries, was asked about the worst place to cycle in the world on a Reddit AMA, he said “the worst attitude I met towards cyclists was the day I cycled into Sydney in Australia. A couple of people rolled down the window and yelled ‘F…ng cyclist’.”

On average, 11 bicycle riders are killed and 1500 seriously injured in NSW each year.

Mark Textor, chairman of the Amy Gillet Foundation, said it was a “balanced package”.

The Foundation has been campaigning for the one-metre rule since Olympian Amy Gillett was killed by a motorist in a training accident a decade ago and was instrumental in the law being introduced in Queensland two years ago.

“This is not a war, it’s about sending a signal to the community about shared respect on the roads,” Textor said.

“The government needed to ensure that cycling is a two-way street and everyone has to act responsibly. The one-metre law has been working for two years in Queensland and it’s helping police to do their jobs.”

Textor agreed with the plan that cyclists should carry ID for safety as much as for legal reasons.

“If you’re using a public road, you should be able to be identified. Cyclists have to understand that they have to act responsibly and legally,” he said.

Cycling NSW CEO, Phil Ayres, said his organisation already advocated that cyclists carry photo ID “for no other reason than sadly accidents do happen” and it enabled emergency workers to quickly identify the people involved.

“It’s really not an imposition for people,” he said.

Ayres said the focus shouldn’t be on the cost of fines, but on cultural and behavioural change.

“The government’s package creates a strong focal point for education and change so that people become more respectful road users to each other,” he said.

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