There's been a massive increase in cyclists busted for not wearing helmets since NSW upped fines 450%

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty

When New South Wales roads minister Duncan Gay announced increased fines for cyclists, introduced on March 1, he argued it was for the safety of riders.

Two months after the laws were introduced, it also appears it has been lucrative for the government’s coffers.

The penalty for not wearing a helmet increased from $71 to $319, and in just 8 weeks, that’s delivered additional $300,000 in revenue to the government compared to the same period 12 months ago, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The number of fines handed out by police has jumped more than 50% since the Baird government upped the penalties, compared to a year ago. in March and April 1098 riders were fined for not wearing helmets, up from 710 in 2015. That’s delivered a $350,262 windfall to the government, compared with $50,000 in revenue a year ago. The number of passengers also fined for not wearing helmets doubled from 11 to 22 over the comparable periods.

The crackdown on cyclists is across the board, with $106 infringements for riding without a “working warning device” (a bell or horn) more than doubling from 27 to 60. A year ago, not a single cyclist was penalised for failing to stop at a red light during the March-April period, but now the fine has increased from $71 to $425, nine cyclists have been busted. Riding through a pedestrian crossing, which also jumped from $71 to $425, shows a similar pattern – no fines 12 months ago, seven issued in March-April 2016.

The number of people aged over 12 caught riding on the footpath has also jumped 50%, from 101 to 166 in the comparable period.

The penalty for riding at night without lights had a small increase from $71 to $106. The number of offences detected also increased by a modest amount, just 25% from 56, to 70 fines for no front white light, up from 37 to 47 fines for no rear red light.

All up 1545 fines were issued in March and April 2016, compared to 942 a year ago. The increase is 56%.

As part of the changes announced by the NSW government to make roads safer, motorists who pass a cyclist must allow a distance of at least one metre when the speed limit is 60km/h or less, and 1.5m when the limit is more than 60km/h. Four drivers have been caught for the offence in the two months since it was introduced.

At the same time, cyclists caught riding “recklessly” is up from 4 to 6 and negligent riding is up from 13 to 15.

The good news is there’s been a 25% drop in the people charged with riding “furiously” in March and April. Just three people were issued with the $425 fine, compared to four 12 months ago.

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