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Cyclists face £163 penalties for leaving their helmets at home - but get safer passing distances from drivers

Hundreds of Australian cyclists have been penalised for crimes including not having a bell, as New South Wales Police prepare to enforce some of the world’s harshest penalties for cycle infringements from next week.

More than 450 cyclists received penalties in a one-day action by police. 210 were cyclists fined for not wearing helmets, 80 for riding on the footpath, and 103 for disobeying traffic control lights, including by not dismounting at pedestrian crossings.

A further 64 cautions were issued for minor infringements like not carrying a bell.

More than 200 motorists were also targeted and the new laws will also require drivers to give cyclists at least one metre of space when overtaking.

Currently, cycling fines are set at $71 (£36) but from Monday will more than quadruple to $319 (£163) for not wearing a helmet and $425 (£218) for not stopping at a pedestrian crossing.

Cyclists without ID will be fined around £50.

The fine for motorists who close pass will be £163, plus two licence points. If passing at more than 60 kmph, the space required increases to 1.5 metres.

Craig Richards of Bicycle Network, asked in a statement: “Is this just the latest attack on cyclists from a government who appear to be running an anti-bike agenda?”

We reported last week how Transport for NSW says that huge increases in fines for cyclists who break the law and a requirement they carry ID will improve the safety of people on bikes. But an academic who regularly publishes on cycling issues says the legislation means New South Wales will probably “become the worst state in the world in terms of how we treat cyclists.”

A spokeswoman for Transport for NSW said: "The rapid growth of cycling in Sydney” – the number of daily trips in Sydney has doubled in the last decade – “is not expected to change with the NSW government's new measures.

"In fact, the changes will encourage more cyclists who may have previously felt unsafe with drivers on the road who were flouting the law, putting innocent road users at risk.

"New and seasoned bicycle riders can now have increased confidence in sharing the road safely with motorists and pedestrians."

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.