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Fines dished out last year to cyclists in New South Wales rose sixfold to A$2m under tougher law

But only 17 drivers were fined for passing too close...

The local government in Sydney, Australia has found a lucrative new revenue stream - charging fines from cyclists who break laws including cycling without a bell or failing to have lights on after dark.

The state has raised $2.2m AUS  (£1.3m) since March 2016 through police targeting cyclists and imposing some of the heaviest fines in the world on transgressors.

The top-five offences saw a 38 per cent increase in fines from the year prior, with a total of 9760 infringements handed out to cyclists.

6162 fines were given to cyclists not wearing a helmet - 1377 more fines than the same period from the previous year.

But the newly quadrupled $319 fines increased revenue from $337,000 to $1.99 million for the same offence.

Riding a bicycle on a footpath was the second biggest offence, collecting $127,730 from 1205 fines — 518 more than year earlier.

The fine for running a red light rose from $71 to $425, to earn a total$360,825 in revenue.

Fines for riding without a bell increased from 166 to 463 to collect $49,770, while riding in the dark without a front or real light earned $81,148 from 756 offences.

At the same times, only 17 fines were handed out to motorists failing to pass riders at a safe distance, earning just $5610.

The increase in fines at a time when the burden of them was made so much higher suggests that simply penalising cyclists more heavily does not have a deterrent effect.

Bicycle NSW said: “To have only 17 drivers caught infringing the minimum passing distance road rule in the last year demonstrates that better support to enforce this rule needs to be delivered.

“We have more than 100 records of vehicles in the last three months that have not given bike riders a safe space when overtaking on our roads.

“Bicycle NSW wants to see a significant increase in public education on how to share our roads so that bike riders, pedestrians and drivers all know their responsibilities when travelling in whatever transport mode they choose.

“In 2015, 16.7 per cent of people in NSW rode bikes regularly, that has now dropped to only 12.5 per cent in 2017 — the lowest in the country according to the Australian Bicycle Council’s National Cycling Participation Survey.

“It’s certainly difficult to declare that the increased penalties have reduced the incidents when the overall number of people choosing to ride a bike have declined so dramatically.”

Last year, after the fines were brought in, we reported how some residents of New South Wales Australia, were selling their bikes and telling visitors not to cycle because “if it’s not the abuse from drivers it’s the fines” that make cycling too risky a prospect.

Fines for cyclists increased by up to 500% in a bid by Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, to crack down on supposed dangerous cycling among anyone aged 12 and over.

Although the fines were, according to Gay, supposed to improve safety of people on bikes, academics believe it will make NSW the “worst state in the world” for cyclists.

One Sydney student who decided to sell her bike, said she couldn’t afford the risk of a fine, which would force her to choose between eating and paying up.

Natalie Synnott said she preferred to ride on footpaths for safety reasons but was afraid of getting caught and fined, which would be a financial disaster for her: "I just know that I will get fined because I have terrible luck," she said.

"It would f*** me up... I actually live week to week. For the most part, I have $100 bucks a week to live and then the rest just goes to rent... I would just be f***ed".

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Vehlin | 6 years ago

Not sure this is so much targetting cyclists as just picking on an easy target. Not having a helmet/lights/bell are all really easy to prove and provide a cut and dry offence to fine for. You can compare it to the way you never see speed cameras near accident blackspots, but rather on the wide, straight bits between them. It's revenue generation by picking on easy targets.


OldRidgeback | 6 years ago

Good to know that these dastardly cyclists are being fined. Next thing you know they'll be having children and teaching them to ride too. Imagine that? The precious roadspace will be taken up by vegetarians on two wheels instead of being meat eaters using a proper four.

cyclisto | 6 years ago

Half a thousand of people were fined >100$ fine for not having a bell???? And nobody complained in civized manner like eeh ...nuking the local police station??? These boys have nerves of steel!

burtthebike | 6 years ago

Well, I had no intention of visiting Oz because of their absurd helmet law, but that's pretty much crossed it off as a destination forever.  I won't go to a country which is so totally anti-bike, and I'd rather spend my money somewhere friendlier.

HurdyGurdy | 6 years ago

Might be lone voice here but no sympathy for cyclists with no lights. 

Don't try it in Belgium, Holland or France or don't be surprised to get slapped with a fine. Not just our Oz friends that take that one seriously.

StuInNorway replied to HurdyGurdy | 6 years ago

HurdyGurdy wrote:

Might be lone voice here but no sympathy for cyclists with no lights. 

Don't try it in Belgium, Holland or France or don't be surprised to get slapped with a fine. Not just our Oz friends that take that one seriously.

It's not the enforcing of the laws (lights I totally agree with, and red light jumping deserve fines) but the vast scale ofthe fines, that are simply not in proportion to anything.  Failing to wear a helmet - only person at risk is the cyclist themselves, fine $319. Failing to observe a safe passing distance of 1m where limit 60km/h or lower, 1.5m elsewhere, $330 where they are risking someone's life.

emishi55 replied to HurdyGurdy | 6 years ago

HurdyGurdy wrote:

 Might be lone voice here but no sympathy for cyclists with no lights. 

Do you really feel the need to be the lone voice?

 When the crackheads in this particular governement couldn't show much more contempt for those cycling (and doing a great job of banning it by stealth) unless they decided to issue reward points for forcing cyclists off the road.

On a list of issues that might cause harm and worse to others on the road, riding without lights or going through red lights is nowhere near the top - and it would be a long list.


I'm going to 'be a lone voice' and suggest that rather than going along with the motor-industry imposed/gutter-press-led victim-blaming (one of the great knee-jerk, socially maladjusted conditions of the time) riding without lights is not the heinous crime it is made out to be, where a person cycling is actually visible - or maybe riding with caution to pull over when motor vehciles on busy stretches are approaching.

I would also point out that it is possible to ride around a city like Ansterdam after dark without fully functioning lights since the behaviour of drivers is of a level that offers the respect, regard and consideration for people on bikes that one might expect in a normal, civilised society (there are of course cycle lanes that mean conflict is redcuced of course, in additon to it being as reasonably lit as any other European city).

Don't forget that plenty of well-lit ('xmas -tree') riders endure the wrath and worse from those who behind the wheel of a motor have been offered up as easy targets for the pathological misplaced rage and aggression that often might as well be written into the driving test. Tabloids do a fabulous job of adding to the goading and provocation.


Re- the tiresome riding red lights b/s. In Europe, many countries eg here in France, neither motors nor cyclists are obliged to stop at a green man unless people are crossing.

There is also the 'Idaho Rule', which in addition to certain US states, has been adopted by Copenhagen. Cyclists may filter left (or right, in that country's equivalent) or straight ahead if safe to do so. 

The red light is treated as a 'Give Way'.


In the UK recently, a viscount (no less!) was jailed for publicly stating that he would give £5000 to anyone running down by car, the woman who attempted to take the UK governement to court over their failings that achieved the resulting vote in the Brexit election.

I mention that as an illustration of the kind of beings that any campaigners are up against in the UK as well as Australia.

I don't think we need any lone voices breaking away and adding to the mob hysteria of those operating potentially lethal machinery. 

Apologies for the lengthy response.  


brooksby | 6 years ago

Now remember, people, they're not having a go at the cyclists...  3

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