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Cyclist in Australia fined A$1,000 for talking on her phone while riding

In Queensland, cyclists are bound by same laws as motorists – we also look at UK rules on using a phone while cycling (including Boris Johnson’s view)

A cyclist in Australia has been fined A$1,000 (£548) for talking on her mobile phone while riding her bike.

The incident happened last week in Ayr, near Townsville in Queensland, a state in which cyclists are bound by the same laws as motorists, reports Daily Mail Australia.

Other states and territories in Australia also have rules regarding cyclists using mobile phones while riding, which is banned in New South Wales, for example, although at A$349 (£191) the potential fine is lower than it is in Queensland.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, where the fine is A$476 (£261), cyclists can only use a mobile phone while riding their bike if, when making or receiving a call, the device in a special holder or in their pocket.

On its website, the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads tells cyclists: “You must follow the same road rules as motorists if you want to cycle on Queensland roads.

“If you break the road rules on your bicycle you may get a fine but no demerit points are given.”

In the UK, where motorists are banned from using a handheld mobile phone as a communication device, punishable by a £200 fine and six penalty points, there is no specific offence relating to using a mobile phone while cycling.

However, doing so could result in police fining the cyclist for careless cycling, which carries a maximum penalty of a £1,000, and occasionally we do hear of police targeting riders who are using a mobile phone, as in this example from West London several years ago (the extent of the fines in that case were not disclosed).

> Police in West London fine cyclists for using mobiles – but say no resources to target drivers using handheld phones at wheel

Rule 70 of the Highway Code says that cyclists “must not ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner.”

In finding a cyclist guilty of careless cycling due to using a mobile phone, officers could cite Rule 66 which says, amongst other things that cyclists “should keep both hands on the handlebars except when signalling or changing gear” – although it is worth noting that the operative word there is the advisory “should” rather than the compulsory “must.”

As we reported in 2010, when he was Mayor of London, Boris Johnson gave his endorsement – in typically florid language – to cyclists using a mobile phone while riding a bike, something he had been filmed doing himself as he passed a pub in Westminster.

In his A-Z of Dos & Don’ts of cycling in London published in 2008 in The Times, the then mayor wrote, in typically florid language:

P is for Phone: I see no reason why you should not treat your bike as your office. Provided you hug the kerb, as St Paul’s ship hugged the coast of the Mediterranean, you should be entitled to make telephone calls. It is probably safer to use a hands-free gizmo, but to all those who want to ban the use of mobile phones on bikes, I say this: are we so cruel and discriminatory as to forbid them from using a bicycle? We are not. What is a mobile phone user but a cyclist who has, effectively, only one arm? I rest my case.

Given that article is 13 years old, of course, there is a possibility that the now Prime Minister may have changed is view on the subject, since then, if he recalls writing the piece at all.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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31 comments

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peted76 | 3 years ago
1 like

I don't think cyclists should use their phones whilst riding generally, but then again..so are headphones, should we legislate against those too? If I'm out in the countryside riding and it's safe make a call why not? Who's to say my bike handling isn't as good as Tom Pidcock's and I can do one handed wheelies while making a call and going around an obstacle course.. or maybe I'm the person who grips the handlebars so tight and am so nervous that I'm a danger to myself and others every time I get on a bike... No, make that rule.. and it's that then a very short step from cyclists must have insurance and be licenced once they've passed a test, and you can't take their hands off the handlebars.. does that mean I can't put my sunglasses in my back pocket.. or take a jacket or gillet off while riding.. it's a rabbit hole of nonsense only lawers and legislators and awkward old moaning minnies would spend effort, time and money on just making a rule up to stop a very specific issue someone once had..  

The more I hear about cycling (and spiders) in Australia the more I think Australia sucks bumholes.

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Flintshire Boy replied to peted76 | 2 years ago
0 likes

Yes, we should legislate against headphones.

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chrisonabike replied to Flintshire Boy | 2 years ago
3 likes

Flintshire Boy wrote:

Yes, we should legislate against headphones.

And the deaf? And people in cars because they can't hear much if anything? (I recall a lesson in fog where my driving instructor asked me what I'd do to make it safer and wouldn't let me go on until I twigged and wound down the windows).

I think we should first maybe see if we can do a bit more enforcement around people who can't actually see properly. Like the chap whose eyesight had deteriorated, or the lorry driver who had a bunch of crap filling his windscreen, or people who don't seem to manage, y'know, sunshine or just don't think that keeping a constant lookout is very important while driving.

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hawkinspeter replied to Flintshire Boy | 2 years ago
2 likes

Flintshire Boy wrote:

Yes, we should legislate against headphones.

And also get police to stop traffic and perform road-side hearing tests to ensure that they pass the minimum standard required to drive.

What's that you say, there's no minimum standard of hearing required to be in charge of 2 tonnes of speeding metal? You mean even deaf people are allowed to use the public roads?

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brooksby | 3 years ago
2 likes

Some more of those Boris guidelines (can't get the whole alphabet as its paywalled):

Quote:

F is for freedom: With no other means of transport, except possibly skiing, can you determine so exactly the path you intend to follow and arrive there so quickly.

P is for pavement This you should only mount in the most extreme circumstances (for example, if you are driven off the road by one of my predecessor's demented new single-decker buses, so long that they can't turn corners). P is also for the paradox of the ramps for the disabled, which have been installed, at colossal expense, on every pavement in London. They make it easier for cyclists to ascend the pavement at speed, greatly increasing the risk that they will collide with, and permanently disable, pedestrians.

Q is for queue As in queues of cars, throbbing, panting, waiting. Tee-hee.

Ah, what a wacky old prime minister we have...

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racyrich | 3 years ago
1 like
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Jenova20 replied to racyrich | 3 years ago
3 likes

racyrich wrote:

Even Netherlands tries to stop it:

https://road.cc/content/news/267572-nearly-10000-cyclists-netherlands-fi...

 

Don't know if this is an unpopular opinion here, but i'm not sure why this shouldn't apply to cyclists, since it's a distraction, and will impair their ability to react. Nothing wrong with pulling over to answer the phone, or just get a hands-free kit.

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Captain Badger replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
3 likes

Jenova20 wrote:

....

Don't know if this is an unpopular opinion here, but i'm not sure why this shouldn't apply to cyclists, since it's a distraction, and will impair their ability to react. Nothing wrong with pulling over to answer the phone, or just get a hands-free kit.

presumably, the law is there to deter based on the seriousness of the consequences to others of breaking that rule (yes, I know, the rule is not there for that at all, but to onerously encumber cyclists with legislation). Without the measured risk to the public of people on bikes using their mobile, we'd have to extrapolate from UK experience. At the top end of the consequence pyramid comes death, and we know that about once or twice a year on average a pedestrian is killed in collision with a cyclist. We'd then have to understand  how many times this is cos the rider is

  1. to blame,
  2. on their phone at the time
  3. that being a relevant factor

Comparing that then with the risk that motorists pose to the public whilst on their phones (this is of course well established) we'd at least expect the fines to be proportionate to each other

The article didn't say what the equivalent penalty is to drivers, but a quick google search found that it can be as little as $400 dollars.

So it seems that it's not so much "why shouldn't this apply to riders", rather "why the fuck diddly* does this not apply to drivers????"

*Sorry Gwent Police, I meant no offence or alarm to passers-by.....

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Jenova20 replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
2 likes

But in that case you could excuse anything a cyclist does, simply because a car driver is a bigger threat: Cycling with no hands for example, talking on the phone, heck, even wheelies, and stunts on the road...

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hawkinspeter replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
1 like

Jenova20 wrote:

But in that case you could excuse anything a cyclist does, simply because a car driver is a bigger threat: Cycling with no hands for example, talking on the phone, heck, even wheelies, and stunts on the road...

Every so often, there's a gang of youths cycling maliciously and even *gasp* pulling wheelies in Bristol (and I imagine in most urban cities). I think it's part of the 'wheels up, knives down' movement or maybe just an outlet for a bit of teenage rebellion. They often cycle on the wrong side of the road and cause cars to have to stop with their shenanigans.

Now, it's quite a rarity when it happens and I'm not aware of anyone being injured by that reckless, lawless behaviour. Meanwhile, there's traffic collisions in Bristol EVERY SINGLE DAY, causing far more significant hold-ups, injuries and often loss of life.

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Captain Badger replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago
1 like

hawkinspeter wrote:

....

Every so often, there's a gang of youths cycling maliciously and even *gasp* pulling wheelies in Bristol (and I imagine in most urban cities). I think it's part of the 'wheels up, knives down' movement or maybe just an outlet for a bit of teenage rebellion. They often cycle on the wrong side of the road and cause cars to have to stop with their shenanigans.

Now, it's quite a rarity when it happens and I'm not aware of anyone being injured by that reckless, lawless behaviour. Meanwhile, there's traffic collisions in Bristol EVERY SINGLE DAY, causing far more significant hold-ups, injuries and often loss of life.

Yeah but cyclists....

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Captain Badger replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
1 like

Jenova20 wrote:

But in that case you could excuse anything a cyclist does, simply because a car driver is a bigger threat: Cycling with no hands for example, talking on the phone, heck, even wheelies, and stunts on the road...

I don't see how. Quite the opposite actually, a proportionate legal response to the objective threat is what would be needed. 

If there is a threat, it needs to be mitigated. If an action presents little or no risk, what the fack are we doing wasting public resources to prevent it?  If it's somewhere between no risk and the risk presented by a car, then the response should be proportionate, but you would be falsely trivialising the very real risk presented by car drivers when fining riders 2-3 times as much.

In actual fact the logic you seem to present would suggest that it's fine for peds to be prosecuted for using a mobile when walking....

As for no hands, wheelies etc, again what are the risks in reality? Or is it just that we want to punish people for the crime of behaving in a way that grips drivers' 5h1t?

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Jenova20 replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
1 like

Captain Badger wrote:

Jenova20 wrote:

But in that case you could excuse anything a cyclist does, simply because a car driver is a bigger threat: Cycling with no hands for example, talking on the phone, heck, even wheelies, and stunts on the road...

I don't see how. Quite the opposite actually, a proportionate legal response to the objective threat is what would be needed. 

If there is a threat, it needs to be mitigated. If an action presents little or no risk, what the fack are we doing wasting public resources to prevent it?  If it's somewhere between no risk and the risk presented by a car, then the response should be proportionate, but you would be falsely trivialising the very real risk presented by car drivers when fining riders 2-3 times as much.

In actual fact the logic you seem to present would suggest that it's fine for peds to be prosecuted for using a mobile when walking....

As for no hands, wheelies etc, again what are the risks in reality? Or is it just that we want to punish people for the crime of behaving in a way that grips drivers' 5h1t?

Dangerous driving is dangerous driving. Whether done on a bike, or bicycle. We have parks if people want to cycle like idiots or do stunts. I agree the response should be in proportion, but disagree with some of the other posters that people should be able to get off scot-free by pointing at someone in a bigger vehicle and saying "what about them?"

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Captain Badger replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
1 like

Jenova20 wrote:

...

Dangerous driving is dangerous driving.

is that like "Brexit means Brexit"?

Jenova20 wrote:

Whether done on a bike, or bicycle. We have parks if people want to cycle like idiots or do stunts. I agree the response should be in proportion, but disagree with some of the other posters that people should be able to get off scot-free by pointing at someone in a bigger vehicle and saying "what about them?"

At some point you have to accept that there are some issues that you can't legislate yourself out of, even if the problem is worth addressing in the first place. The idea of "getting off scot free" seems a fag paper away from the principle of "cyclists should pay road tax cos I've got to". If the motivation for legislating is petty, with the resultant benefit vanishingly small even if it exists, then that is crap legislation

 

 

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Jenova20 replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
1 like

Captain Badger wrote:

Jenova20 wrote:

Whether done on a bike, or bicycle. We have parks if people want to cycle like idiots or do stunts. I agree the response should be in proportion, but disagree with some of the other posters that people should be able to get off scot-free by pointing at someone in a bigger vehicle and saying "what about them?"

At some point you have to accept that there are some issues that you can't legislate yourself out of, even if the problem is worth addressing in the first place. The idea of "getting off scot free" seems a fag paper away from the principle of "cyclists should pay road tax cos I've got to". If the motivation for legislating is petty, with the resultant benefit vanishingly small even if it exists, then that is crap legislation

That's why we have enforcement. If enforcement isn't working then it's not necessarily worth giving up entirely. The roads aren't the place to mess around and do stunts.

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Captain Badger replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
2 likes

Jenova20 wrote:

......

That's why we have enforcement. If enforcement isn't working then it's not necessarily worth giving up entirely. The roads aren't the place to mess around and do stunts.

In the great scheme of things, if the worst that happens on the road is that some kids pull a few wheelies on their BMXs, that actually is a demonstration of how safe the roads are. It's really a non-issue.

Any competent driver can deal with it, and doing it on the road means they aren't doing it on the pavement. I really couldn't care less.

Similarly, people using their phones on bikes - I don't know the figures, and I could be surprised, but how often is it an indicator in any collisions? my guess would be fack all squared.

I'm a believer in strongly enforced legislation, but for that legislation must be sensible, well written, and parsimonious. It simply isn't worth legislating (or enforcing legislation) over things that don't cause a problem. 

 

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chrisonabike replied to Jenova20 | 2 years ago
2 likes

Indeed but the level of danger and the frequency surely is important to where you prioritise?

Motor vehicles being driven are very common, bikes being ridden much less so. "Bad driving" by cyclists can cause injury but has a low risk of fatal injury.  "Bad driving" by motorists commonly causes injury and fatal injury is not uncommon. It also causes millions of pounds of property damage every year (see the "cars in houses" thread).

None of that says anything about "intent" if that's what gets you excited (rights and responsibilities). People get killed and bridges get driven into by motorists who had no "intent to do so" when they set out. But the consequences don't change.

Even if you have a local outbreak of something ("damn kids on bikes" - who may indeed be harrassing / mugging people) you might temporarily mount a campaign but that should be limited by comparison to dealing with something which goes on every day.

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peted76 replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
1 like

Captain Badger wrote:

Jenova20 wrote:

But in that case you could excuse anything a cyclist does, simply because a car driver is a bigger threat: Cycling with no hands for example, talking on the phone, heck, even wheelies, and stunts on the road...

I don't see how. Quite the opposite actually, a proportionate legal response to the objective threat is what would be needed. 

If there is a threat, it needs to be mitigated. If an action presents little or no risk, what the fack are we doing wasting public resources to prevent it?  If it's somewhere between no risk and the risk presented by a car, then the response should be proportionate, but you would be falsely trivialising the very real risk presented by car drivers when fining riders 2-3 times as much.

In actual fact the logic you seem to present would suggest that it's fine for peds to be prosecuted for using a mobile when walking....

As for no hands, wheelies etc, again what are the risks in reality? Or is it just that we want to punish people for the crime of behaving in a way that grips drivers' 5h1t?

Here have a sticker you've been a very good boy. 

 

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Captain Badger replied to peted76 | 3 years ago
0 likes

peted76 wrote:

.....

Here have a sticker you've been a very good boy. 

 

Awwww thanks dude, that's the nicest thing that anyone's said to me this week! Backatcha! (Not sure what a "Blap" is, but I'm sure it's positive. Have 10)

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Mungecrundle replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
0 likes

From Urban Dictionary.
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=blap

TOP DEFINITION

blap

refers to the sound that a males penis makes when he hits it against a females face

!!!

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Captain Badger replied to Mungecrundle | 3 years ago
0 likes

Mungecrundle wrote:

From Urban Dictionary. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=blap TOP DEFINITION blap refers to the sound that a males penis makes when he hits it against a females face !!!

Oh

Everything's relative I suppose...

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Flintshire Boy replied to Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
0 likes

What is it called when it hits a male face?

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Captain Badger replied to peted76 | 3 years ago
0 likes

peted76 wrote:

...

Here have a sticker you've been a very good boy. 

 

In light of Munges bombshell just now you might want to rescind that on the account of me being either not clever, not good, or possibly both.....

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chrisonabike replied to racyrich | 2 years ago
0 likes

Arguably it makes more sense in The Netherlands because they've already done so much more to sort out transport safety - and for motorists and pedestrians too *1. Firstly due to their transport policies it's much quieter where people are cycling so hearing would be more useful.  Secondly their best road design properly hands the responsibility for cycle safety back to the cyclists *2 so reminding people to use all their senses is not unreasonable.

*2 This is not done in the UK way ("drivers are a fact of life, it's up to you to keep yourself safe by looking all around you all the time, anticipating their every move, moving yourself about the carriageway to compensate for their lack of skill or mistakes and finally being aware that they might well do *anything*).  It's done by not having cyclists interact with drivers at all most of the time.  Where they do drivers are slowed down, space is provided to wait (with protection for cyclists), it's made completely clear to everyone what they're expected to do. The design anticipates common human mistakes and ensures these don't have instant serious consequences.

*1 ...following on from that if you haven't come across their "sustainable safety" concept it I recommend a dive into that (video).

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Sriracha | 3 years ago
4 likes

I'd have thought as a general principle penalties are proportionate to the severity of the offence, with a view to its possible consequences. On that basis I would have expected the penalties for riding a bike dangerously would be a fraction of the penalty for driving a car dangerously. But apparently not in Australia?

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Mybike replied to Sriracha | 3 years ago
0 likes

No I think it fair call. For example if you talking on the phone and have no accident should they get less of a fine or running a stop sign and not hitting anyone we cyclist always say follow the rules of the road it make it safer for everyone so this is right today i was talking on my cell while riding

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Sriracha replied to Mybike | 3 years ago
2 likes
Mybike wrote:

No I think it fair call. For example if you talking on the phone and have no accident should they get less of a fine or running a stop sign and not hitting anyone we cyclist always say follow the rules of the road it make it safer for everyone so this is right today i was talking on my cell while riding

No, I said proportionate to the possible, not the actual, consequences. In general possible consequences with a car a far greater than with a bike.

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Bungle_52 replied to Sriracha | 3 years ago
0 likes

I agree that the possible consequences are the important thing here however the possible consequences are the same for drivers and cyclists. The difference is that in the case of a motorist the consequences are severe for someone else and not themselves. Riding while texting risks an accident with a car and the rider comes off worse but it still puts an unnecessary strain in the NHS.

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hawkinspeter replied to Bungle_52 | 3 years ago
2 likes

The thing with riding a bike is that most of the dangerous activities such as texting whilst cycling carry their own punishment as you're more likely to hit something and hurt yourself. Thus, the behaviour is more or less self-controlling and it seems like a poor use of resources to get police to enforce something like that unless they've had an extreme number of cyclists crashing and not caring about their own injuries.

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Captain Badger replied to Mybike | 3 years ago
0 likes

Mybike wrote:

No I think it fair call. For example if you talking on the phone and have no accident should they get less of a fine or running a stop sign and not hitting anyone we cyclist always say follow the rules of the road it make it safer for everyone so this is right today i was talking on my cell while riding

The fine was 2 to 3 times that that a driver would receive for the same action.....

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