The number of fines given to cyclists in NSW in the first year since rolling out tougher penalties (on March 1, 2016) has risen by more than a third.

The state government has collected more than $2.2 million in revenue from cycling-related infringements since the new penalties were applied.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, NSW has some of the highest fines in the world for cycling offenses. The most common breach is cyclists failing to wear helmets, the fine for which is $319. The penalty for running a red light, riding negligently, or for failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing is $439.

All of this is, presumably, to make cyclists safer. But has it worked?

“While it is accurate that there has been a decline in injuries and cycling deaths on NSW roads, there has also been an alarming decline in participation across NSW,” Katie Bell, the membership manager at Bicycle NSW told Broadsheet. “In 2015, 16.7 per cent of people in NSW rode bikes regularly. That has dropped to 12.5 per cent in 2017 and is the lowest in the country,” she says. About half of NSW households have access to at least one bike.

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

According to Bell, penalties for drivers and cyclists are not created equal. “It is disappointing to see a large focus on bike riders not adhering to rules like having a working bell, when only 17 drivers received fines for not giving the minimum passing distance when overtaking a bicycle,” she says.

What else could NSW police do to keep people safe and encourage cycling as a transport option? For Bell, it doesn’t come down to cyclists, but educating motorists. “An alarming 80 per cent [of motorists] did not know they can legally cross double lines, when safe to do so, to give cyclists enough room when they overtake,” says Bell.

With additional reporting by Laura Mazzotta.

bicyclensw.org.au