High fines take cyclists for a ride

Illawarra Bicycle Users Group chairman Werner Steyer shows the increase in a number of cycling offences, which he believes has make bike-riding less attractive to people. Picture: Robert Peet
Illawarra Bicycle Users Group chairman Werner Steyer shows the increase in a number of cycling offences, which he believes has make bike-riding less attractive to people. Picture: Robert Peet

Last year's huge increase in fines for cycling offences has led to a boost in revenue, but it might have also discouraged people from riding.

In March last year then Roads Minister Duncan Gay announced massive increases in fines for cyclists.

For instance, the fine for riding without a helmet jumped from $71 to $330.

In the 12 months since, the top five cycling offences brought in more than $2.2 million in revenue, compared to $429,000 last year.

Cyclists fined for riding without a helmet made up the bulk of the revenue – $1.99 million in the last 12 months compared to $337,000 the year before.

The chairman of the Illawarra Bike Users Group Werner Steyer supports riders wearing helmets.

He’s fallen off a few times – one time he didn’t notice the damage until the next day.

“Next morning I’m getting my helmet and I’m about to put it on and I find that I’ve got a big crack in the side of my helmet,” Mr Steyer said.

“That would have been a big crack in the side of my head if I hadn’t had my helmet on.”

However, he doesn’t believe high fines for cycling offences has been a good idea.

“To me it’s just had a counter effect,” Mr Steyer said.

“Sure, you book more people but all that’s actually happening – as the statistics show – is that people are moving away from cycling.

“There was a plan from the government to get more people on bicycles for health benefits, reducing congestion and all the other good things they keep telling us about.

“But unfortunately things like just increasing fines does absolutely nothing.”

The changes to the fines also brought in new rules that motorists needed to leave at least a metre of space when overtaking a cyclist.

“Most cyclists have reported an improvement in being overtaken by motorists since the introduction of the minimum passing regulation which allow motorists to cross an unbroken centre line to safely pass a cyclist,” he said.

However, he felt the low number of fines – 17 in the last year – was due to reported incidents not being investigated.