Busting Loose: Hefty NSW cycling fines hit top gear


A controversial crackdown by New South Wales Police on cyclists behaving badly is slapping plenty of riders with big new fines – especially if they try to mingle with pedestrians on the pavement instead of mixing it with cars on the bitumen.

Bookings for riding on the footpath have jumped more than 60 per cent compared to the same time last year, alongside spikes in failing to have a bell, riding without brakes and not carrying front and rear lights and reflectors.

Statistics (initially obtained by Fairfax but now released by police to the wider media) reveal the big blitz and the accompanying rise in the size of fines is snaring plenty of people for many minor traffic violations, apart from just not wearing helmets as initially publicised by NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay.

As anticipated, the number of riders busted for riding without a helmet has jumped – from 710 in March and April 2015 to 1098 March and April 2016. The fine associated with not wearing a lid has also soared in the past year, rising from $71 to a whopping $319, making it a revenue hotspot.

That rise has now made forgetting your stack hat more expensive than driving a car in a designated bike lane, which attracts a penalty of $171 – a head scratcher if ever there was one.

But it’s the breadth of other curious cycling naughties and no-nos that will now actually get you booked (as opposed to told-off) that’s the real eye-opener in the official infringement statistics.

Riding on the footpath (unless you’re under 12 or accompanying someone who is) has soared in the number of penalties issued, leaping from 101 people in March-April 2015 to 166 people in the same period 2016 – not exactly encouraging for parents of teenagers .

And you’ve ever sat upright and taken both hands off the handlebars and kept pedalling, that’ll set you back $106, with 5 riders copping hands-free fines versus three for the previous period.

Ignoring those special (and arguably slow) bicycle traffic signals, like riding through a ‘red bike’ signal, will also get you booked to the tune of $106 as 9 riders found out in March-April 2016. Nobody got done for that in the previous corresponding period.

Not having a bell (or horn) is also wringing revenue out of riders. At $106, 60 riders copped penalties in March April 2016, more than double the 27 people booked for the same period in 2015. In an age when most pedestrians seem to be wearing earbuds and headphones, the benefits of that rule are likely to accrue to bell manufacturers and few others.

Not having front and rear lights when it’s dark (you need both) is also garnering unfavourable attention, with 117 people booked for failing to illuminate. Interestingly, it was not having a white front light that jumped the most there, surging from 56 to 70.

Giving someone a dink, helmeted or otherwise, is also out, though only one person was busted for that in the figures.

As for bike trailers, like the kind that carry kids, they’re a bit of a grey area.

While Transport for NSW’s Centre for Road Safety rams home the message that kids in trailers must always wear helmets – “This applies to all cyclists, regardless of age, including children on bicycles with training wheels and any child being carried as a passenger on a bike or in a bicycle trailer” they say – the Roads and Maritime Service’s exhaustive catalogue of fines and demerit points lists the infringement (Rule 257 (1) Tow bicycle trailer with person in/on trailer) as attracting a $106 fine.

That could well make for an interesting test case, in the event someone writes a ticket for it.

Still causing intrigue is the infringement of “Ride bicycle furiously”, which attracts the top penalty of $425. Just three furious riders were booked for that violation in March and April 2016, one more than for the same period last year.

Here’s the table of fines issues as supplied by NSW Police:

Cyclist Infringement Notices March & April
*Data provisional as at 05/05/2016

Law Part Title 2015 2016
Bicycle rider cross road on children’s/pedestrian crossing 3 1
Bicycle rider cross road on marked foot crossing 0 7
Bicycle rider move into path of driver/pedestrian 1 3
Carry more persons on bicycle than permitted 1 1
Driver of motor vehicle not pass bicycle at safe distance 0 4
Hold onto moving vehicle while riding bicycle 1 0
Not ride bicycle with at least one hand on handle bars 3 5
Not ride in bicycle lane 1 1
Not stop before red bicycle crossing light 0 9
Passenger not wear bicycle helmet/fitted/fastened 11 22
Passenger on bicycle not sit on passenger seat 0 1
Proceed before allowed (red bicycle crossing light showing) 0 3
Ride bicycle furiously 4 3
Ride bicycle in dark without visible front white light 56 70
Ride bicycle in dark without visible rear red light 37 47
Ride bicycle in dark without visible rear red reflector 4 6
Ride bicycle negligently 13 15
Ride bicycle on footpath (12 yrs or older) 101 166
Ride bicycle recklessly 4 6
Ride bicycle with passenger not seated on passenger seat 2 1
Ride bicycle without effective brake 6 11
Ride bicycle without working warning device 27 60
Rider carry passenger without approved helmet fitted etc 5 5
Rider not wear approved bicycle helmet/fitted/fastened 710 1,098
Total 990 1,545

(Source: NSW Police)

And if you’ve ever wanted to know what you can’t legally do on a bike – and that includes using a zebra and potentially crossing or pedestrian lights while riding – the big list of fines and amounts is here.

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5 thoughts on “Busting Loose: Hefty NSW cycling fines hit top gear

  1. Wonderful. I wonder how many warnings were issued for breach of ‘the meter’ rule or how many lives were saved?

    Smacks of persecution of a minority to dissuade cycling .

    1. Presumably that’s the “Driver of motor vehicle not pass bicycle at safe distance” – so 4, or 0.3% of the total number of fines. Seems right to me, on my ride into work every morning I easily see 300 cyclists recklessly breaking the law and only one car driver making an innocent side-swipe of a rider. Oh, wait a minute…

  2. Revenue raising. This country is becoming increasingly over regulated. it is severely compromising our lifestyle

  3. The list of RMS penalties is unbelievable. Talk about a nanny state!

    In addition to “Ride bicycle furiously” for $425, they’ve also got “Ride bicycle negligently” for $425 and “Ride bicycle recklessly” for $425. So police have a wide range of easily applied, hard to argue against, fines for those that get a bit grumpy.

    Please write to Mike Baird (google Mike Baird NSW government) and complain. Cycling in NSW is going to be a thing of the past if this continues.

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