Sydney police are out in force today (Monday), in a one-day show of strength designed to ensure cyclists and pedestrians stick to the strict new safety laws introduced last year.
The new, tougher rules – introduced in NSW in March last year – multiplied the fines for offences like riding without a helmet, which jumped from $71 to $319.
The harsher regime also led to an intensive two-month policing operation, resulting in a 56 per cent increase in the number of fines issued.
Other common misdemeanours where fines went up included: Riding through a red light (fine up from $71 to $425); riding dangerously ($71 to $425); holding onto a moving vehicle ($71 to $319); riding in the dark without a visible white or red light ($71 to $106); riding a bike without a working warning device ($71 to $106) and not stopping at a pedestrian crossing, ($71 to $425).
The laws also cautioned motorists to leave a one metre gap when overtaking a cyclist in a zone of 60km/h or less and at least 1.5 metres at higher speeds or face a $319 penalty and losing two demerit points.
Cyclists involved in any kind of infringement must be able to show ID or they will be fined $106.
Officers involved in today’s Operation Pedro 5, billed as ‘focussing on cycling and pedestrian safety’ focused primarily on Sydney’s CBD and surrounding networks.
Traffic and Highway Patrol officers were joined by Surry Hills, Sydney City, Redfern, Leichhardt, Newtown, Rose Bay, Kings Cross and Harbourside local area commands.
Acting Commander of the Traffic & Highway Patrol Command, Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy, said the operation was one of many ongoing operations aimed at minimising road trauma.
“So far this year, we have not had a cyclist die in a fatal crash and we want to keep it that way,” Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.
“Today’s operation is all about raising awareness in the community about cycle and pedestrian safety.
“We need cyclists and pedestrians to do the right thing to ensure the safety of themselves and others.”
A similar, one-day operation covering roughly the same areas occurred in July last year leading to 238 infringements and 53 cautions being issued. The most common infringements were not wearing a helmet, disobeying red lights and riding on the footpath.
When the new laws came in last year, cycling groups accused then NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay of being anti-cycling and treating cyclists like pests. They said the government was using the new laws as cynical revenue raiser which would end up discouraging people from cycling.
Freecycle Cyclists is organising a helmet-optional protest cycle ride on March 18 in Melbourne, calling for an end to making stack hats compulsory.