Women cycling

One ‘woman who cycles’ view of the new laws in NSW

imageIn my home state of NSW there will be a number of new laws relating to cycling introduced from the start of next month and up until now I’ve let others do the talking. But it’s time I joined in the debate and let my voice be heard.

For those who are not from NSW from 1 March 2016, my esteemed government will introduce a number of new laws. The first one is very positive from a cyclist’s perspective:
Drivers who pass a bicycle rider must allow a distance of at least:

  • 1 metre when the speed limit is 60km/h or less
  • 1.5 metres when the speed limit is more than 60km/h

If drivers cannot pass a bicycle rider safely, they should slow down and wait until it is safe to pass the rider, leaving the minimum distance. To help drivers provide the minimum distance, some exemptions to the road rules will apply.

On the negative side there is a huge increase in fines for not wearing a helmet, running a red light, riding in a dangerous manner, holding onto a moving vehicle and not stopping at a crossing.

Also on the negative is the requirement to carry photo ID when riding a bike.

When I first read about these new laws in late 2015 I thought it as excellent that the government was introducing the ‘metre’ law. But all the media and social media commentary & coverage I’ve read is focused on the negative side of these new regulations.

I’ve been told that our esteemed Roads Minister Duncan Gay who is responsible for these gems is very anti-cycling and was very keen to introduce registration of riders/bikes but was persuaded to just introduce compulsory ID.

It’s not that I don’t already carry ID when I’m riding, I do. I wear an ID band on my wrist and I have my expired driver’s license in my bag, but it’s not so I can show it to anyone, it’s so I can be identified if I get mowed down by a car and have to be identified because I’m not conscious. If I was pulled up by the police and asked to identify myself I would not hesitate to provide my details.

If I have to carry ID then why doesn’t every pedestrian. It’s very ‘nanny-state’.

And the some of the fines have increase almost six fold which is quite ridiculous. This smacks of appeasing motorists rather than improved safety for road users. Imagine being fined $391 for not wearing a helmet – a law which I believe is questionable itself (but that’s another issue).

I’m not sure whether the NSW Government has any intention of actually promoting these new laws but so far all I’ve seen is negative stuff like this poster which I found was posted on Facebook. I haven’t seen any other evidence at all, particularly positive information about the new ‘one metre’ laws which would be most helpful to encourage drivers to do the right thing and pass cyclist safely.

So it’s about three weeks until the laws come into force and maybe there’ll be a flurry of activity soon. But I won’t be surprised if there’s very little.
My dream would be that the Government spend some money on a public relations campaign the utilises traditional and social media channels to really spread the word. I fear a few posters will just not cut it.

I’d love to hear about it if anyone has seen any other promotion or coverage that proves me wrong.

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