On this day in 1908, the Model T Ford was released. Later that day, the first incident of a motorist and a cyclist (a penny-farthing-ist, to be precise) getting into a tiff was reported. That may not actually be true – to be honest, we’re guessing – but it sounds likely. Ever since that fateful day, the tug-o-war between cyclists and motorists for use of the road and battles about who is responsible to ensure the safety of cyclists has raged on.
The NSW Government (whom appear to have a penchant for this sort of thing) has recently brought into effect some new rules to better police the parties.
From the first of this month, all bicycle riders aged 18 years and over must carry photo ID. If you break the law or get in an accident, this should assist the carriage of justice (and, more importantly, assist the authorities to issue the increased fines detailed below). But the fines for not carrying identification don’t kick in for 12 months. From 1 March 2017, cyclists without identification could be fined $106. By the by, if you don’t currently have an adequate form of identification, you can get a 5 year ID from the good folk at Roads & Maritime Services (for a fee of $51, of course).
Also from the beginning of this month, fines for cyclists have increased as follows:
(a) no helmet has increased from $71 to $319;
(b) riding dangerously, running a red light and not stopping at a pedestrian crossing have increased from $71 to $425, respectively; and
(c) the not particularly common holding on to a moving vehicle (aka ‘the Marty McFly’) has increased from $71 to $319.
However, like many parents with squabbling kids, the State Government could not come down on one child without being seen to, at least, nudge the other.
Coinciding with the tough stance taken against cyclists is a tightening on motorists’ behaviour. Motorists travelling 60km/h or less must allow a distance of at least 1 metre when passing a cyclist and allow 1.5 metres when travelling at faster than 60km/h.
The penalties for breaching the distance requirements are as follows:
(a) a fine of $319; and
(b) two demerit points.
There is speculation that this may have a ripple effect on other laws. Theoretically, in an accident between a cyclist and a motorist where the distance requirements have not been met, the police may be more inclined to lay a charge of negligent driving or dangerous driving on the motorist.
All in all, cyclists within the next year need to carry photo ID. If they could fine you before, they will now fine you more (possibly up to 600% of the previous fine). Drivers, they haven’t forgotten about you. Give the cyclists more space or you could cop a fine and some points.
The above is not intended as legal advice. You should obtain legal advice in relation to your own specific circumstances.