At its February meeting, the Board of Triathlon NSW Limited, representing the interests of over 6,500 members, discussed the impact of the introduction of the new road rules relating to cyclists in NSW.
Triathlon NSW is strongly supportive of the significant change in legislation requiring motor vehicles to give a minimum of 1 metre distance to cyclists (and increasing to 1.5m when speeds exceed 80km/h). This is a significant and important change to the road rules.
Triathlon NSW recognises that this new requirement will help to ensure the safety of cyclists on our roads and encourage more people to cycle. Our members in country areas where car and truck speeds average 100km/h are particularly welcoming of these law changes, it gives them greater peace of mind when cycling on country roads.
There is much discussion around how these new laws will be enforced. Triathlon NSW believes the most important aspect to them however, is the educational opportunity the laws create, developing a focal point and awareness around respectful sharing of the road by all road users.
Every cyclist is someone’s, father, sibling, wife, mother, friend, son or daughter. The safety of cyclists on our roads is of paramount importance and the new laws are an essential component in ensuring cars and bikes can co-operatively share the road.
Along with the new laws the Government has raised the financial penalties through increased fines for cyclists who breach the road rules; reiterated the need to wear helmets; and introduced a requirement to carry ID.
Triathlon NSW has a long held view that the use of helmets by cyclists is essential to increase the safety of riders. Indeed, as a cycling role model, all triathlon competition has required participants to wear helmets in competition for many years.
Similarly, we strongly advocate carrying ID when riding. Sadly, accidents occur and we feel it best that emergency services can quickly make contact with loved ones in the event of a crash.
We will be working with Government on how best to implement this requirement and believe the Triathlon Membership ID that all Triathlon Australia members carry would be an appropriate form of ID which could be used.
We understand police will require ID in the event a cyclist infringes on the law. Whilst this requirement has caused angst amongst many cyclists, we strongly support adherence to the road rules and understand it is important for police to enforce these rules for all users, and that includes appropriate identification of those who infringe.
Similarly, we understand the increase to fines has been met with much displeasure from many in the cycling community. Triathlon NSW is understanding of the need to move the existing fines schedule closer to that of motorists. However, there was no consultation beyond this point and the exact fine levels are more extreme than we anticipated.
It is important to note that the fine levels for cyclists now in place for NSW are closer to those in most other states. Indeed, in Victoria, fines were increased without any provision for legislation of the compulsory metre gap between cyclists and motor vehicles.
We understand the practicalities for cyclists with red lights, especially because many modern bikes don’t tend to trip the sensors. We commit to work with Government to ensure the effective implementation of measures that ensure cyclists can both abide by the road rules and ensure traffic signalling is effective for them. We don’t however condone any blatant running of red lights or pedestrian crossings.
Triathlon NSW will liaise and work collaboratively with Cycling NSW and the NSW Government as these changes are implemented during the two-year trial phase. We will identify areas where improvements to policy and legislation can be made to ensure the achievement of the end goal: safe and respectful use of our roads by all road users.