MWCC have been fairly vocal of late on the issue of cycling advocacy. Those that know us, know that we often have an opinion on most issues and we aren’t afraid to put it forward or ruffle a few feathers. Here is a piece from our a President Jim Buda, you may have read or heard his opinion lately as he has appeared in the SMH, Daily Telegraph, local paper and ABC radio. Here he questions the role that our Cycling Groups have played in the recent affairs of the soon to be introduced metre passing and increase in fines.
In early march we will see the introduction of the 1m clearance law and a hefty increase in penalties for cyclists who break these laws. These laws have come about with consultation with the leading cycling advocates in NSW and this is the best that they could deliver. It is hard to see any evidence of lobbying for some enlightened proposals that may make cycling better in NSW. Rather the entire effort is a lame roll over and a tacit consent to the anti cycling lobby that has driven the more crazy suggestions on how to “manage” cyclists.
Most roadies I know are a bit nonplussed by the new rules. Most wear helmets, carry ID etc. But the advocates and government have failed to consider the urban cyclist, as distinct from the sports cyclist. We have been sold out to the arguably unenforceable 1m rule as shown in Adelaide and we are yet to see how this will be measured and held up in court. There is even disagreement that the 1m rule will improve driver behaviour. Most already give a metre and those that don’t, will their behaviour change?
The biggest failure of our advocates is the inability for them to see beyond the narrow paradigm of our roads minister and actually think about some bigger issues that impact cycling and the urban environment. Boris Johnson transformed London with his bike share plan in 2010 (post the Paris scheme) and recently Paris announced that cyclists could roll through red lights http://gu.com/p/4dtj5/sbl
Back in NSW the grinding lack of imagination of our politicians is in stark contrast with the way that the rest of the world is heading. It is depressing to come back to Sydney from a trip to Europe and see the vapid alliance of shock jocks, wowsers and illiberal politicians cook up new ways to make our city less liveable. More depressing still to see this done with the apparent consent of our main cycling advocate groups.
Will this bike helmet make a comeback?
Where is the announcement on cycling infrastructure, the announcement of road sharing safety messages, the reduction in speed limits on some suburban roads or a message that would say that cycling has a legitimate role in a modern city or local community? At present it seems to be limited to removing bike lanes like College Street and a few posters advising the metre change at bus shelters and train stations – not quite the target market of the car driver.
There is some encouragement in the recent news from the ACT and quietly the NT has relaxed helmet laws and found an increase in cycle use. Hopefully the Nanny State will peer beyond its borders and see that there are some enlightened options operating effectively in other parts of Australia. Hopefully our advocate groups will actually try to think actively on the issue of advocacy and not simply block users on social media who disagree, or realise that it is not their core mandate and get out of the way of real cycling advocates.
Meanwhile I have a dream, that one day a more enlightened government will actually think critically on the role of the bike in the city as legitimate transport and recreation and that government will work positively with creative and well informed cycling advocacy groups and perhaps, along with Parisians, we may be able to legally and safely run a red light.
For further reading on advocacy groups and links to their relative positions
Read Jim’s other pieces –