All cyclists and Joe Public are now aware of the new fines that are to be introduced in March that directly impact cyclists and that will run in conjunction with a new one metre passing law. At MWCC we are concerned that these new changes do nothing to improve the liveability of our cities nor improve the safety of cyclists on our roads. So we sent our top men in President Jim Buda and our CX/MTB Rep Dave Musgrove to meet directly with our local member and Premier Mike Baird.
At MWCC we aren’t just about putting on races and training rides. We also believe that as a club we have a role to play in promoting and encouraging more cycling on the Beaches. As a club we felt it was our responsibility to ensure that our voice was heard and to ensure that our Premier was made aware of the direct impacts that this new legislation will have on the culture of Manly and surrounding beach areas.
By putting more disincentives in place to stop people cycling, particularly for short runs to the beach or just down to the shops to pick up some milk, all we are doing is putting more cars on our roads and reducing the liveability of our suburbs. The solution shouldn’t be more cars on Pittwater road.
We are also concerned about the compulsory licensing of riders, which would make us the only country in the world for compulsory ID just for cyclists. Countries such as Botswana, Bosnia and China make everyone carry ID, they don’t just single out cyclists. Our current drivers licences aren’t meant to be ID rather to show competency. Who knows where this could stop? Before you know it, you are going to be staying up late to watch one of the Classics and then realise you need a bottle of your favourite red wine and you won’t be able to head down to the bottle shop because it is past 10pm. Or you want to head down and relax by the water and do a spot of fishing? Will they implement licences to do that as well? Oh hang on….
We are also concerned that with this new legislation that has been launched, it isn’t aiming at making it safer to cycle, rather wanting to appease the motorists, who aren’t paying for the roads through rego. Perhaps an advertising campaign busting that myth would be appropriate. If there was this concern there would have been a lot more promotion of the passing laws that will now be in place, rather the promotion has been heavy on the cycling fines and rather quiet on the passing laws, perhaps because when it comes to enforcement there is no enforcement of the metre passing laws but there is on the cycling infringements – just look at South Australia for evidence.
Our delegates also discussed how carry ID will not make riders safer or more accountable, given that Police already can and do fine bicycle riders. Will there also be an upgrade to traffic light infrastructure so that cyclists at lights will trigger the traffic light sequencing. They also pushed the point that we need to reduce the number of short trips being taken in our cars, there is a reason why traffic is so much lighter when schools aren’t in term, because we are taking so many short car trips off our roads. These trips could potentially be completed by bicycles if the infrastructure was there. Reducing the reliance on motor vehicles is something that all major cities are focusing on. We aren’t just talking left wing hippy governments either – New York and London both have right wing, conservative governments and yet they are doing all they can to reduce cars in the city and push more people onto bicycles.
Should someone riding on the footpath on their beach cruiser on the way to volunteering at Queenscliff Surf Club, travelling at not much more than walking speed really be required to ride on the road, carry ID and wear a helmet? This is a scene we see all over Manly every day. As a result of these actions should they be subject to fines of up to $500. Would we rather they hope in their car and instead circle Manly endlessly looking for a car park?
Both Dave and Jim were happy that they were able to put their points across to our Premier in person. The beauty of democracy in action, they will also continue to advocate for better infrastructure and more liveable cities for all of us.