Bike riders' contempt for the law

  • Geoff Chambers

Riding ... people use the new cycle paths on Kent St / Pic: John Grainger Source: The Daily Telegraph


SYDNEY'S bikeways have become lawless express lanes with cyclists rolling through red lights and riding on footpaths.

While motorists are fined for driving in bus or bike lanes, cycling infringements go unnoticed.

Sydney City Council and the RTA are holding urgent negotiations to consider methods to penalise reckless riders.


Ideas discussed include an increased presence of police traffic officers and cameras monitoring high frequency bike lanes.


In the meantime, the bike paths have become havens for inexperienced cyclists keen to test Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore's laneway project.


Riders using the new Kent St bike lane yesterday expressed their frustration that some cyclists had given them a bad name.


During a two-hour period, The Daily Telegraph observed cyclists riding without helmets, riding through red lights, riding on footpaths and riding in front of turning cars.


Ben Haslem, who rides from Newtown to Neutral Bay three-times a week, said he was fed-up with cyclists who didn't respect the rules.


"You can understand why some people are getting angry about the bike lanes. Every time I go for a ride you see people riding straight through the red light," Mr Haslem said.


A group of lawyers and accountants who work in the CBD, known as the Easy Riders, ride from the Harbour Bridge to Hyde Park for Ride to Work Day.


Easy Riders member and lawyer Peter McNamara said the ride into King St was dangerous for some cyclists. "It can get a bit tricky out there for riders who aren't familiar with the roads. It is busy at peak time and pretty narrow," Mr McNamara said. 'It can get pretty dangerous when there's a group of riders on the road."


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It's the usual bs.

All very well to paint cyclists as lawless renegades when it is the environment created to benefit the motorists we are all subsidising that leads to the behaviour but journalists ignore the equally flagrant lawlessness indulged in by said motorists whose behaviour is far more dangerous to everyone else.

A story comparing the rate of illegal behaviour of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists would be interesting.

The fact remains though that it is the motorists who are causing the most life-threatening danger and they are not paying their way on the roads.
That's a particularly badly written piece which jumps from one subject to another with no structure BUT it will be read by people who feel that they are missing out on something and inflame bad feelings towards cyclists. Unfortunately a lot of cyclists add ammunition to these arguements with the illegal, selfish and often stupid way in which they use the roads and cyclepaths. I have more of a problem with the stupid and selfish actions than the illegal ones. I find people passing on the inside of vehicles that are indicating to turn left and weaving through pedestrians who are crossing on a green man (I know that's illegal as well as selfish) much more annoying than people cycling without helmets or going through a red light when they have checked that there is no other traffic about. For the record I don't jump red lights.

Reply by Neil Alexander
A story comparing the rate of illegal behaviour of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists would be interesting.

I don't think you'd want that, Neil.

I would say that, in a comparison of law-breaking behaviour in city traffic, cyclists would look FAR FAR worse than motorists.

I could take you to a number of street corners in the CBD and show you shoals of cyclists jumping red lights. Couldn't promise to do the same for motorists. Every now and then you see one do it, and everyone goes "there there look a motorist offender" ... but seriously, in comparison?

Our love of cycling should not blind us to the fact that a lot of cyclists really don't help the cause with their behaviour.

As for the cycling infrastructure problems ... could these perhaps be teething problems? Kent Street has not been open very long. Let's hope adjustments are made - maybe give it a chance?
I agree that cyclists are far worse in terms of running red lights. But, routine speeding and use of mobile phones would surely put motorists right up there in terms of illegal behaviour. The only difference is that cyclists are very visible when they run a red. Motorists are all speeding along together (believing that it is ok if everyone does it), so no-one notices the illegal behaviour.

I don't run red lights in general and I agree that it as an area the cyclists could do better. But I like to point out to people who complain about cyclists that there is no public outcry about the pedestrians who jay-walk in the city. Why? Because 'everyone' is a pedestrian and they all understand that they are not endangering anyone besides themselves by crossing illegally.

The fact that it sometimes takes up to 5 minutes to cross one side street due to the traffic signalling arrangements made by the RTA means that there is a huge temptation to break the law.
My solution is as follows:

1. Blanket 40kph CBD speed limit.

2. Enforce it. Including buses.

3. Heavily police texting while driving to basically stamp it out.

4. Heavily police queueing across intersections.

5. Make the cross city tunnel free, and instead charge for the CBD surface roads. (they got this totally the wrong way around)

6. Change traffic light phases to give less time for road traffic and more time for people crossing.

7. Couple more free roaming areas with no cars like Martin place and Pitt St Mall.

8. Police cyclists running reds. Guys, this really needs to stop. It's the #1 reason we don't get respect.

9. Flat $1 train fare within the city circle to reduce the reliance on cabs and buses for intra CBD journeys during the day.

Put all these measures together and the effect would be a huge "chill pill" for the CBD and the cycleways would then hardly be necessary.
"..Police cyclists running reds.." ,

it is bad enough the rest of us doing it all the time , we don't want the police cycle squad to also start doing it too !

"..It's the #1 reason we don't get respect.."

I think "excuse" for not giving respect might be closer to the truth, if every cyclist always observed every law (and also the ones motorists think are the law) the Tele and others would just change to some other reason.

Not running reds is a safety issue with benefit for cylists and not only to attempt to gain "respect"

Otherwise good ideas.
Why not? Police are allowed to use hand-held mobile phones while driving, which has been compared to the equivalent of driving with a BAC of 0.05, ergo let our police drive under the influence?
all great ideas, but in the current political climate the amount of traffic generated by flying pigs will be unbearable.
This is all true and I agree with you.

However, it is a law enforcement issue and nothing else. I am not a representative of the law so how am I meant to legally do anything about the behavior of others? Why should I, a generally law abiding - but lycra wearing - cyclist, be lumped in with the red light jumpers any more than every car driver be lumped in with hoons? We certainly do not hold all car drivers accountable for hoons.

Then again, why get all heated about a DT article. The bogans who read it will soon get back to their normal life and all will be forgotten. I wish Rupert would hurry up and... ermm.. retire.
If you wish car driving people who bring up cyclists doing the wrong thing, try reminding them about Sophie Delezio.

A mistake by a car driver crippled that little girl. One small mistake - 1500kg of car went through a wall.

That will stop them for a moment while they think about the responsibility of driving.

And I was well pleased to see the cop waiting at the lights at St Hilliers Rd intersection with me. When the truck ran the red light, sirens went on & the driver was pulled over. I passed them on the cycle later - they'd pulled into Maccas

More recently, accident at Edgeworth.


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