Cycling in Sydney Australia
From CELL Bikes Factory Direct Facebook page and their visit to Mike Baird's office:
CELL Bikes Factory Direct Hi everyone. We're stoked to see so much support from all of you. Some of you have asked what the outcome of our meeting was, so we'll try summarise some key points here.
The main purpose of the meeting was to share our perspective with Mike. We're aware that Duncan Gay is the master mind behind the new legislation, and that Mike has taken for granted the assumption that Duncan has done his job properly. Now we know that many cyclists have written to Duncan and Mike, but it's evident that those letters/emails get filtered out by minions and sadly rarely get the point across to the desired recipient. Nonetheless, keep sending them because we assume there is a tally of letters per issue or something (let's hope). So, sharing our perspective face to face was the best way we could think of to ensure Mike actually understood what many cyclists thought, and how the new legislation could affect the liveability of his own electorate (and greater NSW). We were particularly flying the flag for the lifestyle/utility bicyclists, who aren't INTO bikes, they just ride them every day (often just down to Manly beach in a bikini and no helmet); many of these riders don't even know about the changes, but it will affect them the most. Don't worry, we discussed speedy commuters, roadies (and even MTBers briefly) too.
Mike is a logical thinker and was open to what we had to say, however he had some misconceptions regarding the basis of the legislation, how their message is being perceived and just who it's targeting. We helped to clarify some of these misconceptions (hence why we believe your letters haven't got to him, it's not radical thinking and no doubt many of you have tried to explain it already).
ID: We stated that currently no one in Australia is required to carry photo ID in public, to prove they are who they say they are. Mike refuted this claiming drivers licences were for this purpose. We explained that licences are to document competency, not for identification. Now he gets it. Identified in emergency? Negated due to NSW Gov’s statement that photo on phone is acceptable. How do emergency services unlock the phone? Police can (and do) currently issue fines for infringements e.g. 2010/2011 6533 fines issued in NSW for ‘Rider not wear bicycle helmet fitted and fastened’. The system works, it doesn’t need to be changed. Especially not to the extent of degrading our civil liberty, with such weak justifications. Please note, Cell Bikes agree that it’s a smart idea to carry ID when riding in case of emergency, but we don’t agree with making it mandatory.
Equality on the Road: Mike thought this was a key positive aspect of the legislation. We explained that it had major flaws, primarily because it's not true. There are major differences between bikes and motor vehicles (even between varying motor vehicles), hence they have varying rights, varying rules, varying fines and require varying infrastructure. It's a pipedream to assume that preaching equality on the road, through massive fine increases, will increase safety for cyclists. There needs to be education focused on respect of human life - both ways (though not many cyclists are killing drivers):
Cycling - benefits, rights, respect
Driving - vigilance, speed reduction, cyclist awareness, respect
Fine Increase (red lights): We explained that although Duncan thinks the fine increases will crack down on the infuriating cyclists he sees each day flying past him (some through red lights) while he waits in traffic, they will actually have little effect on those they want to target. Radical hooligan commuters with no regard for the law, likely still won't get caught. The riders safely rolling through an empty red because their bike won't trigger the signal, or they feel vulnerable stuck in an intersection, or the cycleway light only turns green 50% of the cycles (while the vehicle & pedestrian lights never fail); they are the riders who will be targeted. We used the example of Paris where last year they made it legal for cyclists to safely proceed through reds at 1800 intersections. Paris realised motor vehicles and bikes aren't equal; they have varying capacity for damage, physical differences (triggering signals) and drivers and riders have different mindsets - riders are vulnerable, self-preserving & momentum-preserving focused.
Fine Increase (helmets): This might open a can of worms. But before you fire up and post photos of your broken helmet that saved your life, please consider the bigger picture and do some further reading on the subject. We’re not suggesting you stop wearing your helmet. We 100% support the use of helmets, but we support people having their own choice whether they wear one or not (possibly with young children as an exception, though perhaps parents should be responsible for some things). In our opinion, you'd be nuts to race road bikes, get air on your MTB or ride along College St without a helmet (College St Cycleway RIP). But you don't need to look as far as Amsterdam or Copenhagen to see the benefits to society when helmet use isn't mandated (/enforced), just look at Mike Baird's own electorate - Manly! We estimate 3/4 of riders in Manly don't wear helmets. It's a damn nice and relatively safe place to cycle, and it dramatically improves the liveability of the town; and Mike absolutely understands that. He said he doesn't want to see that liveability of Manly affected (think about that). Anyway, we wanted to present Mike with some facts:
- MHL introduced with good intentions of reducing head trauma.
- Immediate Result (VIC): 15% fewer young children, over 40% fewer teenagers, 20% fewer adults cycling (similar results in the other states with MHL)
- Reduction in cyclist head trauma < reduction in road accidents at the same time. Decline in traffic levels along with legislation targeting Drink-Driving & Speeding are credited with reducing head trauma for all road users, to a larger degree than the reduction in cyclist head trauma, without even considering the huge reduction in number of riders. So the reduction in head trauma due to MHL is inconclusive at best.
- 1 in 5 Sydney residents say they would ride more if they did not have to wear a helmet (Sydney Uni Study)
- Current modal share ~0.9%, imagine if half the 20% started riding more!
- Benefit to Risk ratio for cycling (years gained : years lost) – 20:1 (UK study, similar dangers to NSW, no MHL).
Our hypothesis: increasing risk (fine) of not wearing helmets will reduce rider numbers further (especially in places like Manly), which reduces cyclist safety (safety in numbers is indisputable).
Safe Passing Distances: Our main concern is that this part of the legislation is the key safety message, but is lost amongst the motorist appeasing “equality” measures. Mike said promotion (separate to ID & fines) will start soon. We look forward to seeing it. No time to discuss enforcement of safe passing.
We offered suggestions for real solutions to increase safety for bike riders.
- Safety in Numbers - Encourage cycling, repeal MHL (please dwell over the stats above before unfollowing us)
- Provision of convenient, safe, & connected cycling infrastructure
- Discourage (unnecessary) car use
- Complement active transport (cycling/walking) w/ public transit
- Education (as discussed above)
Mike was thankful for the insights and information we provided him, and said that they will be making changes considering all the feedback they’ve been receiving. So, let’s hope we see some drastic improvements.
quick, and I don't expect them to change a thing :-(
at least not unless mayhem is created: procedurally, stuffing up tourism, and on the streets
All stakeholders supported the idea that adult riders (18 years and over) should carry photo ID
What I hear is that all stakeholders at the forum agreed that carrying id is a good idea but no stakeholders thought carrying id should be mandatory. This is Duncan misrepresenting his consultation process to his parliamentary colleagues and it needs to be called out in letters to MP's. He has provided the briefing pack that is being quoted and my assumption is that Mike's office does not know it deliberately hides the real truth about support for mandatory ids.
I have asked six govt ministers, including the Premier, to send me the minutes of the "roundtable".
Not expecting to get them, if indeed any were taken.
But might put cat among pigeons.
Wonder if the minutes (realistically there won't be any as Duncan wouldn't of wanted any) could be requested under a foi? foi requests of course cost money, which I don't have but I'm happy to donate to the cause.
I think an FOI relating to all aspects of setting up, running, minutes and follow-us from the roundtable would be very interesting.
Something we could crowdsource? Does anyone have any experience of putting in FOI requests?
Could Mr O persuade his colleague Saulwick to look into it?
No experience myself, but its something I would contribute to.
I think it would also be interesting FOI the communications between police and ministers in regard to Operation Pedro.
Cellbikes getting it said. Kudos to them.
It's amazing that groups like Bicycle Network occupy the space where advocacy exists, then offer none. So it falls upon the likes of Cell Bikes to step up to the plate.
Great work cell. Thank you.
BN in this case can see the problem (and perhaps opportunity) and is supporting Ride ID free rally
AGF on the other hand... what a slap in the face of people who donated to that organisation and what a smear on Amy's memory
Also from Manly Warringah Cycling Club
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.
It is likely Dave is associated with Cell (and doing a fine job for the community)
This is great, too. Nice to see.
Dave is the bike designer at Cell and clearly Cell is happy for him to use the brand in this way. This is a positive as and Dave deserves our support on his efforts. Also pleased to see that the Manly Cycle Club (of which I am a MTB member) is on the front foot. I was not aware of this and had been very disappointed at the number of clubs that have been supporting this legislation. It is pleasing to see that some clubs are aware that the best way to increase cycling safety is to increase the number of cyclist. Also, they can fight the good fight that cycling is not only good for the environment, our community but also it is good for business. It would be great to see more take up this fight!
I think that explains how Cell managed to get a face to face with the Premier. I was trying to find the connection. As I said last week, the avenue to get yourself heard in Federal or State politics is via your local member. Letters to ministers get counted at best.
However, looking at Dan's boiler-plate reply, I suspect the decision has been made - ie legislation has already been drawn up and is waiting to be tabled. Too late to alter it, I am guessing.
I would like to add that the faults with the new legislation can be linked back to the advocates who were part of the roundtable. In agreeing in principle to the proposed changes, they did not involve themselves enough in the details of the legislation when it was drafted. Should have kept on the case.