[[click for video] Every day, I cycle through Sydney Olympic Park. As do many cyclists; it has wide roads, relatively light traffic and bike lanes – although they are the worse-then-useless painted on sort.

Some of the junctions have stop signs. But the roads are wide, the traffic is light, the sightlines are excellent (especially on a bike), so traffic pretty much never stops – just slows and then continues.

I, of course, do this on my bike. Having to come to a complete stop and then pick up speed again is tiring and unnecessary. In many places, it’s perfectly legal to do this, of course. It’s called an ‘Idaho stop’, after the first jurisdiction that introduced this rule for bicycles. And interestingly, research shows that places that have implemented the Idaho stop have lower bicycle accident rates at stop lines than those without.

But of course not in cycling-hating Sydney. Not only is it technically illegal not to completely stop, the police seemingly have nothing better to do that wait behind the bushes at the side of the road, watching out for errant cyclists.

One of those cyclists was me. And, sure enough, neee-naaa nee-naaa, I was pulled over. And I got a ticket. Now, since the even-more-anti-cycling-than-usual roads minister Duncan Gay, fines for bicycle offenses have been jacked up. The fine for this trivial thing? $330. Seriously.

But to make it worse, when I received the ticket it also had three demerit points on it. Now, you can;’t get demerit points for riding a bicycle. Think about it – it makes no sense to lose your licence for something you don’t need a license to do. The NSW Transport Act makes it quite clear that demerits apply only to motor vehicles. But the cop apparently did the paperwork wrong. So not only are the cops vindictive, they are also incompetent.

I didn’t want to schlep to court, but found I could plead guilty by post but ask for mitigating circumstances. I wrote a rather ranty and incoherent letter to the magistrate, and had the fine reduced to $200. But with costs and ‘victims of crime levy’, the total fine ended up being $367. Oh well. At least the demerits were taken off.

If only the police would spend time on offences that actually cause danger and death. Like riding too close to bicycles. Nope, no chance of that…

Views: 233

Comment by Colin on May 23, 2018 at 9:06pm

I feel you Dan. Today I got done for helmetless and footpath riding just as I was transitioning from road to footpath at my destination, ready to park my bike. The bike cop was angry and belligerent and desperately trying to goad me into conflict with him. Sigh.

At root it's an anti-cycling mindset on the part of the government and a significant section of the population, and there'll always be police happy to use their power (formal and informal) to the max.

I will fight it, just to be a spanner in the works, but I understand the temptation of writing it off - getting rid of it the quickest and easiest way so as to continue living the life I want to lead, and not get sucked into stupid conflict with a bureaucracy and justice system that is more or less a brick wall.

Comment by Scientia et Labore on May 24, 2018 at 2:19am

Why carry ID?

We won that one.

Comment by Colin on May 24, 2018 at 9:36am

Isn't ID only an issue if you're prepared to lie to the cops about your identity? (Which I'm not)

Comment by Dan on May 24, 2018 at 10:03am

Sorry to hear that Colin. It is so tiresome. I agree it takes quite some effort and self control to de-escalate a cop. Which is completely the wrong way round - and also gives a window into how disadvantaged groups end up being arrested at a disproportionate rate.

There was a motorcycle cop back at the same junction this morning. I watched him not act as a ute drove over the stop line without stopping. So it seems it is vindictively aimed at cycling.

Although he didn't stop me for not having a helmet. One advantage of these monomaniacal safety blitzes, I guess...

Comment by Pat The Rat on May 24, 2018 at 10:27am

Where was this Colin?  It makes me wonder if it needs to come to having to whip out the phone and record the interaction as they do in the USA?? 

Comment by Colin on May 24, 2018 at 12:18pm

It was here:

I had been riding north on Darlinghurst Rd, in the roadway, on my way to Potts Point Post Office. At the bend where Darlinghurst Rd becomes Macleay St I veered right to go onto the footpath in front of the fountain to stop and park my bike, and two bike cops were right there. They asked why I was riding on the footpath and I said that I was stopping because I had more or less arrived at my destination. They didn't believe that, or at least made a show of not believing it.

I don't think the cops in question would see anything wrong with what they did. Just their normal way of performing an "attitude test". It was far short of the stuff you can spend a couple weeks watching nonstop if you type "police brutality" into Youtube. If videoing police doesn't prevent that stuff it certainly won't prevent this more humdrum stuff.


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