Over $350,000 has been raised in New South Wales through fines for cyclists not wearing a helmet since March 1

Around 1,500 fines have been issued to cyclists in New South Wales, Australia, under new road laws brought in on March 1, compared to just four to motorists.

Under the new rules, cyclists can be fined $319 (£160) for not wearing a helmet, representing an increase of nearly 350 per cent on the previous level of fine for the infringement.

According to figures from March and April, nearly 1,100 cyclists were fined for not wearing a helmet, adding around $350,000 (£175,000) to the government’s coffers, with the number of riders fined for the infringement rising from 710 the previous year.

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To protect cyclists, a minimum passing distance of one metre, or 1.5m when the speed limit is more than 60kph, was brought in, with a $319 fine introduced for breaking that rule. So far, according to the Sydney Morning Herald only four motorists have been fined.

“We agree that education is the best method but it has to be backed up by a reasonable level of compliance, which is fining people,” said Bicycle NSW chief executive Ray Rice in the Herald.

“[The number of motorists fined] does seem very low in proportion to the number of cycling fines issued in the same period.”

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Green party transport spokeswoman Mehreen Faruqi told the paper that unsafe behaviour on the road hadn’t been reduced, but that more infringement notices have been issued “as police have gone on blitzes to rake in more money”.

NSW roads minister, Duncan Gay, rejected claims that the increase in fines were a way to raise revenue.

“We don’t want cyclists’ money – that is not why we increased fines for high-risk and downright stupid behaviour. These changes are about improving safety,” he said.

“I don’t want to see another dollar in fine revenue but I do hope to see a reduction in cyclist injuries. It is simple: if you wear a helmet, you won’t get fined.”

  • Alan West

    Bike helmets are dangerously hot, and can cause riders’ heads to get so hot that they die. This is called heat-related illness, and NSW workcover warns against it. Other effects include severe headaches, unpredictable aggression and drug- or alcohol-like impairment. Under guidelines published by the Australian Federal government, these effects mean that bike helmets are classified as a mind-altering drug.
    So the bike helmet legislation is forcing bike riders to use mind-altering drugs to the point that riders get so out-of-it that they pass out and die, commit acts of extreme violence or drug-addled stupidity, or both.
    So how is this safe? How is this legal? Would you like your daughter or wife to be found dead somewhere, near-naked and covered in blood and vomit, and then to discover that she had beaten some random civilian to a bloody pulp?

  • Godric Hall

    The steady creep of the state now wants to take my freedom to ride my bike when and where i wish. With or without a helmet, which I’ve never worn. It’s coming to Britain soon I bet through EU legislation. To think a crappy bit plastic somehow repels danger is ludicrous. Common sense and awareness have served me well.
    Its all about the control of you with an invented tax.
    Road tax next? There will be people saying how its actually to keep you safe. The arms of the state will protect you from danger!
    How Orwellian.

  • Paul Jakma

    No epidemiological evidence that helmets provide any great benefit to cyclists’ safety.

  • Stevie

    After visiting Australia recently (multiple times in the last 5 years in fact) the cycling infrastructure that’s in place seems a lot better than that of Manchester. there is also loads of closed road crits and road races within a short distance of Melbourne. Back in manchester my closest crit circuit is at Ashton (10 or so miles) its a great track but if I want to race a different circuit I’d have to travel to Halifax (35 – 40 miles).

    Having watched cycling events such as the bay crits and national champs on my most recent trip the crowds don’t quite compare to the ones in Europe in terms of size. But the cycling community around Melbourne is pretty large and welcoming. For a country where cycling seems less popular than England the resources seem more than adequate.

    Policing a minimum passing distance is almost impossible. Ensuring that you wear a helmet so that you don’t fall foul of the law isn’t.

  • Alex

    Australia gives the impression that it hates cyclists and cycling. Given some of their other repugnant views regarding their indigenous Aboriginal peoples which I encountered several decades ago when I visited the country, this doesn’t surprise me. Leave them to it. Not a pleasant country to ride a bike.

  • llos25

    They have tried everything even fines you can buy them a helmet but you cannot force them to wear one.

  • J1

    I get the feeling NSW really don’t like cyclists anyway.

  • ummm…

    the world is full of scum

  • jameslagden

    If they don’t want the cyclists money, force them to buy a helmet rather than issuing the fine!

  • Michael

    It’s almost as if someone shipped off a load of lawbreakers to live on an island.

  • verlibro

    “if you wear a helmet, you won’t get fined.”

    Fair dinkum. And if you drive too close, you won’t get fined either…

  • llos25

    When I was in Melbourne I wore a helmet no fine it is pretty easy really like somebody says you stand out like a sore thumb if you do not wear one .

  • Malaprop

    They should be wearing helmets. But I’d be surrpised if motorists are close to obeying the distance rule. Its just that a cyclist with no helmet is visible from space.

  • Chris Williams

    Its far easier to catch a cyclist for a fine etc than to catch a motorist passing close to a cyclist – I know one which is more dangerous!