I’m concerned about the reaction to the new cycling regulations that came into force in NSW earlier this month.
The new laws include drastically increased fines for dangerous cycling and not wearing a helmet, as well as higher penalties for drivers who fail to leave an adequate buffer zone.
One notable headline declared that these new laws will make NSW the ‘laughing stock of the world’, because of the requirement for cyclists to carry ID.
But I’m not laughing, and neither are the thousands of people injured or killed on country roads every year.
Sharing the roads with cyclists is often painted as a city issue, but the popularity of cycling seems to be growing in rural and semi-rural areas. The difference is that most country roads weren’t designed with cycling in mind.
A quick look at the latest NSW crash data shows one cyclist is injured on country roads for every three in metropolitan areas. That ratio almost doubles for fatalities, with two regional cycling deaths for every three in the city.
I deal with road accident victims every day and the reality is that life changing crashes take place on otherwise completely ordinary days, in familiar locations, often with little warning.
These new laws may be controversial but ultimately they are about safety and the problem they are addressing is a real one.
Fiona Ley, Senior Associate, Slater and Gordon Lawyers