NSW road rules

January 2016 witnessed some ugly incidents involving NSW motorcycle police and bike riders.

Inquiry into Driver Education, Training and Road Safety

27 February 2017: Bicycle Network has pushed for more funding and policy changes in a submission to the NSW Government Inquiry into Driver Education, Training and Road Safety. 

Convened by the  New South Wales StaySafe Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety, the inquiry is an important intervention and opportunity to develop new policy, funding and legislative measures to address the issue of traffic safety for all road users in the state, especially bicycle riders.

Despite comprehensive traffic engineering and modelling processes that aim to guarantee the safety of all transport customers, there is a disproportionate impact of accidents and crashes on cyclists and other vulnerable road users in New South Wales and on an all too regular basis.

Bicycle Network is recommending that the NSW Government devise new strategies to significantly increase the levels of safety for bicycle riders with a focus on mainstreaming high-quality separated cycling infrastructure into our existing and new road and street networks.

Our main recommendations are to:

  • Invest in a $1 billion dedicated Bicycle Infrastructure Fund over the forward estimates for the next four years to significantly increase the construction of consolidated networks of separated cycleways, protected intersections and other cycling infrastructure
  • Work alongside Bicycle Network to develop and implement a statewide Ride2School program to support children riding and walking to school including a bicycle educational program for all children in Grade 4.
  • Legislate to reduce traffic speeds to 30 km/h around school zones, residential areas and selected activity centres
  • Allow people of all ages to ride bicycles on footpaths except in the City of Sydney LGA, where separated cycleways have already been provided and in some selected areas
  • Develop new road planning and design guidelines that consider all transport modes and mainstream cycling into all major infrastructure projects 
  • Legislate a number of different measures to monitor, assess and educate serial driving offenders
  • Streamline and expand the reporting criteria for road fatalities and serious injuries involving cyclists.

Police crash motorcycle into rider

19 January 2016. A motorcycle police officer deliberately knocked his motorcycle into a bike rider in central Sydney earlier this month.

Credible eye-witness accounts describe the police officer as pulling along side the bike rider, then swerving his machine into the bicycle.

Fortunately for the rider—and perhaps for the police officer—the rider was able to get a foot down to prevent himself falling to the asphalt.

The confrontation occurred on 9 January, only a few days before the widely-reported incident at the Park Street - College Street intersection.

On that occasion the rider fell to the road after his arm was grabbed by a police officer on a motorcycle. 

An eye-witness, a Sydney businessman who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was walking along King Street when he heard the burst of a police siren.

He noticed a police motor cycle ride along the footpath following a rider, also on the footpath, and not wearing a helmet.

King Street is one way for traffic, without a contra-flow bike lane, resulting in some riders using the footpath.

“The rider had headphones on and could not hear the police bike behind him,” the eye-witness said. "The policeman then rode up alongside and knocked his motorcycle into the bicycle.

“Luckily the guy on the bike was able to get a foot down and save himself from a tumble.”

The witness said he was shocked at what he observed. 

“I thought this was an unusual move to attract attention and stop a cyclist, and as he wasn’t wearing a helmet—which he should—it could have resulted in a nasty fall for the cyclist.

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said the account of the new incident was cause for alarm.

“Since the first incident in College Street became public we have received a troubling number of reports from riders outlining unpleasant encounters with NSW motorcycle police.

“I hope this does not indicate that there is a wider cultural problem with NSW police, perhaps an underlying antagonism towards people on bikes.

“I think we can be pretty sure that Police are not out in the streets bashing their motorcycles into cars in order to get them to stop.

"Bike riders in NSW should have an expectation that they will be treated fairly and with respect by police, and on the same basis as every other road user."

Rider confirms police crash details

18 January 2016. The rider who was upended by a motorcycle policeman in Sydney last week has confirmed that he crashed as a direct result of the police interception.

He has explained to Bicycle Network that the policeman on the motorcycle unexpectedly roared up beside him at the corner of College and Park Streets, reached over, and grabbed his right arm.

With his arm pinned, the rider could not steer his bicycle, overbalanced, and crashed to the road, he said.

The rider, who wishes to remain anonymous, suffered painful leg injuries as a result of the crash. He was taken to St Vincent's Hospital Emergency Department in an ambulance, and when released later that day, was restricted to walking with crutches. He is unable to ride his bike.

Original accounts of the incident from eye-witnesses indicated that the rider appeared to have been pushed from his bike, which police have denied.

However, as anyone who has ridden bicycle can confirm, yanking on a rider’s arm will almost inevitably result in a crash, as even a small, unanticipated deviation of the handlebars will cause the rider to lose balance.

The rider involved in the widely publicised incident contacted Bicycle Network following his discharge from hospital.

He says he is astonished at the heavy-handed action the police took: “I can’t understand why they did this,” he said. “Nobody deserves to be treated like this just because they were not wearing a helmet.”

The rider recently moved to Sydney—with his Pinarello single speed track bike—from another Australian capital city. He is a musician and recently has been working in club promotion.

He admits that he was not wearing a helmet as he should have been on the day of the incident. He says he was riding towards the city through the intersection (with a green signal) when he heard a burst of a police siren, but when he checked to his left up College Street, he could not see the source of the commotion.

Moments later the police motorcycle swooped up beside him, and his arm was grabbed. He could not maintain balance and crashed.

He said he asked the policeman what he was doing, and was told: “You were not wearing a helmet . . . I was trying to stop you”.

The rider said the sharp pain in his leg caused him to cry out, but a policeman told him he was not injured and told him to stand up.

Bicycle Network has been contacted by a number of eye-witnesses, including two female pedestrians, who were surprised at the lack of concern shown towards the downed rider. When they attempted to see if the rider needed assistance, they were shooed away by the police.

NSW police have undertaken to investigate “the entire circumstances surrounding the incident".

Police launch “push" investigation

14 January 2016. NSW police have announced an investigation into how a bike rider crashed while being intercepted by a motorcycle policeman in central Sydney yesterday.

According to eye-witness accounts the rider was pushed off his bike by the police officer when he pulled up alongside on his motorcycle.

Bicycle Network has called for an independent investigation of the incident.

Late yesterday at 8:45pm police issued a statement announcing that there would be an internal review into “the entire circumstances surrounding the incident".

The statement said that the rider involved was not wearing a helmet and had allegedly ran a nearby red light.

The statement says the officer made further attempts to stop the rider, but makes no mention of the reported push.

It says only that: "The cyclist has fallen from his bicycle and the 30-year-old rider was assessed on site by NSW Ambulance Paramedics before being taken to St Vincent’s Hospital. He was later discharged after being cleared of serious injury."

Police said the cyclist will be issued with infringement notices for not stopping at a stop light and not wearing a helmet.

Bicycle Network obtained a number of eye-witness reports yesterday that were detailed and consistent in descriptions of the incident, describing that the rider had been pushed off his bike by the police officer.

Accounts published this morning in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian further corroborate the accounts of a push being the cause of the crash.

A cyclist was injured this morning when he crashed after a motorcycle policeman pushed him from his bike.

The incident occurred at the corner of College Street and Park Street in Sydney.

Motorcycle cops knocks rider from bike

13 January 2106. Eyewitness accounts describe the police officer riding alongside the bike rider, switching on his siren and flashing lights, and then pushing the shoulder of the rider.

The rider then crashed to the road in the intersection. Traffic was held up for some time.

Witnesses said the policeman told them that he ”barely touched his shoulder”.

Bicycle Network has asked NSW Police to conduct an independent investigation of the incident.

“This use of force against a rider moving on the street is totally unacceptable, and could have resulted in serious head injuries or worse to the rider”, Bicycle Network CEO, Craig Richards said.

“NSW Police are very fortunate that they are not having to explain the incident to the family of someone who is seriously injured.

“We know that NSW has strict protocols around the interception of vehicles on the street, with a high priority given to public safety”.

“Police can make a vital contribution to safety on the roads, but there is no need to be aggressive and forceful in this way."

“There needs to be a full explanation of why the rules were not followed this morning."

Mr Richards said he was concerned that an element of anti-cyclist hostility was creeping into the culture of the NSW Government.

“The recent announcement of compulsory ID for bike riders in NSW, and of fine increases of 500 per cent, has sent a signal that the government has bike riders in its sights,” he said.

“I hope this does not mean that the police will declare open season on bike riders.”

Uproar over police blitz

1 July 2015. A police action aimed at improving bike and pedestrian safety in the Sydney CBD and surrounding areas has turned sour after bike riders claimed they were being unfairly targeted.

Operation Pedro involved officers from the Traffic and Highway Patrol, along with Surry Hills, Sydney City, Redfern, Leichhardt, Newtown, and Harbourside Local Area Commands.

Running for just one day, more than 664 infringement notices were issued to bike riders, pedestrians and motorists.

Police claimed their focus would be on non-compliance by cyclists for helmet use, negligent or aggressive riding and disregard for road rules. They wanted to deter poor behaviour, they said.

But for cyclists, the major aggressor in their world is currently the NSW government, as it rips up agreements on bikeway developments, disregards undertakings and commitments, and behaves with obvious contempt towards the right of those who chose healthy, active travel.

Sydney riders are justly feeling set-upon as the State government blunders blindly ahead with plans to remove key bike infrastructure while it backtracks on plans for new lanes in other parts of the city.

During the operation:

  • 202 traffic infringement notices issued to motorists, with nine charges being laid
  • 11 pedestrians were issued infringement notices, with 34 cautions/warnings
  • 72 cyclists were caught disobeying traffic control lights
  • 54 cyclists were riding on the footpath
  • 57 cyclists were issued infringements for other offences
  • 234 cyclists were not wearing a helmet