NSW Police Force’s Operation Pedro has drifted from its focus of cyclist and pedestrian safety to become a targeted bike rider sting.
The latest operation held this week on Monday 23 April saw 258 fines handed to bike riders. This is an increase of more than 61% when compared to the 160 fines from the previous Pedro in December 2017.
Particularly concerning were the number of fines handed out to bike riders using footpaths. 69 fines were handed out, a more than 100% increase.
New South Wales is one of only two Australian states that outlaws footpath bike riding for people over 12 years old. It spends only 0.6 per cent of its transport budget on bikes, and as an article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald highlighted, serious injuries for bike riders are increasing.
To avoid dangerous and uncomfortable areas, bike riders use the footpath, but now this refuge is being targeted by police.
Bicycle Network Chief Executive Officer Craig Richards said that New South Wales needs to pull its head out of the sand.
“People deserve the freedom to be able to go out and ride a bike, feel safe and not worry that the police will be ready and waiting to sting them,” said Mr Richards.
“New South Wales needs to wake up to the idea that bikes are part of modern, liveable cities. Bike riders need to be encouraged, not fined.”
The anti-bike-rider tone of Operation Pedro was made clear in the Facebook post by the police’s Traffic and Highway Patrol Command that revealed the results.
Read more: Furious cyclists demand police focus on dangerous drivers, not helmets - Sydney Morning Herald
The post noted that police fined a number of riders using share bikes that didn’t supply helmets and included the below quote without attribution to an officer.
“If you wish to hire a rental bike, then only hire a bike with a helmet or wear a $330 fine” No helmet, No hire.
The 258 bike rider fines will put more than $65,000 into the NSW Police Force’s coffers, but due to minimal information it is hard get a similar understanding of fines to other road users.
143 fines were handed out for ‘other traffic offences’, a catch-all term that can only be assumed is used to categorise motor vehicle offences.
It does not give any information on how many fines may have been handed out for drivers not observing minimum passing distance laws.
“It is ironic to think that virtually the only thing NSW has done to make bike riding more comfortable was not enforced on the day that is supposed to focus on bike rider safety,” added Mr Richards.
“We are calling on NSW Police to enforce minimum passing distance an dangerous driving laws, not just during special operations but on all occasions.”
Operation Pedro results
23 April 2018
Cyclists disobey traffic control lights – 43
Cyclists ride on footpath – 69
Cyclists not wear safety helmets – 103
Cyclists other offences – 43
Pedestrian offences – 65
Cautions issued – 65
Other traffic offences – 143
Charges laid - 2 (Warrant & Breach of Bail)
Total bike rider fines: 258
5 December 2017
Cyclists disobey traffic control lights – 59
Cyclists ride on footpath – 34
Cyclists not wear helmet – 56
Cyclists other offences – 11
Pedestrian offences – 70
Other traffic offences – 208
Total bike rider fines: 160