Protecting people who ride in the NSW Road Safety Action Plan 2026

Bicycle Network has provided detailed feedback to assist the NSW Government in delivering its new Road Safety Action Plan 2026, which sets out the state’s road toll reduction targets for 2030 and the government’s approach.

The 2026 plan is based on the proven safe systems approach to road safety where initiatives to deliver safer roads, speeds, people and vehicles work together to reduce risk.  

NSW has set a target of zero fatalities and serious injuries on roads by 2056 as part of the government’s Future Transport Strategy

Around 2.6 million people in New South Wales ride a bike each year. Although rider deaths across the state comprised 2 per cent of the state road toll in 2020, fatalities per capita have been systematically increasing since 2016. Over 16 per cent of road crashes where serious injuries were sustained involved a person riding a bike.

This suggests we still do not have a good handle on mitigating the risks to people riding bikes in New South Wales, and that urgent action is required to sufficiently safeguard vulnerable road users. 

It is also important to acknowledge and curb this fatality risk if state and local government efforts to increase bike riding uptake are to be effective. People riding bikes need to be protected, but they also need to feel protected if we are to successfully encourage them to get behind the handlebars and reap the diverse range of health, economic and sustainable benefits associated with riding a bike.

Our submission, which includes five recommendations, aims to ensure that people riding bikes in New South Wales will be protected into the future, and that their safety is duly acknowledged in the government’s strategies and performance benchmarks.

Bicycle Network applauds the NSW Government for their commitment to building strong partnerships with the community in shaping the Road Safety Action Plan and groups to provide their views.

Key recommendations

Below is a quick summary of Bicycle Network's five key recommendations to the NSW Road Safety Action Plan 2026.

Download the full report
Recommendation 1: Be clear on reduction targets

Bicycle Network recommends that, for the 2026 Road Safety Action Plan, the road
toll reduction targets are more clearly set out. Providing targets in a transparent and well-communicated manner will ensure public confidence in the plan and will allow the community to monitor progress. This is a necessary first step in framing the road safety strategy for the next five years.

Recommendation 2: Provide separate reduction targets for motor vehicle and vulnerable road users

As is the case across wider Australia, the per capita annual road toll in New South Wales is falling.

However, Bicycle Network’s recent Bike Rider Fatality Report shows that the per capita reduction rate is vastly different between drivers and riders.

Moreover, rider fatalities per capita in New South Wales have grown by 166% since 2015. Because different road user types interact with the road space in a specific way, they require unique sets of interventions to increase their safety.

For the Road Safety Action Plan 2026, we are recommending that these be complemented with a unique set of targets for motor vehicle drivers and VRUs, respectively. Establishing specific targets for VRUs is a chance for the government to demonstrate their commitment to supporting people riding bikes and offer some accountability for their protection.

Recommendation 3: Frame the 2026 Action Plan within the context of Movement and Place

As populations continue to grow and more demand is placed on ‘liveable cities’, it will be increasingly important to address how our road safety strategies conform to the rapidly developing Movement and Place paradigm. The 2026 Road Safety Action Plan offers an opportunity for the NSW Government to incorporate the framework into their thinking and to demonstrate how this informs their priorities and targets.

Recommendation 4: Prioritise separated bike infrastructure in current and future road projects.

Bicycle Network recommends that the NSW Government carefully detail in their 2026 Action Plan how separated infrastructure will be included in the five-year strategy. This is more than simply changing the wording. Separated infrastructure should be at the forefront of current and future road projects. It should be viewed as the critical intervention component for actioning the safety needs of people riding bikes.

Recommendation 5: Increase the accessibility and compatibility of crash data available to the public

It is important that the public have the necessary resources to make independent inquiries into road incidents involving serious injury or fatality. TfNSW highlighted this as a continued commitment in the Road Safety Plan 2021 (page 5). Indeed, the Centre for Road Safety (CRS) offers a user-friendly online resource with interactive crash statistics that are regularly updated and produces annual progress reports with detailed insights and trends. These are helpful for basic insights but not at all practical for more rigorous investigation of crash characteristics.

Bicycle Network encourages the CRS to provide raw crash data that is tabulated and exportable (e.g. csv format), and details the characteristics of individual crash cases. This should be readily available for download on the Data.NSW website.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.