I don't get the Advertiser for so many reasons however I could not avoid having a look at an article when I saw the paper whilst waiting for an appointment.

I found it online which I thought was unusual as it is subscription based, I have clipped a couple of paragraphs below as it was a long article.


Miles Kemp, The Advertiser, January 10. 2018

"SA Police figures show cyclists are on target to contribute $1.25 million in fines to State Government coffers this financial year, up from $514,199 in 2014/15.

Officers are also on track to pull over 8308 riders this financial year, up from 6654 in 2014/15, before new cycling safety laws were introduced."

This is the bit that interested me

"However police are only on target to stop 24 motorists for breaching the overtaking rules this financial year. Most of those caught breaking the rule are being cautioned, not fined."

and later in the article

"In 2016/17, 41 drivers were pulled over, with ten of those fined, and in 2015/16, 31 pulled over and 12 fined."

Obviously cyclists should not be breaking the road laws. I'd like to think that they are being fined for meaningful breaches and not petty misdeeds. Obeying the law avoids fines and improves relations with motorists.

My issue is with the minimal attention to close passing by motorists. I know it is hard to prosecute on one party's word versus the other's, and I know video evidence does not seem to count for much.

It seems to me that a pass is deemed ok if the vehicle gets past without contact, i.e. there is no blood splash or viscera on the camera, no car shaped dents in the cyclist or cyclist shaped dents in the car.

The one metre space at 60kph and 1.5 metre at above 620 kph seems to be optional and luckily most drivers seem capable of observing it.

For those people who can't drive, I'd like to think that technology may help in the future. Perhaps roadside cameras in cyclist hotspots could be set up to measure passing distance.

Undercover police on bikes with cameras would be really effective but I imagine WHS guidelines would prevent dangerous activities like riding bikes on roads.

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On the comments over there someone was talking about the Cycliq Fly12 forward facing camera being able to draw lines on the video showing where 1m was either side of the bike.  Seems like a neat feature.  They call them "tramlines".  They seem to be an add on that happens during the editing though not during the filming.  I think the author of those comments said they had got police to act on them.  I can't find online any suggestion that the rear Fly6 camera does the same.  

Interesting Michael. I've often thought that a device like a laser which points a one metre distance off the rider onto the road could be useful. I'm convinced that some drivers just have no idea what a metre looks like and they are unaware how close they are passing.

I saw a review of a headlight online that did that using a green laser.

I don't think it was stabilised though, so it would be jerking all over the place. Using a green laser might be illegal in Australia too.

The attitude of police vs cyclists doesn't surprise me. The other day a patrol stopped me in Pooraka, thinking my shade cover on my helmet was just a sun hat. You could feel their excitement at netting a naughty cyclist drain away as I showed them the AS approved helmet underneath. As it was Christmas time I bade them a merry one and rode on my way.

Yes, I imagine most of the fines imposed on cyclists were for not wearing a helmet. I spent a large part of my life riding without one but I don't think I could now. It would be like driving without a seat belt for me.

If the fines were for safety issues like helmets, lights and dangerous riding, then fair enough. I was bloody angry with a cyclist riding the wrong way down a bike lane recently, forcing me into the traffic to avoid him. I just hope there were not too many levied for not having a bell. I know it is a legal requirement but I feel that voice can be polite or urgent as required.

It's slightly old data, but an article a few months ago showed the most fines were for no helmet (2098), followed by no front or no rear lights at night (1038 combined), with all other combined only a few hundred.


While I support MHL (at least on roads), it's unfortunately the case that riding without a helmet is an easy target and it's certainly over-represented. e.g. running red lights is more common among cyclists than it should be, and it's not on the list at all (unless it's under "other cycling offences").

p.s. I did once (30+ years ago) get a warning for no bell. So I put one on. No point making life difficult for myself. And now I actually use it a fair bit, because I'm fortunate to have a lot of shared paths on my commute.

Thanks for the article Peter. I agree about cyclists running red lights, it is common and apart from the safety aspect, it really angers motorists.

Interesting detail in the article. What I see is that it is easy to avoid the vast majority of fines by wearing a helmet and using appropriate lights. Seeing people ride bikes at night without lights really makes me annoyed both as a cyclist and a motorist. I often ride into the city at dusk. The number of people who would appear to commute daily, who have invested many hundreds or thousands of dollars in a nice bike but can't be bothered spending $30.00 on a budget lighting set amazes me.

I'm reassured by the list in the article. It would appear that if you have a helmet, lights at night, obey standard road rules and ride slowly and carefully in areas shared with pedestrians, then you should escape police attention. 

Yep, It is good to see that the majority of fines are for our own safety - that is why Australia is the safest place in the world to ride a bicycle. If we can just increase the fines more and get less people to ride then it will be even safer.

Forgive me my sarcasm.

BTW as an interesting aside in the realm of risk compensation and risk assessment... when you say riding without a helmet would feel like driving without a seat belt - ie naked and vulnerable. I was cycling in a country without helmet laws at night on a wet slippery road with lots of traffic - I didn't have a helmet and wished I had one as I felt very vulnerable - then I took a step back and reasoned I was being disingenuous. A helmet would not make me safe but provide me with the illusion of safety, much more sensible that I should modify my behaviour and ride to the conditions rather than try to mask reality. Being hit by a motor vehicle with or without a helmet would be a disaster and I should be feeling very vulnerable as I was.

Not quite sure about your sarcasm Carlos. When I saw the article, I was annoyed that so few car drivers were fined for close passing which is very threatening to cyclists. However on looking at the fines levied against cyclists in the break down provided by Peter, I would consider that they are mostly for the safety of the cyclist. If you are referring to modifying motorists' behaviour to make them drive in a way that protects vulnerable road users as required by law, then we are in complete agreement.

People have their own views about MHL and I have zero interest in that debate except to acknowledge that a helmet is not going to save you in an encounter with a car but I'd rather have one than not have one in any crash. 

Take red lights for example.

Two situations:

1. A cyclist runs a red light, goes into the path of a car and gets hit.

2. A driver runs a red light, hits a cyclist.

I'm sure the cost of scraping all the bits of cyclist off the road would be roughly the same in both situations. 

As for the helmet issue, I'm astonished by the number of people who find it hard to grasp the concept of harm minimisation (not harm elimination) being part of a multi-layered approach.

I'm astonished by the number of Australian cyclists who fail to see that MHLs have a terrible impact on cycling in this country.

Unproven speculation.

There was a dip in cycling numbers at the time the rule was introduced, but there was also a dip in cycling numbers at around the same time across many European countries.

Do you have any research that has managed to isolate the common factors (e.g. the rise of the small car, Japanese cars becoming more attractive, the impact of third-generation electric trains and modern trams) from the helmet rule?


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