Thursday, 27 May 2010

Coming soon to a painted bike lane near you

At the moment, if you (as a motorist) are caught speeding, driving in a bike lane, failing to obey a give way sign, straddling a lane or any other of the myriad Australian Road Rules you are expected to know, you can generally reckon with an on the spot fine of about $200. It is $190 for speeding (at less than 15 km/h over the limit and $292 for most failing to give way breaches).

It is different if you commit an offence specific to bicycles. Not wearing your helmet attracts a $63 fine, not having a bell gets you a $26 fine.

The fines, as far as they can, seem to reflect the respective consequences of the two types of breaches. The consequences of a car disobeying a give way sign are clearly more serious than if a bike were to do it especially, as is the generally the case, one travelling at walking speed.

Not for long though. Victoria has just increased the fines for "bike crime" to match the fines imposed on motorists. Not wearing your helmet now attracts a fine of $146. For going through a red light, as many of us do to avoid otherwise lethal junctions, gives you a fine of $292.

The Age has the article. I found the link on the utterly brilliant Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest. If you read the article, don't bother with the comments. They contain the usual anti-cyclist dribble written by people who really have absolutely no idea; "Cyclists are a menace", "Cyclists are my biggest pet hate on the roads. They demand the same respect as cars, then bend the road rules to suit them", etc, etc, ad nauseum.

The reason for the change is clear. Bikes, as we know, are "vehicles" and all the same rules apply to them as they do for other vehicles. That is why cars never cut you off and when you reach the end of the off road cycle lane on Frome Road all those cars turning left respect your right of way. And of course, cyclists should be fined $250 for riding on an empty footpath. They do it because they are a menace, not because they are rational and automatically take the safest and most convenient route available to them, which sometimes involves going through a red light to mount a pavement so that they can safely cross a busy street.

It's yet more of the same rubbish. I bet you a puncture repair kit we'll see the same here soon.

On the same subject, here is a picture I found of some irresponsible helmet crime.

From Amsterdamize (original here).

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