NSW government announces new penalty rates for certain offences by cyclists

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A cyclist mounts his bike as he heads towards Sydney's central business district October 14, 2009. Hundreds of Sydney residents participated in Ride-to-Work day on Wednesday, supported by the city's council, who plan to increase cycling in the city by 500 percent by 2017. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay announced on Monday that cyclists will be required to carry a photo ID with them and fines for certain offences, like not wearing helmets, will be quadrupled to $425 under the new laws.

According to the new laws, car drivers will be required to maintain a one-metre distance when overtaking a cyclist and about 1.5 metres when travelling at a higher speed than 60 kilometers per hour, or else they would have to face a fine of $319 and lose two demerit points. The fine for not wearing helmet while riding a bike has also been increased to $319. Cyclists will be required to pay a hefty fine of $425 for not stopping when children or pedestrians are crossing the road and for running a red light. These two offences are in line with the fines for car drivers.

"We hope this is the right way to do it, but if we need to do more we will. If we need to wind it back we will," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Gay as saying. "We needed some way of identification and enforcement suggestions including licences and registration were rejected by the committee," Gay said. "In the end, we came to a consensus. That is better than being at war when going ahead."

Cyclists caught without a photo identity will be allowed a grace period of 12 months, and the penalty of $106 will come into effect from March 2017, which is similar to car drivers caught without license.

“If you’re involved in a crash, you are 60 percent more likely to suffer a severe brain injury if you’re not wearing a helmet,” the Guardian quoted Bernard Carlon, executive director of the Centre for Road Safety, as saying.

The government will also introduce new safety advisory recommendations for cyclists to maintain a one metre gap with the pedestrians where necessary.

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