Govt is treating cyclists like 'cash cows', says Illawarra rider

Cash cows: Werner Steyer believes the fines for biking offences suggest the government is more interested in revenue raising than safety. Picture: Robert Peet
Cash cows: Werner Steyer believes the fines for biking offences suggest the government is more interested in revenue raising than safety. Picture: Robert Peet

The state government is treating cyclists like "cash cows", according to the chair of an Illawarra biking group.

Statistics on fines seem to back up that claim, with massive jumps in revenue for a range of cycling offences.

In 2016 the government massively boosted the fines for a number of offences, including not wearing a helmet, which was $71 but is now $344.

Office of State Revenue data shows, that between 2014-15 and the last financial year the number of helmet-less riders fined jumped 113 per cent to 6102 and fine revenue rose a whopping 940 per cent to more than $2 million.

It's a similar story with other cycling fines.

The number of cyclists not having a working bell jumped 98 per cent in three years and the revenue went up 147 per cent.

The "ride bike furiously" offence saw a 422 per cent leap in revenue since 2015-16, cyclists caught for not having a rear red light on the bike went up 79 per cent and cash coming in climbed 192 per cent to $58,016.

Illawarra Bike Users Group chair Werner Steyer felt it was a sign that the government "would rather treat them as a cash cow rather than focusing on improving bicycle safety".

Mr Steyer said the higher fines actually made it more appealing to fine cyclists.

"It now makes it economical," he said.

"When the fine was around $70 it probably cost the government to fine you by the time they'd paid the policeman's wages and the paperwork and so forth.

"You could say there was a safety incentive because they were trying to send a safety message, even though it cost the government money to do that.

"But now they make a profit out of it. I can only see it was done as a disincentive towards cycling and a way of getting more money."

He said the fines were discouraging people from riding their bikes for fear of being stung.

Police minister David Elliott's office was contacted for comment.