Apologies to the “we’re cyclists, the rules shouldn’t apply to us” crowd

No, I don’t mean that at all really. It is about bloody time you are forced to take responsibility for your actions.

The Age reports of a police jihad against cyclists breaking road rules like passing trams  whilst passengers are alighting, and running red lights.


In The Age article, we hear of Lena, whose trip up Swanston Street is the “scariest” part of her ride to school. This is typical of cyclists who feel they are the victim because they are forced to run the gauntlet of car traffic, yet they think police should be more lenient toward their behaviours that endanger pedestrians.

It is about time folks (like Lena and the author of this) realise that there has been a huge increase in cycling in Melbourne during the past few years. The fact is there are now so many cyclists on the road that every time a pedestrian gets off a tram, or crosses a street, it is they who are running a gauntlet of cyclists “just sneaking through the gap”.

Thank goodness the Bicycle Victoria spokesman was sensible enough to say this:

(cyclist should be) prepared to cop equivalent fines to other road users if it means we are accorded the full rights we are entitled to under the law.

16 thoughts on “Apologies to the “we’re cyclists, the rules shouldn’t apply to us” crowd”

  1. This is completely farcical. The law is an ass.

    To suggest that a sixteen year old girl on a 12 kg bike requires the same deterrent in law as a thousand kilogram car boggles belief, and undermines fundamental principles of vertical equity – just as the law must treat people in the same situation similarly, it must treat people in different situations differently.


    1. I agree, and I am so over people saying that cyclists should have to pay the same kinds of registrations fees as cars and other large vehicles, in order to pay for road upkeep. In the majority of places all over Australia, cyclists are given such a pathetically small strip of room to the left of all the hurtling cars. And you dont see cyclists careering all over the highways and freeways of Australia. For the most part they use a small part of urban infrastructure, and such a small strip of it at that it doesnt equate.

      I find that cyclists bend the rules to suit them because they feel they are not respected on the road. The level of animosity that you generally encounter if you slow a car up a fraction does not engender any warm feelings to do the right thing and show love for a system/physical set up that sidelines you.

      We live in such a predominant car culture, that we cannot see cyclists are doing a fantastic and courageous (try cycling down St Kilda road at peak hour). Next time you realise theres less black snot up your nose thank the cyclists you narrowly missed hitting during your miscellaneous picking.


  2. And Bicycle Victoria seems to have been overtaken by vehicularist fools. The more you cycle, the more you are able to act like traffic. I can ride in a lane at a vehicle-like speed, hold my line, and indicate. But kids and new cyclists are not necessarily able to.

    Any organisation charged with promoting cycling ought to stand up for cyclists rights, not lump them in with the rights of a completely opposed group of road users. Next Bicycle Victoria will probably start advocating for the removal of bike lanes.


  3. ‘The fact is there are now so many cyclists on the road that every time a pedestrian gets off a tram, or crosses a street, it is they who are running a gauntlet of cyclists “just sneaking through the gap”.’
    Really? Has this been a problem for TFC in CA? I’ve never felt endangered by a cyclist while getting off a tram.
    Perhaps peds need to look rather than just listen for traffic. Especially when they’re also listening to their ipod.


  4. I’m still calming down over this issue, and haven’t got past streams of expletives…. phhhuuuccckkkkiiiinnnngcardrivingarsholes……


  5. I invite all the vehicularist fools to join me on a ride down the Eastern Freeway since “we are traffic just like cars”. Totally BS. Cars are barely a legitimate form of transport, and only if they have passengers, significant lugguge, a disabled driver etc. It is also obscene that large SUV’s (invariably driven by a lone fat deskbound baby-boomer) cope the same fines as small hatch backs. The law is corrupt and has been brought into contempt by the corruption of vested interests. HATE….


    1. Tractors and scooters are not allowed on freeways either. I don’t think the differences between vehicles is important. If they are all sharing the same road space, they need the same rules.


      1. Like a pro. But if I get busted for it, I’ll amortise that fine UTW. And I won’t whine to The Age.


  6. I bet you come to a complete stop at every stop sign! Dumb-ass laws like this and the one about having a bell are a bent coppers wet dream. I don’t whine to The Age – they have bicycle hours of hate too regularly to bother with and I don’t ride through red lights either – I’m fine with well designed laws, but the size of the fine – $292 is not commensurate with the dangers bicycles pose it should be $70 for bikes. The fact is that bicycles create far fewer negative externalities compared with cars and should be treated as such. The punishments aren’t suppose to be just punitive and vengeful and enacted because cyclists overtake cars in traffic jams and where lycra – they are there as a deterrent. Quite simply they don’t have to act like arseholes, but they choose to. I’m rapidly becoming a single issue voter.


  7. A cyclist riding into a pedestrian can hurt them badly. $200 is a reasonable fine considering the cost of not obeying the law. In addition, cyclists think they can ignore the laws, so it needs to be higher in order to get their attention. The problem is that the fines for car drivers are far too low. Considering the astoundingly high cost of driving into a pedestrian, car drivers who break laws designed to protect pedestrians (or, for that matter, cyclists) should have a fines which begin at $2000 for the sort of person who that would mean they couldn’t afford to drive for the rest of the year, and go up from there according to ability to pay and attitude towards the law and their fellow road-users (that is, a poor person who said afterwards that “cyclists shouldn’t be allowed on the road when there’s a bike path next to them” should get a large fine than a richer person who says something less arrogant).


  8. In addition, cyclists think they can ignore the laws, so it needs to be higher in order to get their attention.

    In no way did I mean that cyclists should be subject to the same laws as cars, but they do ignore laws, like not riding past a tram with open doors, that are important and need to be kept by all. A part of the problem here is of course that cyclists are expected to keep stupid laws that don’t make sense for them, like having to stop at a stop sign. There’s almost certainy enough cyclists in Melbourne now that it is worth considering exceptions of the more onerous, car-oriented laws (or regulations/signs/etc) for cyclists.


  9. If you believe this law is about equity then you are sadly mistaken. It’s about pandering to bogans and talkback radio rednecks. Where is the statistical analysis showing a need for these increases in fines?
    Bikes can never and will never be treated equally on the roads because they cannot travel at 60kmh up a hill. The “vehiclurist” paradigm is an ideological dead-end that only serves the interests of car drivers who have shaped the debate around their limitations. Bikes should obey the laws but the road rules do not take account of cyclists disadvantages in speed and size (try exerting your right to occupying the righthand lane of a road when intending to do a righthand turn) and impose on cyclists the same limitations that cars require because of the disproportionate danger they pose because of their larger size, higher speeds and limited field of view. A cyclist edging past a tram waiting at lights with it’s doors open simply is not as dangerous as a car doing the same thing. To pretend otherwise is dishonest. These laws are punitive.


  10. The key phrase here is “edging past”. I’ve got off plenty of trams on Swanston St. just as cyclists barrel through at 20km/h. Cyclists are a greater hazard to pedestrians in some ways: they are less visible, less predictable, and they make no noise. I don’t have a problem with cyclists being fined for doing dangerous and stupid things. And I say that as someone who doesn’t drive at all, but is still sick of having his safety put at risk while walking or riding by fellow cyclists.

    What I do have a problem with is the law. Cyclists are only vehicles while they are in a lane of traffic, otherwise they more closely resemble pedestrians. Rather than banning bikes on footpaths, the law should stipulate a 10-15km/h speed limit; similarly, an open tram door should make the space outside the tram a shared ped/bike zone, to allow the bikes to creep past.

    Similarly, I don’t have a huge issue with registration or road rule testing before a cyclist hits the road. That money doesn’t go on roads, it goes on insurance and road safety campaigns. Putting some money into teaching people how to ride defensively and sensibly would be well worthwhile.


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