City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has been blindsided by her deputy Dr Kerryn Phelps’ call for a bicycle registration scheme.
The plan, which was revealed exclusively this week to Murdoch media, would require cyclists to sit a compulsory test, carry a licence and have insurance.
“People don’t know what the rules are a lot of the time because they don’t have to pass any test to get on a bike — and this means there are no consequences,” Dr Phelps told Central Sydney.
The article was apparently the first Clover’s team had heard of Dr Phelps’ support of bicycle registration, which flies in the face of long-standing council opposition.
Councillor Jess Miller, who told The Fifth Estate she’d been in cycling advocacy for the better part of 10 years, said the call for registration sent the wrong message to the community.
“Anything that discourages the use of active transport is a bad idea,” Ms Miller said.
“The benefits given back to the community far outweigh any risks or negative aspects.”
According to the report, Dr Phelps said she was yet to hear an argument against the scheme that would outweigh the benefits, however Ms Miller said such a scheme had been ruled out in every state due to the costs outweighing any benefits.
Even in NSW under former roads minister Duncan Gay – notoriously regarded as anti-cycling – a scheme was not pursued because it wasn’t regarded a cost-effective way to improve cyclist safety or behaviour. The government also wound back a plan to force cyclists into carrying ID, after finding that 93 per cent of cyclists already did.
A Queensland parliamentary inquiry in 2013 made a strong appeal against registration, concluding that:
- registration would likely be a disincentive to cycling, which would have health and environmental consequences
- there was little evidence registration would improve road safety
- it would not be cost-effective
- most cyclists (more than 80 per cent) owned a car and pay registration, though, regardless, most road funding came from council rates and federal taxes
- cyclists were reducing traffic congestion, parking demand, pollution, road costs and health costs
The inquiry report said a continued debate about registration was not in the interests of improving interactions between cyclists and other road users, and distracted from the issues and improvements that could make cycling safer and more mainstream. It also urged its roads minister to make a public statement explaining why registration was not being pursued in order to put the issue to rest.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said infrastructure and education were areas where the council was helping to improve safety.
“Safe, separated bike infrastructure keeps bike riders safe and leaves more space on the roads for people who need to drive,” she said.
“We encourage riders to take part in courses like those offered at our Sydney Park Cycling Centre, which teach road rules and safe riding.
“Road rules, responsibilities and riding tips are also reinforced on thousands of our Sydney Cycling Maps distributed each year, on our website and at our rider education sessions held across the City of Sydney four times per week.”
Ms Moore said a small number of people behaved badly, whether on foot, in cars, on bicycles or on public transport.
“NSW Police already have the power to penalise bad behaviour by road users.”
One area the council has acknowledged as a growing problem is the recent increase in Foodora and Deliveroo riders, with sometimes risky behaviour leading to conflicts with pedestrians and cars.
Ms Miller said she was confident the team could deal with this problem, with councillors on Thursday meeting to further discuss cycling policy.