NEWSTRANSPORT & TRAFFIC
04 NOV 09 @ 08:00AM BY MENIOS CONSTANTINOU
It’s cyclists vs motorists on Sydney’s roads. Photo: PHIL ROGERS
AS the battle for space on Sydney’s roads becomes increasingly hostile, the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has affirmed her support for cyclists with a plan to give tax concessions to those who ride to work.
The conflict between cyclists and motorists has intensified since May last year, when about 50 riders were involved in a collision with a car near Mascot.
The incident exposed the festering hostility between two groups of roads users: those who think cycling on roads should be encouraged, and those who think cyclists have no place on busy inner-city streets.
In the Eastern Suburbs, cyclists have received solid support from Cr Moore but have been lambasted as “nuisances” by Woollahra councillor Anthony Boskovitz.
The latter has questioned why Woollahra Council would consider spending as much as $600,000 on cycling infrastructure when there were relatively few cycling commuters within its jurisdiction.
Cr Moore’s support for cyclists initially came through Sydney Council’s plan to create more than 200km of “safe, accessible cycle routes” within its municipal boundaries.
In announcing her tax plan last Wednesday, Cr Moore said Australia’s present tax system “actively encourages people to drive but does not reward those who make sustainable transport choices by cycling or catching public transport”.
“People who contribute to reducing congestion and pollution and the burden on our health system should be rewarded,” she said. “Someone earning a taxable income of up to $80,000 could get up to $315 back on the $1000 they pay for a bike, helmet and lock.”
On the same day, the NSW Police Minister, Michael Daley, made his own statement, warning cyclists that police “won’t turn a blind eye to bike riders who blatantly break the law”.
“If you want to use our roads, you must follow the law,” Mr Daley said.
“Police aren’t targeting cyclists, they are targeting anyone on our roads who puts their safety or the safety of others at risk.”
Alex Unwin, of the cyclist lobby group Bicycle NSW, urged cyclists to abide by the road rules.
“Abiding by the road rules is a fundamental part of ensuring the safety of all road users, whether they be driving, walking or riding a bike,” Mr Unwin said.
The acting NSW Police Commis-sioner, John Hartley, acknowledged the health benefits of bike-riding, while urging cyclists to take care on the road.
“Cyclists and motorcyclists are obviously more vulnerable on the road, so they should not be taking risks, short cuts or being selective about which road rules they observe,” Mr Hartley said, adding: “There is nothing healthy about being dead.”
Meanwhile, the latest national Exercise, Recreation and Sport Survey found more people are cycling than ever. According to the survey, about 337,000 Australian adults took up cycling last year, and in NSW the participation rate rose by 10 per cent.