Have a quick scan of any news story regarding cyclists and one of the main things that usually jumps out at you is the torrent of comments attached to the story calling for cyclists to pay registration. “They don’t pay rego so get off the road”, “they don’t belong on the roads", “stay on the bike paths”, and so on.
Glenn Brown, Shine Lawyers’ Legal Practice Manager Manager of Chermside in Brisbane’s north, (who describes himself as an avid mountain biker) believes that cyclist registration is not the answer. The questions to ask are: how would paying an extra registration fix the issues that other road users may have with some cyclists? What would paying registration achieve? And how will a new system be policed (or even established)?
Here is some food for thought when considering whether the registration of bicycles is a good idea or not.
Cycling is good for your health – saving money on the already stretched health system
We all know the health and fitness benefits that cycling can deliver. A healthy lifestyle, such as cycle commuting for example, impacts positively on the health system compared to less active and unhealthy Australians, saving public money in areas like public health. Cycling and exercise in general can help alleviate the obesity epidemic in Australia, along with other health risks that are associated with increasingly inactive lives.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report: ‘A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia’ found that almost one-quarter of children and two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, and rates continue to rise, which cost the economy $8.6 billion overall in 2011-12.
Cycling eases traffic congestion
For every cyclist on the road, there are less cars on the road which means less congestion, less damage to roads, and less pollution which is good news for all road users.
It’s interesting to note that every Australian taxpayer (including cyclists) fund roads through general taxation, not through registrations, as many incorrectly believe. According to Key Australian Infrastructure Statistics published by The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development $26.1 billion was spent on road infrastructure and maintenance by governments in 2016-17. This figure is made up of funding from Commonwealth, State/Territory and local governments.
Urban and suburban roads, where you find most cyclists, are actually maintained by local councils, with funding coming from rates paid by land owners.
Licensing Vs Registrations
Non-cyclists often argue registration is the solution to the issues surrounding sharing the roads. The reality is that not a single country in the world has cycle registration, though it has certainly been closely considered and studied. The issues are many of course, but ultimately the establishment, maintenance and policing of such a scheme is unworkable.
In any event, registration doesn’t solve the issue of behaviour on the road, be it cars, motorbikes, or bicycles. Every time we witness a car speeding past us, pulling in front of us, tailgating, etc: they are all registered cars. The registration doesn’t stop them breaking the road rules. Road rules already apply to cyclists, and the police can and should of course enforce those rules equally to cyclists where they have been breached.
Without the deterrent of correct policing and infringements for cyclists doing the wrong thing, simply slapping an annual registration fee on bikes won’t change the conflicts between bikes and vehicles sharing the road.
The angry voices are the minority; most Australians don’t enter into the arguements for or against cycling, many probably believe in the greater good of this mode of transport to be honest. There are millions of cyclists using our roads every year, reducing stress on infrastructure, lowering congestion and freeing up public transport.
If registering cyclists was a good idea (or logistically feasible!), then someone would have done it by now – but as yet it has not been introduced anywhere in the world. Paying registration will not legitimise the rights that cyclists already have to ride on the roads in safety: this needs to come from acceptance and mutual respect from all road users, as well as a bit of common sense and courtesy from all parties! Using the roads in harmony: it is that simple.
If you’ve suffered a cycling accident, the injuries can impact your life forever. One way to get some sense of a normal life back is to make a claim for compensation. Shine Lawyers have cycling safety lawyers who work on a no win, no fee basis and can help you get your life back on track.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: December 2, 2019.