In an unprecedented step towards creating a safer road network, the Australian Federal Government is seeking to introduce new penalties that will see cyclists earn demerit points against their motor vehicle driving licences, and risk having their bikes impounded or even crushed.
Under the proposal, offences such as speeding, running red lights, and intentional loss of traction will all see cyclists face the same penalties as licensed drivers, including, in extreme cases, the impounding or crushing of their bike.
Infrastructure and Transport Ministry spokesperson Mr Rory Lyon said, "We can no longer support an us-and-them mentality when it comes to road safety. All vehicles that use our roads, big or small, should be subject to the same rules and penalties."
The plan includes licensing for riders, who will need to affix a reflective licence plate to their bike or clothing in order to be identified by police and traffic cameras, as well as random drug and alcohol testing.
"When it comes to the safety of Australian road users, this government will not be one to hold up the flow of progress," Lyon said.
"As such, we are planning to roll out 10,000 new red-light and speed cameras across the country, with the focus being to monitor cyclist behaviour."
According to the proposal, an annual cycling licence will cost riders $49, but a 'rider's licence' will be included as part of all car, truck and motorcycle licences across the states, in a bid to encourage all Australians into a healthier lifestyle. Whether drivers choose to ride or not, however, the cost of all car, truck and motorcycle licences will increase by $59 annually, which the government says is "necessary to cover costs associated with the new plan".
A key positive for riders in exchange for the tougher cycling laws, the plan will also incorporate the left-most lane on all multi-carriageway roads and highways becoming a dedicated car-free bike lane.
"Our research shows that most drivers don't use the left lane anyway, and prefer to sit as far right as possible - regardless of speed - so we expect minimal impact to traffic flow resulting from this initiative," spokesperson Lyon said.
The Federal Government says revenue generated from the new penalties will be used to fund an advertising campaign to promote the new rules.
Are you a cyclist and think this is fair? Are you a motorist and think this is fair? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.