Wheel peril

Why bike couriers are ruling our streets

The Sunday Telegraph

Sunday 7 November 1999

Wheel peril: A bike courier in the city on Wednesday Picture: Scott Hornby
By ALICE JONES

BIKE couriers continue to terrorise Sydney pedestrians, three years after a State Government report recommended that stiff penalties be introduced.

The recommendations of the 1996 Staysafe report, which included the impounding of bicycles, the introduction of bonds and a points system, have yet to be implemented.

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby, who has worked closely with the Staysafe Committee, said the "urban cowboys" were still allowed to ride as they liked. "What's the point of having Staysafe if you put together a very succinct report on these bikers and three years later there's been nothing?" he said.

"They have been sitting on it. It's dangerous dangerous for everybody. If anyone over the age of 65 is knocked over, there's not much chance of them getting up again."

There are just 200 bike couriers listed in the city, yet police figures show 174 cyclists were fined for infringements in the 1997-98 financial year. Nearly all were bike couriers.

Fifty were caught riding on footpaths, 56 without helmets, 39 running red lights and 19 going the wrong way up one-way streets.

Police said only a third of fines were paid because few riders carried identification and many were foreign visitors.

And there have been at least two pedestrian deaths caused by collisions with bike couriers.

"I just ask this government to think of the poor people who have to walk on the footpaths with these urban cowboys down their necks," Mr Scruby said.

"By the time the Olympics arrive, we're going to be in real trouble. Six million people who do not know the city will be here. "All we're doing is asking that the recommendations of the Staysafe Committee be implemented."

Superintendent Alan Herrmann of The Rocks police said the bike couriers were difficult to police.

For couriers to be caught, police needed to be as mobile as them that means also riding bicycles.

"There's certain things they should be doing and aren't doing," Supt Herrmann said.

"I have bikes here, but I don't have people to ride them all the time."

Supt Herrmann said the bike couriers did do some good.

"I have presented certificates to them. They have caught armed robbers they're not all bad."