With plenty of confusion about the soon-to-be-implemented cycling laws in NSW, Carbon Addiction sought out the man behind the changes to get the facts straight with an exclusive one-on-one interview*. Not sure it worked, but here’s what he had to say anyway…
CA: Thanks for your time Minister.
DG: Thanks for dropping by. Find a park okay?
CA: Yes, I rode in actually.
DG: Did you just. How quaint.
CA: There seems to be quite a lot of confusion out there right now from both motorists and cyclists. Can you explain what the new laws have been designed to achieve?
DG: Certainly, yes, I can (long pause).
CA: Well, will you please?
CA: Yes, I’m sure our readers would love to know the thinking behind these changes.
DG: The thinking? Well, that’s reading a bit too much into it. Not a lot of thinking as such, really. This government is all about action, not thinking. But if I must explain…Bit of carrot. Bit of stick. Raise some money. Secure some votes. You know how it is in politics. Keep things simple. Voters are simple folk after all, especially the bogans. There are a lot of them nowadays. They all own cars too.
CA: This seems like a rather near-sighted position on such a serious community matter?
DG: Near-sighted? Let me tell you something. I’ve been near-sighted ever since high school. I went to Newington, you know? No-one knows more about being near-sighted than me, I can assure you of that.
CA: Let’s take a slightly different angle then. The new safe passing distance laws seem to be widely accepted by most as a good idea…
DG: Why thank you.
CA: …but their imminent introduction has been largely drowned out by the media coverage of hefty fine increases for cyclists set to be introduced simultaneously. In hindsight, was this a good idea?
DG: Look, to be honest it wasn’t a good idea. It was a genius idea.
CA: In what way exactly?
DG: Let me ask you this. Are you familiar with the concept of ‘jazz hands’?
CA: You’re saying it’s intended to be a distraction or diversion?
DG: There you go. You’re not as silly as you look in that lycra, are you? How else would we get these things approved? I’m terrified of the shock jocks, and the motoring lobbies too. I used to run a trucking business myself, I know what they’re like. They’re powerful, scary people. I may be getting on a bit, but I don’t want to lose my job at the next election, I like living in Sydney, much nicer than dagging sheep back home in Crookwell. Too many flies.
CA: You’ve been on the record several times in recent weeks suggesting a lot of influential cycling groups actually support these new law changes. Yet several of the very groups you’ve named have indicated this simply isn’t the case, in fact they’re decidedly unhappy about many of the changes. How do you explain that?
DG: They have poor memories.
CA: All of them? That seems a bit hard to believe, doesn’t it?
DG: I very much believe it. In fact, I keep telling myself it’s true, day and night. You should try it. I’m increasingly convinced it is absolutely the case that they support it wholeheartedly, as do all cyclists.
CA: I get to speak with a lot of different cyclists across Sydney on a regular basis. One of the more common gripes stems from the seemingly disproportionate focus of police resources on relatively minor issues, such as fining riders for not having a bell or reflector on their bikes, while far more serious safety issues – such as collisions and near misses involving cars and bikes – often lead to no action being taken whatsoever. Given this can you provide any assurances as to exactly how the safe passing laws will actually be enforced from March 1?
DG: (laughs) No I couldn’t possibly do that!
CA: Why not?
DG: Because I have absolutely no idea how they’ll be enforced. That’s not my problem. Of course if you’re asking me to speculate, well maybe giant rulers or laser pointers, something like that. But look I really don’t know. I’m a dreamer, not a detail person.
CA: Well, have you at least spoken with the police about it?
DG: Now there’s a great idea. I might just do that.
DG: Well, it all depends on my diary. It’s rather full at the moment, especially with the WestConnex photo opportunities and all that ripping up of bike lanes. On top of that, lots of motoring lobbyists and construction companies want to buy me lunch. It’s hard to fit them all in. You can’t please everyone. But I promise you this, I’ll do my best.
CA: Glad you mentioned bike lanes. I actually wanted to talk a little about infrastructure if we can…
DG: Sorry, I’m not following you. Are you speaking Dutch or something?
CA: Look perhaps we’ll leave that for now. Say we’re sitting down for another chat like this in 12-18 month’s time. What do you hope will have happened as a result of these new laws?
DG: Hope? Let me be very clear about this. I’m certain we’ll be talking about reductions in cycling-related accident and injury rates across the State. It will be fantastic. Total vindication of what we’re doing. Mark my words.
CA: Well I’m sure every cyclist in NSW hopes you’re right on that. But how can you be so sure? Is your confidence based on the statistics from the Queensland trials?
DG: Queensland? Don’t be stupid! I can assure you no-one on Macquarie Street pays any attention to Queensland. I have very strong advice that as a direct result of these new laws the number of cyclists in NSW will most likely fall. And very simply, fewer cyclists on the roads will mean fewer accidents involving cyclists. It’s basic math. You just watch.
CA: Oh, I’m pretty sure we’ll all be watching Minister. I think that just about does it. Thanks again for your time. Good luck with everything.
DG: And good luck to you, son. Especially on that bike of yours. It’s dangerous out there. Sydney’s a terrible place to ride a bike. I’ve seen the data.
* Of course this interview never happened. It’s a bogus opinion piece, thinly veiled as a Q&A. But who knows how much truth might be in here? Time will tell.