Council welcomes NSW share bike bill

A Sydney council has welcomed a bill which would allow share bike operators to be slapped with fines if they leave bicycles abandoned on city streets.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne says the legislation – which was introduced to parliament by Transport Minister Andrew Constance this week – puts councils in a strong position to force operators to clean up their act.

“Finally, all NSW councils will have the power to slap a meaningful fine on operators if their bikes are causing safety issues,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“Until now operators couldn’t be bothered picking up impounded bikes because the bikes are worth less than the measly impounding fees.”

Currently, impounding authorities such as councils can only fine the bicycle user, rather than the owner, over an abandoned bike.

But the new bill will allow operators of shared bike services to be fined with the maximum penalty increased in some cases from $550 to $2750.

Mr Constance in his speech to parliament said anyone could notify an operator if a bike was causing an obstruction, a safety risk, or had been left in one place over seven days.

If the operator didn’t move the bike within a set time frame they would be considered to have abandoned it – an offence leaving them liable to a fine.

“Importantly, the bill includes a provision that permits the government to prescribe by regulation any additional devices that might be provided through a sharing service,” Mr Constance said.

“For example, electric bikes and scooter schemes, which have been introduced in North America.”

He said the bill struck a balance between “avoiding over-regulation and allowing innovation”.

Opposition transport spokeswoman Jodi McKay see positives in the bill – which is yet to be considered by the shadow cabinet – but says it’s taken the coalition too long to bring it to parliament.

“This issue has been around now for more than 18 months,” Ms McKay told AAP.

“Unfortunately what the slowness of the minister has done is cause a really negative view in communities about share bikes, where we should actually be encouraging these types of transport options.”

There were once four share bike operators in Sydney but a number have recently left.

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