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Over the past decade, NSW police doubled the number of fines handed out for riding without a helmet, and the cost of the fine increased by more than 700%. That is one of the conclusions of Dr. Quilter (Policing mandatory bicycle helmet laws in NSW: Fair cop or unjust gouge?). Dr. Quilter also found the helmet law was disproportionately used against cyclists in low-income areas and youths:

“We were seeing people with $10,000 to $50,000 worth of fines,” Dr Quilter said. “In some cases, a huge amount [$5000-$12,000] worth of fines were bicycle offences alone. Some people got 10 fines in one interaction.” Sometimes fines were given to a child riding both to and from school on the same day, she said.

Bike fines have become the “quickest and easiest route” to a search and the “socio-economic litmus test” of policing as they disproportionately hit those in lower-income areas, Redfern legal centre police accountability practice head Samantha Lee said.

Often for a young person, a bike is their only mode of transport, and if they get stopped for riding on the footpath, asked why they haven’t got a helmet, that escalates into a search and they may get annoyed and swear. “It leads to the trifecta,” Ms Lee said. “Fine for not wearing a helmet, fine for offensive language, and then fine for resisting arrest.”

Meanwhile, there is not much policing of actual hazards:

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