Police from Operation Aware have begun targeting cyclists behaving badly.
Police from Operation Aware have begun targeting cyclists behaving badly. PHOTO: Jason South
Police have launched a summer blitz on cyclists who disobey road rules along Sydney Road, in response to data that shows it is one of Melbourne's worst stretches for BIKE crashes.
Two police OFFICERS on bicycles will patrol the street full-time this summer, fining and educating cyclists, pedestrians and motorists who break the law.
Running red lights, not wearing a helmet, jaywalking and distracted driving will be targeted.
A young woman is pulled over in Sydney Road and shown how to wear her helmet correctly in a police blitz.
A young woman is pulled over in Sydney Road and shown how to wear her helmet correctly in a police blitz.
Almost 50 per cent of reported casualty crashes on Sydney Road in Brunswick in the past five years involved a cyclist, data shows. There were 179 incidents in that time and 85 involved a bike rider.
Twenty-five cyclists were taken to HOSPITAL.
"It's a very high rate and it's very alarming," VicRoads REGIONAL director north-west Adam Maguire said. "This is one of the highest accident rate areas that we have for cyclists."
Mr Maguire said the blitz, called Operation Aware, was not about singling out or blaming cyclists or motorists.
"We really want cyclists to be safe. We want people to respect each other and to understand that they are sharing the road space together," he said.
VicRoads sought to encourage cycling, including in trouble spots such as Sydney Road. About 360 cyclists a day use the road in the two-hour morning peak.
"This road has lots and lots of cyclists on it. We want to encourage cyclists to get on their bike, not jump in the car, so we want to make it safe for them," he said.
Officers from Fawkner highway patrol began Operation Aware on MONDAY MORNING. The first person they stopped was a young woman riding slowly in the bike lane with her helmet on backwards and unbuckled. The officer showed her how to wear her helmet properly but did not issue a $185 penalty.
Senior Constable Alix Watson said the sight of cyclists running red lights on Sydney Road was "disturbingly common", although most riders obeyed the law. Not wearing a helmet was a bigger issue on side streets and off-road paths, she said.
"Nothing bothers a car driver more, who's caught in traffic, than having a cyclist stop at the traffic lights, check that it's OK and then disobey the traffic light," Ms Watson said. "The whole idea is that we're meant to be sharing the road, respect each other and that goes both ways."
Adam Newman, a regular rider on Sydney Road, said it was very busy, with a mix of cars, trams and pedestrians, but he did not think that made it particularly dangerous.
"I don't find it dangerous relative to other roads," he said. "There's a lot happening, it's narrow but the pace is relatively casual."
He pointed to an elderly pedestrian ambling across the street just 20 metres from the nearest intersection to illustrate his point.
But Melanie Irwin said she found the street too "hectic" and preferred the nearby Upfield bike path because it felt safer.
"It's just so congested and because the bike track is close by I use it. I try to stay off the roads where I can," she said.