Cops fine hundreds of cyclists for 'unusual' offence
QUEENSLAND Police have issued hundreds of fines to cyclists for talking on their phone while riding their bicycle over the past four years.
The latest data from the Queensland Government shows the fines, worth $391 each, are being issued regularly.
This week, it was reported a man in Loganholme, south Brisbane, copped the seemingly unusual infringement notice with the story making national headlines.
Now, News Corp can reveal 817 of these fines have been handed out over the past four years to cyclists in Queensland caught using their phones while riding.
The rule doesn't apply to police and other emergency services.
In the 2016-2017 financial year, police fined Queenslanders 169 times for the offence, up from 153 in the previous financial year.
In 2014-2015, cyclists copped 204 fines.
Queensland's Strategic Lawyers' principal lawyer Justin Ireland said his firm was offering free case appraisals for people fined over this issue following this week's public attention.
"Under Section 15 of Queensland's Transport Operations (Road Use Management - Road Rules) Regulation 2009 both cars and bicycles are defined as vehicles," Mr Ireland said.
"This means if someone is riding a bicycle on the road many of the same road rules apply to them as apply to cars.
"Under Section 300 of the same regulations it states the driver of a vehicle (which includes bicycles in this case) must not use a mobile phone if the vehicle is moving, or stationary but not parked.
"The maximum penalty is surprisingly high at $2611 - it's unclear why the government has done this but there is an exception for police and emergency vehicles."
Last month it was revealed the same maximum fine is in place for drivers who fail to lock their car.
"I personally think that should be reduced to the $391 fine presently used by police and the parliament should have to be accountable for an increase and pass an amendment," Mr Ireland said.
"My personal opinion is that it shouldn't be an offence for a person riding away from the road to talk on their phone, but it should be illegal to do this if you're on the road.
"There could be an amendment to create an exception for off-road push bike riders in these circumstances, and also for bicycle riders not to have to wear helmets unless they're on the road, which I think would be appropriate.
"On the V8 weekend in Townsville I personally saw police drive off the road to a footpath and stop and fine a young kid on Queens Rd for not wearing a helmet. Surely they have better things to do?"
When asked about the fine issued to the rider in Loganholme, police reinforced that the same rules applied to cyclists and motorists.
Logan senior constable Jen Wallis said earlier this week, it was important that cyclists understood they were subject to the same laws as motorists.
"Using a mobile phone while riding a bicycle or even a horse is the same as using a mobile phone while driving a motor vehicle," she said.
"If you're riding on a road or footpath you need to be 100 per cent focused on riding and not distracted by a mobile phone."