Bike penalty a clanger: mayor
Enviromental scientist and avid bike rider James Dolin. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt fears overzealous policing may be discouraging people from riding bikes.

Dr Pettitt's comments come after an environmental scientist was fined $50 for not having a bell on his bike while riding down a Fremantle street on Friday night.

James Dolin, 24, was riding to visit a friend when he was stopped by two police officers on bikes.

He was fined for not wearing a helmet or having a light on his bike - offences he acknowledges deserved punishment.

It was the $50 fine for not having a bell that really got his goat up. "I just think it's gone too far," Mr Dolin said.

"As a passionate cyclist, I believe more should be done by police to create incentives for people to ride bicycles not disincentives.

"Perhaps instead of giving out fines - which discourage my peers and I to ride - police could give cyclists with no bell the chance to organise the relevant equipment by a set date.

"This way people can see that police are here to help, not just slap you with a big fine."

A police spokesman said it was an offence under the Road Traffic Code to ride a bike without "a bell, horn or similar warning device in working order". Lights were also required for night riding.

Mr Dolin said police resources were already stretched in Fremantle, with drunken behaviour a major problem on Friday and Saturday nights.

"The misallocation of resources is unacceptable," he said. "Something must be done to improve the efficiency of police to catch actual criminals.

"Why should we feel like a criminal for riding our bicycles?"

Dr Pettitt said several ratepayers had complained to him about the heavy-handed attitude of some police towards bike riders.

He said he would meet the officer in charge of the Fremantle traffic branch to discuss the issue.

"We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to encourage more people to ride their bikes," Dr Pettitt said.

"We don't want this work being undone by heavy-handed policing."

He said it was important that Fremantle had a strong police presence, but putting such a strong emphasis on bike riding may not make "strategic sense".

'We don't want this work being undone by heavy-handed policing.' " Fremantle mayor *Brad Pettitt *

The West Australian

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