Victorian police slapped a mountain biker with a $1,600 fine and with the long, Easter weekend approaching it leaves us asking, what are we allowed to do?
Source:
The Age
9 Apr 2020 - 2:06 PM  UPDATED 9 Apr 2020 - 8:29 PM

Pat Riordan from South East Melbourne was driving his ute to a park for a mountain bike ride when he was pulled over after 15 minutes of driving by police who slapped him with a $1652 fine for "unncessary travel."

“I had my bike in the back of my car. I was on my own," he told The Age.  "I was just headed off to the trail to have a ride and do some exercise,” he said. 

“The policeman said it was a routine stop and asked what I was doing today. My answer was ‘I’m going mountain biking alone’. I didn’t think I was in the wrong at all.”

Only after the matter gained much publicity was the fine rescinded but what if you are in a different jurisdiction, and/or a similar fine does not receive such publicity to pressure for repeal?

With the long, Easter weeked approaching, it highlights many Australians are still in the dark about what they can and can't do especially when it comes to exercise. 

Take NSW for example. NSW Police have advised they will utilise number plate scanning to ensure social distancing and essential travel rules are adhered to over the long weekend, issuing fines and double demerits. 

"The big focus will be on our country roads, those back streets, our main highways, the caravan parks right across country NSW," Mick Fuller, NSW state police commissioner told the Canberra Times on Wednesday. 

"People will be given one opportunity to pack up, go back to your home state, go back home, otherwise we will unfortunately have to issue tickets."

This statement was echoed by NSW Police Minister David Elliot, also quoted in The Canberra Times. 

"Those who are driving on the roads during this long weekend will need to have a good reason to do so, but like always they need to abide by the road rules," he said. 

Common sense says this surely just applies to travelling away from your current place of residence to visit relatives or your holiday house/rental for the long weekend, not driving 10-20 minutes to the local mountain bike trail for some socially distant, emotionally and physically healthy shredding?

But as with the example of Riordan, this could technically apply to people throwing their bike in the back of the car to drive less than 30 minutes away for a bike ride. 

It doesn't appear these issues are given much clarity by contacting certain government authorities either.  

Take the local NSW member for Cessnock for example. Clayton Barr got three different answers, three different times he called Services NSW to gain some clarity for his constituents particularly around the issue of swimming.

 

"When I first called it was 'you can drive 30 minutes to exercise', he told 10 daily

The second time it was 'you should be in your local area'. When I pushed on that and said 'what if you're going to the beach for a surf?' they said 'that's okay if your beach is less than 30 minutes'," Barr said.

"The third time they said police are going to have to deal with this with discretion and if you don't have any reasonable reason they're going to issue you with a fine."

10 daily followed this up with a phone call to NSW Police and were advised there were no time or distance restrictions but people should exercise within their local area. 

So good rule of thumb - try and ride relatively risk-free around your 'hood. If that's not possible or too dangerous, we would normally advise checking the website of your relevant state or territory authority, but maybe just hook yourself up to Zwift.