CYCLISTS, it seems, are a recalcitrant bunch. The Office of State Revenue is chasing more than 31,000 unpaid fines issued for offences in the past five years.
The overwhelming majority of penalties have been issued to riders for not wearing a helmet.
The unpaid fines, which total more than $1.7 million, include riding on a footpath (if you are more than 12 years old), riding without a front white light or a rear red light, and riding without a working bell.
Cyclists can also be fined for not holding on to the handle bars or riding too close to a car.
The number of cyclists who have been fined has been decreasing from more than 13,000 in 2005-06, to 10,807 in 2007-08 to 8866 last financial year, the latest figures from the government's fine collection office reveal.
The figures also show that in 2005 almost 10,000 cyclists were fined for not wearing a helmet but that number has dropped to 6537.
All bicycle offences, including riding recklessly or running a red light, incur a $57 fine.
The documents obtained by the Pedestrian Council under freedom of information laws also show that in the past five years there have been no fines issued for most bicycle-related offences.
These include not stopping at a school crossing, approaching crossings too quickly to stop, not using the cycleway on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and riding more than two abreast on the road.
The chairman of the council, Harold Scruby, said it appeared the government was going soft on cyclists.
''The government is turning a blind eye because they are scared of the powerful bike lobby,'' Mr Scruby said.
''We are very supportive of people riding bikes but the number of people fined has dropped from more than 12,000 last year to 8866 this year - yet we know the number of cyclists on the roads has increased exponentially.''
Mr Scruby said 74 per cent of the fines related to helmets, not riding offences.
''You only have to watch cyclists in the CBD to see the number of red lights they run but they are not being fined.''
Rider not wearing helmet fitted and fastened - $57
Riding bicycle on footpath - $57
Ride without visible front white light - $57
Ride without a working warning device (i.e. a bell) - $57