Police bring back Operation Halo

Victoria Police have reintroduced their Operation Halo road safety initiative focused on bike riders, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

The campaign ran between 2012 and 2016, nabbing thousands of drivers for a wide range of offences that put riders at risk.

In 2016, 570 car and truck drivers and 45 motorcycle riders were caught in the net. Police also fined 45 bike riders and 12 pedestrians.  

Police analysis shows vulnerable road users — people walking and bike riding, motorcyclists and e-scooter riders — accounted for almost half of all lives lost on the roads last year.

In what police describe as the "hidden toll of injury”, there were about 1500 collisions where a pedestrian was injured and around 1200 where a cyclist was injured in 2022. 

Vehicles blocking bike lanes and pedestrian crossings, distraction offences, speed and impaired driving will be prime offence targets. Roadworthy checks, especially for defective brakes, bald tyres and illegal window tint, which can make it difficult for a driver to see pedestrians and riders, are also high on the list. 

Police will also target pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and e-scooter rider behaviour on the roads. Fines for offences such as blocking a bike lane range from $277 for an infringement notice to $925 at a Court appearance. Using a phone will driving is $555 for an infringement notice and $1849 at Court.

Operation Halo will initially focus on four council areas — Melbourne, Yarra, Port Phillip and Merri-bek, where pedestrian and bike rider numbers are high.

The operation will run until the end of September and involves Victoria Police's State Highway Patrol, local highway patrols, the Road Policing Drug and Alcohol Section, Solo Unit police and police bicycle patrols. 

Police will conduct foot patrols at high-risk intersections and look for behaviour that puts vulnerable road users at risk.

Assistant Commissioner Glenn Weir, Victoria Police Road Policing Command says the operation is about protecting the most vulnerable road users: “That's people walking and cycling and that's people on motorbikes and e-scooters".

“We are especially grateful to our council and advocacy partners, who are supporting this initiative to improve road safety. Too many vulnerable road users are being killed or seriously injured and it's all too preventable.

"We all have a part to play in road safety.

“Victoria Police is in for the long-haul with this operation. We want everyone to think about not only their own safety but how their behaviour can impact the safety of others,' he said.

Bicycle Network CEO, Alison McCormack says a recent member survey shows that bike riders across the state are "deeply concerned about their safety".

"Thousands of bike riders responded to our survey. They told us that while they feel the roads are there to be shared, they are treated with a lack of respect and courtesy by drivers.

"Most of all bike riders tell us they want a network of effective, separated infrastructure that gets them from A to B in safety," McCormack says. 

"There are many people who want to ride, however are concerned due to safety. We have seen internationally that if we invest in and provide safe routes for bike riding, people will use them."