Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The right to clean air; it ought to be a thing

It’s time to press the panic button on the air we breathe in the Upper Hunter and there’s no time to waste.
At the Upper Hunter Health Forum (Tuesday 12th March ) presented by Dr Ben Ewald, Dr John Van Der Kallen and Dr Bob Vickers from Doctors of the Environment (DEA), we heard how air pollution is a major environmental risk to health and how it is killing us. 
We also heard that there is strong evidence that we can reduce illness and death from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases by significantly reducing air pollution levels but … and it’s a big ‘but’ … we need political will and leadership from those who represent us.
With the NSW election only 3 days away, we have an opportunity to make a difference in our health outcomes by voting for politicians who take climate change seriously and who are prepared to transition quickly to renewable energy. 
The DEA doctors told us that stopping emissions from coal-fired power stations would immediately improve our health with fewer deaths, fewer incidences of cardiovascular disease, fewer low birth weight babies, fewer premature babies and fewer new cases of diabetes.
In a nutshell, choosing a politician prepared to deal with climate change would provide us with an opportunity to improve our health. We need to vote for this sort of a politician.
In the Upper Hunter, air pollution routinely breaches Australian national standards and nothing is done about it. Yes, there are monitoring stations and we monitor that we are steadily being poisoned but nothing is actually done to stop the breaches re-occurring. It is air pollution ‘Groundhog Day’ over and over again.
So, what to do! 
Hit that panic button and vote for the candidate who takes our Upper Hunter predicament seriously and who recognises that we have a right to breathe clean air … 
… and PS don’t forget to number all the boxes to get the most out of your vote!!!
(this post has been cross-posted at Scone Blogger)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Time spent on helmet laws expensive for all of us

Queen's Park on the way to Waverley Court

The magistrate was none too pleased to see me in front of him today (yesterday) nor to hear that I would be raising necessity at a future defended hearing.

Further he was none too pleased that I had raised necessity in front of him before and that after that hearing I had cycled away on my bicycle without wearing a helmet, and that I had then gone and got myself plastered all over the papers and the media across New South Wales.

He said that I seemed to be making a bit of a celebrity of myself but I pointed out that that was not the case; rather I was highlighting that bicycle helmet law is flawed.

He asked me if I was going to ride away from court on my bicycle without a helmet today (yesterday) and I said that I was not because unfortunately I had a flat tyre and so had had to walk (from Randwick). He then asked if I would be able to assure if that I would not ride away again without a helmet, and I said that I could for today (yesterday) as my bicycle was not with me.

He told me that my fines were mounting, and was I aware that the maximum fine was $2,200. Yes, I said that I was aware.

He then said was I aware of all the medical journal papers detailing brain injuries that helmets protect you from. I said that I was aware and that I was also aware of other ones detailing that bicycle helmet law has been a public health disaster for Australia.

He asked me if I had talked about this bicycle helmet law issue with politicians and I said that I had but to no avail.

He wanted to know if I was prepared to waste valuable police time in expecting them to come to court for a future defended hearing and I said that if it would assist the court  I was happy to read their statements beforehand and that if their facts were essentially that I was riding a bicycle without a helmet, that would be fine by me.

He then rather helpfully recused himself from my future defended hearing and set down a date.

So Friday 2nd November 2018 here we come!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Protest in March court appearance in July - this is Australia

Obviously not Australia
And so it comes to pass that after our St Patrick's Day Freestyle Cyclist Protest Ride in Centennial Park, Sydney (2018), I have since been issued with a Court Attendance Notice and am to appear in Waverley Local Court later on this morning. This appearance will be a mention which essentially is a session for sorting out the magistrate's diary.

I intend to plead 'Not Guilty' of course, and when asked, as I'm sure I will be, what could possibly be my defence, I shall raise the environmental spectre of necessity.

I will keep you posted - off to bed now for some all important zzzzzzz

Sunday, April 22, 2018

My challenge of stupidity: bike helmet laws

Guilty as charged ...  sigh

Yet you know, step by step we are getting a little closer to our goal of getting rid of bicycle helmet law. I am sure so!

Oh I know winning slowly feels much the same as losing but I am a firm believer of the principles set out in Rebecca Solnit's article "Protest & persist: why giving up hope is not an option."

Truly, giving up is not an option!

However back to Friday and my day in court.

Essentially the magistrate refused to entertain my defence of necessity.

But the most startling moment of the whole morning was when he alleged that I wasn't using the Queen's english properly and that I had split my infinitives!!!!

I was so taken aback I had to clarify what he had actually said!!! Once clarified I then launched into a defence of necessity for splitting infinitives, you know how doing so can make meaning clearer, more illustrative, that plenty of grammarians don't agree with the rule, that moving the adverb can be awkward, blah de blah de blah de blah!

Oh lordy, but I think he may have been a touch muddled on what actually splitting infinitves entail because the words he used to demonstrate that I had done so bore no resemblance to splitting infinitives.  Oop-la!

But how is any of this relevant to me riding a bicycle on a New South Wales road without a securely fastened helmet I hear you ask?


But on the bright side, it was a packed court and I got to sombrely talk (split infinitive) about the perils of climate change and how a non-recyclable plastic styrofoam bicycle helmet that needs to frequently be (split infinitive) replaced just adds to plastic pollution and landfill. I got to passionately exhort (split infinitive) his honour that since the legislative and the executive had completely failed us in relation to protecting us against climate change I was now turning to him as part of the judiciary, to boldly go (split infinitive) where no magistrate had gone before in Australia and to jolly well find (split infinitive) for me. I got to diligently remind (split infinitive) him that a US court found the former deputy president's daughter, Kareena Gore and her fellow activists not responsible of the crime of trespass because their actions were done "out of necessity." Furthermore I got to solemnly state (split infinitive) that I believe it is necessary that we force our government to jolly well face (split infinitive) our role as a country in this global climate emergency just as the Dutch did with their government in 2015 when three judges ruled that the Dutch government plans to superficially cut (split infinitive) emissions by just 14-17% compared to 1990 levels by 2020 were unlawful, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change.

That my unhelmeted conduct was a question of my survival and the planet's survial left his honour unmoved. And me concluding that it was and still is necessary for to me to regularly cycle (split infinitive) and to routinely cycle (split infinitive) without a helmet in order to hopefully prevent (split infinitive) risk of brain injury, plastic styrofoam consumption, plastic pollution, landfill, carbon emissions pollution was never going to wash.

Nope, it turns out that I must continue to stupidly be (split infinitive) compelled by the NSW government to ridiculously do (split infinitive) an act which puts my health and life and that of the planet's in greater danger than if I declined to do the act.

Appeal lodged and to be mentioned at the end of May 2018 in the Newcastle District Court.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hey ho it's off to court I go

When you have a bicycle culture instead of an oil one
Half a century in court appearances, 27 years of evidence-bereft helmet law, and $1,000s spent on court costs. 
Tomorrow's day in court for bicycle helmet crime is another chance to potentially convince the magistrate why he or she should find me 'not guilty' by way of necessity.
I'll keep you posted!

Cycling Without Age Murrurundi Chapter LAUNCHED

Truly delicious
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! The Murrurundi Chapter of the global phenomenon Cycling Without Age was launched yesterday at Murravale Retirment Home... and what a wonderful event! Cakes, scones, sandwiches, speeches ... and most importantly of all, BICYCLE RIDES!!!

Lights camera action
 And just like the icing on that yummy cake, off we were whisked for marvellous little jaunts around the chocolate-box pretty town of Murrurundi.
Mrs Fran Scriven, Pilot Harriet McKillop & yours truly (photo credit: Mandy Archibald)
A beautiful Upper Hunter autumn day, it was smiles all round as residents, family, friends, staff ...
Murravale Manager Di Van Balen, Pilot Harriet McKillop & the Hon. Michael Johnsen MP
... and even the local member for the Upper Hunter, got to have a turn in these fabulous glorious chariots of happiness!!!!! Pure perfection ✓ & pure bliss ❤ 

Well done Murravale and the wonderful Murravale Team, well done Dave Paradice for such astounding generosity in the funding of the two tri-shaws, and well done Ole Kassow and Dorthe Pedersen for the inspiration to join this movement of building bridges between generations and communities all the while with wind in hair and faces!!!

You all rock!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Driving Kills & Silences Dissenters

Image credit: Mikael Colville-Andersen, Copenhagenize
By maiming and poisoning, driving kills ... everything ... people, fauna, flora.
Yet this detrimental habit continues unchecked with political appetite for more roads, motorways and bypasses growing greedier by the day.
Published in the Sydney Morning Herald last week, Arwen Birch highlights the pervasive connection between promotion and human gullibility, and posits that just as we did with cigarette ads, so we have fallen for yet another product that detrimentally affects our health.
"A ban on car advertising may seem far-fetched, but if you compare the automotive and the tobacco industries, the similarities may be closer than you think. Smoking and car use have comparable health costs, yet while we have the strictest tobacco promotion laws in the world, we allow car companies to promote themselves unbridled." 
 Would our politicians be open to banning car ads?

Right now, I doubt it!

As the Big Oil puppets that they are, in my opinion it would take a seismic jolt to wean New South Wales politicians off their auto-mobile pap and onto the solid act of minimising car advertising.
New South Wales Police working with the community to reduce violence, crime and fear
 By way of illustration, cycling in Australia is seen as a direct threat to the automobile industry, and in NSW, State opposition to cycling is extreme.

With cycle paths ripped up and helmet fines increased by 349% over the last two years, cycling numbers in NSW have plummeted so when news filtered across political and media spheres that synchronised helmet optional rides were to happen across Australia and New Zealand last Saturday, the Sydney Oil patriachy set about nipping the Sydney ride in the bud.

Voila the excessive over-reach of the NSW Police Force witnessed when seven police vehicles were despatched to quash our implied right to political communication at our peaceful protest last Saturday in Centennial Park - the very strong arm of the law in action indeed, helping the community keep #BigOil centre stage of our lives ...

Freedom of policitcal communication via a peaceful protest
... but we will not be silenced, and the law may find for us yet ... 
... and with champions like this former governor of California, car ads will be a thing of the past in the not too distant future, of that I am sure.