Our fatuous belief in bicycle helmets has facilitated the general acceptance of some pretty implausible ideas pertaining to their protective capabilities...
...and I have to admit I was 'gobsmacked' by some of these 'implausible ideas' whilst handing out 'anti-mandatory helmet law' postcards in Newtown last weekend!:
========================================= Oh World! We, the people of Australia, do solemnly swear that we do truly believe that bicycle helmets offer us superior protection against:
* cars * buses (!) * semi-trailers (!!!) * CBD cycling * all city traffic * pedestrians (?)
Oh World! We, the people of Australia, do solemnly swear that the magical properties of bicycle helmets will protect us on bicycles far and wide (even in the Netherlands - where can we find one when we're there?)
Oh World! We, the people of Australia, do solemnly swear that anyone who refutes the superior qualities of helmets is a cavalier renegade. Therefore we do humbly recommend that if such an individual does not don a helmet and then suffers an accident whilst pedalling their free heads, that unfortunate individual should be compelled to pay for their own medical bills or go without treatment - tiddley-pom! =========================================
This fundamental belief has completely denuded us of any abilitiy to disseminate fact from spin. Consequently, helmet promoters have successfully embedded a perceived bias in favour of their helmets, and we, the Australian mob, will not countenance any discussion on the subject - end of story.
When we routinely call for injured unhelmeted cyclists to foot their medical bills, we glibly dispense with the very ethos of our medical system! Why? - we certainly don't clamour for such ruthless medical care with regards to the tubby, the puffers and / or the boozers!!!
What is it with us & cycling?
Contrary to popular opinion, bicycle helmets do not offer an omnipotent mantle of superior protection!!! - clearly!
(Photos: David Abbott) Given that this particular participant just couldn't bear the idea of donning a bicycle helmet, the Sydney Tweed Run was always going to be out of bounds (ALL participants must obey ALL Road Rules).
Moreover her non-participating reality was further compounded by the fact that she didn't have any Harris tweed anyway only carpet!!
Undeterred by this somewhat significant wardrobe omission for a tweedy bicycle ride, the 'would-be-if-she-could-have-been' participant creatively embarked upon an upholstered jaunt along her favourite street!!!
Ruthless, bloodless & gone...& just because he wouldn't dance to the factional power brokers tune, you know the one that goes "Shelve The ETS & Take A Hard Line On Asylum Seekers & Back Off The Mining Tax Tiddley Pom"!
...and before anyone starts giving me a 'Representative Democracy' lesson...jeez...I understand that we don't have a 'Presidential System' where we elect the actual boss, but I do know that in order to get us to vote their way, all party promoters do their very utmost to tempt us with someone winnable.
...and so back in November 2007 we were promised political "french champagne" with an entirely electable chap, yet now, only two and a half years later and still with that same 'entirely electable' chap,they've pulled a swifty and switched us to "cheap labour plonk" - OH! SO NOT HAPPY, BROKERS & PUPPETS!
This was a carefully plotted political coup, and we, the voters, have been exposed as powerless and irrelevant. The 'assassins of Sussex Street' ('Why Mr Abbott, I do believe I agree with you on this one!') have executed our man in Canberra, and robbed us of our chance to either:
(1) vote him back in at the next General Election or (2) toss him out at the next General Election
What a waste of 2 very good politicians!
Shame on you, 'Ambition'! & Shame on you, 'Sussex Street'! & Shame on you, 'ABC'! (who clearly knew something was up when they scheduled woefully dull & ancient repeat of the Julia Gillard Australian Story last Monday night)
(Photos: Maureen Murphy) It's almost 9 years since the Sydney Morning Herald published my letter below (20 October 2001):
============================ “Where Have All The Young Men Gone?” 1940s - killed - my grandfather, Indian Army, Kyber Pass 1950s - killed - my uncle, Gurkhas, Malaya 1980s - killed - my father, RAF, Atlantic Ocean 2001 - ....... - my children, Afghanistan – 'please don’t do this, Mr Howard!' “When Will We Ever Learn?” ============================
Nearly a decade on, & with a different Prime Minister (?) we're still there, and still waving the flag for the US...
...but what exactly has been achieved and when are our 'children' coming home?
- it's a joke that we wrap them up whilst they're growing up with 'bicycle helmets & other safety stuff', and then blithely send them off to war without a quick little read of our history books.
When I'm sharing the road with everybody out there, I like to think that the fact that 'one little clip' of their motorised vehicle could completely obliterate me makes motorists extra carefull when they pass me...
...because we 'all-kinda,' 'all-sorta' know that the little enforced polystyrene cap was never designed to protect me from 'one little clip' from any type of motorised vehicle!
...so says the french author, Hervé Kempf (Le Monde)
...right, Premier Keneally? Got it?
Kempf continues that 'in the west, the first of our environmental responsibilities consists of reducing our consumption of material goods'.
I can do this straight away by never 'consuming' a bicycle helmet!, a highly questionable oil-based product that is supposed to be replaced every 2 years (top marks for brilliant marketing manoeuvre!!!).
I don't want to contribute to landfill anymore than I already do, and in fact I think my government is completely irresponsible by forcing me to unnecessarily consume by law!!
I'm being 'forced fed' like a suffragette!
I want to be an ecologist - I don't want to be a 'half-wit' but my government won't listen!!
The combination of mandatory helmet laws, political hegemony & public apathy has permitted 'let-them-eat-cake' politics, which has enshrined Australia's commitment to the oil industry & car culture - could anything be more plainly & wantonly half-witted?
(Photos: Greenpeace USA 2010, Flickr) We cannot continue to live as though there is another "Goodship Earth" to step onto when this one is inevitably scuttled.
Our lifestyle 'modus operandi' can no longer be unquestionably tolerated nor placed beyond the realm of criticism or critical thought. Our 'oil dependency' behaviour has to change - TODAY - and for starters we need to rethink our transport habits.
It is pathetic that we continue to allow our lame public apathy to enable our state government to do nothing...and it is equally pathetic that we allow carbon-dated shock-jocks to clamour for 'class action against our modern-day "Joan of Arc" who bravely ventures 'where angels fears to tread' in a bid to tackle our appalling oil-infested urban congestion.
We are all co-defendents in the GulfSpill ecocide; we are all co-contributors to the misery of the little pelican above - we should be ashamed of our wilful disconnect with our world, illustrated by the ad below and so thoughtlessly published in Sydney Morning Herald, 18th May 2010 only one month after the ecological catastrophe:
* does it get more cynical? * does it get more indulged? ...it's hard to believe that the following ad-copy can actually convince us to shop... ========================================== BECAUSE THERE IS AN 'I' IN FAMILY To be honest, a 204kW V6 is quite unnecessary for the kids Saturday soccer run. And Junior can definitely get to day-care without 367 Nm of torque. But this stuff isn't for them. It's for you. Because while the new CX-9 is a true seven-seater (with MP3 connectivity, three-zone climate control and airbags for every row of seats), it's only a family car when they're in it. The moment they're gone, the four-wheel independent suspension, Active Torques Spilt AWD and 6-speed Activematic transmission are at your complete disposal. Nestle back in the lumbar-adjustable seat. In most models it's leather. Some even include Bluetooth connectivity, satellite navigation and a powered tailgate. For more, visit CX-9.com.au or see your local Mazda Dealer NEW MAZDA CX-9 SEVEN-SEAT SENSATION ========================================== Our smug sense of entitlement is inexorably suffocating the planet and our toxic public apathy has given our leaders 'an avenue' to ignore voters - IT'S TIME, LADIES & GENTLEMEN, time for change & time to hop on our bikes!
(Photos: London Tweed Run 2010, IansVisits, Flickr) I mentioned that I would be in Sydney for "it", and forthwith was promptly reminded by little memo that ALL participants would be required to obey ALLRoad Rules, including those pertaining to helmets...sigh!
Gazing at the photo and reading the SMH copy of "Tweed de Tour" I really thought that the organisers of the Sydney Tweed Run had acquired a 'special events' exemption - silly me!!!!! - ever the eternal optimist!!! - how could I have forgotten the 'perennial' conundrum presented by 'spin' v 'fact' and which one actually 'sells' stuff?!
Notwithstanding personal confusion and disappointment, I fervently wish ALL concerned ALL the jolly best on Sunday 27th June 2010, coupled with plenty of 'tweedy chaps & gals'
(Photos: Greenpeace USA 2010, Flickr) Do we need any more evidence than the GulfSpill to finally appreciate that humanity is truly exceeding planetary limits? Do we now accept that our 'consumer culture' is the defendant in the crime of 'ecocide', murder of the environment?
(Cairo & current urban transport) It has become clear over the years that the law enforcement of bicycle helmet wearing is excessive and disproportionate to the actual gravity of this legislative anomaly.
Moreover, it defies reason that we the people of Australia allowed mandatory helmet laws (MHLs) to operate as a diversionary measure, diverting attention away from cycling's necessary role in urban transport.
We are impoverished because of this apathetic and silent stance towards our civil liberties...
...we need to call our leaders to account - TODAY!
I don't own a helmet yet I have been cycling around the globe for the past 46 years (sans helmets, trainer wheels, high-vis-vests, 'Uncle Tom Cobbely & all') and I passionately believe that mandatory helmet laws ought to be a question of civil liberties!
Now before I get bombarded with invitations to pay for my own medical bills, please remember that our health system does not work on a 'personal liability' basis, hence our willingness to care for people with needs even when they smoke, over-eat, over drink, and even ride bicycles with helmets on (SUPER RISKY)!
Melbourne's bike-share programme has been set up to fail - why else would the tender have been granted to a car club?"
...God knows who Wade Wallace is but he sounds tiresome!!
I was out of the country for Alan Jones' troglodyte interview discussing Sydney's cycleways with our estimable Lord Mayor Clover Moore, but by all accounts it was a bigoted narcissistic tirade that degenerated into a bullying rant!
Apoplectically hissing at Clover that she was the 'architect of destruction', the old radio fossil frothed on about the importance of traditional motoring territory, the very nature of which was being undermined by cycling saboteurs before our very eyes...blah! blah! blah!...till at last he harumphed to a finale with an astonishing 'parthian shot' - threat of "Class Action"!!
It is clearly irresponsible to ignore Sydney's congestion dilemma, and we can only thank the gods (or whoever we like to thank) that it's actually 'Lord Mayor Clover' rather than 'Lord Mayor Alan' in charge of our urban affairs.
Moreover, it is the height of bad manners to invite someone into your 'tent' under the pretext of a discussion only to bully, harangue and silence them.
The old adage, "Manners maketh man", attributed to the 14th century Bishop of Winchester, still apply - and boy! were they missing on Wednesday 26 May 2010!!!!
Shame on you 2GB for your uninformed and ignorant programme - what a waste of a broadcast.
After finishing "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" last week (see chilling little youtube synopsis) I wonder yet again how my government can be bothered to criminalise cyclists who exercise their right to choose whether to wear a helmet or not...
Before we blindly accept the spin produced by Big Helma, we would do well to remember that statistics can be manipulated to produce a varying array of results including those substantiating the claims of helmet promoters.
It is a serious act to remove a person's autonomy to choose for themselves how they will manage their lives, yet Big Helma ruthlessly succeeded in convincing our governments to do so.
Twenty years later and underpinned by our devotion to oil, the fundamental fanaticism of Mandatory Helmet Laws (MHLs) continues to dictate the terms of our transport culture.
How is it that I couldn't escape criminal charges over my unhelmeted behaviour but six former AWB chiefs could over kickbacks? What have we come to when UN embargoes count for nothing but ride a bicycle without a helmet and you'll be criminally convicted?
It is not rocket science that helmet manufacturers act purely on self-interest coupled with the interests of their shareholders - in fact we all know that is actually their fiduciary duty. The real question that begs to be asked is why did our government not see through the glaringly obvious commercial paradigm?
By assaulting our mental consciousness, helmet promotion and helmet laws have marketed cycling headwear alongside obesity and catastrophic climate change. This is turn has contributed to a toxic sedentary, car-congested environment that has significantly damaged the health of Australians.
I want my freedom of choice back!
Oh dear!...a sad little "PS" from the UK - looks like they're on a course for serious regression with the appointment of their new 'petrol-head' transport minister!