Saturday, December 31, 2011

Baby No.1, here's our Christmas Down-Under!

Australian Christmas garden


Australian Christmas Santa


Australian Christmas Twirls



Australian Christmas Smiles



Australian Christmas chef


Australian Christmas Bro with Cracker


Australian Christmas Diner


Australian Christmas Cousins


Australian Christmas Nap


So here we are at the brink of another year...& we can only shudder as the US leads us by the nose into yet another war - heaven help us all (sigh)

See you in 2012 xx

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Now it's Baby No. 4's turn for Aussie hatwear pantomime



"Where's your helmet young lady?" demanded nattily dressed 'Occupy Pyrmont' bike police last week.

Groan...& sigh...

...are they really still there? - isn't there another bridge / park / road / suburb they could set up camp on or in?

What is the fascination the police have with this picturesque bridge?

Couldn't they be moved on? - this permanent posting on Pyrmont is such a waste of my good taxes!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tourism's magic carpet - unavailable in Australia

(Photos: 'I need Spain' displayed in The Sydney Magazine last week)


Spain, among many other nation states, has tapped into a 'tourism & marketing golden goose' but here in Australia we cannot!

Bicycle share schemes languish in an under-utilised capacity in two Australian cities simply because of our nation's 'clunky' helmet laws and our political infatuation with Big Oil.

Back in the day pre-bicycle helmet law, Australian governments received inadequate advice about the proposed compulsion to wear helmets. Fast forward 2 decades & unsurprisingly we cannot fail to observe that the public health as well as the economic benefits have been considerably less than touted. In fact as more interested parties delve into this matter it is coming to light that advice to governments in those early days was not based on independent science and therefore was never in a position to provide our governments with the opportunity to make well-informed decisions.

Now we have the situation where our governments' clinginess to yesteryear's limited analysis and rebuttals has led to an impasse where consideration of new options for Australian bicycle-users (or would-be bicycle-users) looks like it will continue to be severely restricted.

Conflicts of interests, non-disclosure, 'less-than-arm's-length' connections between research & business, have recently left many interested parties wondering whether the potent power of associated companies with benefits pertaining to the continuation of Mandatory Helmet Laws are always going to ensure that this pesky piece of regulation remains on the books.

There'll be no 'magic carpet' ride for us in terms of tourism / urban transport / congestion / the planet even, until Australia let's go of Nanny's apron strings and says a big loud 'NO' to our restrictive laws that are determined to dictate how we behave when we pop to the shops for milk

- next we'll be told how to knit!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Where other journos fear to tread: report by Chris Gillham, WA

(Photos: Flickr, day335)


In a bid to combat viral bicycle helmet promotion that continuously emerges as paternalistic 'we-know-best' edicts in journals and other 'spin' portals, I've offered this blog post to WA journalist Chris Gillham.

Chris has been the author of Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Law in Western Australia for the past 15 years, and today he is determined to repair some of the damage caused by inaccurate media reporting all-too-commonly observed in our media.

--------------------------------------------

Chris Gillham reporting:

There's been yet another example of how the public is constantly misinformed by the media about the reality of Australia's bicycle helmet legislation.

In the December 2011 issue of its Horizons magazine, the Western Australia branch of the Royal Automobile Club prominently published the following:

Heading for Trouble
In 1992, Western Australia introduced mandatory helmet-wearing for cyclists. Following the enactment of this legislation there was a 40 per cent reduction in head injuries to cyclists - yet, despite this, many continue to ride without a helmet.
RAC Patrol and employee of the year Leigh Bavin is out on the roads every day and sees many cyclists riding without helmets. There's one group in particular that he believes really needs to start wearing their helmets: parents.
"The thing that really irks me is seeing family groups riding where the kids are wearing the helmets but the parents aren't. It doesn't set a good example and makes kids think that helmets are something that adults don't need," Mr Bavin said.
It isn't just a lack of helmets that bothers him: kids wearing ill-fitting helmets is another bug bear.
"Oftentimes you'll see a kid without the helmet done up, or pushed right to the back of the head. You also see kids wearing helmets that aren't the right size for them."
To get the right helmet, your child needs to try it on before purchase. Most cycle shops will let you sample a few different products for comfort and fit to ensure you get the right one. The KidsafeWA website gives detailed information on bicycle safety, including advice on choosing the right helmet: visit www.kidsafewa.com.au to learn more.


The Horizons magazine is circulated by snail mail to almost half a million RAC members - most vehicle owner in WA - so many people in that state will believe cyclist head injuries in WA fell by 40% when the helmet law was enforced in 1992.

OK, we can have a look at WA government figures on bicycle injuries in the years before and after the helmet law was introduced in Bicycle Crashes and Injuries in Western Australia, 1987-2000 - Road Safety report RR131, commissioned by the WA Road Safety Council and published in 2003.




So these WA Health Department figures show that in the four years from 1988 to 1991 before the helmet law was enforced in July 1992, there were an average 178 cyclist head injuries in WA per year. In the four years after law enforcement from 1993 to 1996, the annual average was 144.

That's a 19% reduction, not 40%. It's less than half what the RAC says it is.

Let's look a bit further. All the pre and post law road surveys in WA show bicycle use fell by somewhere between 30% and 40% (see WA figures and example).

Hmmm, even 19% doesn't look so good anymore. How can there be 30% less cyclists and only 19% less head injuries?

Look a bit closer at the figures in the charts above. The overall hospital admission rate for cyclist injuries didn't go down after 1992, despite the huge drop in cycling numbers.

The road surveys suggest that cyclist numbers in WA had recovered to pre-law levels by 2000 (which only sounds "good" if you ignore the 20% increase in WA population during that period).

Again, look at the total injury figures above. After the RR131 study period to 1998, WA had 862 total cyclist hospital admissions in 1999 and 913 in the year 2000. So there were about 30% more cyclists hospitalised each year in WA from about the same number of cyclists on the road.

If there are more hospital casualties per cyclist on the road but there's been a 19% drop in head injuries, where on the body are all the extra injuries happening? Check upper extremity numbers in the charts above and you'll get a pretty good clue (arms, shoulders, etc). The same disproportionate increase in upper body injuries can be seen in all states and countries that have enacted all age bicycle helmet laws (i.e. just Australia and New Zealand since Israel repealed its adult helmet law in 2011).

OK, we have to do something to prop up the helmet law argument and justify the last 20 years of putting so many extra people in hospital, persecuting prosecuting hundreds of thousands of bare-head bike riders and turning Australia into the fattest country on earth.

Let's look at the charts above and consider head injuries in the late 1990s when, as mentioned, cyclist numbers on WA roads were recovering to where they were before the law.

In the four years from 1995 to 1998, there were an annual average 155 cyclist head injuries, compared with 178 from 1988 to 1991 - a 12% reduction. Truth is, the road surveys show cyclist numbers in WA were still well down from 1995 to 1998 and if you consider the 862 and 913 total hospital injuries in 1999 and 2000, there wasn't much reduction in head injuries by the time cyclist road numbers had recovered to where they were in the good old days.

So there's the win for the bike helmet law! Despite increasing the per capita number of cyclist injuries/hospital admissions by about 30% and slashing the number of people keeping fit riding their bikes, helmets worked so well they kept head injuries to about the same level they were before 1992 when cyclist road numbers were about the same.

Through media hypnosis, this is the result that justifies helmet laws!

Why are there obviously more accidents/injuries per cyclist on the road? There are numerous reasons and, ironically, the RAC story identifies one of those when it complains about children wearing helmets that aren't done up, pushed to the back of the head or are simply the wrong size.

Guess what? Helmets can increase the risk of injury when worn improperly or with the wrong fit, if only because they offer little or no head protection despite increasing the confidence of the rider to cycle faster or more dangerously because they feel protected (better known as risk compensation).

So even when the helmet law successfully forces cyclists to wear a helmet, is it protecting or endangering the rider? Much as it might wish to, the government can't control the actions of individuals and many will ignorantly endanger themselves to avoid a fine. A similar technique to avoid a fine is to dangle your helmet from the bars, which provides fantastic balance and greatly improves the safety of the cyclist!

The RAC can't be accused of being disinterested in cycling safety as in May 2011 the club published a media release pointing out in its opening sentence that "Cyclists are increasingly at risk on Western Australian roads with the number of riders killed and seriously injured rising by 56 per cent between 2000 and 2009".

Well, it doesn't sound like a particularly good outcome in a mandatory helmet jurisdiction but maybe the RAC can claim the bad results are because since the year 2000, many West Australians have been defying the law and cycling without a helmet. In fact, they're the main reason for the "boom" in WA cycling numbers for the past decade.

Trouble is, the RAC published a PowerPoint in June 2011 showing that lack of helmet contributed to 19.5% of deaths and serious injuries in single vehicle crashes, and 22.4% in multiple vehicle crashes between 2000 and 2009. i.e. an average 21%.


In 2001, Royal Perth Hospital (WA's largest) reported that 16% of cyclist admissions were not wearing a helmet and in 2004, RPH records showed that 20% of cyclists admitted for trauma injuries were not wearing a helmet.

The last known official survey of helmet wearing rates among WA cyclists was in 1995 (Market Equity) when 23% were estimated to be cycling without. It's been obvious that WA's bare-head cycling percentage over the past decade has been somewhere between 30% and 40%, even higher in Perth's middle to outer suburbs.

In other words, the data suggests that cyclists not wearing helmets are less likely to end up in hospital. Most other real-world analyses of helmet law results come to the same conclusion.

The Horizons magazine story will cause plenty of West Australian helmet law supporters to proudly boast about its 40% success and, in the meantime, this public health disaster will continue to unfold.

The sad thing is that another journalist might read the RAC story as part of their two hours of research into the helmet issue. And guess what will be written the next time bike helmet laws are praised in the mainstream media?
--------------------------------------------

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Knight in shining armour



I had one today!!!

Cycling near the Redfern end of Wilson Street this arvo, a total taxi tosser almost wiped me out on the hairpin bend where Little Everleigh Street merges. Instantly uber loud & indignant protests emanated from the cyclist behind me and were hurled at the taxi driver in defence of me - unbelievable!

When we (us two cyclists) finally came to a stand-still together at the Redfern traffic lights, I asked him, in my amazement & just to double check, if he'd truly been yelling on my behalf...

'Yes' he confirmed!

Aaaaah how special I felt! - someone had impulsively stood up for me ; someone had involuntarily put his neck on the line for me; someone had instantaneously made my day!!

He was a true Aussie knight in shining helmet-armour, and he made no reference to me being without - RESPECT!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The promotion & representations of bicycle helmets

(Photos: a glimpse of bicycles in "Made in Dagenham")


1. The Standard for bicycle helmets was first introduced by Consumer Protection Notice published in the Commonwealth Government Gazette on 13 January 1988 in response to concerns about the adequacy of the safety of bicycle helmets on the market (see p.2). According to the Council of Australian Government (COAG) principles, since that time the regulation has undergone regular review to examine whether continuing government intervention in the market has been justified.

2. During November 2008, Standards Australia published a revised version of its standard for bicycle helmets AS/NZ 2063:2008, in effect providing helmet standard domination of the market to the exclusion of previously accepted ones, namely the Snell B-95 standard. By invoking the terms of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, as I understand it SAI Global, Standards Australia and the NSW Government disregarded international free trade agreements with their unsubstantiated predictions of future benefits of their specific bicycle helmet standard without a reasonable basis for the claim.

3. Whilst the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) cites Gibson and Cheung’s report highlighting concerns about Snell helmets (see p.7), I draw attention to another section in the Gibson & Cheung report whereby they claimed ‘overall, the comparison of the test results showed that the actual Snell B95 standard test requirements are slightly stricter than the requirements for AS/NZS 2036-1996 and have the potential to produce a slightly more protective helmet’ (see p.viii). It appears to me that the scientific and test data does not support SAI Global, Standards Australia and the NSW Government’s claim of safety protection represented by the promotion and the forecast of AS/NZ 2063:2008.

4. The ACCC’s Regulation Impact Statement states that ‘there is evidence that cyclists are subject to a greater risk of serious head injury if they are involved in an accident and are not wearing an effective safety helmet’ (see p.3). Yet this is subsequently contradicted in the same document a page later where it is stated that: ‘nearly one-third (60) of all male cyclists (187) and nearly half (27) of male cyclists in the 10 to 19 age group (55) killed in road crashes were not wearing a helmet. Similarly, nearly one-third (11) of all female cyclists (35) killed in road crashes in the period were not wearing a helmet’ (see p.4). Clearly this set of figures indicates that more than two-thirds of all male cyclists and more than half of all male cyclists in that particular age group were wearing helmets when they were killed in road crashes, and that more than two-thirds of all female cyclists killed were also wearing helmets.

5. As I understand it the Australian Consumer Law upholds that bicycle helmet protection claims should only be made if there is a real safety benefit as opposed to a benefit that is irrelevant, insignificant or mandated by law. To date helmet testing standards have been simplistic and subject to linear acceleration impact only. No tests have been carried out using angular acceleration impact leading to rotation of the brain and possibly more serious diffuse injuries (see p.2). Representations are made that helmets are designed for only one impact before replacement (see p.2) yet many bicycle incidents involve motor vehicles and multiple impacts invoking the likelihood of reduced protection as represented by the current helmet guidelines.

6. Upon my reading of the law it would appear that companies must ensure their claims are scientifically sound and appropriately substantiated [Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) Schedule 2, s29(g)]. I draw particular attention to the fact that it is not enough for each representation to be technically or narrowly correct; it is just as important to look at the overall impression created in the minds of average consumers in the target audience. I believe that bicycle helmet promotion should be denounced as vague, ambiguous and unsubstantiated representations that possess the ability to mislead or deceive. I contend that safety protection claims for bicycle helmets cannot be substantiated and therefore ought to be removed.

7. In view of current academic dispute, as far as I can make out SAI Global’s, Standards Australia and the NSW Government’s promotion contain representations which, individually are misleading and deceptive, and as a whole produce a ‘safety-washing’ effect that gives a misleading impression of bicycle helmets. The representations of their promotion have overstated the level of scientific acceptance (see p.1), and have claimed a benefit that is not universally proven and in fact is currently in dispute (see p.116).

------------------------------------

Notwithstanding any of the above or content from previous posts alluding to my 'recent' correspondence with the ACCC, the ACCC have 'recently' informed me that given:

"...the standard is set out in the "Trade Practices (Consumer Product Safety Standard) Regulations 2001 - Bicycle Helmets" and as such has the effect of Commonwealth law. According to section 2A of the CCA (Competition & Consumer Act 2010), the provisions of the CCA apply to the Commonwealth or Commonwealth authorities in so far as they are carrying on a business. In enacting regulations, the Commonwealth is in fact performing a legislative function and not carrying on a business within the meaning under section 2A of the CCA. Therefore it is beyond the jurisdiction of the ACCC and the CCA to investigate your concerns relating to the mandatory standard."

So there we have it - back to 'square 1' - sigh

Friday, December 9, 2011

NSW government & bicycle helmet law

(Photos: "Sculptures by the Sea 2010" - Tamarama Beach)


1. In 1991 it became law, by way of regulation, for a rider of a bicycle to wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider’s head. This regulation also extended to a passenger on a bicycle that is moving or is stationary but not parked unless that passenger is a paying passenger on a three or four-wheeled bicycle. The representations of this compulsory requirement were and remain flawed, fragmented and confused and to date it has never been explained why it was and still is considered safer to be a paying passenger than a non-paying passenger.

2. In applying the ‘Taco Bell Test’ (Taco Company of Australia Inc v Taco Bell Pty Ltd (1982) 42 ALR 177), mandatory helmet laws have misled ‘the astute and the gullible, the intelligent and the not-so-intelligent, the well-educated as well as the poorly educated, men and women of various ages pursuing a variety of vocations.’ As the target audience, neither the people of NSW (and the likelihood that the people of NSW could be misled or deceived by the conduct and representation of the regulation), nor the context in which the people of NSW read or heard about the representation with its accompanying mandatory compliance requirements has been considered by the NSW Government.

3. For the past 20 years the NSW Government has commissioned many studies yet none have provided class one evidence categorically stating that helmets provide the level of protection we have been led to believe that they do. Notwithstanding that money for further bicycle helmet studies continues to be granted by both state and federal governments, the academics and experts still cannot agree with each other, and this in turn has led to widespread confusion within the public domain. Even studies that support helmet legislation admit that the ‘lack of population level exposure and helmet wearing data for cyclists mean that several assumptions were necessary for an analysis to be possible’ [Scott R Walter, Jake Olivier, Tim Churches & Raphael Grzebieta, ‘The impact of compulsory cycle helmet legislation on cyclist head injuries in New South Wales, Australia’ (2011) Accident Analysis and Prevention (Article in Press), 7]. Many people who use bicycles (or would like to use bicycles) contend that false and misleading representations have been made about the characteristics and benefits of bicycle helmets that have not and can never be substantiated.

4. Furthermore many people who use bicycles (or would like to use bicycles) are also concerned that Government-funded safety representations have become a powerful marketing tool and are overstated. Given that there is ‘currently no helmet standard test method that assesses angular acceleration, in part because this requires a biofidelic head and neck, as well as injury assessment reference values for angular acceleration,’ [T.Y. Pang, K.T. Thai & A.S. McIntosh, ‘Head and neck dynamics in helmeted hybrid III impacts’ (Paper presented at the IRCOBI Conference, York, United Kingdom, September 2009) p.315, para 1, & relied upon by the NSW Government to support regulation 256, Road Rules 2008 (NSW)] the accuracy of the claims are misleading and fail to disclose the accuracy of the level of protection provided by bicycle helmets. Moreover research published in May 2011 has found that bicycle helmets provide little protection.

5. There is considerable confusion with bicycle helmets and their application to very young children. Prior to the law, helmet-wearing by children under 12 months was discouraged (see paras 30 & 110). Despite the passing of two decades since the introduction of mandatory bicycle helmet regulation, the law is silent on this issue today, and the Roads & Traffic Authority’s (RTA) Bicycle Handbook avoids this matter by publishing vague and ambiguous advice: ‘young children must wear a helmet whenever riding – whether sitting in a child carrier or a cycle trailer. Please consider the stage of development of your child before placing a helmet on the child’s head for long periods.’ Moreover statutory regulations do not apply to bicycle helmets of a size too small to be reasonably fitted to ‘Headform AA’ used in the testing of bicycle helmets, defined in Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2512.1:2009 and published by Standards Australia on 7 April 2009.

6. When the overall impression of bicycle helmets is considered from what is said and what is not said, from what is implied and what is not implied, it is not difficult to appreciate that many people who use bicycles (or would like to use bicycles) contend that the safety representations made about bicycle helmets are fraught with ambiguities. In addition the disclaimer in the guise of ‘important information’ and ‘warning’ in the Owner’s Manual cannot correct the false misleading main safety protection premise of the bicycle helmet.

7. It is a matter of enormous concern that the ACCC have highlighted a risk of hanging or strangulation if a child gets trapped whilst wearing a helmet. Bearing in mind claims must be specific, representations of bicycle helmet safety protection are misleading given that a significant number of children have died whilst wearing bicycle helmets. Indeed when people who use bicycles (or would like to use bicycles) consider the ACCC's position that regulations are intended to ensure accurate and adequate disclosure to consumers, they cannot help but wonder how a claim of safety protection made without disclosing the percentage of protection or level of actual protection obtained was ever considered accurate instead of misleading .

8. Prima facie, the evidence pertaining to helmets providing safety protection is conflicting and unsubstantiated. Yet despite the fierce academic debate on the matter, we are still legally compelled to wear one in Australia. Most nation states across the globe openly acknowledge that mandatory helmet laws raise issues of civil liberties and accordingly the decision ‘to helmet or not’ is left to their individual citizens. It is time such practice was adopted here.

9. Inter alia over the last 20 years many people who use bicycles (or would like to use bicycles) have submitted that, on the premise that the law is fragmented, uncertain and inconsistent, mandatory bicycle helmet legislation ought to be repealed. The time has passed for preliminary and on-going investigations into this matter.

10. Unquestionably it is time to revoke mandatory bicycle helmet laws - NOW

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mandatory Traps


Crimes Act 1900 No 40

Section 49 Setting trap etc


(1) Any person who:

(a) places or sets, or causes to be placed or set, any trap, device or thing (whether its nature be electronic, electric, mechanical, chemical or otherwise) capable of destroying human life or inflicting grievous bodily harm on any person,

or

(b) knowingly permits any such trap, device or thing to continue to be placed or set, with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm shall be liable to imprisonment for five years.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall extend to any gin or trap, placed with the intention of destroying vermin, or to any trap, device or thing placed in a dwelling-house for the protection thereof.

-------------------------------------------------------------

So could we arguably apply s49 ss(1)(a) to Australian governments & mandatory helmet laws when academic research has revealed that bicycle helmets increase risk of "Diffuse Axonal Injury"?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The ubiquitous 5 ticks

(Image: SAI logo & the '5 ticks' StandardsMark™)



These days you can't help but notice SAI Global's '5 ticks' StandardsMark™ everywhere: for instance try opening up a Law Society Journal on a Sydney bus and, voila, there they are in the editorial housekeeping section & window respectively!

They're all-seeing; they're omnipresent; & they're utilised by the following industries:

$$ Quality Industry

$$ Environment Industry

$$ Health & Safety Industry

$$ Food Safety Industry

$$ Market & Social Research Industry

$$ Information Security Industry

$$ Medical Device Industry

$$ Legal Best Practice Industry

The above programs represent just a small portion of SAI Global's scope - in fact the '5 ticks' StandardsMark™ has become our global atmosphere!

SAI Global & Standards Australia shared timeline
(information sourced from their detailed websites)

1. In 1922 the Australian Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association was founded and in 1929 changed its name to the Standards Association of Australia (SAA). The year 1988 saw a further name change for SAA to Standards Australia which now signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Federal Government to acknowledge government recognition of Standards Australia as the peak non-government standards development organisation.

2. In 1990 and 1991 Standards Australia established Quality Assurance Services Pty Ltd (QAS) to manage their rapidly expanding certification activities, and acquired the industrial Design Council of Australia and the Australian Design Awards, respectively.

3. By 1999, Standards Australia had changed its association status and had become incorporated as an Australian public company limited by guarantee, Standards Australia International Ltd (SAI Limited); and by 2001 SAI Limited’s subsidiary QAS had acquired KPMG’s certification businesses in Australia and New Zealand.

4. In 2002, not only did SAI Limited acquire part of the former Australian Quality Council (AQC) including the Australian Business Excellence Awards, but it re branded its certification business from QAS to SAI Global, finally listing on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on December 17 2003 under ASX code SAI.

5. Over the next eight years, SAI Global continued on a commercial trajectory of global acquisition and expansion, including the acquisition of the Anstat Group in Australia.

SAI Global today

6. According to their website today, SAI Global is a company which ‘provides organizations around the world with information services and solutions for managing risk, achieving compliance and driving business improvement’. In addition to auditing, certifying and registering products, systems or supply chains through ‘independent assessment to reduce risk and enhance service and product quality’, they ‘provide legal, compliance and risk management professionals with a broad range of technology enabled programs and consulting services that facilitate good governance and awareness of compliance, ethics and policy issues.’

7. Through their promoted ‘aggregated access services to Standards, Handbooks, legislative and property publications from hundreds of publishers’, they advertise their ability to ‘reference and manage critical business information’, as well as provision of the ‘training that business professionals around the world need to improve their individual performance and help their organizations succeed’.

8. According to their 2006 submission to the Productivity Commission, SAI Global is a leader in the use of web-based technologies for the production, distribution and licensing of intellectual property. Its Publishing Services division delivers national and international Standards, legislation, technical and regulatory up-date and news services. These products are delivered in hard copy and via on-line subscription and other web-based services. Through a publishing licensing agreement with Standards Australia, it holds the rights to distribute Australian Standards, and other Standards developed by international standardization bodies. SAI Global, through its subsidiary Anstat, also has the rights to publish Victorian Government legislation and the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code.

SAI Limited today

9. SAI Limited’s website is conducted under the nomenclature “Standards Australia” and throughout its website ‘timeline’ makes references to itself as “Standards Australia.”

10. Standards Australia represents as an independent, not-for-profit organisation, recognised by the Australian Government as the peak non-government Standards body in Australia, and one that develops the internationally aligned Australian Standards that deliver net benefits to Australia.

11. Standards Australia is the Principal Sponsor of the Australian International Design Awards.

One & the same...& everywhere...& claustrophobic...& big money for some!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Worrying trends



It is a worrying trend that more and more content in the Sydney Morning Herald broadsheet is either media release or opinion trotted out by unnamed journalists ("After the uprising, a revolution in education begins", November 26-27).

To have seven hundred and seven words surrounding a large emotive photograph unattributed to anyone is of significant concern. In fact it leads me to wonder why the SMH has reported so little opinion from the ‘other’ side in Libya (you know, the one that required North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bombers & fighter planes to ignore the principle of state sovereignty) and to wonder also whether Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation treaty still stands (you know the one where NATO undertakes to settle any international dispute in which it may become involved by peaceful means).

I would really like to know who is behind this particular ‘opinion’; why so often there are no 'journalist' names for background search purposes; and whether this type of journalism is actually insidious propaganda for NATO's continued 'mission creep'?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Have bike will travel





The Brompton arrives in Newtown from Scone!

It just has to be the most perfect bicycle for Australian train travel conveniently fitting into a bag thus conveniently fitting into Countrylink's inconvenient parameters for bicycles!

Not for me the joys of a train without changing in Newcastle though - I'd have buckley's getting my bike into a bag - CityRail it'll still have to be!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"This is protection!"



And so it came to pass that Big Helma ensured 'eager-beaver' mainstream media received all helmet safety facts necessary to support Big H's position on mandatory helmets.

Consequently fact-finding and scientific debate morphed into fact-fighting and misinformation as the 'discrediting duel' continued within the ranks of academia.

Methinks this smacks of a great big public relations exercise!

Interminable tedium whatever!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Road users 'occasional' conversation



When the question is...

"WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?"

...I have found the most satisfactory answer to be...

"WHO THE HELL WANTS TO KNOW?"

Tum-ti-tum! - Monday's exchange as I 'blended' into Market Street near David Jones!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NO VICTIMS COMPENSATION LEVY!!!!!



BN2's court bill arrived in the post today & surprise surprise the victims compensation levy has been scratched out in pen and re-written as "$0.00"!!!!

I've lost my licence over this so I want to know:

$$ why is it so arbitrary?

$$ why was I ever billed $67 when in the legislative amendment it was stated to be $64?

$$ how much money has been incorrectly creamed off exactly how many NSW taxpayers?

Not happy, Greg!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Baby no.2 & her day in court

('Happy-After-Court-Hour' at The Rose Hotel, Surry Hills)




...And so it was that yesterday it was Baby No.2's turn at the Downing Centre to give evidence as to why she should be found innocent of her conscientious objection to mandatory bicycle helmet laws.

Initially she played 'musical magistrates' and moved from one court to another, but eventually she arrived in a court where the magistrate was prepared to hear her evidence.

Prima facie, not all of her evidence or her experts' evidence was accepted. In fact the general court sentiment was that the evidence pertaining to risk compensation and serious brain injury was equivocal; and that the existence of climate change was still in scientific dispute, and/or was common knowledge (therefore didn't require an expert to comment upon it), and/or was certainly not imminent.

Notwithstanding the long day with many external interruptions dotted with the usual comings & goings of busy-court life, BN2 was formidable and I could barely contain my admiration. The prosecution was pretty formidable too and played a great match, nippy in the corners with some great long passes landing neatly in goal - full marks.

...and whilst the prosecution seemed to be angling for more penalties against BN2 when it was clear that necessity had not been made out in terms of climate change and /or immediacy, it was with relief as the final whistle went that the 'referee' deemed she was only to receive a section 10(1)(a) dismissal.

Oh boy! oh boy! & then followed some heart-warming magical-moment stuff:

The magistrate looked at me and asked BN2, 'is this mum?'

'Yes,' she replied.

'You must be very proud!'

'Yes,' I whispered in an almost inaudible gasp of bursting maternal pride!

...and he proceeded to declare to the court at large how admirable it was to see someone so young arrive in court with such principled convictions but that the aim must always be to leave without one.

He praised her for her courage, and her eloquent well conducted argument; expressed admiration for her deep commitment to the environment; & predicted that she would be an asset to the legal community upon the completion of her degree.

Never has a mother been so proud!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Going - going - gone!



'No point hanging on to defunct driver's licence,' I said to myself, 'recycle the plastic; send it to the AG!'

- & so I did, up at the Newtown Post Office earlier today.

All things considered one less car on the road isn't a bad thing but the 'procedural unfairness' underpinning this whole 'bicycle-helmet-victims-compensation-levy' episode is!

...never liked the photo anyway

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Goodbyee! Goodbyee! - wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eyee!



As of today, my driver's licence is suspended so I intend to enclose it with my letter of complaint to the AG which I will write and despatch later on this morning.

When you consider that two months ago Parliament agreed the March 2011 amendment to the Victims Support & Rehabilitation Act was a bad decision and that it ought & will be repealed at a date to be proclaimed, it's quite 'gob-smackingly' unbelievable that i'm still to be punished anyway by those very bad provisions.

...where's the justice and/or procedural fairness in all of this?

Lucky I love my bicycle & the journeys that I take on it!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Australian bicycle helmet assumption yet to be proved



There is something clinically servile & masochistic about the faith many Australians place in bicycle helmets.

...and worse, there is something irreducibly sinister & sadistic about the schadenfreude many Australians extend to those who eschew them.

When will Australia tire of our bicycle helmet bullshit that is so patently riddled with a reckless disregard for the truth?

(3 days left on my driver's licence)

Friday, November 11, 2011

No bicycle helmet, no car licence - only in Australia



Media Release:

HUNTER VALLEY, 10 November 2011 – The new Courts and Other Legislation Further Amendment Bill 2011 introduced into the NSW Parliament during September is a welcome development, according to some politicians, advocacy groups and voters.

In the new Bill, a conviction will not include an order made under section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 in relation to an offence that is not punishable by imprisonment.

The Hon. David Shoebridge stated that the Greens had spoken out against the earlier amendment moved by the previous Government , when it greatly ‘expanded the reach of the provisions of the Victims Compensation Support & Rehabilitation Act... even where a conviction was proved but the charges were dismissed under section 10.’

He also reminded Parliament that ‘when one considers that all those minor offences had to provide a $67 payment to the fund, the administrative costs involved in issuing notices and chasing up payments would have exceeded the $67 that was recovered in due course.’

Yet despite this turn of events, Sue Abbott of Scone is still required to pay into the fund.

After her last court appearance at the Scone & Muswellbrook Local Courts in July 2011 where she received a second section 10 (1)(a) dismissal for her crime of riding a bicycle without a helmet, she was amazed to receive a bill in the post a week later for $67 to be paid to the Victims Compensation Levy.

‘Exactly who,’ she asked herself, ‘was the victim?’ Appalled at the arbitrary tax nature of the levy, she commenced an active letter writing campaign with the NSW Attorney General, the Hon. Greg Smith.

Whilst the Attorney General acknowledged in correspondence with her that ‘Parliament recently decided that the levy should not apply to charges that are dismissed under s10(1)(a),’ he sternly advised her that she would still be required to pay the now vastly-increased levy as it is ‘imposed automatically under the law and as such is a debt owed to the Crown’.

Mrs Abbott said ‘this is analogous to pointing out to a bull-dozer driver that there are a 1,000s of people standing on the road he is bull-dozing, and him then saying “ok no worries but the first 20 or so along the first bit of road are going to get caught up in my braking process!”

She has now received a ‘Suspension of Driver’s Licence Notice’ to take effect next Tuesday 15 November 2011 and she is prepared to forgo her privileges as a motoring road user.

“It says a lot about Australia that the first tactic used to force your hand is to threaten you with removal of car privileges even when dealing with a bicycle user - in reality they’re the ones who are going to miss out on considerable revenue because I probably won’t ever renew my licence again, & therefore won’t need insurance, petrol, oil, tyres, cars – any of that Big Oil stuff.”

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(4 days left on my driver's licence)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bad law-making equals bad laws



Let's face it; we all know that ostensibly bicycle helmet laws were introduced to provide safety for bicycle users.

But in reality all they've done is (i) deflect criticism from half-arsed attempts to incorporate bicycles as fully recognised vehicles in the Australian transport landscape...

...& (ii) accentuate undesirable and unintended consequences.

Yet instead of conceding political error of political ways, our politicians continue to posture in a paternalistic manner, and to demand even more 'figures'...

Smoke & mirrors! - they have 20 years worth of figures - what exactly do they do with them all?

Clearly they don't collect them for collation purposes.

But the veneer of helmet law consensus is wearing thin, and maybe, just maybe, the catastrophe that is our urban transport landscape is inadvertently assisting people who like to use bicycles because we're witnessing more & more people using them and less & less people using helmets and/or cars!

Go, us!!!

(5 days left on my driver's licence)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bicycle helmet laws prove Australian governments don't know best




Notwithstanding the whiff of unrealistic expectation, bicycle helmet laws offer no certainty of protection, and have patently failed to deliver on what they purportedly set out to do in the first place.

Yet basic gumption is missing at every bureaucratic level and no-one is prepared to tackle the problem 'head-on'.

Australian politicians should be asking themselves honestly whether bicycle helmet laws have been worth:

$$$ the money

$$$ the upkeep

$$$ the political capital invested in them

The honest answer would be 'NO'

Whilst mandatory bicycle helmet laws clearly say nothing about bicycle protection, they say a lot about us as a nation in that we're quick to react but glacial to reflect & evaluate constructively.

Sigh - just because we want to believe in the 'easter bunny' doesn't mean there is one!

(6 days left on my driver's licence)

Monday, November 7, 2011

My driver's licence on notice



When the notice arrived in the post today informing me that my driver's licence is to be suspended next Tuesday 15th November 2011, I felt quite sick - it's clearly getting to the 'bureaucratic businessy-bit' of bicycle helmet crime and the pink & white paper is intended to be a frightening jolt - it was & I nearly jumped on-line...

BUT...

...the inequity & the procedural unfairness of it all prevented me from typing in the numbers from my plastic bank - this scary piece of paper is not representative of a fair hearing.

Right from the start in March this year when the Victims Compensation Levy was amended, NSW voters and legislators objected to 'Section 10(1)(a) dismissalees' (aka me) being automatically caught in its web. Consequently no-one was surprised a few weeks ago when the NSW Parliament subsequently rejected it.

Yet the AG will not grant me an exemption.

Why not?

What else do I have to do to get one?

What exactly did the ones who got them do?

Surely the pile of letters from me to him (& pointlessly supplied to the SDRO and the Muswellbrook Local Court who never communicate with each other) is testimony to the fact that this matter has given me great cause for concern and therefore might raise the notion that I could be an eligible candidate for exemption.

I am troubled by the arbitrariness of the whole process.

Even though the amendment was acknowledged by Parliament as grossly unfair, now an unwieldy departmental-time-warp has kicked-in & refuses to allow the 'outlaw' fine to be waived for my non-existent crime that should never have been a crime and is now no longer a crime.

Who can absolve me from the whims of administrative NSW justice?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dr Paul Martin & surprise 2 GB ally



A most enlightening interview.

First Ben Fordham invites Paul to convince him that helmet laws are passé, and then he admits to Paul & 2GB listeners far & wide that he hates wearing helmets!!!!

* he just doesn't like it

* they're hot on his head

* unnecessary 99.9% of the time

* if he's just riding to shops, does he want to put one on? (rhetorical - clearly he does not!)

Wooja-get-outa-town! What a conversation! - & he wants to know what we think because he knows it's:

...not setting best example, but

...he doesn't like wearing them

...he's really carefull

...he's not going a million miles an hour

...& he can pretty much back himself that nothing's going to happen

Why don't you let him know your thoughts, & call him on 131 873 or send him an email at ben@2gb.com

How exciting - how refreshing!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Big Ship sails on the ally-ally-oh...



...on the last day of September, I lodged a complaint with the ACCC concerning regulation 256 of the NSW Road Rules, the mandatory bicycle helmet standard, and accompanying product material in licences, print advertisements, helmet promotion campaigns, legislation and online material (collectively, the promotion) produced by SAI Global, Standards Australia and the NSW Government.

I set out for them in letter format that I believe the promotion displayed in Australia from the early 1990s to today has predicted safety benefits of the helmet device whilst having no proof that such benefits could be attained. Consequently, I continued, I believe that the promotion is an example of ‘safety washing’ akin to the notion of ‘green washing’ despite the very broad and general prohibition of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (the Act) to engage in misleading or deceptive conduct. I contended that upon the facts I feel that SAI Global, Standards Australia and the NSW Government have breached the Act by:

• engaging in conduct that is likely to mislead or deceive;
• engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct;
• making false or misleading representations that goods are of a particular standard, quality, value or grade; and
• making false or misleading representations that goods have performance characteristics, uses or benefits.

Supposedly, within the Act, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) has been structured to uphold our rights to receive accurate and truthful messages about the goods and services that we buy. As ‘persons’ engaging in conduct, occurring ‘in trade or commerce’ , demonstrating conduct that is misleading or likely to mislead, SAI Global, Standards Australia and the NSW Government have contravened s18(1) of the ACL.

As far as I can make out upon my reading of the Act, it makes no difference whether SAI Global, Standards Australia and the NSW Government intended to mislead or deceive consumers but rather how the conduct of their business practices affected our thoughts and beliefs. The overall impression left by their promotion of safety accorded by bicycle helmets has created a misleading impression in people’s minds. I continued with my contention that Australian consumers, including myself, are vulnerable to SAI Global, Standards Australia and the NSW Government’s promotion, particularly with regard to comprehending the need for and receiving claimed protection.

The ACCC have written back to me to say:

'...thanks but no thanks & BTW we've popped it on our confidential data-base.'

Currently, I contend that I feel empty, disillusioned, & very bored with Australia

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gimme-your-money!



Well, ok! - with regards to the 'Victims Compensation Levy', all that letter writing has paid off for the next lot of 'section 10(1)(a) dismissalees'...from a 'date to be proclaimed'...

BUT (& I'm still smarting on this bit) NOT FOR ME!!!

Why can't he (our illustrious AG) give me 'compassionate grounds' when he knows that:

๏̯̃๏ I obviously believe helmets are ridiculously dangerous...?

๏̯̃๏ parliamentarians obviously believe the VCL is ridiculously unfair for people like me...?

Well! - why can't he?

Surely it's not in the public interest to continue to penalise me with a punishment that's so patently unfair fellow politicians have decided it ought to no longer apply to such a charge dismissed under s10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW)?

Surely?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

One-Day too far away

(Photos: Sydney Magazine, SMH)



Australia, you're dreamin'!!!

- of course we'd love our men dished up on bicycles as portrayed in last week's SMH Sydney Magazine' but in reality this sexy guy would be up for a chat with the police, a $59 fine or a day in court the latter of which would then automatically mean a $67 bill for the Victim's Compensation Levy (VCL)!!!

With regards to my grossly unfair VCL bill & current battle with AG's Dept, I finally received a letter from the AG himself:

$ No - he will not grant me an exemption, in fact no-one will, AND

$ Yes - I still have to pay this arbitrary tax for this victimless crime, BUT

$ I might be interested to hear that last month NSW pollies decided that at a date to be decided maybe the VCL oughtn't apply to section 10(1)(a) dismissals anymore (YAY!), HOWEVER

$ this restored state of affairs would not retrospectively apply to me, THEREFORE

$ I must cough up money to settle my exponentially-rising VCL bill pronto!

BAD LAWS TOTALLY SUCK!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Aussie helmet law sees another cyclist in court


(Heading home down Liverpool Street)


(See you later / in a bit!)


(Disappearing into the Friday arvo melee)

Australian legislators continue to tie up valuable citizen, police, & court time with their blinkered insistence of bicycle helmet regulation. Consequently, in the Downing Centre today, another conscientious helmet-objector took the stand to argue his innocence by way of the defence of necessity.

Dan Woodall was ably assisted by Dr Veronica Harris (child psychologist) and Prof Chris Rissel (professor of public health at Sydney University) both of whom lent considerable weight to the elements of immanency and necessary belief.

For immanency, Dan argued that it is essential for him and his children to spend as much time with each other as possible (after all decreased father & child time is a risk to the family) & that the best way for him to maximise this beneficial time together is to use a bicycle for transport as opposed to any other method.

Dr Harris expressed that it was entirely reasonable for any father to undertake to spend more time with his children, and that if such a father was able to organise his affairs to do this, 'Dad-time' would be immensely beneficial. Moreover, research indicates that small children are 'solidly at an advantage' to have intensive 'Dad-time' bearing in mind their particular needs at this age, and cognitive retention rates.

Yet the law places Dan in an impossible position as it insists that he must wear a helmet should he decide to use a bicycle despite his necessary belief that helmets increase risk of serious head injury.

Prof Rissel recounted that there was a long history of head injuries attached to cycling, and that if someone believed that angular acceleration, diffuse axonal injury, and the risk compensation factor of helmet wearing increased their chances of serious head injury then this was a reasonable belief.

But this is Australia, and at the end of the day no matter how much the court accepted Dan's evidence supported by his experts' evidence, it remained constrained by the intent of the regulation. Thus Dan received a mixed bag of 'curial' goodies to take home by way of 1 small fine, a s10(1)(a) dismissal & an outright dismissal.

Importantly for all of us, Dan had his day in court, was truly heard, and was 'the' most eloquent & persuasive advocate for himself & for all bicycle users in Australia who would like to be free to choose their own hat options!

Brilliant, Dan, absolutely brilliant!!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Who needs scientific fact when there's populism?



All the world can see that it's not 'cycling' that causes trouble for cycling but 'motoring'

All the world can see that it's not people using bicycles who are the problem but people using cars

BUT...

Only Australian politicians see people using biycles as a menace

&...

Only Australian politicians continue to blame cyclists for what is a global transport & ecological problem...

MOTORISTS

Monday, October 24, 2011

My opinion is not one Greens MPs share



Totally gutted!

* Tooth Fairy

* Father Christmas

* Easter Bunny

...now Bob

...what's left to believe in?

(Certainly not Occupy Wallstreet!)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The new Must-Have" Porsche

(Photos: Sydney Morning Herald, 21/10/2011)



Car people must be getting anxious! - the above porsche ad appeared in the 'Drive' part of the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday!!! - 'why is it so?!'

...& on a completely different tangent, can anyone explain how, if officialdom is so determined to remove all risk from our lives, OH&S works in a military setting?