Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Politicians’ Roads Addiction Is Killing Us

Did you know that vehicle emissions cause 40% more deaths than road toll?

According to a Melbourne University summary of findings published in April this year, there is a direct link between the level of our air pollution and detrimental health consequences, with research suggesting links between air pollution and bladder cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, lung cancers and respiratory infections in our children and our elderly.
Yet most of us are not overly concerned by our air quality here in the Upper Hunter.
We live in this beautiful part of the Hunter Valley, enjoying our seemingly clear skies and fresh country air, in reality oblivious to the toxic invisible air-soup we breathe.
 It is not for no reason that we have air-quality monitoring stations in Aberdeen and Merriwa, and if you subscribe to the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage air quality alerts like I do, it is always chilling to receive the information text messages when our local air quality breaches national standards yet again.
And now we are about to add a bypass in Scone, as well as a 24 hour truck stop in Murrurundi and potentially a 24 hour truck stop in Aberdeen. Health-wise, none of this is good news.
Four days ago the Sydney Morning Herald reported that new analysis shows “Australia’s love affair with diesel cars has helped push the nation’s energy emissions to a record high” warning the Turnbull government  that “road transport rivals electricity as the most pressing energy challenge.”
The ultra-fine particles emitted from all vehicles including new cars and trucks are inhaled by us all travelling through our bloodstreams and central nervous systems before lodging deep inside our brains, hearts and other organs. These ultra-fine particles also penetrate our skin and can spread through our lymphatic systems. And for those of us who live or work near busy roads including our children in schools and childcare centres, the situation is far far worse.
And we wonder why child asthma is so high in the Hunter Valley..
If we keep building roads and facilitating 24 hour truck stops, we will just keep adding to the mix of contaminated air which in turn will just keep 'driving' premature deaths.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Big Helma Big Oil ... this is Australia


Somebody else's photo on planetary catastrophe; meanwhile in Australia, politicians worry about plastic hats for cyclists

 Guilty as charged, of course, what did I expect really? Recent Adelaide outcome not different to any of the others ... sigh.

Grand total is now 7 convictions for the crime of riding a bicycle to the shops without a plastic hat, and that has taken up approximately 40 court appearances.

Essentially here in Australia we must not be active, we must keep polluting, we must keep killing Australian citizens with shocking air unfit to breathe that breaches even our own pathetic attempt at box ticking, we must keep wasting police and court resources, we must keep doffing our hats to Australian academics who never actually make the case for helmet law but still keep getting loaded opinions published by a sychophantic media who rarely follow the money ... sigh.

Grow up, Australia, bicycle helmet law perpetuates outrageous behaviour on the part of fossil fuel industries and their lobbyists (aka Australian politicians).

We have a rubbish public transport system, we have zero encouragement for active transport, we are a nation of tubbies, and we continue to send numerous Australian academics and Australian bureaucrats on paid-for junkets to transport symposiums and bicycle Velo-Cities held in lovely destinations all round the world.

And most galling of all, those very same policy geeks and mandarins, those earnest devotees of mandatory helmet laws in Australia so often at these wanky 'going-nowhere-proving-nothing events' throw 'Australian caution to the wind' and ride helmetless on provided complimentary bicycles.

All Australian politicians and bureaucrats suck period

... ok, most.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Australia is such a toddler

Moobi Road, Scone
Threatened with arrest, ride in the paddy wagon, and prospect of having to apply for bail - jeeeez it's been a bruising end to the week ... sigh.

So to recount, on Thursday my February and April matters were heard in the Scone Local Court.

As per last time (Adelaide) I ran with the Medical Device argument (you know the drill!), and essentially the prosecution just sat back and let the magistrate do all the work proving that I was guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Handed down two convictions, costs and fines, and a reminder that I could appeal his decision within 28 days if I wanted to (very tempted), I was summarily despatched and sent on my merry way.

And then we came to Friday.

Back in town for the usual hoo-ha that we have to go to town for, I was pulled over twice by Upper Hunter police in two separate police vehicles in a matter of 20 minutes - lights, sirens, action!

I have to say that after eight years of this caper, roadside conversations with the police seem to be getting sillier, and being asked yesterday was I not concerned that by 'not' wearing a helmet I might be 'tempting fate' left me momentarily speechless. After a brief pause I said that I did not dabble in such nonsense and that I was surprised by the question given that I thought the police only dealt with facts and evidence ... sigh.

But it was the second lot who were truly shitty with me and raised the spectre of punishing me for 'continuation-of-the-offence' offence - yes, how would I like to be arrested, and to be put in the back of the paddy wagon and taken to the station with bail conditions applied?

I wouldn't.

Ordered off my bicycle, I was told to walk it notwithstanding that I was 6km from home

And so I pushed my bike to within 2km when luck would have it that my knight in a not very shining mazda drove past and collected me, bike, baskets and all.

Bugger hey - it's back to the nanna trolley and walking ...

...  and the odd Christiania ride like today when I 'paid' that knight of mine a compliment ("you look dashing in your shorts, dear")

...and hitched a lift with him
...  to the Farmers' Markets in town!

Australia is so very infantile ... how much longer do we have to put up with this redundant state of affairs?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Minister Pavey, my helmet exemption request?


Berlin where cyclists are not impeded by ignorant bicycle helmet laws
Dear Melinda,

Please could someone actually address the issues I laid out in my correspondence to you concerning my request for a bicycle helmet exemption. To date I have had fatuous replies essentially stating that bicycle helmets make you safer period which completely ignores the crux of my request.

For your information, I have put this argument to a magistrate in the South Australian Magistrates Court in Adelaide. The magistrate has reserved judgment and is now taking two months to read the entire Therapeutic Goods Act.

I will be putting this same argument to a magistrate in the Scone Local Court at the end of this month.

You have the power to give me an exemption under the provisions of regulation 256 (link corrected just now at 23:52 hrs) of the Australian Road Rules.

Please address this matter rather than palming it off to another department.

You do not need to change or repeal the regulation, all you have to do is grant me the exemption as I have requested.

Thank you in anticipation.

Kind regards,
Sue Abbott

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Waiting Game

 
Trephina Gorge, nr Alice Springs, Central Australia
(photo credit: Richard Abbott)

Last Monday seems months ago!

Adelaide, wet, cold, windy, off I headed to the Magistrates Court.

In defence of my unhelmeted cycling behaviour, I raised section 41BD (1)(a) of the Therapeutic Goods Act interspersed with the relevant table and columns from Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No.1 of 2011. I also mentioned bicycle helmet law was a law of oppression and privilege, and that there were very few middle-aged to elderly women like me on the roads anymore, cycling purely for transit purposes, and that Australia was the poorer for it.

And the result ...

... judgment has been reserved for two months so that the magistrate can read the entire 300 page Therapeutic Goods Act in addition to the material I raised.

Whatever the eventual outcome I feel quite uplifted because essentially I was heard, and am to be considered most carefully.

And now after a quick detour to the Outback, dry, cold, starry, I am heading home with my daughter's car and my beloved ... funtimes

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Australia: Land of helmet laws & fossil fuels

Berlin not Adelaide
I am in Adelaide
Typing, printing, downloading, printing

 ... not cycling.

Another bicycle helmet trial tomorrow.

Will the Therapeutic Goods Act save me this time?
Or serve me up 'conviction no.5'?

... not cycling

Will keep you posted.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Helmet Exemption PLEEEEEEEZE

Photo credit: Nancy Steward, Next Bikes in Berlin

Dear Melinda,

I would like an exemption from wearing a bicycle helmet and here are the reasons why:

The provisions of regulation 256 state that:

(1) The rider of a bicycle must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider’s head, unless the rider is exempt from wearing a bicycle helmet under another law of this jurisdiction.

I believe that the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 supports my case for an exemption in that a bicycle helmet can be classified as a medical device meaning I need to provide informed consent or informed refusal before I adopt such a device or not.

The Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 is Federal legislation and therefore has jurisdiction over all state laws.

Inter alia section 41 BD (1) (a) ofthe Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 provides that:

(1) A medical device is:
(a) any instrument, apparatus, appliance, material or other article (whether used alone or in combination, and including the software necessary for its proper application) intended, by the person under whose name it is or is to be supplied, to be used for human beings for the purpose of one or more of the following;
(iii) investigation, replacement or modification of the anatomy or of a physiological process;

A bicycle helmet is an ‘apparatus’ that is used by ‘human beings’ for the purpose of ‘modification of the anatomy’ ostensibly to provide protection on Australian roads.

However section 41 BD (3) of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 provides that:

3) The Secretary may, by order published in the Gazette or on the Department's website, declare that a particular instrument, apparatus, appliance, material or other article, or that a particular class of instruments, apparatus, appliances, materials or other articles, are not, for the purposes of this Act, medical devices.

… though interestingly it is noted under sub-section (3) of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 that: A declaration under this section does not stop articles from being therapeutic goods.

Notwithstanding the note, the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No.1 of 2011 specifically excludes non-sterile protective or safety apparel or equipment used in the home or for occupational or recreational use from regulation by the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.

It would appear that bicycle helmets could be captured by this exclusion but only contingent with the dictated circumstances set out in Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No.1 of 2011.

I do not use a bicycle helmet in the home or for occupational use or recreational use because I do not use a bicycle in the home or for occupational use or recreational use. I only use a bicycle for transit purposes. ‘Non-sterile protective or safety apparel or equipment’ for this type of behaviour is not prescribed in the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No.1 of 2011.

Prima facie a bicycle helmet in my circumstances is a medical device and not an excluded good, and therefore requires my informed consent or informed refusal with regard to whether I wear one or not.

Therefore the reason that you will accept that I should be granted an exemption to wearing a bicycle helmet is because section 41 BD (1)(a)(iii) of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 defines a bicycle helmet as a medical device, and also because of the way I use a bicycle cannot exclude a bicycle helmet from regulation by the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 under the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No.1 of 2011.

Using a bicycle for transit allows a bicycle helmet to come under the provisions of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and therefore can be defined as a medical device.

To conclude whilst regulation 256 of the NSW Road Rules 2014 provides that the rider of a bicycle must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider’s head, unless the rider is exempt from wearing a bicycle helmet under another law of this jurisdiction, in my interpretation of the law the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 provides me with reasons for exemption from wearing a bicycle helmet.

Melinda, I have to say this is all so daft - I have a trial in Adelaide next Monday 17 July for bicycle helmet crime followed by two further bicycle helmet crime matters rolled into one in the Scone Local Court. I could end up with three more criminal convictions which will make a total of seven criminal convictions for the Australian crime of riding a bicycle without a helmet.

We are outliers in the world on this issue, and rapidly becoming outliers on many other issues too. The world is not impressed with us what with air pollution that breaches World Health Organisation standards, the prospect of Adani coal mine going ahead, the death of the Great Barrier Reef , motor vehicle traffic toll, obesity, inactivity. Yet for all this I am the one who is consistently punished for my very innocuous transport habits.

This particular request is about an exemption for me and I need an answer to that query.

When I wrote to you earlier this year asking for this, I received a very obtuse reply from your department stating and quoting the usual guff provided by the usual guff-producing academics that Australia so loves to engage with ... but nothing pertaining to the actual issue in hand which was 'can I have an exemption please?'

I rang your department and raised this issue with them, and was informed that the inference would have been that I did not get one. Notwithstanding I pointed out to your staff that there was nowhere in the letter that actually spelt that premise out. Once again I was informed by your staff that the presumption was I did not get one but yet again I pointed out there was no one part of the letter where either of us could see where the presumption might be at play and given that the bicycle helmet punitive system is so precise I actually do want it spelt out. The conversation finished with your staff member saying that they would hopefully get back to me the next day (I so wanted to say 'hopefully doth butter no parsnips' in true Joe Lycett style but resisted the temptation).

Anyway that is several months ago now and in the meantime I have been cycling around the world sans helmet: London, Dublin, Paris, Torbole, Arco, Rive Del Garda, Berlin, and I might add Scone as well since I got home - the world has been mine and any available bicycle's oyster.

Please, Melinda, grant me an exemption so that I can tell Australian courts starting from next Monday what they would really like to hear.

Kind regards,
Sue Abbott (Scone)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My issue is their denial of evidence

The Mall (helmet-free if you want)
Photo credit: Georgie Abbott

Whilst she gets her shit together in order to change (?) bicycle helmet law, I have written to our newly annointed Roads, Maritime and Freight minister requesting an exemption from wearing a bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle!

And because I wrote a letter I had to get a reply and boy was it a doozy ... an utterly obtuse response from staffers.

In their usual binary way they quote stats to me which when reversed make out cycling with a helmet to be getting more and more dangerous by the day ... oop la!
They say:
- 24% cycling fatalities NOT wearing helmets
- 19% cycling injuries NOT wearing helmets
- 15% all cycling casualties NOT wearing helmet


So I say back to them:
- 76% cycling fatalities WEARING helmets
- 81% cycling injuries WEARING helmets
- 85% all cycling casualties WEARING helmets

Hmmm which appears more dangerous?

Methinks their framework doth make them look oh so silly

And continuing with Matters Bicycle-And-A-Waste-Of-Time I have received a Court Attendance Notice (CAN) requesting (actually ordering) me to turn up to the Local Court in Scone.

This occasion will be a 'mention' where I literally get to mention my matter and request another date for a 'defended hearing.' However as per normal I have to bear in mind that the magistrate may not grant me another date and may insist on hearing my submissions right there and then ...

So ...

I am ready, and the crux of my argument is essentially the following argument:

The provisions of regulation 256 state that:

(1) The rider of a bicycle must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider’s head, unless the rider is exempt from wearing a bicycle helmet under another law of this jurisdiction.

I believe that the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 supports my case for an exemption in that a bicycle helmet can be classified as a medical device meaning I need to provide informed consent or informed refusal before I adopt such a device or not.

The Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 is Federal legislation and therefore has jurisdiction over all state laws.

Inter alia section 41 BD (1) (a) ofthe Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 provides that:

(1) A medical device is:
(a) any instrument, apparatus, appliance, material or other article (whether used alone or in combination, and including the software necessary for its proper application) intended, by the person under whose name it is or is to be supplied, to be used for human beings for the purpose of one or more of the following;
(iii) investigation, replacement or modification of the anatomy or of a physiological process;

A bicycle helmet is an ‘apparatus’ that is used by ‘human beings’ for the purpose of ‘modification of the anatomy’ ostensibly to provide protection on Australian roads.

However section 41 BD (3) of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 provides that:

3) The Secretary may, by order published in the Gazette or on the Department's website, declare that a particular instrument, apparatus, appliance, material or other article, or that a particular class of instruments, apparatus, appliances, materials or other articles, are not, for the purposes of this Act, medical devices.

… though interestingly it is noted under sub-section (3) of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 that: A declaration under this section does not stop articles from being therapeutic goods.

Notwithstanding the note, the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No.1 of 2011 specifically excludes non-sterile protective or safety apparel or equipment used in the home or for occupational or recreational use from regulation by the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.

It would appear that bicycle helmets could be captured by this exclusion but only contingent with the dictated circumstances set out in Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No.1 of 2011.

I do not use a bicycle helmet in the home or for occupational use or recreational use because I do not use a bicycle in the home or for occupational use or recreational use. I only use a bicycle for transit purposes. ‘Non-sterile protective or safety apparel or equipment’ for this type of behaviour is not prescribed in the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No.1 of 2011.

Prima facie a bicycle helmet in my circumstances is a medical device and not an excluded good, and therefore requires my informed consent or informed refusal with regard to whether I wear one or not.

Therefore the reason that you will accept that I should be granted an exemption to wearing a bicycle helmet is because section 41 BD (1)(a)(iii) of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 defines a bicycle helmet as a medical device, and also because of the way I use a bicycle cannot exclude a bicycle helmet from regulation by the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 under the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No.1 of 2011.

Using a bicycle for transit allows a bicycle helmet to come under the provisions of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and therefore can be defined as a medical device.

To conclude whilst regulation 256 of the NSW Road Rules 2014 provides that the rider of a bicycle must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider’s head, unless the rider is exempt from wearing a bicycle helmet under another law of this jurisdiction, in my interpretation of the law the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 provides me with reasons for exemption from wearing a bicycle helmet.

So here's hoping I have a little more luck in court this time ... and as per usual I shall keep you posted!

Oh this is all so daft - air pollution that breaches World Health Organisation standards, prospect of Adani coal mine going ahead and destroying the Great Barrier Reef completely, motor vehicle traffic toll, obesity, inactivity, and I'm the one punished ... 

... dumb dumb dumb australian australian australian 

Sigh

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ever Ready For War

My father's wing
 I carry this wing with me wherever I go; whether it's to defend myself in court, or to put forward motions in council chambers, or to protest in marches against coal and coal seam gas, or to marvel at the beauty of mountains and deserts or to weep whilst gazing upon Rayner Hoff's 'Sacrifice' in the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park.

I carry it everywhere.

It was my father's wing and he wore it on his uniform as a navigator in the Royal Air Force.

Today I remember him even though he wasn't an Anzac.

Actually I remember him every day.

Not a day has passed since he was killed after a birdstrike event in his RAF Jaguar (he ejected but got caught up in an incorrectly packed parachute and so drowned in the Atlantic Ocean), not a day has passed that I have not thought of him ... not a day.
Flt Lt Sean Sparks (my father) Limassol, Cyprus
Most of this post I wrote last year in the midst of my sorrow for the woodchipped trees and animals on Anzac Parade and Alison Road.

Mike Baird was a NSW premier then waiting in the wings for a Big Corpa gig which he got so now we've got Gladys as political head-puppet ... but nothing has changed, only the suit.

We're still getting dodgy light rail, dodgy WestCONnex and dodgy metro trains ... trees and animals continue to be woodchipped, and now we are even having to take to the streets in defence of science.

The world is mad, and no doubt it'll only be a matter of hours before I get the usual hate-mail from US marines ... c'est la blooming vie I suppose ... sigh

People who read my blogs will know that I am no fan of either Anzac Day or Remembrance Day. I hate the jingoism, the constant call to arms, the constant grooming of our young. 

As a child of military generations, I am not held hostage to the 'glory-of-war' mantra, too often trotted out for a political purpose.

Looking at the direct female line in my family I cannot help but note that I am the first woman in four generations whose children reached their 20s with their father in their lives. My great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother were not so lucky - the military and politicians saw to that. I grew up amongst fatherless grandmothers, fatherless mothers, fatherless aunties and uncles, fatherless cousins, fatherless siblings. 

I grew up in a family on the other side of the world, and in my home and in all my relations' homes there were pictures of dead uniformed loved ones always in pride of place. And when I arrived in Australia back in the 80s as a brand new bride married to a civilian (a fact which caused the widows in my family much relief) the family I married into contained the same revered photo of a lost uniformed loved one, similarly in pride of place. His death broke his mother's heart; I know this because the women in this new family of mine told me then, and have continued to do so over the past 30 years. 

This young man, the son of my husband's grandmother, was 21 years old and he died in France on the 9th November 1918 from bronchitis and pneumonia. In his soft gentle picture I see my husband and my children and I weep for him and his heartbroken mother. 

And I know that this story plays out in millions of Australian households, all equally touched and scarred by the emotional war-wounds of losing loved ones, emotional war-wounds that fester over generations. Contrary to the 'freedom-and-this-way-of-life' spin, it turns out they all died for #BigCorpa, lobby groups and politicians. 

Shame on all politicians who glorify war and bow down to the commercial whims of market players who ruthlessly make a buck or a billion out of the misery of others ... shame on them all.

And back to the subject of Anzac Parade, our once beautiful living memorial to those Anzacs who marched down Randwick Road, before it was renamed in their honour after Gallipoli, those Anzacs who marched from Victoria Barracks to Circular Quay, those Anzacs we shipped off to death and destruction, those very same Anzacs whom we purport to commemorate today, how could our politicians have so wilfully desecrated such an important site of mourning and remembrance, how could they have desecrated one of the world's most beautiful war memorials and then still turn up to Anzac Day commemorations? 

I will never forgive them.

'Lest We Forget' those past ... present ... and those to come ... 




... weep.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

My Shire Notes: Things That Keep Me Awake At Night (Director's Cut)

Bayswater Power Station, Upper Hunter, New South Wales)

Every week in our local (and slowly dying) paper an Upper Hunter Shire councillor writes a column entitled 'Shire Notes.' Given that there are nine councillors, I get (yes I was elected last September 2016) a turn every 9 weeks. Here are my latest ones.

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

Last week (Wednesday 29th March 2017) I attended the ‘Power Stations and Our Health Community Workshop’ held at the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music in Muswellbrook. 

It was chilling. 

According to Dr Ben Ewald from Doctors of the Environment the Upper Hunter community pays a high cost for the polluted air billowing out from our coal-fired power stations. We pay through heart disease, lung disease and asthma. There are no safe levels of pollution and both Bayswater and Liddell are health hazards to our community.

Despite the Australian government allowing coal-fired power stations to belch out a much higher level of polluting emissions than the World Health Organisation advises, Muswellbrook’s air quality shows air pollution levels beyond even our own paltry standard. 

There are five monitoring sites in the Upper Hunter, and the data collected tells us we have a problem.

The main pollutants from Bayswater and Liddell are sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and small invisible particulate matter referred to as PM2.5 (product of combustibles), and they are absorbed through our lungs into our bloodstream where they can cause angina, heart attacks and strokes. Unsurprisingly, children are at an extreme risk from this toxic mix of air pollution.

Two AGL representatives at the workshop noted that Liddell is due for retirement in 2022 and Bayswater in 2035. But what concerns Doctors for the Environment is that closure schedules all too often pit commercial interests against health damage, and consequently power stations are retired first on economic grounds rather than health.

Bearing in mind that our power stations could actually close earlier than forecast, Doctors for the Environment raised the spectre that Australian governments are ill-prepared in creating new jobs and new industries for the inevitable transition away from coal-fired power stations. It is all a great worry.

The proposed Scone Bypass is also causing me concern.

The loss of part of the Bill Rose Sporting Complex, the impact on the Golf Club and White Park, the unsightliness of a significantly raised road through the floodplain area of Parson’s Gully and Kingdon Ponds … how is any of this going to improve our town?

The apparent minimal community discussion RMS have had (or not had) on the environmental and social impacts of the bypass alarm me. Whilst the removal of trucks from our high street has been flagged as a significant driver for the bypass, will we not also be removing essential traffic required for business along Kelly Street?

Yes Council is working hard with local stakeholders to have our town ready when the bypass is complete but this project is essentially about motorway building and the moving of freight on a national integrated system of super roads.

Today’s roads have morphed into mobile warehouses, and Scone bypass will be an imposed environmental grievance with lasting impacts on our town.

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

She's on the road again - oh no

Freedom fun on a bicycle
Booked again!

But this time right near my home, I mean right near my driveway which is pretty weird as I live almost 9kms out of town, and the last two are dirt and down a dead end.

Well to recount the saga, I had heard a car behind me on the very last hairpin bend before my house, and like all vehicles on my road it had been going very slowly and very carefully, so I started my customary wave as the car was passing (because I know everybody on this patch of the road and so wave to all) and then I saw it was the police, so then I was thinking "Oh dear I wonder what's happened down the road" and then they pulled over in front of me and said "Oh Sue ..."

I was amazed, and thought maybe they were hand delivering the last penalty notice but after a quick chat I remembered I had received it and had already applied for a court date (so many to keep up with!). And then they said to me that I might have my supporters in town but I also had my detractors and they'd received a call from someone who had said to them "she's on the road again ... without a helmet!"

Crime reported and here they were keeping the streets of Scone and environs safe and sound - astonishing.

No kidding, I am flabberghasted - I am clearly pissing someone off who is clearly none to impressed with me being a local councillor and a law breaker.

How incredibly exhausting!

What a funny country I live in ... and how extremely quiet my little country village is too - just shows you that nothing's happening of any note that requires some  serious policing ... sigh

... anyhoo tomorrow I post my application to the Roads Minister for a helmet exemption under the provisions of the Therapeutic Goods Act ... and I shall definitely keep you posted.

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more ...."

Sigh

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Australia is getting its bicycle mojo back

Photo: @melbournecrank, Helmet Optional Ride
The inspiring protest ride in Melbourne last weekend has made me determined to get back on my bicycle again in the Upper Hunter.

Frankly, it makes no sense for me (or the planet for that matter) to stay off it for the next four years.

I've thought long and hard about the 'role model'/'law breaker' dichotomy and I have come to the conclusion that as a participant in a democracy I have a responsibility to challenge bad laws, and given the glacial response from most legislative councils/assemblies/senates/HouseOfRepresentatives regarding statutory amendments and/or changes, another avenue to effect legislative change is through peaceful protest and non-violent direct action.

So I am going to dust off my darling Giant Suede (which luckily for me didn't sell!), I am going to pump up my tyres and I am going to channel my inner Sally McManus!!!

On my bike, me!!!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Helmet optional ride removes barriers to cycling

What a day!
Sunshine
Hats
Kids
 More hats
Bikes
Mikes
And even a pre-protest fine!
 From Green Park Cafe to Abbottsford, 100 protestors took to the streets and cycleways to make the point that:

... Australia's mandatory bicycle helmet law is a bad law and needs removing pronto. 
The protestors chose for themselves whether to don helmets or not, and safely made it to their designated destination for lunch and a chance to explain to Channel Nine why any barriers to cycling were a bad idea and why the rest of the world thinks we're nuts.
Notwithstanding having been fully informed of the protestors intentions, the police were not evident at any part of the protest ride. Protestors and organisers found this lack of police interest most heartening, although one unfortunate protestor did score a penalty infringement notice prior to the protest ride.

Protestors came from far and wide including one from the Gold Coast and one (yours truly) from the Hunter Valley.

And so it was that a peaceful protest on an idyllic autumn day in an idyllic Australian city showcased how marvellous cycling could be in this confused nation of ours if we only got rid of mandatory helmet laws.

It's time, Australian politicians, it's time ...




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Yes we have Coles in Scone but no REDcycle

Our plastic situation has really got to me, and whilst Scone Coles is taking back my weekly collection of their scrunchable plastics this service isn't officially rolled out yet and I'm aware not everyone is prepared to be potentially rejected should that happen ... not that it would because staff are lovely at our Coles.
Anyhoo the tweets below show my conversation to date with Coles' Social Media peeps somewhere in the cyber ether. Certainly promising but not concrete yet.

We need this REDcycle bin and I won't let up till we have it!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Adelaide Bicycle Helmet Trial Date

I ❤ Adelaide
Filenote:
- Had standard conference with Magistrate & Police Prosecutor in Adelaide Magistrates Court this morning via telephone (✔)

- Totally agreed with police statements - rider riding bicycle without helmet ()

- Homework given - read Tkachenko v Police [2012] SASC (11 May 2012) (✔)

- New trial date set Monday 17th July 2017, 09:30am sharp, Adelaide Magistrates Court, Adelaide (✔)

Note to self:
- Book flights

- Book hotel 

- Fine tune defence

Monday, February 27, 2017

Adelaide postponed


This time it was me asking for the trial date to be vacated. Too many bushfires too close to our place plus a few other things to boot.

After brief teleconference this morning with magistrate and co, matter postponed to the Ides of March (format; pre-trial teleconferece I think, don't need to be in Adelaide so not a trial).

Will keep you posted.

(PS it's raining in the Hunter Valley)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Table talk: NSW politicians and me on bicycle helmet law

Me, Melinda Pavey & Michael Johnsen
What a week it's been! ... and yes the Minister for Roads and the Member for Upper Hunter have a new fan!

Having publicly divested myself of cycling opportunities to use my bicycle in the Upper Hunter Shire last week, since I was in Randwick yesterday I used the one parked in my sister's garage to attend a meeting at Parliament House with my local representative the Hon. Michael Johnsen MP (Member for Upper Hunter) and the Hon. Melinda Pavey MP (Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight) to discuss my position on mandatory bicycle helmet law ...

... and they listened.

They gave me the opportunity to express my frustration at this uniquely Australian compulsion ... and I did.

We discussed how mandatory helmet law (MHL) has created such a significant barrier to cycling especially to older women such as me, and how any barrier to cycling is always a shame. And yes we discussed hair and how that is an issue for women even if it isn't for me because we all know nothing could squash my crazy hair!

We discussed my long running legal saga and what a waste of police resources and court time and money that has been.

We touched upon health issues and our nation's obesity problem continuously gobbling up precious resources in the health system, and the need to get more people on bicycles.

We discussed the lack of all-age helmet compulsion in other countries such as Scandinavia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, Ireland, how the US and Canada have a mish-mash of helmet requirments in certain states and provinces but not the blanket all-age helmet compulsion that we have across our nation across theirs.

We also discussed bike share and how Mexico and Israel got rid of their helmet compulsion when bike share was introduced because they wanted their programmes to succeed unlike our dismal Australian attempts in Melbourne and Brisbane. For the sake of comparison, I pointed out that Melbourne and Dublin both started bike share in their cities at exactly the same time and that Dublin's has been a huge success story whereas Melbourne's has been a monumental fizzer.

We looked at the 'safety-in-numbers' factor and how the more bicycles on the road there are the safer it is, and how much better cycling is in the Northern Territory with their watered down helmet requirements that are far more lenient and therefore don't put up so many barriers to cycling.

And I have to say I was heartened. Yes truly ...

Both politicians ride bicycles and both were open to the view that bicycles provide avenues and opportunities that we are not utilising at the moment. The Minister for Roads said they would re-visit the data, and I urged her not to only look at Australian material which has been so very blinkered to date, but to look at what the international community have to say on this subject as well.

There were no promises made, but this new roads minister was affable and open to suggestions, even on how a new approach could be drafted!

Whether bicycle helmet law is a Department of Roads issue or a Department of Transport is yet to be decided ... but hey, we were talking, we were talking ... and that is certainly something.

Baby steps, I know, but all the same ... baby steps get you somewhere!

Thank you, Melinda Pavey and Michael Johnsen, and I look forward to chatting again very soon!!!!

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

(Note to self for today's TO DO list ... send Freestyle Cyclists' contact details to Road Minister's department)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why I am giving up cycling in the Upper Hunter Shire

I

Today in my local paper, "The Scone Advocate," a letter was published entitled "HOW CAN 'LAW BREAKER' BE ROLE MODEL FOR CYCLISTS?" In a somewhat rather non-21st Century way the Scone Advocate does not publish its letters online therefore I cannot give you the url so I've copied the content and popped it underneath my response which is below in between the two lots of dotted lines (my response that is). Oh and also the urls provided in the letter writer's letter were sourced and added by me in case you wanted to read some context to this flurry of letter writing ... sigh

-------------------------------------------- 
In response to the letter in the Scone Advocate Thursday February 2017 (How can ‘Law Breaker’ be role model for cyclists?’), I would like to thank J McLaughlin for their letter. I understand the premise of their complaint, and completely agree that it must be confusing when viewing the Upper Hunter Shire Council’s (UHSC) excellent bicycle initiative if viewed alongside my personal campaign (which I might add is not condoned by the UHSC) to remove the Australian compulsion to wear mandatory bicycle helmets. 

Therefore in a bid not to compromise the sound community programmes that the UHSC has to offer the shire community I will here on in undertake not to ride my bicycle in Scone or anywhere in the Upper Hunter Shire for the next four years whilst I am serving my time as an elected local government representative.

Naturally outside Australia where there is a large world full of many countries without mandatory bicycle helmet law, I will ride with the rest of my global citizens as I see fit.

Consequently that now means there is a bicycle (the one pictured in the Scone Advocate alongside J McLaughlin’s letter) now idling at my place so if anyone would like to buy a white giant suede, 9 yrs old, one elderly lady rider, it is now for sale for the princely sum of $5,000.00. If sold I will donate all proceeds to the Scone Neighbourhood Resource Centre which is desperately in need of a new home.

If truth be told it has actually become a trifle dangerous cycling in this shire without a helmet what with insults, stones and egg sandwiches occasionally thrown at me whilst on my bicycle.

Once again I would like to take this opportunity to thank J McLaughlin for their salutary reminder that law breakers and role models cannot mix.
Sue Abbott, Scone
--------------------------------------------
Letters to the Editor
HOW CAN "LAW BREAKER" BE ROLE MODEL FOR CYCLISTS?"
I read with interest the article in The Scone Advocate ... Shire Notes: an enlightened new adventure ... Sunday February 12, 2017.
"New bike facility at the Scone Visitor Information and Horse Centre". Very commendable.
But what concerns me greatly is that the article seems also to (self) promote Cr Sue Abbott.
This person has shown a blatant disregard for the Bicycle Laws and bike safety.
This person has been fined many many times for refusing to wear a helmet.
From the Daily Telegraph ... August 15th 2016:
"In a seven year battle against bike helmets Sue Abbott has had her driver's licence suspended, bikes confiscated and four criminal convictions recorded".
How can this person be promoted as a role model for cyclists?
Is the Upper Hunter Shire Council endorsing her actions?
Magistrate Barko dismissed Abbott's linking of helmet laws to climate change as an argument with "no rational reasoning".
Not my words ... the words of a Magistrate ... the woman is irrational.
I reiterate, I think the idea of bike hire (and helmets) is very commendable.
But I also feel the Shire Council is treading on thin ice, both morally and legally, if it continues to use this "law breaker" to promote it.
J McLaughlin, Merriwa

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dear Minister, bicycle helmets are medical devices

Melinda Pavey, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight

Dear Minister,

First congratulations on your cabinet appointment. I look forward to your fresh approach to the Roads and Maritime Services Department as you embark upon your ministerial post.

Now to launch straight in to my communication.

Given that the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No 1 of 2011 specifically excludes non-sterile protective or safety apparel or equipment used in the home or for occupational or recreational use from regulation by the Therapeutic Goods Act (1989) and that bicycle helmets are captured by this order, my reading of the exclusion order leads me to believe that a bicycle helmet is a medical device under the provisions of  section 41BD(1)(a)(iii) of the Therapeutic Goods Act (1989).

I do not use a bicycle helmet in the home or for occupational use or recreational use, and should I choose to wear a bicycle helmet on a bicycle, it would be for the purposes of transport and traffic and not for the purposes for use in the home or for occupation or recreational use.

Prima facie I remain of the opinion that a bicycle helmet in my particular situation is a medical device and therefore requires my informed consent rather than mandatory compulsion.

When it is convenient, I would like to make an appointment with you to discuss Australia's unfortunate issue of bicycle helmet law which has cost and still costs the New South Wales community dearly.

Kind regards,
Sue Abbott

Bicycle helmets medical devices - I think so!


Dear Medical Devices Information Unit,
Thank you for your response to my email.
Given that the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No 1 of 2011 specifically excludes non-sterile protective or safety apparel or equipment used in the home or for occupational or recreational use from regulation by the TGA and that bicycle helmets when presented in the way I presented them to you in my email are captured by this order, I can only conclude that a bicycle helmet is a medical device.
I do not use a bicycle helmet in the home or for occupational use or recreational use, and should I choose to wear a bicycle helmet on a bicycle, it would be for the purposes of transport and traffic and not for the purposes for use in the home or for occupation or recreational use.
Prima facie I remain of the opinion that a bicycle helmet in my particular situation is a medical device and therefore requires my informed consent rather than compulsory regulation by law.
Kind regards,
Sue Abbott

Bicycle helmets are medical devices - yes/no

(The TGA got back to me today!)
Good Afternoon Sue 
Thankyou for your email to the Therapeutic Goods Administration 
The Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No 1 of 2011 specifically excludes non-sterile protective or safety apparel or equipment used in the home or for occupational or recreational use from regulation by the TGA. Bicycle helmets when presented in such a way are captured by this order therefore these products are declared not to be therapeutic products under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.
Hence there are no entries for these products on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
I trust this is of some assistance
Kind regards
Medical Devices Information Unit
Medical Devices Branch
Therapeutic Goods Administration