Saturday, October 31, 2009

Are the butterflies in my stomach wearing helmets?

...they must be because I'm feeling so sick with fear - I am certainly no Joan of Arc! - no I am a 'gutless wonder' - oh! dear! but I'm also like one of those baby turtles who is hard-wired for heading down to the water's edge despite the eagles and gulls or whatever it is that prey upon them - I have started this journey to 'cycling freedom' and I can sense it just across the sand, it's just that it's a bit tricky getting there BUT there is no stopping me now!

Monday is almost here and I'm madly preparing a 'notice of motion' with an accompanying affidavit to set out my grounds for appeal. What am I hoping for? Well I'm hoping I will be granted to leave to introduce 'fresh evidence' in order to hear more from my expert witness, Bill Curnow, who was so brusquely dismissed in the Local Court. Bill has written many internationally peer reviewed articles on the issue of 'diffuse axonal injury' and the increased likelihood of such an injury when we don helmets - in fact Bill is the last word on some of these papers.

So I have 2 more sleepless nights to get through, a mind that is racing and refuses to go to bed, plus an amazing long suffering partner - jeez! is he fed-up with helmets and soap-boxes (talking of which does anyone know where I can find one? - soap-box that is) - thank god for this blog!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where have all our cycling organisations gone? - why are you hiding?

The continued attempt by the media to villify cycling is only surpassed by the deafening silence from Australia's cycling organisations. Columnists have imperiously claimed that roads are for cars, and consequently support the notion of a motorists's 'no-fault' default should a collision with a cyclist arise.

We are on our own with this ignorant stance - and meanwhile the rest of the world is busily planning their little hearts out for their cyclists and their citizens and their future.

(I'm embarrassed, but if you can stomach the rant below, it is typical of the australian press and their blatant preference for motorists over cyclists):

...hey Miranda! the roads are for me too!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"If you want to use our roads, you must obey the law"

Salutory article in the Sydney Morning Herald today confirms that the New South Wales government remains committed to helmet manufacturers and the oil industry.

With the media's help, it shouldn't be long before utility cycling is 'demonised' back into oblivion, and the 'sport of cycling' can reclaim their definition of this dangerous activity - you know that 'extreme pastime' that requires lycra, helmets, minimalist gloves and $1,000 bikes weighing in at an ounce

...but wait up! - let's hang on to the ground that we've made with our new utility bikes, and our new life-style ways, and insist that Sydney and Australia extend equitable entitlements to us - for 'congestion's' sake if nothing else!

Just an article of spin and so blatantly 'rubbish' - oh god! and to think Lars Rasmussen has invited Kevin Rudd to be a 'friend of the chair' in Copenhagen - what can our PM possibly say to the Danish PM that doesn't involve 'hot air'?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Question of survival

There is abundant evidence that questions the benefits of helmet-wearing; evidence which Australia declines to acknowledge. Ever since mandatory helmet laws were enacted in the early 90s, cycling in this nation has dropped dramatically. Yet Australia refuses to have this debate and resolutely stands by the very notion of common sense so silkily propounded by the helmet & lycra manufacturers. Cycling has been hi-jacked, and as a result we, in Australia, steadily get fatter and fatter. Public policy religiously maintains that there are economical benefits to helmet wearing but there are minimal stats to demonstrate that doggedly-held claim.

Parallel to issue of benefits, is the issue of the environment. Inexplicably, Australia continues to leave the environment languishing on the sidelines as we cement ourselves more and more to the car, bitumen and the oil industry. We have the perfect climate for cycling and some beautiful cities for cycling in as well, but we lack political will. How embarrassed will Australia be when we get to Copenhagen? We have nothing to show at the global ‘Show & Tell’, and even the rental bike schemes such as Velib so popular around the world cannot get off the ground because of the ridiculous Australian helmet hurdle (Brisbane and Melbourne have tried but cannot get their heads out of their helmets).

So yes! the environment is a question of survival every time I get on my bicycle because we cannot escape the dire consequences that we have already meted out to the planet. We have to face the imminent and immediate peril that we, the West, have caused for so many nations with our wanton misuse of resources. It really isn't a question of tackling climate change in the future, if and when it happens - climate change is here, right now and therefore it's a question of a tackling climate change now. So every time I get on my bicycle as far as I'm concerned it is a 'crisis situation' and a 'question of survival' for both the environment and me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"For the term of your natural life"

We have some deeply mystifying laws in Australia and one of the more dense ones relates to bicycle helmets. As a result I am now a convicted criminal, my first conviction ever, after being pulled over by an unmarked highway patrol car earlier this year and issued with an infringement notice for not wearing a helmet whilst riding a bicycle.

In a bid for the right to be able to manage my life for myself, and therefore be able to choose to ride a bicycle without a helmet, I went through the court process knowing that the odds were always against me. We are not fortunate enough to have any human rights provisions in Australia either constitutionally or statutorily so my extremely narrow recourse to the courts had to be articulated with the defence of necessity.

... and so my matter was heard in the Local Court on Monday 28th September 2009, and as to be expected I was found guilty as charged, although there was a chance I may not have been convicted if I had promised to "behave" for 3 months, and wear a helmet whenever I cycled - I would not have been able to do that so I refused the opportunity.

I have lodged an appeal in the District Court...and oh! I think I am planning to defend myself - I can't afford another $3,000!!...and because of my beliefs and my committement to the environment, my four children, and the planet, I shall continue with utility cycling in an unhelmeted fashion.

Verdict to date: I am a convicted criminal for life for riding a bicycle without a helmet - what a country!

To Vélib or not to Vélib - that is the question

I was in Paris when Vélib was introduced, and marvelled at this extraordinary public bicycle rental programme that overnight seemed to take off like 'wild-fire.'

Reciprocity at its best - JCDecaux advertising corporation scratches Paris' back for exclusive control of many of the city-owned hoardings and in return Paris scratches JCDecaux's back for all the revenue from the programme as well as a fee of close to US$5 million a year!!

So as is their wont, the 'start-up' / 'blue-sky'people brought the concept to our shores in boardroom-whiteboard form, and both Brisbane and Melbourne comtemplated it seriously, several times, BUT unsurprisingly, given that no bicycle organisation can ever get their heads out of their helmets, the last little logistical leap could not be taken into bicycle freedom - sigh! - so infantile!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Moon in my hair

I cycled home just before 'pumpkin hour' last night, and between me and the moon was the most beautiful gossamer fog(!) which sort of spread into my hair!!! - it was beautiful and as I travelled towards home along the corrugated road, I could feel dairy cows gaze at me whilst I cycled with the moon in my hair! - surreal and silent!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pourquoi pas, madame?!

The Question is - Why don't i like helmets?
...and in a 'nutshell'...
The Answer is - it's a question of survival - mine and yours and the planet's!

...let's explore the 2 major multi-layered issues:

1. human rights
- self-determination
- responsible public policy, not one underpinned by commercial 'blackmail'
- opportunity to enjoy the immediate health benefits of cycling
- cycling culture, therefore more cyclists and 'safety-in-numbers' factor
- attendant human rights abuses upon millions of people as a result of climate change
- misleading & deceptive advertising coupled with duress & abuse of fair trading practices
- our children and their future

2. the environment
- climate change - it's happening 'NOW' - not 'if' and 'when'
- current over-committment to 'oil power'
- necessary committment to 'pedal power'
- responsible commuting - 'way-more' trains, 'way-more buses', assistance with our bikes on trains and buses, introduction of Vélib, the bike-share programme, or similar
- responsible tourism - again...introduction of Vélib or similar
- cycling infrastructure - ie cycle lanes, cycle-parks, bike racks, bike sheds
- our children and their future

...notice how everything always comes back to survival? - mine, yours and the planet's - it truly is a question of necessity, your honour!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The 'Blog' Plunge

I have become very 'single issue' so maybe this blog is the answer - my friends and family no longer want to hear about helmets and sadly that's all i can think about - never blogged before so this little exercise is a first!

So let's start: my appeal is lodged and i appear for a 'call-over' in the District Court on monday 2 november in order to set a date for a hearing early next year, with luck after 19 february 2010, my admission date! I plan to represent myself - student to 'overnight-barrister' - omg!!