Friday, December 4, 2009

Were helmet laws always intended to kill off cycling?

Did government need a strategy to reduce the increased number of 'everyday cyclists' that had occurred with road improvements and other safety initiatives in the 1980s? Could it be that government recognised that enforced helmet laws would in effect kill off cycling only leaving the 'already-helmeted-lycra-clad-players' (a group easily regulated, tribal, and equally opposed to 'everyday cyclists')? In the last 20 years these bicycle organisations have assumed the mantle of bicycle experts, and are always referred to on 'matters bicycle'...but seriously what have they done for the 'everyday cyclist'?...and also seriously, were they really necessary to the extent that they developed? - it would never occur to me to belong to a 'grocery shopping group', and I 'grocery shop' all the time just like I 'cycle' all the time, so why does Bicycle NSW have the last word on the way we should all cycle?

Instead of demonising cycling we ought to recapture it for all of us, just like we used to have it, just like our parents and grandparents had it. This short trailer of the "Beauty and the Bike" project is inspirational, and it would be so lovely to do something like this here, but we're stymied before we even start - because of our helmet laws. I plan to purchase the DVD and then to organise a viewing for our community and any of our local council who might like to come.

Interestingly, a couple of my friends have just purchased bicycles and have asked me to cycle with them in Sydney, basically for a "mini-refresher" and quick orientation of the CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs. They feel a little anxious but are really keen to get back into it - we plan to shop and cafe-hop, and maybe we'll even finish up at the theatre, like my daughter and I did last weekend.

Unquestionably, helmets deter all of this but the zeitgeist has shifted, and the change is coming, and it's a grass-roots one - and you know what? - it's already started!!!!

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