Friday, January 22, 2010

Freedom of choice is a universal principle

The more we cycle in Copenhagen the more cranky I become when I recall the appalling cycling conditions that Australia provides for those of us who wish to get around on a bicycle.

We have been sold 'a pup'!!!...and freedom of choice has been 'chucked' out with the bathwater - and what's more, Australian society is impoverished because of it!

However new factors on the global horizon require our consideration. Our responsibilities towards 'climate justice' can no longer be ignored and need to be reviewed, meaning that our committment to the 'car' cannot continue 'willy nilly' as it has done - it desperately needs to be rationalised.

To date, the car culture has completely dictated the terms of our roads to the point that unless we are driving a motor vehicle we can expect to be 'driven' off the roads. Their is very little sharing of the roads, and even the RTA are at a loss to explain what the chapter "Sharing the road with a bicycle rider" (see p.56) really means in their Road Users Handbook! This petrol-head lunacy needs to be limited. We have rights and responsibilities, and currently the freedom of choice that could inform our behaviour in a more globally enlightened way, has been removed. The 're-badging' of cycling over the past 19 years in Australia has been a total calamity.

This week in Copenhagen, we have seen parents & tiny babies & toddlers & grannies & grandpas riding everywhere...and we have observed motorists being 'observant' to a level that is unimaginable in Australia - no kidding! before motorists turn right here (our 'left' equivalent) they look over their shoulders for any oncoming cyclists!!!! - it is 'second-nature', which means people on bikes do not have to waste any time 'second-guessing' what the motorist is likely to do...

...and also you should see the trains! - the Danish trains leave Australian trains 'for dead' - they have a carriage on either end specially designated for bikes, with proper bike racks for you to travel on...yet as an alternative, should you decide that you wish to leave your bike at the station, there are countless parking racks at every station...

...and not only that, bikes are incorporated into so many avenues of life for the Danes, so naturally and without a second thought - we have been completely 'gob-smacked' - check out the posties' cart and coffee cart just for starters! - unbelievable!!!

We are SO JEALOUS!!!!!

But freedom of choice is a universal principle, and we shouldn't have to 'use' a car to 'use' our roads when a bicycle for so many of us is the most sensible (and by far the cheapest) option!

So 'OUT' with our ridiculous mandatory helmet law (MHL), 'OUT' with helmet promotion (which is really all our MHL truly is), and 'IN' with infrastructure and support for all Australians and their families who wish to use a bicycle as their mode of transport on our roads!!


  1. Good post Sue.
    Enjoy the great infrastructure while you can.

    Ever thought of commando infrastructure? On the Coast Road leading out of Wellington, someone (and I don't think the Transit Agency or the local councils) has put a bit of concrete on all the ramps to get up and down onto the footpath (it's a legal cycleway too) to make it easier on road bikes to ride it.

    I had a cousin (or someone similar) arrested for planting trees in a median strip in Brisbane once too.

    I like the idea of working bees for illegal building work. Tee hee, now you've got me thinking.

  2. Thanks, Matt!!! - keep me 'posted' on any new ideas!!