Saturday, March 20, 2010


(new emerging Sydney cyclist!)

(negotiating King Street, Newtown)

(this cyclist deserves protection from mandatory helmet laws notwithstanding his type of bicycle - a 1980 Black Diamond road bike)

In view of all the scientific evidence, the continuation of our mandatory helmet laws is expressly a desire, and is NOT a legal basis for the infringement of our civil liberties.

Regulation 256 is conflicting and fragmented, and it has clearly increased the possibility of random interferences with our legitimate liberties. The existing evidence deduced so far is compelling to justify an immediate repeal of the mandatory requirement for wearing a helmet whilst riding a bicycle.

How can anyone explain why you must wear a helmet if you're a passenger on a 3 or 4 wheeled bicycle but not if you're a paying passenger on a 3 or 4 wheeled bicycle? Why is it safer to pay someone to be a passenger, yet more dangerous to get a free-ride? Why is it more dangerous for mothers and fathers to ferry around their children and if they imposed a "pocket money deduction" on their offspring, would they qualify for an exemption?

The most exasperating angle to all this is that we all know that my questions are silly, and that the reality is commercial. None of the state governments were ever prepared to anihilate the businesses of bicycle rickshaws, hence the legislated deviancy. In fact it appears in this instance that the rationale for safety was expediently dispensed with and continues to be so.

...and so back to the issue raised this week by the SMH's article on Tuesday. Pushing one type of bicycle over another automatically leads to questions of whether there are new commercial interests on the horizon. Exactly who are the stakeholders? and why are we becoming so polarised? Do advocates for the discriminating 'Road Rules amendment' have any vested interests in European bikes, or electric bikes, or green or blue paint? Could it even be more sinister? Could such an amendment be the prelude to eventually barring cyclists from the roads all together as Carl Scully expressly articulated last year.?

Should any one type of bicycle get more favourable treatment than another? I vehemently canvas "NO" in the name of civil liberties and anti-discrimination. Advocating 'no helmets' for 'sit-ups' but continuing with 'helmets' for the road bikes et al, is somewhat analagous to Noam Chomsky's blunt sentiment that "if we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."

When mandatory helmet laws are repealed, they must be repealed for everyone - helmets ought to be a matter for choice, whatever the bike you ride & whatever the clothes you wear.
(give him a break!)


  1. Pushing one type of bicycle over another

    Sue, there is nothing more damaging to the fellowship of cyclists than stereotyping us into different groups depending on what we ride & what we wear.

    The press over here in the UK are good at trying to do so - 'lycra louts' is an often used term. As someone who occasionally rides 15-30 miles in lycra, because its comfortable, I find it pretty offensive that someone may thing of me as a lout :>D

    You are right in being inclusive, and apart from anything else, what use would a cycle helmet be at 30 mph on a road bike?

  2. I agree with you, Sue & ian.

    We are all cyclists in my eyes but I am often seen as an obstruction to them on the road. I genuinely feel threatened by them and on shared paths they threaten pedestrians too. Why the hell do they need to go as fast as possible around pedestrians?

    It is not the type of bike or the clothes, but the ATTITUDE - and depending on that attitude will depend on what type of riding/bike/clothes you're likely to 'engage' with. Certainly you can't lump all 'types' together but I would hazard a guess that you could describe the majority of a group with such generalisations.

    The fact is, from interactions with other cyclists, that most of the opposition comes from the weekend-only lycra-clad racing brigade who hurl abuse at me for not wearing a helmet while I'm minding my own business. Meanwhile, this same lot squeeze up between cars and generally act quite aggressively towards the cars and then wonder why everyone is irritated.

    Unfortunately they make up quite a vocal group (?majority-possibly, I'd love to know) of cyclists. I would be happy to have no limits on making helmets non-compulsory but we need great support from the majority of ALL cyclists. Most of these guys think helmets are just fine & dandy and will happily shout out loud about it as much as we shout the opposite.

    The same attitude goes with bicycle infrastructure - they, as a group, are generally not interested and want to enforce their right to be on the road. All well and good but there is no point being 'right' if you're dead from some inattentive driver. You only have to look at some of the comments on Australian cycling fora to see this attitude.

    I don't know? What to do? I think what you're doing is right and I really hope we can rid all cyclists of this oppression but we need more support from cyclists AND cyclists advocates. The comments by the Bicycle NSW, Richard Birdsey, in that SMH article reinforce my point (He probably also has shares in a helmet company...). With people like him representing cyclists, who needs enemies?!

    Kind regards,

    Dr Paul Martin