Friday, April 30, 2010

The Age of Reason - wouldn't it be nice?

Photos: Jamilah0525, FlickrThe helmet law debate seems to be a political 'bush-fire' that all political managers resolutely avoid - is this because of their risk averse raison d'etre?

Further, compounded by the looming election next year, the NSW government is going into 'shut-down mode', and no doubt will attempt to dodge any contentious or even vaguely contentious issues at all costs. Careful managment will be the order of the day - the helmet debate (yes! that old chestnut again!) will definitely be shelved!

I completely sympathise with Oliver Hartwich's clarion call, "Political idol: why TV offers more creative answers than politicians", and fervently hope our political representatives take heed of his important call to arms.

His depiction of a Dutch town that ripped out all their traffic signs after a motoring tragedy is almost incomprehensible to us folk here in Australia. Apparently the town's first inclination had been to opt for the more usual municipal approach of speed humps, road signs and other such traffic calming devices but civic funding was neglible:

"What happened afterwards was a small miracle. Drivers felt they could no longer rely on road signs, so they slowed down. Seeking eye contact with other motorists and pedestrians, the streets of Oudehaske became a much safer traffic environment than ordinary road signs could have ever created. The inventor of the scheme, the late engineer Hans Monderman, went on to successfully export his idea of the ''naked street'' to other cities in the Netherlands and abroad."

Hartwich clinically muses whether such a scheme would be considered by Australian politicians, and sadly his summation would be our reality:

"Probably not, and definitely not with less than a year to the state election. Our reflex would be to give the RTA more power, put up a few more signs, install more traffic cameras and increase random breath tests. We would never imagine that we could have achieved much more with less."

Wake up, pollies, we need you to represent us, not manage us; we need your bright ideas and your innovations, and we need you to listen to the experts when you spend our taxes contracting their opinions

...just imagine...Sydney and 'naked streets' - what a thought! - could be so exciting!, Kristina, up for it? - could be your big break!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our Brisbane Campaigner campaigns!

Photos: Paul Martin
Dr Paul Martin, anti-helmet law advocate, specialist anaesthetist, and now post-card campaigner, has been 'placing' his share of the campaign postcards in and around Brisbane - grateful thanks!!; sterling effort!!; invaluable stuff!!

STOP PRESS (from Paul):
"I've placed many postcards on the windows of commuters who park on the outskirts of Brisbane and then ride in. They tend to be the 'racing-type' but you never know! I have also given them out to many receptive female cyclists around town. They all seem very interested."

Go, Paul, & keep on inviting everyone to think about the mandatory helmet law matter (how did we ever let MHLs slip through to the keeper?)

...but upwards and onwards, and with people like Paul on board, the anti-helmet law message inexorably spreads throughout Australia!!

Hip! Hip! Hooray! for Dr Paul Martin!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"You Betta Geta a Lawyer, Son...You Betta Geta a Ree-al Good One"

(Photos: Sparksnleo, Flickr)
Do you know how many times I listened to the 'You Betta Geta Lawyer, Son' ditty today when I called the Roads & Traffic Authority?

60 minutes I waited on the end of the telephone line being audibly persecuted by their threatening little jingle; over 60 minutes of my life wasted while waiting for the RTA to respond beyond offering a tele-menu!

What is it with big corporations and government departments? Why do they think they can get away with treating us so dismissively and wantonly - grrrr! - (it was Telstra in my sights last week, this week it's the RTA!!!)

Anyway back to my opening sentence, & in answer to my own question - too many times!! I never want to hear that gravelly 'i'm-in-a-uniform-voice' advising some nebulous young man to seek competent legal representation ever again...

...only I'm going to have to!...

...aaahh! after finally being connected with a human voice (I think?) I was shunted around to various departments (shades of Telstra's modus operandi!), then redirected back to various switchboards ('you betta geta lawyer, son' - aaaahhhh!) ad infinitum. On the odd occasion an actual RTA person became involved they invariably put in their universal two bob's worth - "there are no exemptions for bicycle helmets" !!



(here's a little excerpt of the dialogue I had with the penultimate department I was 'shunted' to, having just encountered the statement "there are no exemptions for bicycle helmets" for the umpteenth time)

- "Lovely and thank you, but just right now I want to know how my application for an exemption is going"

- "listen there are no exemptions; you need another organisation"

- "but you are the authority defined in the dictionary of the act and the dictionary of the regulations"

- "... ... ... ..."

- "hello? hello? are you there?"

- "we're not the relevant organisation"

- well actually you are, and once again your role is defined in the dictionary of the act and the dictionary of the regulations, using the word authority

- "even so, any letter you sent to a bicycle unit wouldn't get here because there's no Bicycle Unit"

- "interesting, during my last phone call with RTA personnel, I was advised that Mr Bushby, who I believe has been temporarily stood down on full pay, had passed my application onto the Bicycle Unit"

- "Mr Bushby doesn't work here anymore"

- "completely understood and noted already, however perhaps you could put me through to his former department so I could chat to his PA to attempt to track down my application"

- "anyway Mr Bushby wouldn't have had anything to do with this - he was the CEO"

- "exactly, which is why I paid extra for the 'person-to-person' delivery (thank you, Australia Post!!), and it was definitely Mr Bushby who picked it up from the Post Office because I am holding the notification card with his signature on it (thanks again, Australia Post!)"

- "I'll put you through to his PA that used to be his but isn't now"

- "thank you"


...interestingly the PA (that used to be his but isn't now) knew about me - the lady from Scone! He attempted to reach the 'Relevant Department' but the line remained unanswered. He assured me that when he finally did get through to them, he would get the 'Relevant Department' to ring me back straight away (boy! I've heard that one before!).

In fact he sounded so genuine that before we took our fond farewells of each other, I insisted he gave me his direct line - I haven't tested it yet for its veracity, but I have every intention of doing so tomorrow!!

- this is such a long drawn out process - I feel exhasuted!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Prime Minister...!

(Photos: PFC2, Flickr)
Dear Prime Minister Rudd,

Given that you have 'shelved' the Carbon Emission Trading Scheme, perhaps now is an opportune moment to revisit good 'old faithful' 'Black Spot Road Funding' except this time instead of rolling out Mandatory Helmet Laws, you could de-commission them.

Yours sincerely,
Sue A

...copy of my thoughts despatched to the PM today on a 'campaign postcard'.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Coffee Bike

My bicycle knows no bounds!!!!

Last week, we were 'picnic-ing' & 'reading the papers' & 'siesta-r-ing' in the fabulous Camperdown Memorial Park, Newtown, when one of my equally fabulous children disappeared momentarily to re-appear some time later with four coffees!!!

Oh the joy of coaster brakes and friendly offspring!!...

...and needless to mention, an amazing dutch bicycle!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sydney - an exciting melting pot for cycling

As I chortled over Mike Carlton's weekend observation of 'Melbourne's aggressively blokey culture', I immediately let my mind wander to another unquestionably 'aggressively blokey culture' down there - Melbourne cycling.

'Once upon a time' their cycling was invaded by their blokes so consequently their infrastructure developed into a quasi last male bastion (akin to a 'Gentlemen's Club') - oh dear!

Refreshingly however, the converse is true in Sydney, and 'Melbourne's aggressively blokey culture' is clearly absent on our roads!!

With Clover at the helm, we, the Sydney masses, are not only madly embracing cycling, but also reclaiming 'traditional territory of cars & trucks' so that we really can beetle around everywhere on our bikes!! - it's truly brilliant!!

...& our 'blokes' are sharing!!!

...and you know what else??...we're ever so non-compliant!!!

...aaahhh! Sydney - so liberated, so chic!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Helmet Debate has crept into the NSW Legislative Assembly

At last the political negotiations have started!

Yesterday not only did I meet up with the Honourable George Souris MLA (member of the Legislative Assembly for the Upper Hunter) at Parliament House in Macquarie Street, but I was the first person to ever do so on a bicycle (see my bicycle above chained to 'my' railings!)...

...& we had a most fruitful long chat!!...

...granted, he alluded to my 'very uphill battle' to change the law, that at this stage I was in a 'very low gear, that I was going very slowly, and that I was likely to come to a stand still well before the top!' However as I pointed out, I am never averse to hopping off my bicycle (!) consequently no hill, no matter how steep, has ever stopped me reaching the top!! I assured him, I'll be coasting down the other side one day soon!!!?!!!

During our meeting, I gave him the European Cyclist Federation's excellent pamphlet, "Ask me why I cycle without a helmet", given to me in Copenhagen by Mikael Colville Andersen. I went on to elucidate issues raised by the ECF such as the perils of portraying cycling as far more dangerous than it is, the notion that bicycle helmets offer far more protection than they actually do, and that governments ought 'to refrain from promoting or enforcing helmet wearing without sound evidence that this would be beneficial and cost effective compared to other safety initiatives.'

I also included in the Honourable member's 'document parcel', a copy of the RTA internal memo detailing that helmets for certain headforms could well provide a 'disbenefit', as well as the excellent chapter by Bill Curnow, ‘Bicycle Helmets: a Scientific Evaluation’ in Anton de Smet (ed), Transportation Accident Analysis and Prevention (2008) 139. The Honourable member in his turn gave me the most excellent advice coupled with a clear template on techniques for political persuasion!!!

Yes! I have some homework to do BUT I now have a defined pathway with the legislators in mind; I'm on the right track; and I am prepared to push my 'political-bicycle' up the hill for as long as it takes!!!!

Thank you, George, for giving me your time and consideration!!! - "I'm on to it!"


Oh...& an excited "PS":

In response to my letter to the Mayor of London a couple of weeks ago, Boris Johnson's Public Liaison Officer has written to me to let me know that "the Mayor has gone on record as saying that it is a matter for the individual to decide to wear a cycling helmet."

Good one, Boris!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cheese & Helmets - a convenient symbiosis

It's time for a little bit of reciprocity!

Given that both the nations of New Zealand & Australia have been blighted by ridiculous cheese and helmet restrictions, it is heartening to see that the Kiwis are about to change all that in the 'cheese' arena - 'au revoir' pasteurisation!!

"The New Zealand Food Safety Authority has adopted new production standards for raw milk products that allow them to be made locally. It is also preparing new animal health standards which could allow importation of raw milk products such as cheeses within weeks."

...and it seems these fabulous raw milk cheeses will soon:

"flood into Australia as foods permitted for sale in one country can be traded between Australia and New Zealand"

- omg! cheese that tastes like cheese!!!!

Now if the Kiwi camp can galvanise Food Standards Australia New Zealand to work on 'changes for Australian food regulations', then I think its only fair that the Aussie camp take the initiative to galvanise Australian State Governments to work on 'changes for Australian road regulations' so that fabulous cycling practices can 'flood' into New Zealand as road regulations permitted for use in one country are often 'traded between' New Zealand & Australia!!! - yes??? - an eqivalent equation??

There's no doubt about it; the 1990s were dark, dark days for food and cycling - blandness & helmets - groan!

Notwithstanding our restrictive cheese practices are about to change!!!'on, Aussies, com'on com'on!!! - au revoir mandatoy helmet laws!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Newtown, my most favourite place in the world!

Postcard placement is going well - so far every cafe in Newtown has taken them... fact even to the extent of 'bin-ning' some of the commercial ones they had on display!

General consensus: they like mine better!!!!

I love Newtown - such a 'cool' & such a 'thinking' place!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The "Helmet Laws" Postcard Campaign

The 'concerted community campaign' continues!! - meaning I have to go to Sydney tomorrow to spend a few heavenly days cycling everywhere, meeting everyone and strategically placing postcards in every friendly venue!!! - tough work!!


...'concerted community campaign' open to any suggestions for vanguard postcard placement!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bike Share + Helmet Share = FAILURE

How are the Australian bike-share programmes going to succeed when our law requires helmeted behaviour?

The magic of the Parisienne Vélib’ is the ability to make snap decisions - fancy a bicycle? - let's grab one & cycle away!!- heady stuff!!! - 'découvrez les sites de Paris'

But just picture our reality, here in Australia: will it be a question of 'découvrez les sites de Brisbane et Melbourne'??? hmmmn I don't think so!!!

Mandatory helmet laws will literally kill "spur-of-the-moment decisions to use a bike". Yet relevant state transport ministers seem blissfully oblivious to the need to counter our ridiculous helmet law, and continue with blinkered advice that:

* regular users should bring their own helmets
* helmet buying options will be provided
* helmet hiring options will be provided

Who would opt for any of the above and especially the latter option? How could you ever know whether the user before you had nits or not, or had some ghastly contagious scalp disease, or had dropped the helmet many times, or cycled over it or used it as a footie ball? You can't - groan!!!- why is this so hard to grapple with??!!!!

It works in other cities for one very simple reason - they do not have to contend mandatory helmet laws.

( truly isn't 'rocket science!...)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Memo from Clover & we can smell the roses!

No matter what the 'Doom & Gloom Sayers' are saying, cycling numbers are growing in Sydney - exponentially, and universally across the city demographic board!!! - no kidding! - and without doubt our visionary Lord Mayor is leading this charge to provide us with safer transport alternatives (we love Clover, go Clover!)

Clover is classic, and understands that it is imperative 'alternative transport avenues' are widely provided because they tick all the necessary boxes... know, boxes like...

* the 'affordable' box
* the 'healthy' box
* the 'convenient' box

...just for starters!

In fact, according to Clover's latest memo...


"...the surveys of our new Alexandria cycleways recorded increases in cycling during morning and evening peak times over a four week period in February. The number of cyclists increased by 36 percent at the Bourke and Bowden Street intersection and by 26 percent at the Bourke and Doody Streets intersection.

A total of 439 cyclists were counted at the two intersections across a six hour period. 250 bikes were counted at the Bourke and Doody Street intersection, averaging 41 bikes per hour. The number for Bourke and Bowden Streets was 189 bikes, averaging 32 bikes per hour.

These results show that our communities recognise the important role cycling plays to help to reduce congestion, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of City life. They support our work for a bicycle-friendly city, where people of all ages can safely use bicycles for enjoyment and as a sustainable transport choice."

======================================= stop giggling, Holland & Denmark, this is great news for us (!!!) even if somewhat overdue - we have our 'Jeanne d'Arc' now!!!

Clover has it all worked out and we're as happy as pigs in mud - she and her team report that...


"...over the next 15 years, Sydney faces a 23 percent growth in traffic, which will cost Australian tax payers $7.8 billion per annum. Making cycling and walking viable and attractive alternatives will relieve pressure on congested roads and provide an alternative to the already congested network."


Impressively she waits for no government as she leads the way, and for that we will always thank her...thank you, Clover!

Grab a map and go and see for yourselves the amazing 'separated-cycleway' constructions that are currently happening in the CBD, Pyrmont, and from Woolloomooloo to Green Square!!!

This liberating infrastructure is for all of us, whether we're young or old, female or male, scantily clad or romantically clad - she's including us all in the big, happy, urban travel plan!

It's universal; she wants us all to join in; and she's clearly inviting us all to do so.

Go, Clover!!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Q&A with the World & Australia

Unfortunately for Australia, the success of Velibe in Paris is not going to be aped by Bixi in Melbourne nor City-cycle in Brisbane until we repeal our Mandatory Helmet Laws.

Stubbornly we cling to anecdotal notions that helmets save lives, protect cyclists, and essentially are the first and last word in cycling safety. However abundant evidence points to the contrary, and our human frailites refuse to acknowledge our mistake.

For twenty years we have known this 'mistake', but as with our reticence to absorb the evidence against smoking, front & side sleeping positions for babies, and the perils of vioxx (just to mention a few) we don't want to face the 'public health music' yet!

It is clear to the world that Australian mandatory helmet laws are...

* inconsistent

* uncertain

* fragmented

* largely unenforced

It is clear to the world that they fulfill no coherent guiding policy, and continue to ignore compelling evidence that the acceleration of the rotation of the brain is a greater risk for a 'rider of a bicycle' wearing a helmet involved in an accident than for a 'rider of a bicycle' not wearing a helmet involved in an accident.

It is clear to the world that the priorities of MHLs do not consider wider public policy issues, particularly those pertaining to:

* obesity, the killer of Australians

* public health

* catastrophic climate change

* Australian children


The questions the world asks Austalia today are:

* Why is 'bicycle helmet wearing' a criminal issue?

* Why isn't 'bicycle helmet wearing' a health issue?


How do we answer the world?

Friday, April 16, 2010

"The School of Hard Knocks" & the Helmet Lesson

I know I've said this before, but what more will it take to convince our governments that helmets are dangerous, and that they ought to heed the compelling evidence that proves it?

In their enlightening story, the School of Hard Knocks, last night's ABC Catalyst programme raised an interesting parallel to the perils of helmets when Dr Anne McKee, a brain pathologist with over 20 years experience, raised the issue that the first ex-footballer she saw had never even been knocked out but had only had only sustained minor concussions.

"...perversely, his football helmet, designed to prevent head injury, had allowed another kind of head impact to become part of normal play" - the 'subconcussive hit' which is cumulative and devastating.

What was equally interesting in last night's story was the narrator's voice over when she expressed that 'we don't have the helmet factor here in Australia' as though it was a widely known fact that helmets are dangerous. But I am still required to wear a helmet by law on a bicycle here in Australia notwithstanding medical knowledge that helmets accentuate head injuries!!!

Upon the facts, the case continues to build against mandatory helmet laws. It is apparent to many that they are a dangerous device. Therefore I ought to be able to decide for myself whether I wear one or not, just as I do when I consider the activities of smoking, drinking and over-eating.

Cycling is not as dangerous as rugby or 'aussie rules' and perhaps that's why MHLs were able to come into effect. Maybe the powers that be always knew that the bicyle helmet issue would never really be tested because (a) injuries are unlikely, and (b) when they occur they are often catastrophic and can immediately be blamed upon something else like the unfortunate B-Double!

In the States they held a Congressional Enquiry - when are we going to do that? or better still, just hold a few pens to repeal the legislation!

I am no longer a guinea-pig - the experiment has been concluded and the results are not positive for helmet wearers! In fact it's a 'Diffuse-Axonal-Injury' bomb waiting to explode!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Cycle for your supper"!

STOP PRESS: the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers Hotel, situated close to Copenhagen Airport, is pioneering a pedal-power electricity generation scheme that it hopes will catch on in other countries.

Basically, any hotel guest producing 10 watt hours of electricity or more for the hotel by pedalling their little hearts out on special 'bicycle-generators', will be given a locally produced complimentary meal. According to the hotel, this initiative will encourage their guests to not only get fit but also reduce their carbon footprint and save them some money - hotel guests will literally 'cycle for their supper'!!!

But will it catch on here??? It certainly ought to given that we are the 'Lead Nation in Tubbiness'!

Maybe our government's usual modus operandi of 'pater noster' tendencies will kick in, and for the good of the nation, new legislation will be enacted - just imagine, we could have the new...


...NSW Hotel Rules, that in accordance with the new Hotel Safety and Patron Management Act 2010 (NSW) provide under:

Regulation $$$ Obesity Blockers

(1) The 'overnight guest' of a hotel must ride an 'approved hotel bicycle generator' securely fitted and fastened on the 'overnight guest’s' bottom, unless the 'overnight guest' is exempt from riding a hotel bicycle generator under another law of this jurisdiction.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.

Note: "Approved hotel bicycle generator" is defined in the Dictionary.

(2) An 'accompanying guest' of the 'overnight guest' in a hotel bedroom who has been invited to stay, or is thinking of staying but not yet decided, must wear an 'approved hotel bicycle generator' securely fitted and fastened on the 'accompanying guest’s' bottom, unless the 'accompanying guest' is:

(a) an 'accompanying guest' on a lunch or dinner date only, or

(b) exempt from wearing a hotel bicycle generator under another law of this jurisdiction.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.

(3) The 'overnight guest' of a hotel, riding a hotel bicycle generator must not ride with an 'accompanying guest' on the bicycle unless the 'accompanying guest' complies with subrule (2).

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.


...magic! we've saved the government hours and hours of work!!!! - you have to hand it to the Danes!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Australian roads are paved with helmet laws & kilograms

Given that expectations shape responses, it is no surprise that the danger-mongering of mandatory helmet laws moulded the community's current response to cycling.

Cycling was rebadged dangerous and extreme, and stringent advice warned that it ought only to be carried out by elite athletes equipped with the most specialised of gear. In effect, this alarming directive caused us to mothball our bicycles so that today less than 1% of Australians cycle.

Whilst inexplicably enacting MHLs without conclusive evidence of any benefits, it may be assumed that government rationale was to save the nation - but today we are faced with pressing public policy questions:

* Have the gains of mandatory helmet laws outweighed the losses?

* Are the losses incurred by the community (reduced transport options, traffic congestion, environment and health options) compensated by any evident gains?

Interestingly, the available statistics on any benefits are deafeningly silent. Notwithstanding a disaster has loomed on our horizon that is now literally consuming us - the obesity calamity.

According to Professor Mike Daube, the president of the Public Health Association of Australia, whilst Australia is aware of our dire obesity issues, we're not doing enough about it.

"It's taken us 60 years since we knew about the dangers of smoking to get to this fairly encouraging decline. We need to move faster than that on obesity."

He starkly warns that:

"We need to see physical activity being promoted much more and being made easier for people."

Can this expert's advice be any plainer? It is imperative that the nation be galvanised into 'action,' literally...

- we ought to get off our butts fast, and;
- we ought to get onto our bikes, and;
- we ought to make it easier for everyone, therefore;
- we ought to repeal our ridiculous mandatory helmet laws - NOW!

According to an Ancient Proverb, "we do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children" ...but at this rate our children are not going to be here to enjoy it (assuming of course, we leave anything for them to enjoy)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Helmet Promotion & MHLs v Obesity & Early Death

Equipped with the knowldege that obesity is more likely to kill us than smoking, it is time to address the issue of our inconsistent and outdated mandatory helmet laws. If Europe, Asia, the Middle East, some US states and some Canadian provinces can modernise their approach to transport, traffic decongestion and the environment within the framework of their laws and cities, then surely Australia can do the same.

Repealing laws will probably require that the states and territories work together and presumably with federal government input especially considering that the Federal government was instrumental in their enactment all those years ago. The process would not be easy, but it could be achieved with committed political cooperation and determination - we only have to look at what Copenhagen achieved 30 years ago to realise that we can achieve this too!

Yet in a brief statement to ABC News Online, Brisbane City Council, on the verge on implementing their wonderful bike-share programme, said there was 'no chance of loosening the state's tough helmet laws.'

Groan!!!! why are so many of our muncipal organisations staffed by so many ill-informed helmet proponents consistently averse to a little spot of evidence? You hardly have to enter any type of 'bicycle search term' into "Google" to be inundated with facts on the perils of helmet promotion and mandatory helmet laws - and sadly Australia wins the oscar-winning-cyber-performance for the doomed bicycle protagonist every single time!!

The Queensland government's stubborn stand & their bullish rejection of current facts does not bode well for their exciting bike-share programme...

...don't our governments realise, we have no time to waste, only tubbiness!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Helmet marketing has trumped science

Australia ought to do what has needed to be done for ages - that is reject the self-serving logic of helmet promotion, and see it for what it is.

We need to shout to the world that we are no longer content with commercialism dictating the civil liberties we may or may not choose from. In particular we need to shout to the world that we are no longer content with the suppression of conflicting medical data.

To date our helmet beliefs have been amassed by various case and mechanical studies. No randomised controlled trials have been conducted in the helmet debate. We willingly continue with an anecdotal and common sense approach completely lacking in concrete evidence. Yet it is universally accepted that the randomised controlled trial reigns supreme as the medical experiment, namely because the rigour involved exceeds that of other forms of research.

Spielmans and Parry reveal some chilling 'Big Pharma' marketing tactics in their peer reviewed journal, "From Evidence-based Medicine to Marketing-based Medicine", and alarmingly there are parallels with this Big Pharma approach to the one Big Helma has adopted. Frighteningly, the suppression and spinning of negative data appears to be equally as rampant in helmet promotion as it is in pharmaceutical promotion

Not only has market segmentation of our politicians led to an impoverished range of transport options, but it has also led to an equally impoverished range of health options.

So to everyone out there who needs to listen (and that includes you helmet proponents who have been aware of the true bicycle helmet story all along) our current bicycling reality isn't good enough...

...give us back our bicycles and our civil liberties! - we want to use them both in tandem again!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Update on my helmet exemption

("Mortar Boards", arguably as useful on a bicycle as current mandatory bicycle helmets!!)

Fortunately for me, Mr Bushby, the CEO of the Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) has passed on my exemption application to the RTA Bicycle Unit. This wily action of his was necessary because the RTA Exemption Unit only deal in helmet matters...?...

- but my matter is a helmet matter!

- well they only deal in helmet matters that aren't 'my sort of helmet matter'...

Oh boy! here's hoping that the Bicycle Unit is less creative!

...and apparently I can expect to hear in the next week because the RTA has a 'one month turn-around' on all matters, bicycle or otherwise - I'll keep you posted!!!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The 'piety' of fundamental helmet believers

Revisiting the notion of piety and religious fervour, I was verbally accosted last week for being a menace to society and setting a bad example to my oral 'assailant's' grandchildren!

- How could my 'assailant' be expected to succeed in coercing his grandchildren to wear a helmet when they saw me cycle around town without one?

I mentioned to him that given that I had never even met his clearly delightful grandchildren I was somewhat surprised that I was more influential with them than he was. His winning riposte was 'wait till you have grandchildren!'

...ok! yes...and?...what was that supposed to mean?

Upon further reflection of this completely unnecessary incident, I am full of admiration for his discerning grandchildren!

...and on a more salutory note it's now official that not only are we the fattest nation in the world, but 'obesity is more deadly than smoking,' and is the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia

What more will it take to convince our politicians that their mandatory helmet gamble was a dismal failure and ought to de-commissioned?

Basically, in a nutshell:

* it didn't work;

* we're tubbier than we were in 1991 (birth year of helmet laws)

* our tubbiness is killing us off quicker than anything else

...and whilst some may argue this is 'correlation' rather than 'causation', there's plenty of evidence in the public domain to suggest the latter.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Premier Keneally, start biking the talk!

"Kristina, your 'country' needs you!

Join up today and say "YES" to cycling - match Clover Moore's spending on necessary infrastructure now!

We don't have the luxury of time, and it's cute of you to 'recognise the need for an updated, comprehensive bike plan...and related funding and infrastructure'

...but we need you to show us what you're made of and start 'biking' the talk!! - today!"

...oh! and Premier, when you're next having a 'cuppa' check out the 'cycling video round-up' posted by Mark from i b i k e l o n d o n - loads of helpful material!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"It is more comfortable to obey than to examine" (Nietzsche)

(me, having examined & decided not to...'obey')

Mandatory helmet laws (MHLs) equate to a quasi religious fervour in which the views of the pious and uninformed dictate how the rest of us ought to behave.

Perhaps we should revisit what John Stuart Mill had to say in On Liberty, his seminal and rational justification of the freedom of the individual against the state. Mill's defence of the rights of the individual against the state articulate clearly that:

...the only part of conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part, which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

Our governments notionally employed this concept of Utilitarianism as a state's right when they enacted legislation in the early 1990s, broadcasting that MHLs would protect the community from burgeoning costs associated with injured cyclists. In effect, the state governments postured that they were entitled to interfere with the rights of the individual for the benefit of the state and the community.

However there have been no 'benefits' to the state as a result of MHLs, and study after study has shown that the excessive state interference has been a baseless and costly failure.

Consequently we can conclude that our state governments did not rightfully exercise their power over us in a bid to prevent harm to others when they enacted their MHLs, and neither do they rightfully exercise power over us today when they continue to enforce their deluded restrictions.

It is not good enough nor is it sufficient that MHLs were enacted for my own good, whether it was for my physical good or for my moral good.

Hands off me given that I am 'sovereign' over me!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Freedom of choice - why is this a problem?

Not only do mandatory helmet laws infantilise us by removing our personal autonomy, but they simultaneously signal an accelerating trend towards to increased 'state' powers. Regulation 256 clearly increases the possiblitiy of random interference with our human rights, and blatantly contributes to conflicting, confusing and fragmented notions of cycling safety.

Unquestionably our civil liberties have been diminished to foster a commercial climate in order to maximise profits.

Why are we denied the freedom to choose whether to wear a helmet or not and why is the freedom to choose such a challenge for our governments to embrace?

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Tragedy of the Great Barrier Reef - the 'coal super highway'

(photos: Querida David)What will it take to stop more environmental catasthophes happening such as Saturday's tragedy on the Great Barrier Reef, and why do we continue to 'kow-tow' to the destructive oil & coal lobbies?

Our governments would do well to heed Bob Brown (leader of the Greens) and make it mandatory immediately for bulk carriers to have a marine pilot on board when travelling through the inner passage of the Great Barrier Reef. He was on the money when he stated that "both Canberra and Brisbane have bowed to the coal and shipping companies to avoid this common sense requirement."

The fact that the Chinese-registered "Shen Neng 1", ladened with 65,000 tonnes of coal and 950 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, was off course and travelling at full speed without a marine pilot in a restricted part of the park when it hit a shoal shortly after 5pm on Saturday, should not only make us weep but galvanise us into immediate action. Now is the time that we must lobby, advocate, and demand regulations, policies, legislation, whatever it takes, to ensure this catastrophic envrionmental emergency never happens again. Our governments must learn that they have to listen to us - and if they don't we must let them know in no uncertain terms that there is no place for parties that will not consider the environment as the major priority of any election mandate.

It has been estimated that about two tonnes of fuel oil has already leaked from the ship and there are grave fears that the ship may break up, dumping its full load of coal and oil. We know only too well the devastating effects of an oil spill but new worries abound for the unknown devastating effects of a coal spill.

What have our governments been thinking with their 'wishy-washy' policies and 'greedy' contracts? Why are these dangerous ships allowed to travel virtually 'carte blanche' as they please? Where were our coastguard? Why, in fact, are our coastguard so fixated with 'policing' our waters for refugees when a far more worthy and effective use of our taxpayer funded resources would be to 'police' our waters for the blatantly irresponsible behaviour of global shipping companies?

We continue to play 'Russian Roulette' with the world's and our children's future. This unaccountable irresponsible behaviour must cease, and our current political committment to the oil and coal lobbies must cease...

...oh! and another thought, can the shipping company that owns the "Shen Neng 1" actually afford the damage they have inevitably inflicted upon the Australian environment? It will run into the trillions - will Kevin Rudd and Anna Bligh insist upon its repayment? - they certainly ought to. The United Nations study appears chillingly prophetic.

We must consider our future generations, yet this concept appears to be so difficult for our politicians to embrace. We are the custodians for our children's future, and we continue to gamble it away as though, literally 'there is no tomorrow', which there certainly won't be if allow our current 'political modus operandi' to continue.

We have blood on our hands.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter boats & bonnets

(photos: Querida David)
(photos: Querida David)
"Oh, I could write a sonnet about our Easter bonnets
And of the crew I'm taking to the Easter parade

To the Lake we'll go
Round Glenbawn we will row
The photographer will snap us
And then we'll be seen
In this smart blogo-zine!"

(apologies to Irving Berlin)

...first, a dawn cycle ride to the pick-up point, then a beautiful row on Lake Glenbawn, followed by brekkie at "Canter Restaurant", and then a glorious autumn-day cycle ride home - could life be more heavenly?

...enjoy the chocolate festivities!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Council endorsed 'bike-stands' for Scone

Had to chuckle to myself today when I was actually able to park my bicycle in between potholes on Moobi Road without the use of either the stand or the pedal!!! Whilst the road is fast becoming impassable for motor vehicles, parking for cyclists is turning out to be abundant...and it would be the only place in Scone that it is!!!

After receiving sustained grumbles from our 'neighbourhood', our local council has helpfully erected this sign in a bid to be considered performing maintenance - got to love 'em!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Lunacy of helmet laws & helmet promotion

Roll up! Roll up!

Catastrophic climate change has expanded the question of our survival, the notion of climate justice, and our global responsibilities.

Notwithstanding the recent rain, we must reflect upon our diminishing coastlines, routine dust storms, dying rivers and other worrying signs that tell us the 'canary in the mineshaft' is long since dead. It is a question of survival to cycle whenever and wherever we can in a bid to curtail carbon emissions. The current global zeitgeist clearly demonstrates that not only is cycling an achievable start to tackling this issue but it comes with unexpected benefits in terms of health, traffic de-congestion, and tourism.

It is wanton lunacy if we continue as we are, & we know that helmet laws and helmet promotion contribute significantly to this lunacy.