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)

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