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.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
The Lunacy of helmet laws & helmet promotion
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I agree. Helmet laws send a contradictory message: 'The Government has determined that the riding of bicycles results in crushed heads.
I lived in Whyalla, S.Australia from 1973 to '87, and rode a bike almost every day to work. Straight roads and predictable traffic. Never once had any sort of incident or mishap. Of the very few others on bikes, about half had lost their licences for speeding or drink-driving offences. Not flattering, is it?
I suggested to Mike Rubbo that maybe it was no-one's fault. Look at the challenges: The country is too big, our misuse of space too entrenched, our distances too great, many of our summer days too brutal, depending where you live - the headwinds too persistent. In general Australians understand their country is not like others. It is vast, empty, lonely and sometimes unforgiving. Think of the almost casual cruelty by which young men and women die in cars on careless weekends. I have never seen such a car-dominated society.
Politicians do not take the bicycle seriously. The humble commuting bicycle is seen as a poor man's exercise machine or a child's plaything, an inconvenience that blocks traffic; unmanly, unnecessary, effeminate, possibly subversive (this last is true enough; there is much to 'subvert', but anarchy need not be bad; in America bicycle-anarchy is described as 'autonomy without malice').
Every smiling politican showing up at some city cycling event in Australia knows that this country is vast, harsh, arid and punishing. He may pose for photos and wear a borrowed, plastic crown upon his calculating head, but he knows it is no contest, a no-brainer. This is a country in which big numbers of his constituents drive four-wheel drive saloons, not to cross crocodile-infested rivers, but to get to the gym. And afterwards to the shopping centre. There's dangerous living for you! The Member can say any smarmy thing he pleases to his cycling petitioners, pro-change in the helmet law if this be possible (Ha! He knows it isn't), then depart for his next appointment more or less believing he has met his obligations.
Political initiative and change are all about organising and numbers. This is better understood in America - where voting is no more compulsory than wearing bike helmets. Politicians are expected to deliver. If enough people feel strongly about something, they will organise to attain their ends. Communal activism has a lively tradition, and haggling between rulers and ruled is as hallowed as the Old Testament.
It is the opposite in Australia where the descendants of settlers think it right to talk down to the descendants of convicts, and get away with bossing them around. (Shades of CS Lewis, who understood very well where this foolishness would lead: "Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive...for it will be pursued without end with the full approval of the oppressors conscience.")
Australia is one of the world's luckier countries. Rich, secure, underpopulated, over-egalitarian and unpolluted by contact with its neighbors, what's left to do? Why, moral improvement of course! Once politicans got hold of the idea that helmets are a Good Thing, there can scarcely be an end to the mayhem their ignorance will cause. Almost a form of demented evangelisation.
Milo! thank you so much for your erudite comments!ReplyDelete
Vous êtes très vrais, mais pour moi, I intend to keep advocating my 'little-heart-out' until I'm heard & mandatory helmet laws are repealed - it's going to happen - believe me!!!!!!!!!!