Monday, August 30, 2010

Bicycle helmet laws & the debate

(Clipping from Saturday's SMH)

The discussion develops as mainstream media continue to provide a much needed platform for the bicycle helmet laws debate.

After 19 years of draconian legislation, the wider community is now considering the proposition that if helmet laws had been successful there ought to have been a decrease in injuries - yet only cycling has decreased.

Surely the evident 'sedentary trending' of Australians delineates a far greater risk than the supposed risk of riding a bicycle without a helmet?

At the risk of sounding repetetive, cycling is NOT dangerous:

* driving is!
* obesity is!
* smoking is!

...but cycling is not!!!

Helmet laws are unnecessary - let's repeal them!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Humble-pie & chips, please!

Two days of cycling at the Gold Coast and I must retract and eat some 'humble-pie' re GC cycling infrastructure (still wedded to 'folly concept' of total area though!!)

Through hiring a bike I reached the conclusion that GC cycle lanes were considerably more than just stencils! Moreover I was particularly impressed with designated left-hand lanes that guided us around roundabouts (see above pics) and that not only did GC motorists automatically check on their left for us (impressive), they noted our signals and gave us the room to manoeuvre accordingly.

...but wait there's more, lack of helmet-compliance was significantly apparent everywhere!!! - heartening stuff for a conscientious objector! - I'm won over!

...and all through the magical liberating properties of a bicycle - released from suffocation of cars & consumerism!!!! - free to enjoy the environs!!!

Congrats all round for the evident 'in-roads' into GC cycling - I'm glad I got the chance to peel back the layers of the seemingly car-dependent suburbia & to see the potentially vibrant cycling culture already bursting out of the bottle like a genie no longer prepared to wait!!

I'm glad I got the chance to eat 'humble-pie'!!!

- thank you, Ride2Wk & Paul from Get On Your Bike & everyone else who clearly have been effective and instrumental in a liberating pardigm for the Gold Coast!...funtimes!!!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Queensland bicycle karma

Today karma was restored.

Armed with my fabulous hire-bike from Get On Your Bike, I caught the Gold Coast train to South Brisbane to meet Dr Paul Martin (pictured above on floating cycleway in front of Story Bridge).

Paul has provided much needed support for those of us in the 'helmets-should-be-a-choice' camp as well as the wider community, by expertly disseminating the many issues and 'furphys' that have arisen in the bicycle helmet law debate - his generous input is invaluable.

The day couldn't have been more glorious - & Brisbane twinkled in all its glory as Paul showed me around 'en bicyclettes':

* markets
* river hugging cycleways
* quirky art installations
* trendy cafes
* the very best of balmy winter sun

...oh! Brisbane has it all - even pedi-cabs!!! - hmmmn!

Fascinatingly, the pedi-cab anomaly is prevalent in Queensland too.

Similarly to New South Wales, cyclists' rights in Queensland are trivial compared with the "bottom line" factor which underpins the legal provision for unhelmeted paying passengers.

Notwithstanding the political spin regarding the stability of pedi-cabs & subsequent helmet exemption for pedi-cab passengers, politicians face a hurdle in their 'stability' argument when faced with the question 'why do pedicab-drivers have to be helmeted'. To date they have failed to provide an explanation!

But jeez! - it's glaringly obvious - it's a large dose of 'commercial bull-dust' which we're expected to swallow whole with a teaspoon of political sugar...


...but bact to Paul & Brisbane...loved! loved! loved the day! - thanks! thanks! thanks!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Gold Coast - a monumental folly

"They hang the man & flog the woman
That steals the goose from off the common
But let the greater villain loose
That steals the common from off the goose"
(17th Century English aphorism)

The 'Gold Coast' is the quintessential, soulless example of why we should never underestimate the ability of politicians and developers to do get urban planning so monumentally wrong.

Moreover, whilst Sydney cyclists are becoming the new transport power brokers as they progressively re-configure urban transport, it is almost impossible to imagine that the 'Gold Coast' will ever embrace such a paradigm shift. Notwithstanding token cycleway stencils, I've yet to note any cyclists.

Isn't it evident by now that the 'gold' standard on transport ought not to be the sole domain of motorcars and politicians?

Aaaaaahhh!...let me out of here!!!!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Class Action Hurdle flattened

(Photos: Querida David, Paris)

Well! after all the 'hoop-la' & threats of class action & raving radio rants & everything else, it would appear that many of the would-be litigants had no idea they were part of the would-be litigious plan.

Notwithstanding that many of those on the class-action list had "not been contacted", the lawyer involved remained confident that he had "good reason to believe" they were willing participants in his cause.

Oh dear! a cause without rebels - not very convincing!

Meanwhile back in 'Insurance-land', it would appear that the NRMA's home contents policy provides 'public liability cover of up to $20 million' but not if the damage or injury is the result of 'a professional sporting activity that's paid or competitive'.

WOW! Actuarial Proof that my type of cycling activity (you know with skirts & baskets & shopping & picinics) is nowhere near as risky as that of the industry- led activity (you know with lycra & water bottles & cut off gloves & vented helmets!!!)... incredibly convincing!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Anti-helmet law zeitgeist

There is light on the horizon!

OK! - admittedly the downhill run is a little bit slippy and icy - but we can do it even if we have to put on the 'chains'!!

The zeitgeist is truly changing - it's only a matter of time.

Seriously how long can our governments hold out against this exciting grassroots surge that is plainly no longer prepared 'to go with the flow'?

...only dead fish do that!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Minister & the Bicycle Helmet Exemption

So after months and months of waiting, I finally got a reply from the Minister for Roads. (Well! a reply of sorts - my local member actually received it! - perhaps the venerable Minister Borger does not communicate directly with lesser mortals such as me, a NSW voter - fair enough; I have the memory of an elephant and can't wait for next March!)

Anyway, in answer to my question as to whether I could have an exemption from donning a bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle, his answer was & is a categorical NO - why am I not surprised?

But his letter is a 'toothless tiger' and has very little in the way of anything meaningful to say. None of the issues raised in my application were addressed, and in fact were adroitly side-stepped. Moreover, one of his many lame statements...

"...a recent study by the University of New South Wales in 2009, investigated the effectiveness of al bicycle helmet ro reduce angular head acceleration and subsequent brain injury crashes"

...highlights the government's resolute determination to remain ignorant and uninformed!

- yes! so what if a study has been done?
- what did the study find?
- why did he not specify what the study's findings were?
- & how are the study's findings (if any) analogous to my application for exemption?

What to say? - except 'thank whoever-we-all-thank' for Professor Chris Rissel and his timely revelations on the subject - because of him our mainstream media have finally come on board & not a moment too soon! pour moi, maitenant, I'm drafting submissions for the NSW Ombudsman - pronto!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Minister & the Bicycle Helmet Rep

...revisiting my 'mini-play-in-one-post' (The Tale of Big Helma) - now in movie format!!

...funtimes & a few wasted hours!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Landslide development to repeal Bicycle Helmet Laws

It's happening!!!!! We're getting the 'green light'!!

Clearly, mandatory helmet laws will soon be repealed!!!

Brilliant article from Matthew Moore in the SMH yesterday, and brilliant coverage on ABC radio with Professor Chris Rissel himself.

This is the home straight, everybody - it's going to have all been worthwhile...

...three cheers to all of us & our unrelenting persistence!!!

...oh the power of grassroots!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cheap helmet strategy masked 'government-infringement' of civil liberties

The cheap helmet strategy imposed in the early 90s masked government pandering to the oil lobby. Fatuously they discriminated against a whole group of transport users in a bid to appease the Big Polluters - and we let this outrageous infringement of civil liberties 'through to the keeper'.

Unsurprisingly this abuse of civil liberties has lead to inequality in terms of congestion and health:

* we are the fattest nation on the planet, and;

* we continue to eat ourselves into early graves.

But today we are witnessing resentment re-emerging, and the realisation that the roads are for sharing.

We can only wonder, 'how will politicians deal with that?!'

Monday, August 9, 2010

Where is the proof that bicycle helmet laws are of any value?

It is somewhat chilling to realise that no proper experiments have ever been conducted to see what bicycle helmets actually provide...

...this is our reality because of ethics and an imagined presumption that helmets are of value.

...consequently Class 1 evidence has long been absent and I am imperilled by the Reg 256 (Road Rules 2008).

Flimsy anecdotal summations should never be the basis for restrictive legislation - we are impoverished as a result - grrrrr!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bicycle helmet beliefs are intellectually defunct

Inexplicably anecdotal evidence was ceded 'expert' status ahead of class 1 evidence, and as a consequence we surrendered our right to determine whether to encase our head in an oil-based coffee cup or not.

Notwithstanding inconclusive & contradictory data pertaining to the merits of bicycle helmets, helmet-law believers have been unnecessarily sheltered from criticism.

In fact so much so, these well-intentioned people have acquired baseless, irrational opinions which have subsequently rendered them (& us) incapable of:

(a) thinking rationally
(b) popping to the shops on a bike, and to some extent
(c) riding a bicycle, full stop!

Contrary to what helmet-promoters would have you believe, 'bicycle-armour' is not required when you're popping anywhere mainly because cycling:

(a) isn't dangerous
(b) nor extreme

Depressingly, we've witnessed the calculated logic of bicycle helmet laws 'coral' debate into a 'cul-de-sac' of reason - and we fell for it - sigh!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pious hope no justification for mandatory bicycle helmet laws

Helmets are manifestly not the measure of cycling safety.

Moreover if Australia wishes to achieve successful transport interdependence, cycling must be given the opportunity to flourish.

As this opportunity expands, it can only be inevitable that the days of mandatory helmet laws are numbered!


...crossing off & counting!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

How green is our shopping?

(David Jones, Sydney)
(Magasin du Nord, Copenhagen)

"All by myself, dont wanna be" - sang Aussie bicycle waiting outside DJ's!

"We are fam-il-y" - sang Danish bicycle waiting outside Magasin du Nord!

Where is everyone? Cycling is a brilliant mode of transport for shopping.

No kidding, you can fly down any of the Sydney streets, quickly jump off near any 'shop-front' doors - and then park your bike - basically 'it's pick a pavement any pavement', they're all available!

No stress; no expense; no 'ugly carpark' karma - just cruisy 'I-think-I'll-go-here' moments as you pop in anywhere on a whim!

Do it & love it!

Shop on a bike!!!