Monday, September 6, 2010

Helmet debate on prime time TV

Oh! Australia is such a contradictory and confusing place!

We're wedded to our helmet laws, yet we dispense with them when it comes to advertising as the photo above reveals! No sign of a helmet to sell the Rocks & Spring - only the harbour, a bicycle and a pretty woman. Clearly a 'stack hat' wouldn't cut it!!

...scratch the surface and Australian helmet believers actually reveal themselves to be not only scarily fanatical, but happy to run with the lack of evidence to prove their 'helmets-save-lives' mantra.

But I want to know how come they (helmet believers) won't let me use their 'lack of evidence tactic' to prove my position - surely it's flexible enough to go both ways?

I briefly appeared on the "7PM Project" (6:35 mins into video clip) last Friday night - & what an interesting exercise that was, to say the least - utterly invaluable, I think!?!!

Naturally many of the 'usual suspect' questions were asked - you know the ones such as:

* is it a hair thing?
* how come you're not above the law?
* why shouldn't you pay for your own medical bills?

...except for the one pertaining to seatbelt which was omitted!

Notwithstanding, these Qs are necessary to master because they're always asked and may be the useful ones to win the hearts and minds of the voting folk.

Prima facie neither the audience nor panel members were fully acquainted with Professor Rissel's 2010 peer reviewed article which appeared in the "Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety" (p.50). If they had been, the 'same-old-same-old' questions would have been redundant.

In fact it would be interesting to discover what they actually have read that makes them such experts?

Could it be the much touted 'Government / RTA / DV Experts (private crash investigation company)' sponsored UNSW 2009 "Pedal & Motor Cycle Helmet Perfromance Study", whose very framework, in its call for participation, appears to support government mandatory helmet policy?

...and further does anyone know if the study is finished yet and if it is, where it can be found? If it isn't, can completion actually be guaranteed before the end of the year when the UNSW School of Risk & Safety Sciences closes for good?

Notwithstanding these questions and whatever the conclusions &/or expert opinion, some 'hearts and minds' are beyond 'winning over'!!! - as evidenced in the following 'email excerpt'!!!:

" dare you go on national TV and encourage people not to wear helmets. Children watch television and listen to people like you. If one child comes off their bike and suffer from head injury I hope you hear about it and realize the "good" you've done. Just because you don't like wearing a helmet? Maybe you should stop wearing seat belts next. Also lets get rid of safety guards on power tools. Wake up and think about cyclists that aren't you."

Oh boy! - maybe it would be easier just to relocate to the Netherlands now rather than later?!

After all, are we ever going to achieve the cultural capital necessary for a diverse and inclusive cycling culture?


  1. You naughty, naughty person you- emncouraging children to think about things instead of doing what their parents and the all-knowing authorities tell them. Next thing you know they will be wanting to see evidence when people make fatuous and ill founded claims. How on earth can we control people and make them behave according to our beliefs if you keep telling them to think?
    Shame on you for letting people make their own minds up.
    Go and stand in the corner.

  2. Andy in Germany it is a good thing you didn't say "Go and stand in the corner and wear the dunce's hat".

  3. Good for you,Sue. In Melbourne I've noticed a disturbing new trend. Men in tights and ridiculous silk shorts, riding bikes while wearing helmets with flashing lights on top,IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY! Always blokes, always with the funny costume. Head down, arse up , scowl firmly in place. I doubt if most Australians will ever get real cycling. I too dream of living in Europe where common sense prevails.



  4. Hi Sue, I cannot express my admiration for you enough. Congratulations over and over again. I have been following all the recent news with growing excitement. You were great on the 7pm project. It is very hard to handle these questions under pressure and everyone who saw it thought you won the debate ( if that is what you could call it ). We are ex cyclists living near a country Victorian town who have been forced to give up riding because of repeated persecution by the law in the 90's but your determination and win at the District Court has given us new hope. Is there any Victorian group we could connect to ?

  5. Go Sue!

    I can only encourage everyone to write to their local councillors and state MPs. This law has to go.

    See you on Saturday!



    Dr Paul Martin
    Brisbane, Australia

  6. Thank you all for your supportive comments - makes it all worthwhile!!!

  7. Australia's helmet laws -"It’s difficult to remove by logic an idea that is not placed there by logic in the first place", Gordon Livingston

    I loved the healthcare question...what utter nonsense! By that logic failed suicide attempts should not receive medical treatment.

  8. Jonathan, your "Gordon Livingston" quote is so apt!!!

  9. The image you use for the rocks is NOT a bicycle it is a scooter.

  10. Whoopsie! I wondered about that!!!!

    Thanks, Anon!

  11. Actually... it IS a bicycle, not a scooter.

    It is the same bicycle that is used on the City of Sydney's 'Sydney Cycling Guide + Map 2010' brochure.

    Paul Martin
    Brisbane, Australia