Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wot! - no helmets!!!

(Photos: Elenor Tedenborg, Inner West Courier, 11 November 2010)

We, the Australian people, believe in helmets and helmet laws...


...we need a good picture for a story & then it's 'whoopsie! - way too daggie!'

...ha! ha! it!!!

Off with their helmets!!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

'Nordic' Newtown

$$ Bicycle helmet laws are a classic case of scientific evidence being over-ruled & over-looked for political reasons.

$$ Bicycle helmet laws are delusional and way past their use-by date

$$ Bicycle helmet laws foster political inability to acknowledge what it would actually take for holistic cycling safety

$$ Bicycle helmet laws need revoking

$$...END OF STORY...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Ad Hominem" helmet article!

(These police have got better things to do...)

(...than worry about her...)

(...or him)

Sigh! I think I've been noticed in my town gauging from last week's local paper which quoted sentiments from local police inspector, supported by those from local bureaucratic 'Pooh-Bah', RTA, handful of ambos, and unsurprisingly 'now' eminent RPA ED researchers - in fact Uncle Tom Cobley & All!!!!


'all riders, amateur or experienced, are vulnerable when cycling on any road environment, making it very important to protect their head from damage'

- no kidding!

- get away!!!

But what I would like to know is why aren't motorists being urged to be involved in this great 'protection' initiative? They are by far the most important people in protecting cyclists' heads, and definitely the most effective.

So...anyone fancy a spot of 'letter-writing' to the "Scone Advocate" just to add some new spice to the mix? (I think they already have the 'heads-up' on what I'm going to say!!)

Your on-line comments and/or emails ( could lend some weight to the discourse in 'Our Town'!!!!

Thanks in anticipation...& good night & good luck!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Roll up! Roll up! Xmas Bargains in Melbourne

(Popular Melbourne landmark)

(Popular Melbourne vending-machine)

(Zero helmets!)

(...but bikes galore)

(One version of 'where-to-get-helmet' map)

(Alternative version of same 'where-to-get-helmet' map)

(Popular Melbourne headgear)

(Popular Newtown headgear)

Helmets are going like hotcakes at discount 'vending' places in Melbourne!

Are they the latest 'must-have-Chrissie-pressie'?

Of course it would stand to reason given today's bargain prices!!!!!

Only $5 a pop - and can be later returned to friendly vendor for a $3 reimbursement - even if worn!

Who is ever going to spend up big again for a helmet? ...and you know what? There's an even more tickety-boo plus: the Melbourne ones meet the new commercial standard!!!! - although interestingly there's a differing of opinion in the SMH article where it's claimed these helmets have stretchy straps designed...

"to allow the helmet to come off a rider's head" opposed to the 'owner's manual' (attached to the helmets) which declares...

"it should not be possible to remove the helmet without unfastening the buckle"

...hmmmmn who to believe?

Anyway enough of this idle excessive consumerist chit-chat!

I tried the whole 'bikey-hirey' thing in Melbourne today, and loved it:

* sunny day

* comfy bike

* pretty dress

* wafty breeze in hair, &

* friendly U-turning police in Elizabeth Street who after some deliberation diverted their paddy wagon & left me to revel in my 'freedom of choice'!! xx

...ahhhhh! How lovely! - how super!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Eureka" Airport Cycling Moment

"Love miles" to Melbourne yesterday, and usual angst spent night before fretting about taxi turning-up (i) on-time or (ii) at-all...

EUREKA! - it suddenly dawned on me I should cycle!!!!!!

So I did! - 6kms from Newtown to Kingsford Smith - effortless and easy.

Googled airport beforehand to find out if there were bicycle parks...

...THERE WERE!!!! - & off I toodled!!!


Way to go, Sydney!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Faint heart never won fair lady" 'mantra' which reminds me daily that a prolonged huge effort is constantly required to eventually achieve the 'To-helmet-or-not' choice

But this week I'm in a different mind-space and it's been a pleasure chilling out at the Bicycle Film Festival, soaking up all the friendly karma emanating from all around - bliss!

There was plenty of colour and energy on display at "Ride: life in the bike lane", District 01, Oxford Street, and I couldn't help hoping that maybe tonight's exhibition-goers were George Monbiot's 'progressive campaigners' setting out 'to explain & champion our values'.

Diverse & talented, fun & energetic - they were everywhere and there were lots of them...

...that's got to be a good thing!


...& now completely off topic, I find it troubling that obituaries are so often written by people who've pre-deceased the deceased!!

I know it's standard newspaper practice (I've had discussions with the Guardian about this matter before) but I was completely distracted reading 'La Stupenda's OB' with the knowledge that the OB writer had been dead for 3 years!!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bicycle Film Festival pushes off!

Take 1 'Bicycle Film Festival' and add 1 'me'...

Mix together, et voilà...


Last night, it was @Home Digital Eskimo, for interesting 'Brainstrust Presentation...cycling culture - do we need one?

Tonight, it was @Home Beresford Hotel, for fab start to the Sydney Bicycle Film Festival...opening night parties - do we need them (hell yes!!!)

So what have we got so far - any developing trends ? - hmmmn...let me see:

* chilled champagne

* oodles of bicycles

* cool-dude films

* cool-dude BFF 'goers'

Funtimes! Funtimes! Funtimes!

...moreover it's happening all week!!! Get your tickets and come on down!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

EDs add to danger-mongering of cycling

OMG! here we go again - nothing in this letter published in today's MJA (Medical Journal of Australia), should convince politicians NOT to repeal bicycle helmet laws.

After all if "bakers" were to tell us that people buy bread everyday and that some of "bakers" actually sell out of bread everyday, it wouldn't necessarily mean that everybody is buying bread everyday, and that everybody is eating masses of it too everyday!

The collection of figures and stats always contains many variables and invariably is 'cherry-picked' to bolster the finder's fixed beliefs. It's common knowledge that we seek information to prove categorically our 'point-of-view'.

ED doctors are no exception - they believe in helmets... me, I'm (married to) a doctor!

Joking aside, given the current academic debate on the issue of mandatory helmet laws within our community, it is a great shame that the RPA survey adds nothing of any substance to it.

Oh the drama & the spin! - but what I want to know is:

..."apart from Big Helma, who stands to gain?"...

Certainly not the Australian public.

Due to a tricky little issue called ethics, testing for helmets remains loose and sieve-like - always will.

As Dr Ian Walker, the eminent British scientist and researcher, explains in Tom Vanderbuilt's 'How We Drive' blog, no-one in the world knows whether bicycle helmets save lives or not for certain because:

"...only one method exists for us to get a definitive answer: the experiment. If we took a large number of bicyclists and randomly made one-third ride with helmets, one-third ride with fake helmets (the placebo) and one-third ride with no helmets (the control), then after a couple of years we could count the dead and get the answer we are hoping for. Sadly, however, there are some fairly obvious ethical difficulties with this."

Dr Walker goes on to succinctly point out, that the only evidence that will ever be available is indirect:

"...casualty figures, surveys and observational studies, all of which are riddled with biases...and for every piece of evidence we can find in one direction, there is another telling us the opposite..."

...hence the RPA study and it's findings, so opposite to the most recent peer-reviewed academic study. How does a government ever choose which study it will use to influence policy?...1 potato, 2 potato, 3 potato, 4...?!

In fact I would like to ask Dr Dinh to explain why, if helmets have done all they were cracked up to do over the past 20 years, this has proved so difficult to actually see here in Australia and why other countries around the world use us as the example for not introducing mandatory helmet laws?

But I digress - let's get back to Dr Walker who has more to say (do read his complete 'guest appearance' in Tom's blog):

" countries where helmets have been made mandatory, and where usage went from low to high levels almost overnight, there is just no real evidence of a concomitant drop in injuries. Indeed, what we see instead is a big drop in the number of people cycling, which is a disaster – far worse for public health than the few head injuries the helmet laws tried to prevent. Whenever a person gives up cycling, they get far less day-to-day exercise. This means they trade a very small risk of dying from a head injury (almost certainly smaller than you think – I can almost guarantee it won’t be a bicycling head injury that sees you off) for a greatly increased risk of dying early from heart disease or cancer (almost certainly larger than you think – I’d lay good odds that one of these two will get you)."

When will Australia cease vilifying 'road-users-who-use-bicycles', and attribute blame to the actual injury perpetrators - 'road-users-who-use-motor-vehicles'?

By refusing to relinquish our faith in helmets & helmet laws, we exhibit wilful blindness in our duty of care to vulnerable road users - what a pity we are such a negligent nation!


Quick little PS:

For the record, Sydney Morning Herald, in para 11 it's 'diffuse axonal injury' NOT 'diffuse external injury' which you persist in (mis)quoting!

...and also, I didn't think I'd ever be saying this, but I agree (!) with Minister Borger's insightful labelling of NSW Labour's 'dead & lifeless'...'urban failures' - WOW! what an admission on his part! way to go, Minister!

Notwithstanding, I'm somewhat confused where he was going with this admission though - was it an indirect attack on Clover's wonderful plans for George Street which are anything but 'urban failures'? - surely not!!!!

"...anyhoo! 'policy-advice-from-me' concerning emergency resuscitation of 'failed-urban-bits':

* prepare a little bicycle-love x x

* by making sure you IGNORE the RPA ED spin x x

* & drafting REPEAL provisions for mandatory helmet laws today (ok tomorrow, it's late I know!) x x"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Newtown Festival & High Court Decisions - great Aussie moments

Good! good! good-stuff happening 'down under' this week - truly tops!

At last the full bench of the High Court made it plain to 'one & all' that if you're planning on removing someone's liberty it has to be done 'lawfully'. Dodgy 'non-solutions' involving dodgy non-ministers & dodgy non-laws are no longer going to cut it in 'our place' anymore - YAY!...about time!

Another validating 'thumbs up' emanating from that highest court in our land, determined that a former university student's "youth allowance payments as a student were assessable and expenses incurred in gaining that income were deductible" - YAY!...whoop-di-doo for students!

...and today it was the Newtown Festival - brilliant! brilliant! brilliant! - in fact I'm told it's been 29 years of brilliance!

* warm sun

* quirky shopping

* fabulous music

* chilled wine

* spicy food

* sensational siestas

...oh, why are fun-days always so short?...sigh....

But hang-on, me, there's more...I need not 'fear-not'!!!

...tomorrow the Bicycle Film Festival 'kicks-off- (or 'pushes-off' or 'whatever-off' bicycle film festivals do) with their 'Pre-Stuff' stuff at the Beresford Hotel, Surrey Hills - can't wait!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

No escaping bureaucracy - cradle to grave

A revealing exposé of manufactured schooling (sent by our Cairo-based Baby No. 2).

You've 'gotta' hand it to bureaucracy - no matter where they unpack their tote bag, 'just a spoonful of them' and creativity & funtimes are instantly extinguished...!!

...bring back the Arts & Humanities, and let them be brimming with aesthetics when they return!!

(apologies in advance for the ad at the end of the clip - least it wasn't for a bicycle helmet!!!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Freedom from scientific experimentation - NOW

Our fundamental right to freedom from medical or scientific experimentation established by Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is continuously being eroded by the application of the Road Rules 2008 (NSW) Regulation 256.

This blatant over-reach of governmental power is inconsistent with our treaty obligations as a signatory to the ICCPR. In fact, our 'delicatessen' approach to our international treaty obligations lends itself to being labelled wilful & arrogant.

Why is 'political will' so sorely lacking in Australia that we appear to shy away from proven invaluable road-sharing tips emanating from unquestionably successful cycling nations (namely The Netherlands and Denmark)?

What will it take, apart from 'already-happening' civil disobedience?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Strict Liability - we need it NOW!

(Photos: Flickr, Amsterdamize, "Freedom")

"It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding"
Upton Sinclair

Bicycle Helmet laws favour:

* Australian Politicians

* Australian Rich

* Australian Car-culture

* Big Oil

Bicycle Helmet laws are:

* discriminatory

* contradictory

* largely unenforced

Yet, we could turn this around in an instant by insisting upon the repeal of bicycle helmet laws - simple as that!

But wait there's even more useful stuff we could do! Along with the long-overdue repeal of bicycle helmet laws, we could also introduce "Strict liability" in order to finally shift the onus of responsibility onto the actual road users who inflict the most catastrophic damage of all

...(now read Carlton Reid's post on this issue - including his thoughts on separate cycleways)...

Anyhoo, back to our unfair restrictive head-gear protocols - our draconian laws are forcing cyclists to wear helmets even though 'eminent academics' cannot agree on the 'outdated-blanket claims' that 'helmets save lives'!

In fact all that can be reasonably claimed, 20 years down the track, is that:

- data is confusing & confused,

- 'eminent academics' are confusing & confused

Why then are we denied the right to opt in or out?

"Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary! - just refer back to Mr Sinclair's opening remarks!!!"




Sunday, November 7, 2010

Australian bicycle policy - set up to fail

(Photos: Flickr, Amsterdamize, "Freedom")

When I look at the beautiful Amsterdamize photo above, I experience waves of exhausted despair. I am so tired of the uninformed, ignorant Australian baloney pertaining to mandatory helmet laws (!!) evidenced by persistent political cowardice.

Someone please tell me: why are our politicians so scared of the 'first-cycling-death-après-bicycle-helmet-laws'? Cyclists die now - with helmets on!!

Helmet laws are not preventing cycling deaths or injuries - that's a fact! - and we know it - or at the very least we must be suspicious!

Notwithstanding, given the fierce & divided academic debate on the issue, it ought to be glaringly obvious that this matter is vexed and contradictory, and therefore a question of civil liberties. Unquestionably, helmets ought to be a matter for choice.

Now before I get bombarded with invitations to pay for my own medical bills, please remember that our health system does not work on a 'personal liability' basis, hence our willingness to care for people with needs who maybe smoke, over-eat, over drink, sustain injury whilst assaulting others, and/or even ride bicycles with helmets on!

Long may this modus operandi last!!!

It must be clear to all that Australian bicycle policy was set up to fail from the outset - & it almost did too! Cycling all but died except for the 'extremists' who drove their bikes around in cars 'somewhere-eminently-suitable' for the odd lap or 2...

...but that is no longer the case...

* 'People-Using-Bicycles' are back with a vengeance - yes indeedy!

* 'People-Using-Bicycles' know the road is theirs for sharing - we sure do!

* 'People-Using-Bicycles' know the road is theirs for the taking - you betcha!!

* 'People-Using-Bicycles' are taking it! - too bloody right!!!

Nothing is going to deter us - even the recently-opened & somewhat-regrettable College Street cycle-lane...

("...shame on you, RTA, for your blinkered refusal in refusing to give the City of Sydney permission to halt motorists turning left into Park Street for a further measly 8 seconds - the cycle-lane is consequently confusing, and strands cyclists on the pavement amongst pedestrians to minimal 'traffic-light' flow options - wasteful & pointless!!...")

...but back to current exciting grassroots behaviour, the 'ignorant baloney' will no longer wash; we want to cycle and we will; and quite a large number of us wish to do so 'sans' helmets...



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Net importer of food (& no doubt bicycle helmets too)

(Photos: Amsterdamize, Flickr, "Freedom")

Oh to be back in Amsterdam! - sigh!

Alarmingly it has been reported this week that Australia has become a net importer of food - scary stuff - & so much for 'Free Trade Agreements'!!...

...which, as we explore them further, reveal that Australian legislative provisions enshrine that a percentage of 'Genetically Modified' ingredients can be part of our foodstuffs without being disclosed on food-labels. Apparently such disclosure would be terribly bad for business as currently we're none too keen to gobble-up willy nilly 'GM' goodies without being informed that we're gobbling them up!!

Who did we actually elect in August?...because it seems to me that behind the closed political doors all the major political (& geo-political) decisions are made by:






These "BIGS" are un-elected power-brokers, and 'pollies' of all political persuasion dance only too merrily to their tunes.

Of course we mustn't forget our Australian 'home-grown' "biggie" either:

*BIG HELMA (so refreshingly absent in Dutch politics!)

...who provide a further corporate trough for Australian politicians to snuffle in. With regard to the helmet equation, I think it's fairly safe to conclude that we've been a net importer of bicycle helmets for decades.

But back to "BIG FOOD" and their clutches on the global food market, thank 'whoever-we-all-individually-thank' for Dr Vandana Shiva, recipient of the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize, and her legendary seed activism - she is truly a 'human-rights-defending-giant' and we need more of her!!

...can't wait to hear her give the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House tomorrow night!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Behind paternalism is political complicity

(young Berlin couple, free of bicycle helmet laws)

Australian governments have an inability to recognise that the dream of holistic cycling safety, currently veiled by mandatory helmet requirements, is an impossibility.

Consequently the inability to accept that they are wrong has resulted in continued adherence to flawed policy, and diminished civil rights.

Such blinkered political behaviour is gravely problematic, and reveals blatant injustice.

Maybe the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Chris Hedges is on the money with his comments on 'the power elite' in "Zero point of systemic collapse":

"...appealing to their better nature or seeking to influence the internal levels of power will no longer work" until I come up with a better plan...

I defy injustice and,

I refuse to surrender to the vast commercial enterprise of bicycle helmet laws and,

I resist the wilful abuse of my civil liberties and,

I won't wear a helmet!!