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-apr├Ęs-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...




  1. hmm Sue, you are just as 'bad' as the Dutch... well according to the Wall Street Journal anyway. You and us Dutch have it all wrong...

  2. Sue, I'm incredibly frustrated with the stupidity of government and bureaucracy as well. The facts are out there, the research has almost all been done, people are asking for change and many people continue to ride 'sans helmet'. At the level of government we are being ignored. What do you think of trying a grassroots 'sans helmet' ride with a large enough number of people,media attention speeches etc ? The ride would demand a full review of the laws. It might be the thing that gets their attention. Just a thought. Might speed up the excruciatingly slow process of change.

  3. Kathy,

    If such a ride was organised, I'd fly down from Brisbane for it!


    Paul Martin
    Brisbane, Australia

  4. I think Sydney would be the place to have it. My partner and I would be traveling from Victoria so we'd need lot's of warning to get children organised etc. I'm hoping for a NSW person to offer to take a leadership role in linking up all the groups, hopefully some politicians on side, some speakers and media. I 'll just float the idea from time to time and see if it takes off.

  5. OMG! Mark! that article made me feel positively sick! - what is it with helmet proponents? Why must they ram their ridiculous product on the unwilling (ok, I know, I know - $$$$$$) - jeez!!!!!

    Kathy! great idea and something I've been 'mentally-plotting' for a little while - so heartening to read there are fellow of protesters out there(of course, you, Paul were always a given!!!!)

    Watch this space!!!

  6. Let's not limit a protest to only occur in Sydney. How can we get this point of "choice not law" for bike helmets to all states and to the people who can actually change the laws?? I have signed a couple of petitions but there must be more that can be done. Is there anyway of organising a peaceful demonstration which all states can do at once??

  7. Sue, not sure if you saw the article in the Courier Mail today about the Police Officers who caught the 15 y.o riding 'sans' helmet & rather than fine him let his tyres down & made him walk home, only 15k's from where Daniel Morcombe was abducted? The saddest thing is the majority of people who support the Police in this case touting that they "saved his life" & suggesting he has a bad mother. I think it is time to consider the move to Amsterdam.

  8. Sadly I think you're right, Gary, - it's all so disheartening - our community has become completely brain-washed...

    ...BUT we've still got our right to speak out, and we mustn't forget how powerful that is in the long run - "It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees" (Emiliano Zapata)

  9. An interesting survey commented on in Peter Ruehl's column in the today's Financial Review (9 November 2010)

  10. "It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees" (Emiliano Zapata)

    Oh... I *really* like that quote, Sue.

    My 2 cents:
    NSW is the place to do this - the time is right I think. Other states will follow the leader. In Queensland I'm still a rare anomaly riding about without a helmet.

    Paul Martin
    Brisbane, Australia

  11. Well, pick a date, what about March 20 2011, near the equinox and a full moon. Sunday morning with a picnic in a convenient park.

  12. Like the date Richard. A good pagan date with plenty of time to plan.

  13. NSW is definitely the place to start. Has anyone been to Byron Bay recently? I was there a few weeks back and was quite amazed. There were a lot of people on bicycles and on my count only about 1 in 10 wore a helmet. You're halfway there.

  14. ...just gets better & better!!!

    OK - time to roll my sleeves up - I have a spot of organising to do!!!

  15. Sue, I'm curious as to why you think we Aussies get so hot & bothered by the mere suggestion of riding sans helmet.

    A few years living in Europe has shown me how the other 99% of the planet ride. Its so obvious when you see it. But no, it seems here. There is a definite anglo-american thing going on that I can't quite put my finger on.

    More to the point, short of contesting a fine in court (not a viable option in QLD) what action can we take to get rid of these stupid laws?

  16. Dave, I think it's 'Big Oil' that dictates what we do over here in terms of transport, ably assisted by 'Big Helma'

    - and re 'what action can we take', keep lobbying your politicians and engage with them on this matter constantly - don't give up even when you feel like it would be more fun to bang your head against a brick wall!! - also try and get mainstream media interested if poss - good luck

  17. I have just been fined by two angry, officious overweight police sergeants who treated me like I was a serious felon, in Byron Bay. I have lived in Byron Bay 2 years and 99% of those cycling do not wear a helmet. The policemen's attitude have made an enemy of both the NSW police force and compulsory helmet legislation. I wear a helmet long distance cycling and also when mountainbiking...but not a short ride to the beach or shop.

    I would rather drive a gas guzzling car than submit to this helmet law.

    SWB, Byron Bay