Thursday, February 3, 2011

Equity must prevail - cease persecution of cyclists

My mind has been doing 'overtime' since (& whilst) I've been away, and when I get back to Australia we really have to get rid of 'mandatory helmet laws' once and for all!!! - no kidding, we just have to!

"How to address the problem and put it to bed?"
* get booked again
* write to the ACCC as the 'misled & deceived' consumer that I am
* check implications for SAI as manufacturer of unsubstantiated helmet standard
* fight 'Corporate-land' on safety-washing tactics similar to 'green-washing' ones
* research any assistance 'Tort Law' might offer me
* ie...does NSW government have a duty of care to me?
* revisit 'Criminal Law'
* maybe start organising a few fruit parcels!!!

2011 has to be the year - this madness cannot continue...



  1. Hear hear! I'll be right there with you, Sue.

    I'm glad you're having a great holiday.

  2. Sue,

    I've been think about the duty of care issue but don't have the legal background to know if it is viable.

    I'm guessing the state has an duty of care to not knowingly expose us to danger if possible. The dangers of skin cancer are well known to the state (evidenced by sun safety campaigns) while helmet studies show some improvement in injury prevention IF you are in an accident.

    The relative risks & fatality rates are also well known - skin cancer kills around 2000 per year vs 30 cycling fatalities. More cyclists die of skin cancer than from cycling!

    Helmet laws clearly state helmets must be worn properly and comply with ASNZS2063.

    ASNZS2063 states that there can't be internal projections in the helmet, external fittings can't extend more than 5mm and helmets can't be modified in any way.

    All of this means that helmets are incompatible with effective sun protect such as wide brimmed hats (or even wearing a baseball cap underneath as the helmet is no longer properly fitting).

    So by mandating that cyclists wear helmets, the state is exposing them to greater harm than the helmet is designed to prevent, which (hopefully) is a breach of the state's duty of care.

    I'd be interested to hear feedback from someone with legal training.


  3. Thanks, Paul, and valid comments, Dave - have to look into all your points - their commercial web of smoke & mirrors gets more and more sieve-like!!

  4. The skin cancer arguement actually sounds promising, however, be careful what you wish for. Knowing our government, instead of repealing the MHL law due to the skin cancer issue, they will then mandate full-face motorcycle style helmets instead.

  5. Dave - "the state has an duty of care to not knowingly expose us to danger if possible."

    You are looking through the wrong end of the telescope, thus missing the core issue that needs to be addressed. It is important in the heat of the moment not to allow your tactics to drift away from your strategy:

    Why is personal choice the government exposing you to danger? That is the essential point that needs to be attacked and reversed or nothing else really matters. They'll just keep piling on the FUD that they can then mandate a "solution" for.

    There is a history to it that you might want to look into (hint; I have a friend who is crippled for life because she got polio from the vaccine).

    "even wearing a baseball cap underneath as the helmet is no longer properly fitting"

    This is incorrect. Helmets are designed to have hats fit under them, thus the argument won't work. As well, some have sun visors as a standard fitting and all can be fitted with brims on the outside.

    Anyone who has seen my standard disclaimer knows I do not passionately hate helmets. I do, however, passionately hate nanny laws. They are nothing less than the instantiation of tyranny.

    Although I own two helmets, both well worn, on any given day you won't see me wearing one, even though I can't remember the last time I rode a bike without head protection. If I assess my needs and the potential risks and choose to wear an Akubra Banjo Patterson, that is my choice.

    I am in a better position to assess my risks than any outside group who is only concerned with groups of statistically significant size. Outside groups of this sort will knowingly put you in harm's way if they feel it removes two others from the path. They are not protecting you. They overtly don't give a damn about you. That is why The War always revolves around statistics.

    To the extent that the government might have some protectionist role it is to gather the statistics, publish advisories, then, well, "Fuck off and mind yer own business, mate."

    And fully independent scientists and engineers do even this a damned sight better.

  6. Hello. You seem to be in good trip in London. I have been to London about twenty years ago, two times. I remember London Zoo... Anyway, have a nice trip. I am sorry. I can't comment about Helmet law discussion tonight... By the way, I know the Barkley. I wrote about Japanese rental bikes the other day. . Please check it out if you have a time. Thank you.

  7. You could consider one other course of action that wasn't included. The key to winning a single issue is through political power. When you hold the fate of a politician's career in your hands, you call the shots. And there is a simple path to this kind of power, as long as it's a single issue and you have about a dozen volunteers. Visit http://RIDE2REPEAL.COM to see how.

  8. "When you hold the fate of a politician's career in your hands, you call the shots. And there is a simple path to this kind of power . . ."

    A hooker and a camera?

  9. hi Sue, so good to follow your London fun! Here's a very interesting piece of info from a Seattle law firm: 'Can Bicycle Helmets Really Prevent Brain Injuries?'

    Best, Marc

  10. Why not comment on the new Australian National Road Safety Strategy for 2011 - 2020? Details at

    The consultation period has been extended until 18 February 2011. Tell them that helmet laws don't work - instead of making cycling safer, Australian helmet laws discouraged cycling, reduced safety in numbers and encouraged risk compensation by motor vehicle drivers and cyclists, all of which led to increased injuries per cyclist compared to what would have been expected without the law.

    So not only did the laws make cycling less safe, they discouraged healthy exercise leading to a higher risk of brain damage from strokes and heart attacks.

    The National Road Safety Strategy should therefore review the costs and benefits of helmet laws and if the costs of discouraging healthy pollution-free transport and exercise, increased risk compensation and reduced safety in numbers is greater than the apparently undetectable effect on head injuries (compared to trends for other road users), helmet laws should be repealed.

    If every follower of this blog points out that helmet laws are making cycling less safe in Australia, maybe they will start to re-think.

  11. I'm back in Oz and have loved reading all your comments - thank you!!!

    ...and good idea about the new Australian National Road Safety Strategy submission 'thing-a-me-jig'; someone else sent me notification of this consultation process too - I'll endeavour to get my act together and submit something by their extended date!

  12. Welcome back Sue. Just thought you'd be interested to know you've made it into the Bike Snob NYC blog:

  13. Wow! Etienne!! - Bike Snob NYC - that's pretty cool - I'm gobsmacked!!! - thanks for the link!! - who'd have thought!!!

  14. Marc, London was fun as a tourist!!!!

    ...thanks a million for the Seattle law firm link - very interesting; definitely one for the archives!

    ...hope all is well with you and Lauren xx

    (& apologies for delay in acknowledging your comment - for some bizarre reason it went into my spam box - thank 'god-knows-who-i-thank' that I often check to see who's 'spamming' me!! ha! ha!) x