Friday, September 28, 2012

Newtown Festival takes the plunge – ‘bottled-water’ free

Almost certainly an ‘urban first’ for Australia, Newtown Festival is to go ‘bottled-water’ free this November.

Building on its eco-festival record (think bio-diesel generators, solar powered stages, and bio-degradable catering products just for starters), the community-run festival has embraced the need to reduce festival waste, and welcomes this opportunity to showcase their ability to provide water to 80,000 festival-goers without the need for 100,000 plastic bottles.

“Newtown’s having a birthday so to celebrate the big ‘1-5-0’ we’ve chosen performers and artists who have a connection to Newtown whether that’s living here now or having lived here in the past or some other unique link” explained Festival Co-Director, Sue Andersen.

“So when you’re dancing till you drop to King Tide or Regular John or rocking out to The Preatures or Collarbones, you’ll be quenching your thirst with FREE tap water from refill stations dotted round Camperdown Memorial Park.”

Unlike many highly priced festivals that are struggling both nationally and internationally to attract crowds , Newtown Festival has been free for more than 30 years and continues to draw crowds of well over 80,000.

“We love that we’re a free festival and that around 33% of festival goers donate gold coins and notes into our buckets at the site entrances,” said Ms Andersen. It’s this money, all 100% of it, that goes back to the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre to provide essential services for the diverse community that makes up Newtown.

“Just imagine what we could provide if 70% of festival goers popped a gold coin in the bucket, or if a few more coins turned into notes!!” exclaimed Ms Andersen.

When asked why Newtown continues to grow whilst some of the major festivals were having a hard time (even Glastonbury is struggling and having 2012 off!), Ms Andersen thought that “being run by the community for the community makes a big difference to the life and sustainability of a festival... and if you join us on Sunday 11 November you’ll see the Newtown community set a new benchmark for festivals when we go bottled-water free!”


Media Contact - for more information, images or interviews please contact:

Sue Andersen, Festival Co-Director, 0427 863 486, or
Cathy Wills, Festival Co-Director, 0412 214 844, or

Media Images: a gallery of high res festival images are available on the Media page

What: Newtown Festival 2012
When: Sunday, 11th November 2012
Where: Camperdown Memorial Rest Park, Newtown
Time: 9.30am – 6.00pm

Further Info: Visit festival website for more information
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Our right to choose wind in our hair

(Photos: 'Our girl' Princess Mary, Clean Technica)

Fair Go for all cyclists – move over, Sport of Cycling, the road’s for sharing!

Fed up with bicycle helmet laws that have dogged Australia and New Zealand for the past 20 years, utility cyclists across the Antipodes are taking matters into their own hands.

The Melbourne-based ‘Freestyle Cyclists’ are acting upon their successful web petition for removal of bicycle helmet compulsion and are launching a national campaign for law reform on Saturday 6 October 2012 in East Brunswick. Widely acclaimed Professor Chris Rissel from the Faculty of Public Health at the University of Sydney will address the crowd, and will highlight the fact that helmet laws discourage cycling even though health benefits from cycling far outweigh actual risks. Other speakers will include Councillor Jackie Fristacky from the City of Yarra, independent film-maker Geoff McLeod from Queensland, and cycling activist Sue Abbott from NSW.

“Following the presentations” said Mr Alan Todd, Campaign Launch Co-organiser, “a number of us will stage a demonstration of civil disobedience by riding our bicycles along the nearby Merri Creek bike track unhelmeted!”

“Victoria became the first place in the world to enact bicycle helmet laws and then, regrettably the rest of Australia jumped on the band-wagon without even waiting for an evaluation of the effects of the legislation!” explained Mr Todd.

“All in all after 2 decades, give or take a few states in the US and a few provinces in Canada, we are pretty much on our own in the world with bicycle helmet laws – and you know why...because they simply don’t work.”

Studies have shown that helmets do not make the cyclist safer – in fact the risk of head injury per km cycled showed no measurable change after helmet laws were introduced, whilst the risks of other injuries actually went up. Immediately after helmet laws came in, numbers of Australians and New Zealanders cycling dropped dramatically, particularly amongst women and teenagers. To date despite years of cycling promotion by governments and public health agencies, participation in cycling of all kinds is less per head of population than it was in 1986, and 1 in 5 Australians report that they are put off riding a bike by helmet requirements.

“It’s high time we ditched this petty, irksome and pointless barrier, and Freestyle Cyclists intend to coordinate the groundswell of public bike-love so that we can get them (bicycles) dusted off, out of the garage and onto the roads,” exclaimed Mr Todd.


Media Contact - for more information, images or interviews please contact:

Alan Todd, Campaign Launch Co-Organiser, +61 400 502 325, alanunderscoretoddatwestnetdotcomdotau

Sue Abbott, Cycling Activist, +61 418 237 021, infoatbettercorridorsdotorg

Geoff McLeod, +61 438 808 345, geoffmatsputnikfilmsdotcomdotau

What: Freestyle Cyclists’ National Campaign Launch
When: Saturday 6 October 2012
Where: CERES Community Environment Park, Cnr Roberts & Stewarts Sts, EAST BRUNSWICK
Time: 1pm

Further Info: Visit Freestyle Cyclists website for more information
Follow us on Twitter

Friday, September 21, 2012

Elected by the people, dumped by the parliament

An end of an era

Lights, camera, action

Clover Moore & Alex Greenwich (new independent candidate)

...more lights, camera, action

Clover Moore, Alex Greenwich & their partners

'It's the final countdown!

Outrageously, the Shooters and Fishers played a role in this sorry state of affairs... (they've also played a role in the mayhem and slaughter coming soon to a National Park near you!)

Sad to see a popular and guttsy leader forced out of our Parliament by our Parliament...

♩♪♫♬God only knows what we'll be without her♩♪♫♬

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Banging the Drums of War

(Photos: Carlos Latuff, Twitpic 2012)

So how will NATO flatten Syria?

(Photos: Carlos Latuff, Twitpic 2012)


Agents provocateurs & regime change??

...& after Syria, Iran? 'October Surprise'?

('what's the buzz, tell me what's happening?')

Monday, September 17, 2012

Two bicycles seized from my place *sigh*

Going...going...gone - off to an auction somewhere near you or me..or somebody anyway in New South Wales !

And all because I was criminal enough not to wear a helmet whilst I was using a bicycle, and then subsequently criminal enough to refuse to pay the arbitrary tax (Victims' Compensation Levy).

What madness is this?

Here we are in New South Wales, a state in dire need of a workable transport plan because of the systemic political failure to provide one, and all that our leaders can come up with in terms of solutions (with the exception of Clover Moore, I hasten to add) is to chuck a few more motorways around the city and halt all coherent rail and bus link plans.

I cannot see how the sheriff seizing my bicycles is in the public interest.

How has it helped keep the NSW community safe and happy?

Where is the public benefit pursuing a middle-aged mum whose crime was to object to an arbitrary tax (Victims Compensation Levy) which has since been repealed for section 10(1)(a) offenders (me) because of its inequity and unfairness?

Was it worth all the public money issuing me with State Debt Recovery Office notices of fine amounts as they increased and then suspending my driver’s licence?

Was it worth all the sheriff’s time coming out to my place and not finding me, leaving his calling cards and finally after many emails and phone calls, coordinating a date with me when we were both in the Upper Hunter at the same time?

I think the sheriff had hoped I might have just paid the bill but that was never going to happen (as he well knew).

This has been a matter of principle for me and a matter of objection to both the Victims Compensation Levy and of course mandatory helmet laws too. With regards to the latter, we know they were introduced all those years ago for commercial purposes only, and perhaps to create a danger-perception of cycling to discourage us from sharing the roads; roads which have now been filled up with B-Doubles and other mobile Weapons of Mass Destruction.

I remain disappointed with the intransigence of the NSW government. With their resources and our taxes, they are in a position to inform themselves of evidence other than that emanating from University of New South Wales. Yet they choose to cherry pick the data and resolutely refuse to countenance other research that points to obvious flaws in helmet regulations. Nothing in the Hon. John Ajaka's bleat to me last week assauges my feelings of derision for this conservative 'going-nowhere-very-fast' government:

"I am advised," he baas, "a recent research study conducted by the University of NSW provides evidence which supports mandatory helmet laws. The research was published online in November 2011 by Accident Analysis and Prevention, a leading scientific journal.

The study found that bicycle-relatated injuries fell significantly by up to 29 per cent in the months after the mandatory helmet legislation came into effect in NSW. The decrease in head injury rates was significantly greater for cyclists compared to pedestrians, and cyclist head injuries decreased more than limb injuries. The results based on hospital admissions data strongly support the case for mandatory helmet laws."

Talk about same-old same-old - so unhelpful so uninformed...

...and ultimatley underpinning the packing of my 2 bikes into the Sheriff's car...

...which, I have to say, was so surreal!!!! It sort of felt like I was lending them to a friend and that they'd be back soon, but I wasn't and they won't because the stark reality is that my elected representatives have seen fit to put me through the wringer in their unreasonable quest to ensure their daft law is enforced and upheld.

Anyhoo apparently, the sheriff tells me, I can get my driver’s licence back now!

"Why would I do that?" I asked him with surprise...

...and seriously, why would I?

I’m loving the freedom of not having one, or a car for that matter, and knowing that I never have to go to an RTA (now RMS) office again!

I'm also loving the notion that I can’t be a taxi or a furniture removal service anymore and I certainly don’t miss any of that!

PLUS...I can party how I like when I like!!!!

No, Hons. O'Farrell, Smith & Ajaka, you can keep your licence and your rego and your insurance and your motorways - they are nothing to me - I am car oil-free - I am car oil-liberated - and being in a bicycle family such as this one, there are always plenty of bikes in the shed for riding!

- and anyway I'm quite used to having my bicycles taken away from me!!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Have bike, will talk

(Entrance to Camperdown Memorial Park, Newtown )

1. With Foot Police crossing Redfern Street, Redfern

Them: "Helmet might be an idea"

Me: "They're terribly bad for you...and me too! - regulation 256 needs to go ASAP"

Them: "You're kidding! - oh well, spose you're kinda protected by all that hair!!!"

Me: "Ha! Ha! Ha! - everybody says that!!!! See-ya later!"

Them: "See-ya later"

2. With Mercedes Driver parking in Church Street, Newtown

Him: "You'd better not hit my car with that thing" (as I squeeze past his car)

Me: "Excuse me? - you shouldn't be parked there!"

Him: "Where's it say I can't? - can't see anything to say I can't...can you?...CAN YOU? (really shouting at me by last 'can you?')

Me: "You're parked on top of it so of course you can't see it"


Me: "It's a park entrance - & you're blocking it"


3. With Bicycle Police cruising Mitchell Street, Glebe

Me: "Hi"

Them: "Hi"


Bah! Les pilotes Mercedes, pas de classe!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The 'Fuck-You' Attitude we have to have

(Photos: Inner West Courier, Sept 2012)

We can get rid of daft rules and regulations when we put our minds to it!!!! - what a relief.

As reported in today's Inner West Courier, a ridiculous directive issued by the Ashfield Mall management commanded that the 1,000s of motorists using the car park were not to turn left. General consensus kicked in and the 'command' was consigned to the rubbish heap, along with the superflous sign.

Not to be deterred, management erected a new bigger and bossier one, and then suddenly it was gone - only to be revealed that it was removed by management itself who upon realising that 70% of their customers were turning left anyway, decided to actually conduct a thorough traffic management survey to see how best to manage this traffic situation.

A mall management stated in all seriousness that 'line markings have been introduced to allow left turns' and that 'circulation strategies were investigated to better manage the vehicular movements on the roof top car-park, which led to the taking down of the sign' - ha! ha! you don't say!!!!!

...FFSAIC - too too brilliant - we can exact changes through civil disobedience - go us!!!

...and with the rate that helmet compliance is diminishing in the Inner West and CBD, pollie management is soon going to have to investigate current bullshit strategies to better manage the ever-growing 'wind-in-hair-icular' movements on bicycle clad roads which no doubt will lead to the taking down of regulation 256 - aaaaahhhh...

...potentially marvellous!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hunter Valley 2012 = Mines+Development+Prime Movers

After the tragic school bus/prime-mover collision in Singleton on Monday afternoon, special interest-agendas and obfuscation have already become the order of the day

But this isn't about seatbelts on buses, or the widening of narrow intersections, or us being more alert and alarmed and driving more carefully...

No...this is about:

1. Massive prime movers rat-running through quiet narrow country town streets avoiding chronically congested New England Highway (congestion they cause)


2. Short-sighted politicians failing to acknowledge their part in allowing these super-sized mobile weapons to share our roads with us

Prime movers are too big for Singleton's Kelso Street or Church Street (or even Newtown's King Street for that matter) yet everyday we're seeing more and more of them.

As the entire Hunter Valley becomes one big connected mine with the F3 freeway soom to be chucking road users onto the New England Highway at Branxton, rat-running will only become more prevalent in these gun-barrel towns disected by the highway.

Unless politicians confront the problem head on rather than currently ducking behind some fatuous safety salvo, there will more needless tragedies on more narrow streets where prime movers ought to fear to tread.

So to all the elected folk in Macquarie Street ask yourselves this:

"What was a prime mover doing on Kelso Street?"

...and fix that up rather than start on what to do about school buses.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Merrily we toss spaghetti & create cycle networks

(Photos: Google Maps Image, Sydney cycleways)

You really can't get past the fact that, with anything, what really matters is peoples' experience...

...and so we have it that for the everyday bicycle user over the past 20 years it would be accurate to say it has not been good...

...and it's of little comfort now that bicycle infrastructure is being installed the current political 'Pollyanna-meme' seems to be "let's revisit icky little helmet laws once it's finished and all in place."

No way, José!!!!! - I'll probably be on a gopher by then...if I'm lucky!!!

Let's face it, we're not going to be 'connected and protected' anytime soon but our politicians could easily rid us of our meddlesome helmet laws today (ok tomorrow) - and they'll certainly need to once Clover brings bike share to Sydney - it would just be too too terrible if it turned out to be the dismal flop Melbourne Bike Share has been.

But back to the issue at hand:


in order to:

$$$ free up the courts,

$$$ free up the police,

$$$ free up cyclists

$$$ free up traffic

...can't be that hard!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

If I was a City of Sydney voter...I'D TICK CLOVER!!!!

(Photos: Pip Abbott, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India)

She not only gets the 'cities-that-work' concept, she's a 'do-er'! - and consequently this 'rolling-up-of-sleeves' approach means she's actually been sorting out Sydney's:

# dire urban congestion
# impoverished public transport
# existing unnconnected and unprotected routes for cyclists
# pressing need for more sustainable energy schemes well as making sure that:

# Sydney Mardi Gras Festival gets funding
# small bars happen

...and that's just for starters!

What if we end up with one of those candidates who's all about:

# car park creation
# bus lane removal
# bike lane deletion


- or one of those other candidates so intent on getting rid of Clover they've sold out on their souls and traditional labour promises to voters???

Be alert, Sydney, be alarmed, but most of all, be very careful 'what' you wish for on Saturday!! - otherwise things will get messy pretty quickly and we'll be an even bigger joke on the international urban planning stage than we already are...


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Barry O'Farrell's Elephant

(Photos: Pip Abbott, Rajasthan, India)

Behind the NSW Government's "Master Plan" of motorways is a great big proverbial elephant that totally fails to conceal the state's fatuous committment to Big Oil.

Who in their right mind plans a string of motorways to a city's CBD in order to alleviate congestion?

(Images: Sydney Morning Herald, 1-2 September 2012)

...and who in their right mind having looked at the books is confident enough to say we can afford all this nonsense? - didn't Macquarie Street get the memo that the times for cheap fuel and roads are over?!

There is no way Team Motorway can sustain the illusion anymore that they're the solution to 'accessibility' - absolutely no way...

...but even so, the state government continues to bleat in a continuous-feed recycled motorway-love for recycled motorway-projects...

...this has only led me to conclude that "all talk and no trousers" makes Bazza a dull boy!

*Sigh* 'Premier, don't build crap - can't be that hard'