Monday, October 8, 2012

Police blessing for unhelmeted bike protest

(Professor Chris Rissel, Faculty of Public Health, University of Sydney)

(Photos: '...& then the sheriff...', me by Peng)

(Alan Todd with doco-makers)

(Nik Dow & man's best friend)

('mum', 'dad' & 2 littlies on cargo bike)

('have oilskin will travel')

(Merrily we rode along the 'Merri')

We came, we saw, we conquered...

Well, we rode bicycles and made this plan:

We're bicycle users, we're here to stay, our roads are ours for the taking, and the law had better get used to us whether it likes it or not...

(I think that was the take home message!!!!)

Despite the freezing cold rain (Melbourne, it was summer in Sydney when I left!), a bunch of us cycled along the Merri before we joined the rest of our group for the launch on Saturday afternoon.

Somewhat bizarrely despite 30 would-be-criminals informing them beforehand of their intended criminal behaviour, Melbourne police were cool with state laws being broken on this particular occasion, and were as laid back as anything - in fact pretty much along the lines worries, the bicycle path's all yours!

Does this make a mockery of helmet laws or what???

When you consider the usual Victorian Law Enforcement approach is to serve you with a massive fine ($170+) and dollops of patronising hyperbole that helmet laws are there to protect us blah blah blah, it's glaringly obvious that they're really there for revenue raising purposes and to keep us off the roads. This sudden 'do as you like' approach fools no-one and is blatant proof that helmets only protect us from one thing: fines...period!

Anyway once the cycling contingency had made it to CERES, we were joined by fellow activists from far and wide, basically from across Australia.

With Canberra's Bill Curnow, Brisbane's Geoff McLeod, Sydney's Chris Rissel and Melbourne's Jackie Fristacky, we shared our stories at length, delivered & listened to each other's presentations, and ultimately launched the National Campaign for Freestyle Cycling. Tales of dire public health predictions, unnecessary use of police handcuffs, seizure of property, actual biomechanics of helmets & brain injury, as well as visionary council initiatives from the City of Yarra kept us riveted, appalled, and inspired.

But best of all, the National Campaign Launch of freestyle cycling allowed us to entertain the uplifting notion that we're not only making headway but we're rattling the bars on the million dollar helmet lobby's hold on the laws too...(AND...they also gave us an amazing afternoon tea starring a stunning chocolate cake - thank god we cycle!)

So three cheers for the Freestyle Cycling Campaign!!!


Be afraid, helmet promoters, be very afraid...we're on bikes, we're on our roads, and we're coming to a place near you very soon!!!!!!

Ha! Ha! Ha!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

...and after all of that there was still time for me to partake in some obligatory Melbourne 'funtimes'!!!...

(Abbottsford Convent)

(The Bakery, Abbottsford)

(Degraves Street, nr Flinders Street Station)


(& more lanes)

...what with friends, food, laneways (et bien sûr un peu de vin), you can never go wrong in Melbourne!!!


  1. HI Sue, glad you had a good time down here, despite the freezing rain (?).

    I think the police cooperation with the protest was a good sign. They may be waking up to the fact that enforcing helmet laws does more harm than good. And police in Vic have a fine tradition of tolerance for civil protest.

    It's mainly the police on bicycles that see it as their role to persecute cyclists whenever possible.

  2. Loved it, Nik, as always..well done to all of you, and yes it's good the police are taking this more tolerant position - if only they could be supported by our elected representatives who's intransigence keeps this country in the dark ages in terms of tranpsortation - it's madness that politicians continue to waste valuable police and court resources.

    Many thanks again

  3. Hi Sue, Thank-you for making the day the pleasure that it was. I loved riding with you and catching up , as we do, at these protest events. You have a real talent for public speaking, managing to turn your account of your absurd dealings with the law, into an entertaining story.
    Thanks also for the present left in the kitchen and for the session with coffee/cake/dishes and funtimes all at once.
    We have lots of ideas as a result of Saturdays talks so heres to the future!