Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cambridge - I want what they have

A couple of weeks ago with BN4 in tow, I headed to Cambridge to visit a Hunter Valley expat (now a Trinity Ph.D.c) ...

... and of course to surround myself with the delights of an English cycling city

... aaaah bliss

But, as per usual, whilst I gazed upon the cycling community in Cambridge, that old chestnut of a question popped into my head ...

Why oh why are we so stupid in Australia?

...which of course then led to other pointless queries:

Why are we so upside-down in our approach to cycling?

Why are we so obsessed with safety?

Why do we think helmets can provide us with it?

Why do we need laws to tell us to wear them?

And then I started thinking of my court cases and other legal matters that are starting to bank up, urgently requiring me to put them into some sort of holding pattern.

I've got the appeal call-over on October 30 followed by a brand new matter for mention on November 11 plus, note-to-self (new worn-out 50+ Bridget Jones currently peppers the British press!), must write to State Debt Recovery Office by October 17 to point out to them that I'm not required to pay any of the bills they've sent me until my appeal is completed (thanks, Edward).

Sigh! It's all so exhausting and so unnecessary and just highlights the fact that our mandatory bicycle helmet promotion is nothing more than a great big example of rampant systemic misselling.

Why can't we have what they have in Cambridge? ... now

Ok ... tomorrow then


  1. I was at the AusBike trade show this past weekend. My wife wanted to test ride a bike, for which you can go to the test ride area - which was a closed off, paved, 10m or so circle (around a flowerbed) next to the exhibition building, not on a road or anything. She was disallowed from riding the bike because she had no helmet. We were in utter disbelief and how moronic this situation is.

    1. Unbelievable - mandatory helmet promotion has made us Australians all bonkers!

  2. It is another way for the nanny state of oz saying we need more fat Australians, more obesity related cases to provide more demand for private health funds. In that sense, helmet law is doing its job, thank you very much.

  3. On cycle helmets we do see the occasional attempt by a back-bencher to launch a private members’ bill introducing helmet compulsion, generally for children but occasionally for adults too. One in the Northern Ireland regional parliament did look for a while like it might be a serious threat but Westminster back-bench proposals are usually strangled at birth.

    All political parties have adopted the mantra “cut red tape” and in a culture of eliminating regulation, whether necessary or not, it is hard to see that cycle helmet compulsion will ever get government approval or enough back bench votes to enter intol law.

    Mind you, I suspect that the Australian political culture is not that different to ours, indeed I suspect it is even bolshier about regulation, and yet this still happened to you, so it could happen to us!

    On Cambridge, while it is the UK’s leading cycle city, that is far more due to historical and demographic factors than to any political intervention by the city or county council. Indeed the city’s response to cycling has been inadequate and too slow, responding to facts on the ground rather than doing much to actually promote cycling, and the county – the large rural area around the city – is actively hostile to cycling.

    There are places with lower cycling levels where the local government has done far more to promote cycling, it is just that the demographics of the audience are less receptive or the attractions of the car as alternative not quite so unappealing.

    1. Thanks for your considered comment, Paul. Good to hear your on-the-ground views.

      Certainly as a resident of Australia, I'm pea-green with envy of what you do have here in the UK - we're so far behind in terms of any acceptance of commuter cycling - the sport of cycling and madatory helmet laws have totally hi-jacked the notion of everyday cycling for people like me (aka middle-aged mums), going no faster than a jogger, often to the shops for the proverbial milk supply and/or the odd cuppa with friends. And for this inconsequential 'journey,' I am supposed to wear 'protective armour' for an activity less dangerous than gardening and/or knitting both of which I do without Australian government interference ... yet.

      Thanks again for dropping by Paul ... I have to say, I'm loving my time in England, catching up with family & friends, and popping to the shops willy-nilly for milk and coffee on my newly acquired Raleigh bike with front basket and another to arrive anyday for the back!!

    2. >going no faster than a jogger

      I have a bike trailer which converts to a stroller for jogging. When I run bareheaded with my bareheaded child in it I am a good parent. When I attach it to my bicycle and ride at jogging pace on the same shared path, I am a criminal and a terrible parent unless both myself and my child wear approved helments. It is f'in ridiculous.