Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why I am giving up cycling in the Upper Hunter Shire


Today in my local paper, "The Scone Advocate," a letter was published entitled "HOW CAN 'LAW BREAKER' BE ROLE MODEL FOR CYCLISTS?" In a somewhat rather non-21st Century way the Scone Advocate does not publish its letters online therefore I cannot give you the url so I've copied the content and popped it underneath my response which is below in between the two lots of dotted lines (my response that is). Oh and also the urls provided in the letter writer's letter were sourced and added by me in case you wanted to read some context to this flurry of letter writing ... sigh

In response to the letter in the Scone Advocate Thursday February 2017 (How can ‘Law Breaker’ be role model for cyclists?’), I would like to thank J McLaughlin for their letter. I understand the premise of their complaint, and completely agree that it must be confusing when viewing the Upper Hunter Shire Council’s (UHSC) excellent bicycle initiative if viewed alongside my personal campaign (which I might add is not condoned by the UHSC) to remove the Australian compulsion to wear mandatory bicycle helmets. 

Therefore in a bid not to compromise the sound community programmes that the UHSC has to offer the shire community I will here on in undertake not to ride my bicycle in Scone or anywhere in the Upper Hunter Shire for the next four years whilst I am serving my time as an elected local government representative.

Naturally outside Australia where there is a large world full of many countries without mandatory bicycle helmet law, I will ride with the rest of my global citizens as I see fit.

Consequently that now means there is a bicycle (the one pictured in the Scone Advocate alongside J McLaughlin’s letter) now idling at my place so if anyone would like to buy a white giant suede, 9 yrs old, one elderly lady rider, it is now for sale for the princely sum of $5,000.00. If sold I will donate all proceeds to the Scone Neighbourhood Resource Centre which is desperately in need of a new home.

If truth be told it has actually become a trifle dangerous cycling in this shire without a helmet what with insults, stones and egg sandwiches occasionally thrown at me whilst on my bicycle.

Once again I would like to take this opportunity to thank J McLaughlin for their salutary reminder that law breakers and role models cannot mix.
Sue Abbott, Scone
Letters to the Editor
I read with interest the article in The Scone Advocate ... Shire Notes: an enlightened new adventure ... Sunday February 12, 2017.
"New bike facility at the Scone Visitor Information and Horse Centre". Very commendable.
But what concerns me greatly is that the article seems also to (self) promote Cr Sue Abbott.
This person has shown a blatant disregard for the Bicycle Laws and bike safety.
This person has been fined many many times for refusing to wear a helmet.
From the Daily Telegraph ... August 15th 2016:
"In a seven year battle against bike helmets Sue Abbott has had her driver's licence suspended, bikes confiscated and four criminal convictions recorded".
How can this person be promoted as a role model for cyclists?
Is the Upper Hunter Shire Council endorsing her actions?
Magistrate Barko dismissed Abbott's linking of helmet laws to climate change as an argument with "no rational reasoning".
Not my words ... the words of a Magistrate ... the woman is irrational.
I reiterate, I think the idea of bike hire (and helmets) is very commendable.
But I also feel the Shire Council is treading on thin ice, both morally and legally, if it continues to use this "law breaker" to promote it.
J McLaughlin, Merriwa


  1. I wonder if other councilors ever break the speed limit, walk against a red traffic light, etc. I'd guess that they do, and not because they are law-breakers, or even dangerous individuals, probably they are just normal like any of us and can make sound judgement.

  2. So sad to hear this, Sue.

    I'd wonder just what kind of role model J McLauglin of Merriwa thinks they provide for local people. It all sounds to me very much like a green-eyed monster getting an airing.

    By the way, I forgot to put a signature to my rather long response to your post of February 10, 'Clearly bicycle helmets are medical devices'.

    I also meant to add that there appears to be a real disconnect between Australian government thinking on health & safety (as well as on the part of all those members of the public, such as J McLauglin of Merriwa, who seem very keen to do the job for them), and their response to activities that are widely regarded as being, and proven to be, extremely damaging to health.

    I'm afraid that one can only come to the inevitable conclusion there is a naked vendetta against cycling for everyday transport and a pathological desire to keep the motoring and energy lobbies pacified at all costs.

    I sincerely hope you'll continue to keep up the good fight, while perhaps saving some grief, time, sanity and dollars in the interim.

  3. Keep cycling. Keep cycling. Keep cycling. The only person harmed by not keeping on is you. It can feel quite overwhelming at times, I know, but you love it and a bike is your transport. Quietly raise the middle fingers to the holier-than-thou brigade and keep on doing what you love. That is all.

  4. I can't tell you what to do. Rosa Parks was a lawbreaker too, and also fighting for transport equity (in the form of racial equality) in her day. I understand if you are tired. Mandatory helmet laws for utilitarian cyclists are WRONG. Sport and fast-running road cyclists already wear protective gear, even in the Netherlands and Denmark. Those are two different activities done on similar but not identical human-powered vehicles.

  5. The letter writer was uninformed and dismissive. Why let that person determine your personal choices? That's what freedom is about, including freedom cycling.

  6. Keep cycling Sue. Please keep cycling. J McLaughlin is clearly a bigoted little POS.

  7. Be inspired by Ghandi's civil disobedience. Bad laws should be fought, not condoned. Your fight against helmet laws makes cycling safer for everyone who rides on the roads, and improves the health of everyone who continues to cycle instead of giving up because of this ill-conceived law. Your health is important too - keep cycling!