Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Time spent on helmet laws expensive for all of us

Queen's Park on the way to Waverley Court

The magistrate was none too pleased to see me in front of him today (yesterday) nor to hear that I would be raising necessity at a future defended hearing.

Further he was none too pleased that I had raised necessity in front of him before and that after that hearing I had cycled away on my bicycle without wearing a helmet, and that I had then gone and got myself plastered all over the papers and the media across New South Wales.

He said that I seemed to be making a bit of a celebrity of myself but I pointed out that that was not the case; rather I was highlighting that bicycle helmet law is flawed.

He asked me if I was going to ride away from court on my bicycle without a helmet today (yesterday) and I said that I was not because unfortunately I had a flat tyre and so had had to walk (from Randwick). He then asked if I would be able to assure if that I would not ride away again without a helmet, and I said that I could for today (yesterday) as my bicycle was not with me.

He told me that my fines were mounting, and was I aware that the maximum fine was $2,200. Yes, I said that I was aware.

He then said was I aware of all the medical journal papers detailing brain injuries that helmets protect you from. I said that I was aware and that I was also aware of other ones detailing that bicycle helmet law has been a public health disaster for Australia.

He asked me if I had talked about this bicycle helmet law issue with politicians and I said that I had but to no avail.

He wanted to know if I was prepared to waste valuable police time in expecting them to come to court for a future defended hearing and I said that if it would assist the court  I was happy to read their statements beforehand and that if their facts were essentially that I was riding a bicycle without a helmet, that would be fine by me.

He then rather helpfully recused himself from my future defended hearing and set down a date.

So Friday 2nd November 2018 here we come!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Protest in March court appearance in July - this is Australia

Obviously not Australia
And so it comes to pass that after our St Patrick's Day Freestyle Cyclist Protest Ride in Centennial Park, Sydney (2018), I have since been issued with a Court Attendance Notice and am to appear in Waverley Local Court later on this morning. This appearance will be a mention which essentially is a session for sorting out the magistrate's diary.

I intend to plead 'Not Guilty' of course, and when asked, as I'm sure I will be, what could possibly be my defence, I shall raise the environmental spectre of necessity.

I will keep you posted - off to bed now for some all important zzzzzzz

Sunday, April 22, 2018

My challenge of stupidity: bike helmet laws

Guilty as charged ...  sigh

Yet you know, step by step we are getting a little closer to our goal of getting rid of bicycle helmet law. I am sure so!

Oh I know winning slowly feels much the same as losing but I am a firm believer of the principles set out in Rebecca Solnit's article "Protest & persist: why giving up hope is not an option."

Truly, giving up is not an option!

However back to Friday and my day in court.

Essentially the magistrate refused to entertain my defence of necessity.

But the most startling moment of the whole morning was when he alleged that I wasn't using the Queen's english properly and that I had split my infinitives!!!!

I was so taken aback I had to clarify what he had actually said!!! Once clarified I then launched into a defence of necessity for splitting infinitives, you know how doing so can make meaning clearer, more illustrative, that plenty of grammarians don't agree with the rule, that moving the adverb can be awkward, blah de blah de blah de blah!

Oh lordy, but I think he may have been a touch muddled on what actually splitting infinitves entail because the words he used to demonstrate that I had done so bore no resemblance to splitting infinitives.  Oop-la!

But how is any of this relevant to me riding a bicycle on a New South Wales road without a securely fastened helmet I hear you ask?


But on the bright side, it was a packed court and I got to sombrely talk (split infinitive) about the perils of climate change and how a non-recyclable plastic styrofoam bicycle helmet that needs to frequently be (split infinitive) replaced just adds to plastic pollution and landfill. I got to passionately exhort (split infinitive) his honour that since the legislative and the executive had completely failed us in relation to protecting us against climate change I was now turning to him as part of the judiciary, to boldly go (split infinitive) where no magistrate had gone before in Australia and to jolly well find (split infinitive) for me. I got to diligently remind (split infinitive) him that a US court found the former deputy president's daughter, Kareena Gore and her fellow activists not responsible of the crime of trespass because their actions were done "out of necessity." Furthermore I got to solemnly state (split infinitive) that I believe it is necessary that we force our government to jolly well face (split infinitive) our role as a country in this global climate emergency just as the Dutch did with their government in 2015 when three judges ruled that the Dutch government plans to superficially cut (split infinitive) emissions by just 14-17% compared to 1990 levels by 2020 were unlawful, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change.

That my unhelmeted conduct was a question of my survival and the planet's survial left his honour unmoved. And me concluding that it was and still is necessary for to me to regularly cycle (split infinitive) and to routinely cycle (split infinitive) without a helmet in order to hopefully prevent (split infinitive) risk of brain injury, plastic styrofoam consumption, plastic pollution, landfill, carbon emissions pollution was never going to wash.

Nope, it turns out that I must continue to stupidly be (split infinitive) compelled by the NSW government to ridiculously do (split infinitive) an act which puts my health and life and that of the planet's in greater danger than if I declined to do the act.

Appeal lodged and to be mentioned at the end of May 2018 in the Newcastle District Court.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hey ho it's off to court I go

When you have a bicycle culture instead of an oil one
Half a century in court appearances, 27 years of evidence-bereft helmet law, and $1,000s spent on court costs. 
Tomorrow's day in court for bicycle helmet crime is another chance to potentially convince the magistrate why he or she should find me 'not guilty' by way of necessity.
I'll keep you posted!

Cycling Without Age Murrurundi Chapter LAUNCHED

Truly delicious
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! The Murrurundi Chapter of the global phenomenon Cycling Without Age was launched yesterday at Murravale Retirment Home... and what a wonderful event! Cakes, scones, sandwiches, speeches ... and most importantly of all, BICYCLE RIDES!!!

Lights camera action
 And just like the icing on that yummy cake, off we were whisked for marvellous little jaunts around the chocolate-box pretty town of Murrurundi.
Mrs Fran Scriven, Pilot Harriet McKillop & yours truly (photo credit: Mandy Archibald)
A beautiful Upper Hunter autumn day, it was smiles all round as residents, family, friends, staff ...
Murravale Manager Di Van Balen, Pilot Harriet McKillop & the Hon. Michael Johnsen MP
... and even the local member for the Upper Hunter, got to have a turn in these fabulous glorious chariots of happiness!!!!! Pure perfection ✓ & pure bliss ❤ 

Well done Murravale and the wonderful Murravale Team, well done Dave Paradice for such astounding generosity in the funding of the two tri-shaws, and well done Ole Kassow and Dorthe Pedersen for the inspiration to join this movement of building bridges between generations and communities all the while with wind in hair and faces!!!

You all rock!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Driving Kills & Silences Dissenters

Image credit: Mikael Colville-Andersen, Copenhagenize
By maiming and poisoning, driving kills ... everything ... people, fauna, flora.
Yet this detrimental habit continues unchecked with political appetite for more roads, motorways and bypasses growing greedier by the day.
Published in the Sydney Morning Herald last week, Arwen Birch highlights the pervasive connection between promotion and human gullibility, and posits that just as we did with cigarette ads, so we have fallen for yet another product that detrimentally affects our health.
"A ban on car advertising may seem far-fetched, but if you compare the automotive and the tobacco industries, the similarities may be closer than you think. Smoking and car use have comparable health costs, yet while we have the strictest tobacco promotion laws in the world, we allow car companies to promote themselves unbridled." 
 Would our politicians be open to banning car ads?

Right now, I doubt it!

As the Big Oil puppets that they are, in my opinion it would take a seismic jolt to wean New South Wales politicians off their auto-mobile pap and onto the solid act of minimising car advertising.
New South Wales Police working with the community to reduce violence, crime and fear
 By way of illustration, cycling in Australia is seen as a direct threat to the automobile industry, and in NSW, State opposition to cycling is extreme.

With cycle paths ripped up and helmet fines increased by 349% over the last two years, cycling numbers in NSW have plummeted so when news filtered across political and media spheres that synchronised helmet optional rides were to happen across Australia and New Zealand last Saturday, the Sydney Oil patriachy set about nipping the Sydney ride in the bud.

Voila the excessive over-reach of the NSW Police Force witnessed when seven police vehicles were despatched to quash our implied right to political communication at our peaceful protest last Saturday in Centennial Park - the very strong arm of the law in action indeed, helping the community keep #BigOil centre stage of our lives ...

Freedom of policitcal communication via a peaceful protest
... but we will not be silenced, and the law may find for us yet ... 
... and with champions like this former governor of California, car ads will be a thing of the past in the not too distant future, of that I am sure.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

What about finger helmets

 Our youngest one's beloved took a tumble from his bicycle last week, and if he'd been wearing a finger helmet it would have saved him from this broken finger!
$$$ C'mon, Australia, ... there's not a moment to lose!

Freestyle Cyclists Antipodean Protest Rides

This coming Saturday will see synchronised bicycle protest rides being held across Australia and New Zealand.

In Sydney, the Freestyle Cyclists Sydney Chapter have had enough of academic overstated scaremongering of cycling and will be doing a couple of leisurely laps of Centennial Park in protest, some with helmets and some without; your choice, or should be.

"We do not support the promotion of helmet wearing for everyday cycling," says Kathy Francis, founding member of Freestyle Cyclists and one of the co-organisers for Saturday’s Melbourne Protest Ride. "We categorically oppose laws requiring adults to wear helmets … bicycle helmets present a significant barrier to everyday cycling."

Compared to other countries in the world, Australia is an outlier in terms of active transport, and with our mandatory bicycle helmet compulsion, attempts at building up cycling as a mode of transport in Australian towns and cities have been well and truly stymied.

"Cycling must become the easy choice," says Kathy Francis, "which means changes to legislation, and community attitudes, and changes to the way roads are designed."

Bicycle helmet law is a uniquely Antipodean law of oppression and privilege, and Antipodean Freestyle Cyclists have had enough of this political nonsense.

Media Contact - for more information, images or interviews please contact:
Rudy Botha, Freestyle Cyclists Sydney Ride organiser, 0488 497 484
What: Stop Fining Healthy Transport
When: Saturday, 17th March 2018
Where: Centennial Homestead, Centennial Park, Sydney
Time: 11:00AM start

Further Info: Visit the Freestyle Cyclists facebook page (

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

♩ ♪ Don't be too polite, girls, don't be too polite ♫ ♬

Notwithstanding my respectfully submitting that using a bicycle precludes bicycle helmets being termed excluded goods, and instead allows a bicycle to come under the provision of section 41 BD (1)(a)(iii) of the Therapuetic Goods Act 1989 defining bicycle helmets as medical devices, the judge in the Newcastle District Court last Thursday just could not uphold my appeal ... sigh.

I tried my damnedest but could not get over the line.

I tried so hard in the respectfully submitting department to make the case that the Therapeutic Goods Act, if it had been properly considered might have found that whilst the Therapeutic Goods Act was not intedend to apply to the exclusion of Regulation 256 (NSW Road Rules 2014) to the extent that Regulation 256 (Road Rules 2014) is capable of operating concurrently with the Theraueputic Goods Act, in relation to bicycle helmets it does exclude Regulation 256, and therefore I ought not to be compelled to wear a medical device withouth my informed consent ... but all to no avail.

The whole process seems so very dated and backward looking ... and extremely long-winded.

There was the housekeeping session in the morning with the housekeeping judge working out everybodies' diaries followed by the actual appeal after lunch, where I was assigned a court room all to myself containing:

1 judge
1 judge's associate
1 clerk
1 court officer
1 DPP solicitor

How much simpler (and cheaper) would it be to relinquish the notion that helmets proffer protection from B-doubles et al, and get on with the business of actually providing bicycle safety by actually providing us with proper bicycle infrastructure that separates us from aforementioned vehicles.

So check ✔, that one is done and dusted ...

Next bicycle saga, and last one too I might add now that I've removed myself from Scone roads due to intense police targeting, is set for 20 April 2018 and I'm thinking of going back to the good old defence of necessity - talk about full circle!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Whiff of hope - am I delerious or something?

In relation to riding a bicycle in Australia for me personally things have been a touch wintery over the last 6 months.

Literally hounded by the police every time I get on my bicycle, I have parked my beautiful set of wheels in a shed at home, and now I drive into town interspersing that with occasional walking if it's not over 35 degrees celsius which it hardly ever isn't!!

But there is change in the air ... I can feel it.

It could be the usual butterflies I experience before pending court cases (Newcastle District Court next week!) but something else is making me feel jumpily hopeful.

There's a new type of doctor, a new type of journalist, and they're not so wedded to their own experience of using a bicycle. In fact they are listening to other people's stories about using bicycles, other people's narratives, hearing about the drop in cycling rates and appalling conditions, and if our politicians would only do the same things could only improve in the transport equation of sharing Australian roads.

But back to me and next week's court matter!

I shall be re-visiting section 41 BD of the Therapeutic Goods Act and how in my opinion bicycle helmets can be defined as medical devices. Consequently misguided politicians can not force me to plonk some ridiculous plastic hat on top of my head in an erroneous gesture of protection.

I am not confident but 'c'est la vie, on verra.'

Of course next week's matter is not the end of it ... I have two more matters for the Scone Local Court to be heard at some stage but they've been temporarily popped onto the backburner as the police had prior engagements - we're looking at April some time after Easter.

Looking ahead, for those matters I am thinking of acquiring a 'medical exemption' so I've been looking through the 'catalogue'!

I am dithering between either the 'skin cancer' option or the 'latex allergy' option - (surely that nasty mix of plastic, polystyrene and chemicals contains something I'm allergic to in it?!).

But could there even be a 'beyond plastic' option?

Could we object to the mandated pollution-consumerism we're obliged to sign up to if we wish to use bicycles for transport?

Could we object to the mandated purchasing of unrecyclable plastic objects which we know will end up in landfill every 2-5 years? ... War on Waste and all that?!

I think we possibly can ... self-defence, necessity, anyone?

But back to next week, must remember to stay in the framework of my argument from the court of first instance ... so Therapeutic Goods Act it is juxtaposed with the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No. 1 of 2011.

Notwithstanding next week though, I will definitely be revisiting the exemption catalogue again once next week is out of the way!!!

Such a daft country ...