Monday, February 1, 2016

STOP PRESS: bicycle fighting fund to the rescue

(Images: 'Dinky-di' advocacy groups for people who use bicycles)

Media Release

... drafted and despatched this arvo for any interested media outlets which might like to check out other angles other than the male and spandex ones they usually cover when dealing with 'matters-bicycle'

Two years on from Velo-City Global 2014 in Adelaide (a first for Australia though many still wonder what the European Cyclists Federation were 'sniffing' when they gave the go-ahead for this gig Down Under), the helmet infringement which Sue Abbott received whilst attending that bicycle conference has at last been finalised.

To quickly give you the 'heads-up' on the Velo-City conference series, it is the premier international urban planning cycling convention in the world and it moves to a different city and country every year for each event. Leading global experts in active mobility, sustainable transport, city planning, bicycle industry and advocacy meet en masse and exchange a wide depth of knowledge, experiences and vision, and for 2016 it will be kicking off later this month in Taipei.

But back to Adelaide, Australia 2014… and that helmet infringement.

After several court appearances in Adelaide finally culminating in a sentencing process via video-link in a Broken Hill court, Ms Abbott received a criminal conviction along with court costs and victims’ compensation levies amounting to $560 in total. This outcome was another blow for Ms Abbott and her seven year campaign, in which she has been challenging the unnecessary helmet law requirement in Australia when riding a bicycle.

But unbeknown to her, help was at hand.

Two well known bicycle advocacy groups, Upright Bicycle Riders of Australia and Freestyle Cyclists based in South Australia and Victoria respectively, joined forces to help compensate this Australian helmet-law victim.

Appreciating that the treatment meted out to Ms Abbott could be enough for many Australians to throw their bikes off the nearest jetty and never ride again, Upright Bicycle Riders of Australia and Freestyle Cyclists set up a crowd-funding platform, the ‘Aussie Bicycle Fighting Fund’ to raise monies to pay the South Australian court costs. Within 24 hours the amount was raised and donated, and an absolutely delighted Ms Abbott remains far from finished riding her bicycle.

So whilst the much anticipated experiences of more than 40 world leading cycling countries at Velo-City Global Adelaide 2014 amounted to nothing from an Australian political perspective, from a grass-roots one it appears that community leadership has taken hold of Australia’s ‘transport’ reins, and that the bicycle is back and here to stay.

'Thanks, Adelaide, turns out your 2014 cycling-celebration was worth it after all'


Media release sent by:
Freedom Cyclist
t: @freedomcycliste
i: @freedomcyclist

More info :
Kathy Francis: 0481 372 956

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Even in Australia there can be a silver lining

"I get knocked down but I get up again,
They're never going keep me down!"

Yes I am smiling today!!! ...

... because notwithstanding Australia's violent sexist regressive world of using bicycles as a means of transport, a little ray of sunshine has come into my world!!!!

Australia's very own Freestyle Cyclists and Upright Bicycle Riders of Australia were so outraged at South Australian legislative & judicial treatment meted out to me (and essentially all non-sporty cyclists) that they determined amongst themselves they would come to my (our) aid.

So they set up a crowd-funding platform ... the Aussie Bicycle Fighting Fund ... to raise monies to pay my South Australian court costs (including that ridiculous Victims' Compensation Levy) handed to me via videolink in the Broken Hill court back in December.

Do you know how this makes me feel?

Let me tell you!

Very very supported and very very emboldened!

My fighting batteries have been recharged, and I'm ready to unfurl the non-sporty cycling standard again to continue our march to 'freedom-on-how-we-choose-to-ride-our-bicycles' whether with helmets today or without them tomorrow or perhaps never donning them at all.

This supreme act of generosity goes beyond the actual $$$ value.

This supreme act of generosity represents solidarity and support along with a heartfelt reminder to me from all those amazing Freestyle Cylclists and Upright Bicycle Riders of Australia that:

'We're right here for you, girl!"

And as that virtual love reaches out to me I feel enveloped by a strong sense of a bear-hug and a large dollop of courage ... and I am so humbled and completely brimming over with gratitude!


And again I just can't say this enough, from the bottom of my heart to all the Upright Bicycle Riders of Australia and Freestyle Cyclists and all the many donors:


And you know what else; so much money has been donated into that fund there's now technically a 'fighting-kitty' to support others like me who come by way of Australia's hatred of cycling!

Go us!!!!

So from me it's three cheers for the Upright Bicycle Riders of Australia and Freestyle Cyclists - HOORAY HOORAY HOORAY ...

... and just out of interest why weren't those two groups asked to be at #DeityDunc's recent round-table discussions on matter-cycling instead of the blokey sporty cowardly types from the Victoria's Bicycle Network (national 'try-hards'), Bicycle NSW (gutless wonders) and the Amy Gillet Foundation (whose chairman has blocked me on twitter - very grown-up)?

Yes, why weren't the Uprgight Bicycle Riders of Australia and Freestyle Cyclists included in #DeityDunc's chat on sharing the roads and vulnerable road users ... after all they are Australia's true cycling advocates.

But we all know why don't we - for that very reason, they are our true cycling advocates!!!

But anyhoo ... back to me ...


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

AD WOMENEM LAWS - New South Wales is sexist

(Image: current Australia Post stamp)

Dear Mr Gay,

I write in relation to your latest cycling and road missives. Clearly your government believes upon the necessity of putting a stop to cycling outrages, and clearly none of you know how to do so.

There are two, and only two, ways in which this can be done. Both will be effectual:

1. Kill every female cyclist in New South Wales.
2. Repeal mandatory helmet laws.

Yours sincerely,

Sue Abbott
(Scone, sometimes Newtown)

(with heartfelt apologies to Bertha Brewster, suffragette, for my appropriation of her fine letter to the UK government in 1913)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sentenced though not custodially ... phew

(My heartbeat before sentencing!!!)

And so it came to pass that a sentence was handed out on Monday by an Adelaide Court and was simultaneously received by a Broken Hill Court via video-link.

Plugged in, I sat by myself in the Broken Hill courtroom until the Adelaide magistrate appeared on my courtroom television.

After a brief recap from her and the police prosecutor, I was then given a chance to make submissions regarding my take on things. So organising my thoughts under what I thought were relevant headings, I basically said the following:

Climate Change
I can no longer continue to observe the havoc that my capitalist lifestyle is causing without trying to do something to mitigate it. The catastrophic impacts of climate change are felt in many places around the world ... just look at Kirabati and Tuvalu ... and even the flooding in the north of England has been hailed as a consequence of climate change. In addition we also know that Greenland's ice will disappear sooner than later - it has been reported in the last couple of days that scientific predictions regarding the ice loss have been grossly underestimated. Even here in Broken Hill the impact of climate change is being acutely felt ... the town water supply is running out.

World's Children
I have responsibilities to my children, and all of our children, and our children's children too - I cannot just sit by and pass the burden of climate change onto them.

COP21 (Paris)
Whilst I love this country, there is no denying that Australia is an outlier in terms of transitioning to green transport and our responsibilities to the environmnent. As you would be aware, this week global leaders are in Paris attempting to agree to workable solutions for mitigating the devastating impacts of climate change. But already we in Australia have been let down by our representatives. Take Malcolm Turnbull, he completely lacked the courage to sign onto a Kiwi initiative with regards to guaging our carbon footprint, deforestation and materials sold to other nations and what is actually our true total ... and all because of a Faustian bargain the Liberals have with the Nationals and farmers and miners to maintain outdated fuel subsidies.

Victimless Crime
My crime is a victimless one. The benefit/cost analysis suggests that cycling is 20-30 times more beneficial to society than harmful. So whilst I may have been found guilty of breaking the letter of the law, I was not causing any personal or social harm, and therefore perhaps I should not be punished. These are my submissions on sentencing ... thank you.
So after me wrapping up my bit, the magistrate reciprocated with thanks, had a brief little chin-wag with the prosecutor, and then launched into the business of 'fitting' the 'punishment into the crime,' or the 'crime into the punishment.' At one point she mentioned the possibility of imposing a penalty without recording a conviction as set out in s16 of the Crimimal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 (South Australia) but she was not completely satisfied that I was not likely to commit the offence again. She asked me my thoughts on the subject, and I said that it would be less than honest to say I would not ride a bicycle again without a helmet in Adelaide, and that there was every chance that I would come back to Adelaide and join in with another bicycle helmet protest ride no doubt with a police escort again just like before.

She thanked me for my frankness, formally declined to grant me the 'legislated leniency' on the basis of my potential recidivism, and got on with dishing up the fines and costs for me to fix up in the next 28 days:

$$$ Helmet fine
$$$ Victim compo
$$$ prosecution costs
$$$ court costs =

GRAND TOTAL ... $560.00

So there we have it ... guilty as charged, with criminal conviction and punished accordingly.

So much for encouraging 'green transport' ... so much for innovation ... so much for legislative perspective ... but hey, this is Australia


Monday, December 7, 2015

Wilcannia: free from helmets & the AFP

In a couple of hours I will be sentenced for my Adelaide crime of riding a bicycle whilst not wearing a bicycle helmet.

I am in Broken Hill and given that I have brought my 93 year old mother-in-law out here to visit her son (my man!), the Adelaide Court Registry agreed to my proposal that I be sentenced via video-link in the Broken Hill Local Court ... thus in just under two hours I will present myself to the Broken Hill Court personnel to be wired up and/or whatever to hear what the Adelaide magistrate has to say.

Will I be fined?

Will I be sent to prison?

Or will I be allowed the leniency of a dismissal?

A massive fine?

Court costs?

Sigh ... it is all so exhausting

How long will Australia continue with this ridiculous criminalising of cyclists who wish to cycle like cyclists around the rest of the world?

Oh dear ... sigh ... I've said this before and I'll say it again:




Anyway, I'll keep you posted ... or one of my family will if the worse comes to worst ... sigh

Oh and before I go, I must mention that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) called me last night to mention that after all their 'tax-payer-funded-gymnastics' entailing calling me in to their AFP offices at the International Airport in Sydney for interviewing and videoing purposes for my Sydney crime of riding a bicycle whilst not wearing a bicycle helmet, they have decided that they will book me after all.

So here we go again.

#HelmetLawSucks #DownUnderDumbness

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Contact the Premier of New South Wales - Ok ... done

Apparently Mike Baird is committed to establishing an open and accessible Government.

Apparently I can send the Premier questions, comments, concerns, well-wishes or requests, or by completing the form on his website.

So I did and here is the gist of what I filled out and submitted:

Outline of issues you wish to discuss
First I am no libertarian

I believe in regulations where they are required

I applaud current federal gun laws and plain packaging laws for cigarettes

Bicycle helmet law is flawed

Australia is one of the few countries that has bicycle helmet law and yet we are one of the most dangerous countries for cycling

Numbers for commuter cyclists have dwindled over the past 20 years and this has made the roads more dangerous for cyclists

Expert national and international academics are in dispute over the merits of helmet law

When the experts cannot agree there ought not to be a law requiring compulsion

Bicycle helmet law has criminalised cycling

I fear I will be served a custodial sentence before too long with my current conscientious objection

Cycling is a good activity for health, helps reduce traffic congestion, and is a non-polluting green mode of transport

I would like to discuss revocation of regulation 256 of the Road Rules

Such an action on the part of a politician would make them a leader in the climate change challenge

Details of prior discussions with Government Representatives
I have met with George Souris to discuss this issue on many occasions ... to no avail.

I and approximately 29 other people once delivered a petition to John Ajaka after we had cycled from Sydney Town Hall to Parliment House with a police escort.

On another occasion, myself and Dr Paul Martin (specialist anaesthetist, Brisbane) and Prof Chris Rissel (academic, University of Sydney), met with John Ajaka to discuss the bicycle helmet law issue. At this meeting we supplied him with relevant facts and evidence pertaining to the failure of bicycle helmet law. Nothing happened

Please meet me - I cannot buy your time, or donate, but I have lived in NSW for 33 years tomorrow.


So there you have it ... what do think the chances are that his press secretary (or whoever) will give me a bell and say:

"Mrs Abbott, when would be convenient with you? The Premier is dying to meet you!"


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

There is no Planet B - from the London Climate March

Armed and ready to go, we joined 600,000 people on global streets last Sunday to tell our leaders that enough is enough and that we won't continue any longer with 'business as usual'

In London 50,000 people marched with us, and there were plenty of inspiring 'clarion calls' and 'memes' for us all to note right now [see some in the italics below]

'The whole world is watching you' [from Greenpeace]

'Keep coal in the hole and oil in the soil' [from The Guardian]

And this is why we're fighting and taking to the streets; our world's children ... we must must think of their futures and of their children's futures too

Sisters-in-arms .. inspiring chums

'Badger' above is right


'Do something, global leaders' [from Children Against Climate Change]


'This climate crisis has names and addresses' [from Friends of the Earth]

Awwwwwwwwww - support from all quarters

'Land of the buck ($$$)
'Which don't give a fuck
'We have to wake up!' [from Kate Tempest, unblievable rapper poet]

'How brave to pass on the buck (blame) to the unborn' [from Charlotte Church]

'There ... Is ... No ... PlanetB,
'ThereIsNoPlanetB' [from the crowd and a drummer]

'David Cameron is taking a wrecking ball to environmental policy' [from Caroline Lucas MP]

And added to the climate change violence, Cameron has an unconscionable plan to murder Syrians - how can he contemplate such madness?

There is much to be done and we can no longer turn our heads away and pretend that there isn't.

So wake up, global leaders, and sort out something useful in Paris ...

... and ...