my refusal to wear a bicycle helmet

my refusal to wear a bicycle helmet informed

Friday, August 28, 2015

Guilty or not guilty - check back here in 2 months

Some Australians are just plain beautiful ...

... but those who write ignorant rules & regulations are not.

And as a result of the latter's reckless behaviour I found myself back in a South Australian court this week to defend that very uniquely (well almost) Australian crime of riding a bicycle without a helmet.

With the usual initial palaver of:

'Are you sure you want to plead not guilty?'

'Really ... you're going to represent yourself?'

'Might be a good idea to speak to the duty solicitor & get some proper advice,'

... I eventually got on with presenting my submissions and leading evidence-in-chief (from me, myself & I) in a bid to persuade the court to find me not guilty on grounds of self-defence or, in the alternative, on grounds of the invalidity of regulation 256.

The three police officers who had booked me all those months ago (May 2014) were there outside the court scrubbed and unarmed, waiting to be called upon to read their statements if required to do so.

But seriously though what would have been the point? Apart from a mini-error in one them, all three of their statements basically said:

We saw the accused riding a bicycle (!) ... on an Adelaide street (!) ... without wearing a helmet (!)


So following the magistrate's suggestion, the police prosecutor and I got together for the usual argyg bargy of horse ... I mean fact-trading, and agreed to a few word redactions so the police statements could be submitted as evidence without requiring the police to take the stand ...

... I'm all heart!!!

Although I can't help but think why is there always an emphasis on me, the defendant, to be reasonable and not waste important people's (aka police) time?

I mean, I do actually get that and I appreciate that having three South Australian Police (SAPOL) officers twiddling their thumbs in court for a whole morning is a pretty dumb way for a state and its voting publice to use valuable law-enforcement resources ... but why's that my responsibility?

But remembering some wise words uttered by some wise law lecturer back in the day ... 'pick a better battle'... I did, 'woman-ed up' and got on with explaining how the prosecution had to negative the elements of my self-defence case (reasonable belief, proportionate response and immediacy of danger), that the current bicycle helmet law is not backed up by evidence, and that the only 'evidence' (hahaha) bandied around to support the maintenance of mandatory helmet compulsion is that put out by the University of New South Wales, strongly disputed by other academics both nationally and internationally and should never have been enacted into law, and why I believed that my matter was a strict liability one rather than an absolute liability one (although I'm firmly of the opinion that even an absolute liability matter ought to have 'wriggle-room' for self-defence and/or necessity) ...

... and that regulation 256 was invalid anyway ... sigh

I went over all the diffuse axonal injury, climate change, and our carbon footprint stuff and that we're living in a country with a Prime Minister who believes that coal is good for humanity, and that Tuvalu is sinking, and that as an older woman I'm oppressed by this law of oppression and privilege, and that cycling has been marginalised by the sport of cycling, and that instead of telling me off all the time, the community should be saying to me:

"Well done you - you're setting a marvellous example,"

... and that in The Netherlands my behaviour would be considered absolutely normal, and that anyway there were no powers in the Road Traffic Act right now to permit regulation 256.

And I 'plaintively' asked what was the point of prosecuting someone like me who, until Australian police spotted my conscientious-objection behaviour to this 'no-evidence-based-law,' had never really featured on their 'radar' before.

It's all so incredibly exhausting, and so self-defeating for me and our nation ... and in my opinion helmet law has exponentially nutured a hatred for cyclists whether we're helmeted or not ... I mean just check out 'Duncan' if you want any further illustration for that 'out-there' premise.

So what you may ask was the outcome of my trial in Adelaide?

Well, the magistrate decided to reserve her judgment for two months ... until Monday 26th October!

Meanwhile I have another date now for the other 'August trial date' that I had to 'vacate' because of BN2's admission as a lawyer to the Supreme Court to New South Wales!!!!

... Friday 23rd October in the Scone Local Court!

... effectively 'bookending' an engagement party in Sydney for that beautiful child of ours above.

Ahhhh - such is life in Australia.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Adelaide not Milano - such a trial

Unlike all these photos taken in Milan, I'm in Adelaide ...

... for a trial, later on today ...

... a trial for the wicked crime of riding a bicycle without a helmet

... because you see riding a bicycle without a helmet is forbidden in Australia

But maybe later on today, it won't be ...

BAHAHAHAHA ... oh ever the eternal optimist ... wish me luck, guys!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

To the Minister for NSW Automobile Dependency

Dear Duncan,

Until you start talking about people and not motorists, cyclists or pedestrians, Sydney will continue to be held back.

Until you focus on just people, congestion will continue to clog up our streets.

Until you embrace the concept that building roads is 'old school,' we are doomed to choke on bitumen and drown.

Roads are not the future, and you are being recklessly wilful pretending that they are.

Fossil-fuels are out just like 'fossil-politicians.'

History will not look kindly on you for perpetuating the vicious cycle of automobile dependency

Why do you remain so committed to your roads infrastructure plans?

Why do you make it so difficult for voters to walk around this city?

Why do you make it so difficult for voters to cycle around this city?

Why do you make it so difficult for voters to take public transport around this city?

What's in it for you that we don't know about?

Other transport and road 'leaders' from other global cities seem to want to make their cities liveable - you seem to want the reverse - and it's working for you, Duncan ... Sydney is in reverse.

Well done, you!

But transport and road leaders like you are supposed to be making it easier for people like me to live sustainably - and if you don't, Duncan, leaders like you will eventually be discarded.

Your current 'business-as-usual' approach to roads and transport is catastrophic, and a deadly battle for territory which in addition to being crazy and bad for the city's economics, is unconscionable in its contination of subsidies to oil-fuelled transport.

The Sydney you are envisaging is not the Sydney we want.

The Sydney you are envisaging is not a city about life.

So know this ... if your roads go ahead ... one day we will bury them - there is precedent.

Therefore, Duncan, think very carefully ...

... whilst our future lives are in your hands, your place in history is in ours.

Kind regards,
Sue (no-relation-to-tony) Abbott

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oz's sine qua non: bicycle helmet law

I am missing the bicycles in Milano, Italia, and wishing I was still there.

Far away from these snapshots' lovely cycling paradigm, I am enveloped in a shroud of Australian ignorance which can be largely attributed to failure ...

... on the part of the Australian media.

Yes the Australian media, which along with Australian politicians and Australian helmeteer-academics, has no idea what they are talking about when they pontificate on helmets and the law.

Neither are they too bothered by truth, and they seem to enjoy pillorying those who choose not to wear helmets or just plain avoid the big H-WORD full stop ... pathetic.

The Australian media operates as stenographers for helmet promoters ...

... paving the way for helmeteers to mould Australians to think that helmet laws made them (Australians) safer.

In a nutshell, legitimate scientific debate on mandatory helmet laws is stifled by corporate intimidation ...

... and a willing Australian media cheering them on.

Admittedly, some are trying to make amends now ...

... but maybe it's a bit late now, duckie!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Australian road-use pursuant to privilege and oppression

Duncan Gay, the NSW Roads minister, is at pains to limit the potential fun to be had from cycling.

We're still waiting for his demolition of the College Street cycleway but in the meantime,

... in his latest cycling treatise on how to remove cyclists from our roads,

... he has come up with a truly hare-brained idea.

Yes ... he is planning a proposal that insists people who use bicycles over a certain age carry identification papers/plastic.

Hands up who advised him!

Actually hands up who voted for him!

Or did he just get helicopted into his seat as a consequence of proportional representation in the upper house?

Whatever, it's such a shame we have him at the helm of our NSW road system.

It's flawed enough without adding Duncan to the mix.

He embodies the very concept of privilege and oppression on our roads and treats those of us who use bicycles as second class citizens.

He puts us in danger because he is not mindful of us road-users who don't require petrol to move through the street & roads of NSW.

The cycling world cannot get its head around our transport leaders' tilt at improving our cities ... take Carlton Reid, British author and historian, from Bike Biz for example, he was absolutely gob-smacked when we chatted (starts at 1:16:40) about Duncan at VeloCity15.

Sigh ... I wish I was still in France or Italy (ie Torbole, Lago di Garda, where these photos were shot) ... or anywhere else but here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Adelaide Court: Yes, you shall go to trial'

So I had my day in court and was heard by the Chief Magistrate!

She wasn't convinced by me raising self defence as a justification for the crime of unhelmeted bicycle riding, nor overly keen to permit me past this pre-trial stage ... legislators, she felt, were the ones I required not the judiciary, but she listened anyway...

She listened when I said that I have been dedicated to this issue for nearly six years and that I have corresponded with many politicians over that time in an effort to revoke this contradictory regulation to absolutely no avail.

She listened when I mentioned that I had not said to the police it was the second time that day that I had been booked for not wearing a helmet as they claimed in their 'facts' but that I had said it was the second time that day I had been in communication with police, the first being over a road rage incident on North Terrace (Adelaide) where a driver had used his vehicle to terrorise me so much so that another driver had come to my aid.

She listened and asked the police prosecutor to make a note of that fact.

She listened when I mentioned that bicycle helmet regulation is a law of privilege and oppression and that the entire transportation network 'privileges' automobiles over bicycles and allows drivers to drive without being mindful of me.

She listened when I pointed out that this is a 'privilege' I do not have notwithstanding that I have an equal right to be on the roads.

She listened when I said that I am on a bicycle in a world made for cars and that in my opinion this premise was neatly illustrated by the South Australia police prosecuting me for not wearing a bicycle helmet, and yet not prosecuting the road rage driver for his act of aggressive and dangerous intimidation towards me, even though I had pulled over after the 'attack' and put a call through to the South Australia (SA) Police to report the incident; even though I said to the policewoman taking my call concerning the road rage incident that I was prepared to come back to Adelaide and give evidence.

She listened when I mentioned that the SA police who booked me for the lack of a helmet didn't hear me tell them that I'd been the victim of road rage because all they could hear was an 'ingrained-anti-cycling-prejudice' informing them that I was a criminal and not a victim.

She listened again when I repeated again that bicycle helmet regulation was a law of privilege and oppression and ... she gave me a date for a trial!

Tuesday 25th August 2015 - thank you, your Honour!

So with three glorious fellow 'helmet-optional riders' who'd come to court to give me moral support, we headed off to the Markets for celebratory coffee and cakes !!!

I hadn't been shut down, I'd jumped through the next hoop, and now was on my way to the next level and another day in court - I had been listened to!

But this is Australia so the euphoria didn't last long!

As I dropped off my bicycle to Bicycle South Australia in Carrington Street, I was followed into the shop by two policemen and booked all over again.

'What's with the no helmet?

'Don't you know there's a law that says you must wear one?'

'You were at that helmet ride on Sunday, weren't you? ... recognise you from your picture!'

Oh boy, whoop-de-doo-dah, here we go again ...

... lucky I like Adelaide!!!!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

BREAKING: Dutch-style cycling in Adelaide, everyone survives

Sun, cyclists

Police escort

Lights, camera ...

... (talking talking talking)

... action

... to music (by 'Legstricity')

Bike Kitchen

Beer, cider, pizzas

All round great day - well done, Sundance and Freestyle Cyclists!!!

... when's the next one?