my refusal to wear a bicycle helmet

my refusal to wear a bicycle helmet informed

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Old Lie: Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori

My first ANZAC Day in Australia was in 1983, the same year that Redgum's song was released. I was 23 and it was less than two years on from my father's death following the ditching of his RAF Jaguar into the Atlantic as a result of birdstrike. I had struggled with Remembrance Day, and I could see I was going to struggle with ANZAC Day.

As I remember that first ANZAC Day, it was a relatively sombre affair with little fanfare; basically an opportunity for ANZACs to catch up with each other, minus all the revolting hoopla that has become 'de rigeur' over the passing of the last three decades.

And now in 2015 ...

It's ... Party! Party! Party! ... no kidding today it's a straight out neat pop festival, and alarmingly, a significant number of the festival goers are blissfully unaware that Gallipoli was not a victory for Australia. It's a major 'event' now, with an event management team (vomit), and a programme entailing surf boat races, and cricket matches, and of course politicians tripping over themselves to be seen.

In effect the day is a perpetual celebration of military recruitment, a day of complete 'War-Washing.'

And the crassness of it all is accentuated this year because 2015 marks the centennary of the doomed ANZAC beach landing in Turkey.

Don't we see the message churned out by our ever-war-ready media, and gushy journos, and cynical leaders?:

Your country needs you boys and girls, there's money to be made here for Big Corpa.
Go forth and die for us, why don't you!

Wake up, Australia!

Nothing good comes out of war - NOTHING ...

And just as in 1983, our musicians today are still calling it for what it is; acknowledging the horrific ongoing-toll exacted on a nation, paying tribute to 'all the battle weary mothers' ... but ...

When will we ever learn?

(Cross-posted to Scone Blogger's Blog)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Me v The Scaredy Cats

Now the flip side of this Yaba Flip Side project (2012) is that they didn't end up using the original film footage of me on my bicycle when Dr Jake Olivier and I were interviewed in our separate corners ... him in the blue corner (Centennial Park) and me in the red corner (Camperdown Mememorial Park).

No instead my motion shots were all edited out because apparently they looked too good; I looked too good!!!

... and I was way too convincing (eat your heart out, Jake)


So the 'action' footage of me had to be redone a few months later ...

100% Pure Australian 100% Dumb

So here is what was the film-makers shared with me by way of explanation for their weird request that I 'walk' the streets of Newtown rather than 'cycle' them in the next filming session conducted some months later.

After the initial completed project had been shown to the Commonwealth funders apparently the footage of me cycling along King Street and all through Newtown was way too normal and very inviting, and the Feds felt this footage of me would have sent the wrong message to the kiddies.

Yes, you're reading this correctly; me, riding a bicycle the way I do and did then for the film-makers looked far too normal, and the feds genuinely felt that every child in Australia who got to watch that clip would never don a helmet again.

As you can imagine I was none too happy to re-film in this typically dumb Australian way because it looks really stupid ... me walking around Newtown ... like I wish I could ride around like Jake is doing ... or what ...

oh if only Father Christmas could bring me a bike like Jake's, or a new law not like Jake's or maybe a new prime minister ... oh is there a spare knight in shining armour somewhere ... anywhere ... anyone?

But seriously how does that present a 'flip-side' to the kids?

Even from within an education platform designed to encourage children to think more widely than is common in Australia, the pro-helmet lobby still had to manipulate the evidence to achieve their desired conclusion - they could not do it by fair play.

At the time I made plenty of objections about how dumb this was all becoming but I consented to re-do it anyway because I felt (and still feel) that any conversation about normal cycling was important.

But it really did piss me off that just because I came over 'too convincingly,' I frightened the powers-that-be into hi-jacking this opportunity for discussion once they realised their chosen player was losing the match for them.

I'd love to insist that the initial footage is re-inserted ... although having said that two years down the track and with our current government what are the chances that sort of initiative albeit a neutered one still exists?

Why weren't they brave enough to show the children that bicycles are wonderful vehicles of transport and not purely designed to be put in cars and driven to Centennial Park so that they can then be ridden around Centennial Park?

... sigh!

Someone should be telling the kiddies that plenty of Australians are not scared about getting on bikes ... and I don't see why those of us in that category, getting on with our lives and using bikes in a non-event fashion, should be so villified.

Is it my fault that I sounded more plausible than Dr Jake Olivier?

Is it my fault that the children would have thought my way of cycling suited them better?

Was it fair on the children to nobble my 'flip-side' of the Flip Side?

Unsurprisingly, the shots in the video taken from a bicycle on Sydney streets (ooooooooooh) were not taken from Jake's bike in the 'ParkyVelodromey' space (for the timid) that Centennial Park is.

Oh no, they were taken from my bicycle because the film-makers wanted those street action shots for their Flip Side clip ...

... and the other action shots that none of us ever got to see with me on a bicycle travelling around Newtown streets in the most fabulous light of a late Newtown afternoon were shot by a camera-woman, squished into a tiny boot of a hatchback with the hatch up ...

... and I was the one who had to sign a waiver in case I fell off my bicycle.

What the fuck!

We've got to talk about helmet law

(Thanks to Lagatta à Montréal for reminding me about this treasure viewed on Marc's Amsterdamize)

The academics are out in force in the media playing boffin 'ping-pong' over quad bikes.

In the 'Blue Corner' we've got Professor Raphael Grzebieta taking on the Californian researcher Dr John Zellner in the 'Red Corner' ... and the aussie prof is lobbing back over the net some pretty interesting shots of speculation and hypothesis ...


... yes, apparently Dr Zellner's work is full of them ... and not only that, apparently his work is based on computer simulations too


... and also, Dr Zillman's work lacks any field data.


I'm sorry but that is just too too funny!

Pray tell, Prof Grzebieta, exactly what field data did you have when you championed mandatory helmet laws?

(and stating mandatory helmet laws were 'a no-brainer' does not count)

Did your observational self-reporting studies count as field data or more like, speculation or hypothesis?

Surely it's fair to conclude that twenty years plus into this uniquely bicycle helmet experiment of ours, there has been no net benefit in terms of staving off injuries as a result of bicycle helmet law, and not only that, unquestionably we have become the laughing stock of the world.

... 'hypothetical testing only' ... 'based on computer simulation.'


Oh eminent prof ... re mandatory helmet laws, learn from the babies!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Australian sexism herds cycling to Whoop Whoop

In Amsterdam, Marc Van Woudenberg's beautiful photography (left) shows us how mothers and babies 'Own the lanes' there but here ...

... sexism has raised its ugly head, and we have been shooed away, whilst the strong and the stupid have been herded into races such as Santos Down Under (image above) plus many other macho Weekend Warrior Bikedrafting rides to boot.

Everyone seems to get mad when the 'sexism' word is attached to mandatory bicycle helmet laws but it is not my fault that people do not understand what they do not understand.

We are a sexist nation period.

We have an extraordinary high domestic violence rate with our current government on the one hand paying lip service to promised assistance whilst on the other cutting funding to vital women's refuges.

We have a male prime minister who has appointed himself the minister for women and who cannot see the cruel irony in his deluded narcississtic captain's pick.

Men in Australia think they are better than women period.

Men in Australia patronise women, and are particularly critical of women who stand up to their male machinations. They are quick to rebadge women who object to sexual discrimination with carefully selected words guaranteed to stoke the male public bile such as vexatious, complaining, bossy, girly, stupid old biddy, real feminist-type, all the while pointing out these women have 'hidden' agendas ... ooooooh.

Men in Australia are ageist and seem constantly surprised that women still breathe after the age of 45 (oh ok ... it's probably more 40) let alone work and run things and even protest things.

Men in Australia often couple sexism with racist curlism which seems to completely go under the radar the way banal racism does.

Yes, women with curly hair who do not straighten it but wear it naturally are discriminated against in Australia and this is evident in some workplaces where they have policies on how curly-haired women can wear their hair. Instead of fighting this dreadful discrimination, many women just acquiesce and end up buying straightening gear and other necessary products to achieve a desired 'eurocentric' look and keep their jobs.

Pathetic ... and then I appear on the 'scene' (road, courthouse, website):

┌П┐(◉_◉)┌П┐ on a bicycle built for commuting

┌П┐(◉_◉)┌П┐ clearly female

┌П┐(◉_◉)┌П┐ attired in everyday wear

┌П┐(◉_◉)┌П┐ significantly middle-aged

┌П┐(◉_◉)┌П┐ very frizzy haired

... and all hell breaks out ... as far as Australia's concerned I'm neither normal nor ordinary and that just won't do if you're trying to get on Down Under especially on a bicycle.

Of course things might be better if I had a blokey sort of bike, and I donned a couple of helmets and a spot of lycra and then carried on like a male pork chop on a beachfront somewhere or in a CSG-sponsored race somwhere else.

But turn up in a high street with your shopping baskets, taking a lane or even changing it for another... well, whoop-de-doo-dah those elusive online trolls suddenly present themselves in person, and they can range from policemen calling out 'over here, curly ... where's your helmet?' to prosecutors entertaining themselves and the court at my frizzy expense, or motorists yelling 'fuck off out of my lane, bitch' to magistrates pondering upon any relationship between my wild hairstyle and criminal behaviour ... sadly it can even be dear girlfriends who unhelpfully explain their hair would look like mine if they didn't work bloody hard on it for several hours a day (BTW had I ever thought of using straightening tongs?) ... sigh.

And then to cap it all this off, we have our media.

Take the Sydney Morning Herald's Executive Style:

"... Australia's leading digital source for luxury news, men's styling trends, prestige motoring, high-end spirits and fitness tips" (vomit)

... in which bicycle talk is inserted as an aussie 'man's man' topic for 'pretend-young' male yuppies - it doesn't even attempt to make a connection between bikes and women let alone elderly women - geez ... that paper's sexism is palpable.

So whilst Amsterdam has mothers and babies and fathers and small children and grannies and grandpas 'owning their lanes' on bicycles and sharing their city with cars, we on utility bicycles Down Under, continue to be corralled into oblivion.

And I hate it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How a new kind of politician might improve our lives

Dear Mike and Tony,

With the help of a few Tokyo city transport images to make this post a little eye-catching, I wish to share with you both that in my opinion neither of you are capable of leading us in either a state capacity (Mike) or a national capacity (Tony).

First, I wish to point out that Climate Change is no longer a matter for debate but one demanding urgent attention, and now more than ever we need leaders capable of meeting this crisis head on.

I am afraid your 'busines-as-usual-dig-baby-dig' approach is neither appropriate nor useful, and your pandering to fossil fuel industries renders you both redundant.

INFRASTRUCTURE and MINING are not requisites for successful government yet with you two we can only look forward to:

$$$ More mindless Road Building projects

$$$ More CSG, fracking and coal mines (cf. #myplace #HunterValley)

$$$ Less Public Transport (cf. #myplace #HunterValley #Newcastle)

... as well as

$$$ More multi-national tax avoidance

$$$ More GST

$$$ More TPPs

Whilst it seems to have slipped your attention, the tables have been turned and you now both play junior lobbyist roles for Big Corpa, not leadership ones.

Granting AGL the ability to flare volatile organic compounds within close proximity to homes and a dairy was always going to be madness as was approving a plan to mine the Breeza Plains ... are you kidding ... Australia's food bowl?

Seriously if we've got any chance of survival we need a new kind of politician who recognises that our lives and our planet are wild and need treasuring.

We need a new kind of politician who recognises the imperative to fight Climate Change and the need to reject those who fund its denial.

We need a new kind of politician who encourages 'public moderation' amongst Australians and who fosters municipal generosity; one who eschews the big end of town in order to give the other end of town that much touted 'fair go'.

Articulate and approachable, our new kind of politician will understand that favouring moneyed Big Corpa over the ordinary Australian is corrupt ...

... and our new kind of politician will declare war on the current system that has trapped us into ruining our country.

Oh yes, this new kind of politician will be prepared to listen to our murmurings, our rumblings.

Needless to mention we also need a politician who recognises Australian bicycle helmet law for the $$$ Sexist/Racist crap that it is (and perpetuates).

I'm sorry, boys ... but we just don't need you.

Please turn the lights out as you leave.

Kind regards,
Freedom Cyclist

(cross posted to Scone Blogger's Blog)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Glimpses of Tokyo to forget about Adelaide

The Australian saga of my Australian cycling continues, and to help illustrate it's utter nuttiness I am punctuating this post with lovely photographic evidence of 'sane' cycling conducted to the north of us.

Last week a NSW policeman turned up on my door step quite randomely. Initially I thought the worst but he quickly reassured me that he was not the bearer of 'really bad news ... only a summons.'

"Oh is that all?!" I said, mightily relieved. Well, he wasn't sure that was quite the right sentiment but he got my drift.

So then we got to the nuts and bolts as to why he was at my place and once he had officially established who I was, he gave me the summons and informed me that I was required to be in an Adelaide court on Tuesday 7th April 2015 to enter a plea for the crime of not wearing a bicycle helmet whilst riding a bicycle in Adelaide.

'Hmmmm,' I wondered out loud, 'how come I didn't get a court attendance notice before this summons?'

He had no idea but showed me on the summons that I'd actually already missed an Adelaide court date (WTF: that is not me at all - no-one could ever accuse me of wilfully missing an opportunity to defend the 'cycling-without-a-plastic-head-container' crime!)

He then suggested I rang the Adelaide court to have a chat about my queries which I duly did the minute he left my home. And it turned out that not only had I missed one Adelaide court date but I'd missed two ... both in March just gone!

Horrified, I mentioned to the court that at no point did I ever receive notification that I was required to present myself in court on either of those dates.

Soothed by the court's helpful suggestions, I put all this in an email and also requested permission to have my hearing heard via telephone link in order to negate the need for me to go to Adelaide.

With the tele-link permission granted, last Tuesday an Adelaide court rang my home, and I entered a plea of 'not guilty' over the phone ...

I was then reminded by the court over the phone that in Australia you have to wear a helmet when you cycle (do I still have an english accent?) and that if I entered a plea of 'guilty' everything could be sorted out right there and then.

Not guilty, I insisted, thus requiring a new date to be arranged for a hearing - in July this time and in person.

"Heigh ho heigh ho it's off to Adelaide I go!"

And so the circle of cycling-life in the Land of No continues ... sigh

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Is there anybody out there?

We cannot do another term of Nationals - we just cannot.

They have been here forever, the last one for 27 years ... somebody ... anybody Save Our Souls!

Here in the electorate of the Upper Hunter we are drowning in a landscape of coal and gas and now that the government has truncated our railway line, we cannot even get out.

We are stuck in the middle of ecocide and injustice, our very own 'Faustian bargain' arranged by democracy.

Save our Souls.

We cannot breathe, we cannot farm, we cannot get to the doctors', we cannot get to the beach, we cannot get educated, we cannot get trained ... why?

... because Mike Baird and the Liberal National coalition are locked in a death spiral as a result of dodgy deals arranged by dodgy developers and dodgy politicians.

Mike Baird has got it seriously wrong.

Starting with the trains and at the risk of being repetitive, it is unseemly for a premier to try and avoid the provisions of the Transport Administration Act which expressly forbid the cutting of a railway line except by Act of Parliament.

The Upper Hunter electorate is not impressed by Mike Baird's attempt to vest ownership of the railway line to the Hunter Development Corporation for railway acquisition purposes and neither are we impressed by their partnership with General Property Trust under the auspices of the government owned Urban Growth NSW.

(Screen capture from NSW Railpage)

Wendy Wales from the Denman Aberdeen Muswellbrook Scone Healthy Environment Group (DAMSHEG) is appalled that yet another vital public asset is being removed from collective use.

"I want to know why the information that Mr Robert Hawes, apparently a member of the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund Board and the Hunter Development Corporation ... I want to know why that piece of information that he donated $60,000,000 to the government to assist with their 'deliberations on the future of the rail line,' ONLY appeared in the very last paragraph of the Newcastle Herald article 'City's future plotted by shadow government.'

"I want to know why this '$60,000,000 donation' mention hasn't been discussed more.

"I couldn't believe I was reading it correctly, you know $60 million donated to get rid of 2km of Newcastle rail so I raised the matter with George Souris.

"He told me via email that he had no knowledge of any of the assertions or content of this article and that he was sorry but he couldn't help me. He also went on to say that he'd had 'no engagement with ICAC on any Newcastle issue, but whatever it is, it ought to be given straight to ICAC,' whatever that means."

The article in question has since been removed from the Herald's site,

... however you can 'read all about it here!'

But back to Wendy's question, why did that $60,000,000 donation only get such a little snippet of reporting in the paper? Why? What is the back story? Cui bono? ... who benefited?

When you read the four documents that also featured in the 'now-removed-Newcastle-Herald' article,

1. Master Planning Group documents Friday 24 May 2013 — 10:00am

2. McCloy letter to Brad Hazzard Feb 2012


4. Brad Hazzard response

... you get a very chummy little picture ... all parties seem very connected and red flags are going off.

Conflicts of interests anyone?

You're not saying anything, Mike, and here in the Upper Hunter, we all want to know.

Simmering away behind Upper Hunter's transport injustice, the mines keep digging for humanity ... and a big gold-star for global pollution.

Is there anybody out there? Coal is ruining my valley

Once famous for its wines, today we are more famous for our mines, and along with inversions & DIDOs (drive-in-drive-outs), 'Keep-Out' and 'For-Sale' signs dot our landscape.

Take a drive on the New England Highway beyond Maitland, and the landscape vandalism caused by coal mines is obvious.

But leave the highway to take a detour, and abandoned houses hint of another vandalism.

Author, grandmother and long time hunter resident before her move to the North Coast hinterland late last year, Sharyn Munro told me that the damage done to communities by runaway coal and the gas extraction industries is heartbreaking.

"Despite all the hype and all the promises that streets would be paved with gold, and progress for all, a very good example of the reality is what happened with the Peabody Wilpinjong mine over at Woolar just over the range from the Hunter Valley.

"They had 96 entries in the phone book when that mine started, and most of the people in the village were all for it but then in five years of that mine opening, there were only 12 entries in the phone book – that village became unliveable."

"We’ve lost so many villages here in the Hunter; Warkworth, Camberwell’s owned by the mines, brave little Bulga’s struggling to survive against illegal encroachments. We’ve got Jerry’s Plains fearing for its life from the Peabody mine and Denman is at great risk from the 4 mines proposed for its community."

"Yes the money is huge but you know, at what cost, at what cost?"

Sharyn Munro's view on coal-induced community vandalism is shared by John Krey, member of the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association.

"We’ve been fighting a proposal which is an open cut mine expansion which would see the centre of Bulga be unliveable because of noise and dust.

"This has a massive effect on people’s psyche, on people’s view of the future, their view of where they are currently, and an open cut mine actually moving in such that they can no longer live in this area and their family and already families are splitting up."

John Krey says the DIDO miners work their shifts and leave as soon as they’re done.

"They don’t add anything to the social fabric of the village … the whole social approach or the whole social cohesiveness of the village is gone, and they do not contribute. It’s not the miners’ fault because they’re here to make the big money – but that does destroy the village."

No-one can argue that Bulga has not been destroyed.

Despite the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association's earlier victory against Rio Tinto, 'government-lobbying' for 'Big Mine' has seen the massive mine expansion finally approved followed by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) suggesting that the village of Bulga could be relocated.

This is classic community vandalism perpetuated by the lunacy of coal with only our community elders prepared to take up the baton of defence ... sigh

We should be screaming from the rooftops ...


Meanwhile bubbling away over the Barrington Tops in the east of the Upper Hunter electorate is Gloucester, fighting for their future, fighting for our future.

Right now there has been a suspension of AGL's coal seam gas activities as a consequence of chemicals used in their drilling processes appearing in the water.

Despite fierce opposition to the drilling and desecration of people's lives, the fossil fuel group has dominated the area of the local council's management side making it difficult for the actually elected councillors to take a position.

Ken Johnson (OAM), a former Principal in the NSW Department of Education, currently part-time university lecturer and representative on various government working parties, and the president of the Gloucester Project, says Gloucester can either choose a fossil fuel economy or a food future economy, the latter of which has already attracted a lot of positive attention from many different agencies.

"At last year's Australian Regional Development Conference in Albury, I gave a presentation on socio-economic, sustainable, regional development, showing the relationship between Gloucester approaching climate change difficulties and potentially being one of the areas to be favoured by climate change.

"As a gateway to the North Coast, this whole region could become an important food bowl for Australia, but to date the concept has been thoroughly blocked by Gloucester's council management which refuses to give it proper consideration.

"The purpose of the Gloucester Project is to increase the significance of sacrificed zones in relation to agencies with responsiblitiy to prepare areas for anticipated difficulties from climate change.

"Gloucester council management are not prepared to consider the emerging pattern that agencies promoting the fracking process are likely to be liable for adverse community outcomes because they have responsibilities regarding land use and the people who live in there.

"The process of fracking has a greater impact than previous methods of gas extraction because 'fracking' the strata increases the amount of chemicals escaping into the environment. We are looking at clear evidence concerning migrating methane and migrating mining impurities having a dire impact on people and communities.

"Mothers and babies living in close proximity to CSG wells have an increase risk of significant health difficulties."

The outlook is grim for the Upper Hunter.

Yet despite the countless studies available concerning the impact of fracking on humans, animals and vegetation, pointing to a chain of evidence against coal seam gas extraction, the Liberal National Government is determined to continue with their policy of CSG business as usual if re-elected.

Ken Johnson feels it will not be long before all agencies from governments and industries will have to accept their responsibilities towards maternal and infant health because the evidence is already showing that inadequate advice leads to litigation.

"We need to look at today's playgrounds, and think about the little girls playing in them who will be Australia's future mothers, and remember that in reality those little girls are playing a deadly lottery that will see a proportion of them who live within 30km of a well suffer from significant health problems - we are potentially sacrificing children.

"It is an inescapable issue and government and industry are complicit in the creation of maternal and infant disability - the research is there."

Back in Scone and 30km to the west of me and my family, we have just found out that AJ Lucas has just bought a licence to frack for CSG in Bunnan.

(Screen capture: Jeremy Buckingham, NSW Greens MP)

When will this madness stop?

We know that the National Party candidate plans to carry on as per the will of the current NSW government which really means as per the will of Big Corpa; you know 'Big Gas' and 'Big Mine' and 'Big Developa.'

(Image: with permission from Knitting Nannas)

The Gloucester Knitting Nannas are right when they advise us all in the Upper Hunter electorate to the put the National candidate last, and basically vote for someone else, anyone else.

The National Party has not served our interests in the electorate, only their own, and they are not entitled to this seat. Why, I have not even touched upon the planned annihilation of the glorious Liverpool Plains ... weep.

The beautiful Hunter Valley and the Upper Hunter electorate are being systematically destroyed and no-one, nothing is safe.

We can no longer listen to National party policies heavily weighted towards Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas imaginings - our reality ought not to have to entail National Party representation - they have failed us.

"Dear mythological creature in whom I don't believe,
Please don't let the National Party win in my electorate."


(also cross-posted to Scone Blog)