my refusal to wear a bicycle helmet

my refusal to wear a bicycle helmet
...is informed

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lord Mayor of Sydney says: "Sydney must join the public transport renaissance occuring in cities globally"

(City of Sydney's logo for Sydney Festival 2010, Australia, a 'helmet-law-land', groan, - note their omission of a 'top-half'! - everyone knows there is nothing chic or inviting about an image clad with a mini-ice bucket - Marketing 101!)

It was so heartening to read Clover Moore's e-bulletin last week and to realise that not only does she understand that we have to adapt to a new low carbon, more sustainable future, but that she also recognises we can learn from other cities who have faced the same issues and inspiringly found solutions.

Here is an extract of her thoughts:

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There are many financing options available and Government should not be spooked by the big numbers involved. Investment in transport is an investment for future generations, so debt financing is an option and could be repaid over a longer period to spread the cost burden.

This is a time to be bold and visionary; to make responsible long-term decisions that leave a legacy for future generations. Convenient, reliable and efficient public transport is critical to reduce congestion, cut emissions, ensure sustainable development and keep our City liveable.


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...she also continued in her e-bulletin with exciting news of plans to 'share' Johnston's canal pathway:

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Council has endorsed a concept design for the next link in our usable city-wide cycleway network-a shared cycling and walking route along Johnston's Canal, connecting Orphan School Creek with the Glebe Foreshore.

The Johnston's Canal cycleway has three parts. Existing paths will be widened to connect Bicentennial and Federal Parks with The Crescent, before crossing the canal into Hogan Park in the Leichhardt Council area. After crossing the canal again, the third part of the pathway will provide a safe and direct link for pedestrians and bike riders to Orphan School Creek.

To establish the preferred cycleway route, the City assessed a range of options in conjunction with local residents, bicycle groups, Leichhardt Council and State Government agencies.

Detailed designs will now be developed with further community input. The final design will improve accessibility and amenity for pedestrians and bicycle riders, with new native landscaping along the route and traffic calming devices in Wigram Road.

The City has allocated $76 million to build a usable 200km cycleway network that safely gets cyclists to places they want to go. While the City gives priority to building separated cycleways, some paths shared between pedestrians and bike riders are essential, particularly where there is insufficient space for separated paths.

On shared paths, cyclists need to give way to pedestrians and cycle slowly. Our recent education campaign advised cyclists to do just this-slow down, ring use their bells and maintain a respectful arms-length distance from pedestrians. We also install a range of shared path markings to promote safe riding, particularly at narrow points, blind corners and around playgrounds.

I want to promote a new culture in Sydney where pedestrians, cyclists and drivers share our public space equitably. International cities such as Copenhagen show that large numbers of cyclists can safely and peacefully co-exist with pedestrians and drivers-if the right facilities are available.

The City has received a grant from the NSW Government's Sharing Sydney Harbour Access Program for the Johnston's Canal cycleway project. Work is expected to begin late this year.


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The Lord Mayor's initiatives sound amazing - I am so impressed, and citing Copenhagen really shows a committment to change!

...BUT we need to get rid of mandatory helmet requirements if we are truly to get utility cycling off the ground. There are no mandatory helmet requirements in Copenhagen even though the helmet spin lobby looms large. Resolutely they have managed to resist the aggressive helmet promotion so clearly evident in Australia. As a result of 'not succumbing' to the 'shameless spin' broadcast so liberally in the name of safety advice, they have a vibrant cycling city that everyone wants to visit.

...that aside, well done!, Lord Mayor, - you are impressive!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"NO" to mandatory bicycle helmet laws = "YES" to traffic solutions

(Beijing, China, a 'no-bicycle-helmet-law' land - from 'threeparadiso', flickr)

The city planners in Beijing are revisiting 'the bicycle' as a traffic solution after years of debilitating traffic congestion and attendant pollution.

Whilst unapologetically old-fashioned, and formerly dispensed with during Beijing's car craze, the bicycle is demanding respect for its definitive traffic solution capabilities.

The bicycle clearly 'punches above its weight', and global acknowledgement for its properties (in terms of freedom of movement & health) is liberating many of the world's grid-locked cities.

What are our city planners waiting for? - it should be 'curtains' for 'mandatory bicycle helmet laws'!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Three cheers for my 'booking sergeant'!!!

(Copy of photo-postcard sent to my 'booking sergeant' last week of Paris, France - a 'no-bicycle-helmet-law' land!)

He has replied to my postcard!

...and I now have a copy of the in-car DVD taken on the night I was charged with riding a bicycle without a helmet - three cheers for him!!!

Thus given that the prosecution's declared brief of evidence is finally complete, should the judge choose to avail himself of the opportunity to view the in-car DVD, he will be able to do so. Whilst extremely dull and boring, it is a record that my views on the mandatory requirement for riding a bicycle with a helmet have not changed, and that I felt equally imperiled back in March 2009 as I do today.

Thank you, sergeant! x

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Enough is enough - say "NO" to bicycle helmet laws!



(San Francisco, California, a 'no-bicycle-helmet-law' state - well, not for the over 18s anyway!)

It has been said before, and I'm going to say it again, bicycle helmets should be a matter of choice, rather than a legal requirement. To get this 'matter of choice' to actually be the situation here in Australia, a 'concerted community campaign' is necessary to persuade our state governments to act upon the evidence provided by the countless independent researchers across the globe.

There are a significant number of us in Australia who have urged the various state governments to restore our right to choose and to cease their pathetic executive subscription to the philosophy that helmets are the 'first & last' words on road safety for cyclists. Yet we continue to be either ignored or disregarded or both.

However I have no intention to accept this 'continued' dismissal, and in fact, intend to 'cycle' to MacQuarie Street the next time I am in Sydney to ask some of my 'pressing' questions in person to any minister who comes within 'spitting' distance of me and my bike (figuratively speaking, of course - the 'spitting' distance that is!!)

Feel free to join me at any time whilst I continue with this important quest!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bicycle Helmet Laws v The Paying Passenger

(Photos: Maureen Donnelly)(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - a 'no-bicycle-helmet-law' land)

In Australia:

* Why don't paying passengers on bicycles have to wear helmets
* Why do non-paying passengers have to wear helmets?
* Why is it thought to be safer to pay a fare?
* Why is it thought to be more dangerous to not pay a fare?
* What is the government rationale?

I am completely mystified - any clues? anyone?

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Bicycle Helmet Laws" are the "Emperor's new clothes"

(Photos: Georige Abbott) (Essaouira, Morocco - a 'no-bicycle-helmet-law' land)

When will a 'little child' in an Australian crowd alert us to the reality that Australia's "Bicycle Helmet Laws" are nothing more than the 'Emperor's New Clothes', leaving us naked and ridiculous?

Bicycle helmet manufacturers are not unique in their aggressive pitch for market share - check out 'Big Pharma' - and it appears their intense commercial reality has dictated that any adverse data is discounted. We only have to glance at spin-based helmet promotion tactics, coupled with the frequent use of sensational quotes and unsubstantiated statistics from various medical opinion leaders, to appreciate that this is the case.

Notwithstanding, helmet spin is eagerly adopted by the Australian public media even though conclusive evidence pertaining to helmet safety is absent. It is a great shame that the Australian public media so willingly contributes to the advertising campaign for bicycle helmet manufacturers without the slightest 'investigative' thought:

*Why do the Australian public media so readily swallow the market research and press releases so generously distributed by bicycle helmet PR companies?
*Why don't the Australian public media take up the invitation to delve further into this issue?
*Why don't the Australian public media ponder for more than a glib one-liner as to why the majority of Europe so successfully cycles in their urban and rural areas, and in such large numbers, and so safely?

Upon reading James Hansen's excellent article "We are selling indulgences", it occurred to me that our bicycle helmet laws parallel proposed "cap & trade schemes" of energy companies, promising the notion of heaven on the whiff of a prayer, but paid for dearly by us. Not only have mandatory helmet laws notionally hoodwinked us, they have completely failed us in terms of cycling safety, traffic congestion and any 'street-cred' in negotiations for a global climate accord. Given that many countries are now facing the consequences of oil-saturated societies, and have been urgently required to discuss the issue of climate justice & access to climate justice, Australia urgently needs to comprehend that we have responsibilities that ought to include a new approach to cycling and a 're-visiting' of our mandatory helmet laws.

We cannot afford to miss these deadlines in our charter of global responsibilities - mandatory helmet laws must go.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To my 'booking sergeant': Greetings from Paris!

(Copy of photo-postcard sent to the booking sergeant today)

Dear Sergeant,

"Greetings from Paris"! (actually I'm back in Scone now but I was in Paris last week)

Following my earlier inquiry to you late last year concerning a copy of the in-car dvd recorded on the night of the 7th March 2009 when you booked me for riding a bicycle without wearing a helmet, I thought I would take this opportunity whilst preparing for my appeal in the District Court scheduled for Friday 5th March 2010, to make a further inquiry to see whether you have had an opportunity to procure the requested copy.

Look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,
Sue Abbott (Scone)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

D-day is nigh

Tomorrow my matter will be listed in District Court. It could be heard in full later on in the day or the next day or even next week or perhaps even the following week. But one thing I do know, if it's scheduled for 'post' Friday 19th February 2010, I will be my first client (and I know what they say about that - but I say 'c'est la vie!')

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I love Paris in the "snow-time"

Ah voila le Vélib'! (procuring one required some determination)
Mon Vélib' en neige (note: they are extremely heavy - I promptly fell over with the bike as soon as I detached it from the docking station - oui! oui! je suis très stupide!)
...would have been easier to take this Citroën deux chevaux (very tempting!)
La Sorbonne en neige
Mon Vélib' sur le Pont Neuf
Voila la Notre Dame et moi
Maitenant le déjeuner, donc à bientôt, Vélib'!
Les Champs Elysees, could anything be more fun? (mais oui! cycling around the Arc de Triomphe!! - c'etait fantastique!)
Le Champ de Mars et la Tour Eiffel (c'etait uncroyable!)So in a nutshell after 6 weeks' cycling in Europe = we're a bunch of 'wimps' in Australia!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Une bicycliste à Genève


Tomorrow we leave Genève for Paris, and we plan to participate in the chic bicycle share programme, "Velibe" - bien sûr, we are going to do Paris en bicyclettes!!!!

Notwithstanding our six weeks in Europe, living and breathing bicycles every day, we still cannot cease wondering why Australia lamely allowed notions of bicycles to be hi-jacked, leaving the nation bereft of so many life options for close on two decades.

Soon we will have to exchange our current 'European cycling heaven' for the 'pumpkin reality' of Australia'! - and once more we ask ourselves, why is Australia so satisfied with our regressive state of affairs & when is our nation going to consider our requests for civil liberties and climate justice?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Les Bicyclettes au Chamonix und Zermatt

Bikes for skis
Bikes for letters
Bikes for interior design
Now we need bikes for the girls!!