In fact in my view this 'parliamentary' theatre-sports exercise of David Leyonhjelm's is nothing more than a right-wing 'smoke & mirrors' ploy to herald in the relaxing of gun laws, the reversing of cigarette plain packaging laws ... oh and course most importantly of all ... to get Senator Leyonhjelm re-elected.
What a shame that this opportunity to discuss bicycle helmet law has been polluted by a numpty-politician planning to use the interest engendered as a sweetener for his particularly nasty winding-back of some of the good stuff Australian Parliaments have actually done.
... because when it came to be his turn to die for his country ...
... he was killed closer to England ...
... than these final resting places ...
... and my mother flatly refused for him to be interred in the military cemetery on offer or any military cemetery whatsoever for that matter.
What does it mean to claim that the names of the dead military men in my family or anybody's family 'liveth' ... for surely if they did there would be an end to the state grooming of killers and the killed.
So I arrived at International Airport (Sydney) on Monday with plenty of time before my flight to England because I had a rendezvous-vous with the Australian Federal Police!
Following instructions in the email sent to me last week, I headed to 10 Arrivals Court, Level 3, and was collected in the foyer by a young policewoman and shown to a rather austere waiting area where I was told to take a seat.
Because I had arrived early and the interviewing AFP constable was running a touch late, I had plenty of opportunity to take in my surroundings, and I must admit that I approved of the minimalist decor, I liked the rather bare glass wall cabinet, and I approved of the what-I-would-call 'airforce blue' fitted carpet throughout ...
'Hmmmn,' I said to myself, 'glad to see my tax-dollars so tastefully spent!'
And then my AFP interviewer was there, and it was through the locked doors and into an interviewing room for the interview.
Housekeeping first ... explanation of the activities to come, I could have a drink any time I wanted one, I could have a lawyer or a friend, I didn't have to be there (even though they'd come up with the idea!)
No thank you, no, no, yes, were my responses.
Then they asked if I had any questions to which I asked if I could take their photo ... no was their answer!
And we were off !
$$$ Rights read out to me
$$$ Re-visited whether I understood that I could have a Lawyer or a friend
$$$ Cautioned that anything I said could be used as evidence against me ... and 'for me,' I inserted, which I think surprised them (oh and btw, you all sponsored two AFPs to interview me for the approximately 40 mins that I was there!!!)
$$$ Checked up on my address, my age, my nationality, my living, where I was born, where I'd cycled in the world (maybe I volunteered that bit?!), what route I had taken on that 'Domestic Airport' day when they had come across me at dawn, description of my Christiania, how many bikes I had, what types, had I cycled to the airport for my London flight
Somewhere along the way I mentioned some of my previous 'non-helmet-bookings' both in NSW and South Australia, and that I thought the law was flawed, contradictory and confusing, that existing evidence was divided into two camps, that Australian academics wedded to mandatory helmet laws were sponsored by Big Oil as evidenced by the 'money' splashed out to further their position (say for instance that 'NRMA' chair at UNSW and 'Honda' sponsorship of medical case studies at St George's Hospital) ... I even mentioned Velo City conferences in despatches which I then had to explain to them ... which then led to mention of Adelaide and the Adelaide protest rides with unhelmeted cyclists and police escorts!
Somewhere along the way I mentioned in a very young life I'd been a student nurse at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London and they jumped on that and asked what was my opinion on all the cycling accidents that I would have seen in that life to which I replied that was irrelevant because I was so very junior then and such a very far cry from an expert that no-one would have been interested in my opinion, and that anyway when I'd done my 'accident & emergency secondment' back then I'd seen more knifings than any bicycle mishaps.
Much more was said and chatted about and it's all on tape for maybe a future court case, and I remember telling them that I have a responsibility to participate in this democracy of ours, and as a participant it is my responsibility to object to flawed laws ... and mandatory helmet laws fitted within that category.
I know at some point I mentioned my blog, and that the purpose of it was mainly to rail against the Australian compulsion to have to wear a helmet when cycling ... I also added that the lead AFP interviewer's legs had already featured on it - later he mentioned he would have to check out my blog for 'malice'! ... hope it's free of that!!!
And then it was time to leave Sydney and its AFP so that I could catch my plane to London and its Bobbies,
... and you know after I've posted this recount of my arvo with the AFP I'm going to take a Boris Bike from Liverpool Street Station (where I'm about to leave my suitcase in 'Left Luggage') to the Science Museum in South Kensington because I have been hanging out to see the Ada Lovelace exhibition and as luck would have it, it's on right now!!!
In between two more criminal bicycle helmet convictions received last Friday in person from the Scone Local Court and this past Monday via telelink from the Adelaide Magistrates' Court, there were bubbles, bread and cheese for our beautiful BN2 and her beautiful fiancé!
And thank 'whoever-is-your-favourite-mythological-entity' for that because somewhat depressingly the premise emanating out of the Scone and Adelaide Courts is that climate change is still too far removed to be a threat, and that not using a helmet is a social choice which in turn is a preference inconsistent with the law, and therefore all things considered I am still guilty of riding a bicycle without a helmet.
Now whilst the Scone Local Court heard my matter and delivered a verdict and a sentence all on the same day, the Adelaide Magistrates' Court took two months to reach Monday's guilty verdict and now plans to take another six weeks to work out a sentence for which I must appear in person to receive it on Monday 7 December ... admittedly I am overseas for November and that may have had some bearing on the time frame, but still this will have been almost 19 months since I was booked back in May 2014 before the Adelaide VeloCity 2014 conference commenced.
You really ought not to have given Adelaide the conference when you were dishing them out ... any Australian city for that matter!
None of our cities or towns deserved it!
We were and still are not fit to hold such a bicycle event of the Velo City calibre ... never have been, never will be ... well, certainly not if we carry on as we have been for the past 24 years since mandatory helmet laws were introduced.
We are completely feral as far as cycling is concerned, and we have been for a very long time.
You must have known this!
What a waste of a conference opportunity and what a waste of everybody's time and effort - it was utterly pointless awarding Australia such a prestigious bicycle meeting.
Adelaide let you down ... well, you let yourselves down by taking 'anybody's' (in this case Adelaide's) money ...
... and meanwhile long after the party has finished and moved on, I am still being hammered for cycling without a helmet back at the start of that VeloCity14.
And next Monday on the day I fly out of Australia to visit my family in England, I'm to be interviewed ...
YES INTERVIEWED ... by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for cycling to Domestic Airport on a bicycle without a helmet ...
... just imagine, I'm to be interviewed for a traffic offence ...
... just imagine, I'm to be interviewed for riding a bicycle without wearing a helmet ...
... just imagine, I'm to be interviewed in an unknown room somewhere at Kingsford Smith International Airport and I've been invited to bring along a lawyer or a friend.
Not only did we not deserve the VeloCity conference back in May 2014, but in my opinion until mandatory helmet laws are repealed Australian delegates should not to be allowed to attend any future VeloCity events.
Tough I know, but notwithstanding all the 'VeloCity-conference-attending' by Australian academics and Australian traffic engineers and Australian 'you-name-them-and-they-attend' attendees, cycling is only getting worse in Australia ... not better.
I am feeling crushed ... and I am wondering, will I one day end up in gaol as a result of this bicycle campaign of mine?
The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, MP
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Dear Prime Minister,
I need your help.
On the eve of another court case in which I must provide my defence for the matter of ‘not wearing a bicycle helmet whilst riding a bicycle,’ I am appealing to you to show reason in this national debate that delineates Australia in the world’s eyes as one of the sillier nations.
It is common knowledge here and abroad that evidence pertaining to bicycle helmets and bicycle helmet law is conflicted. Yet notwithstanding that this topic is obviously in scientific dispute, we are still legally compelled to wear bicycle helmets in Australia.
Most nation states across the globe openly acknowledge that mandatory helmet laws raise issues of civil liberties, and accordingly the decision ‘to helmet or not’ has been left to their individual citizens. In my opinion, it is time such decision-making was relinquished to the realm of choice for Australians too.
Bearing in mind that it was the Hawke government in December 1989 which insisted that all the states enact bicycle helmet laws if they were to receive additional federal road funding for the ‘Black Spot’ program, perhaps you could reverse mandatory helmet regulation offset now with a similar threat of withholding federal funding, only this time for public transport and bicycle infrastructure initiatives, should recalcitrant states refuse to strike out their bicycle helmet regulations.
Clearly mandatory helmet laws ought to be repealed in the interests of social justice, the environment, and our children. Allowing ourselves to be deluded by oil-funded academics, who deliberately steer their observational research into lucrative and secure little sinecures, ought not to be permitted any longer.
Along with this letter, I have enclosed the submissions which outline the case for why I should be found not guilty by the magistrate in the Scone Local Court this coming Friday 23rd October 2015.
Repealing mandatory helmet law is a simple and inexpensive piece of law reform, and one that would bring the marvellous bicycle back to our roads ... with a vengeance.
cc The Hon. Mike Baird, MP, GPO Box 5341, SYDNEY NSW 2001; Mr Michael Johnsen, MP, 20 Bridge Street, MUSWELLBROOK NSW 2333; The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, PO Box 6022, House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600
I hadn't done this trip from my sister's before so I allowed myself plenty of time to get to the airport on my Christiania. I was heading to Broken Hill for the weekend as the 'man-of-my-life' had started working out there for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) - definitely time for a visit.
So I left Randwick before dawn, and made my way through the deliciously cool dark morning gliding past Prince of Wales Hospital and the University of New South Wales, eventually taking a left hand turn onto Anzac Parade for a brief little sojourn on that usually hectic road before turning right into a bicycle land of back streets that almost took me right through to Domestic.
Once on O'Riodan Street in Mascot, I trundled under the massive advertising bridge, and waited patiently at traffic lights to cross over that equally massive bit of the road where Joyce Drive and Qantas Drive meet and unite (how very apt!).
Enjoying the exhilarating thrill that I always experience when I cross that section knowing that all eyes of waiting vehicles are on my beautiful bicycle, I joined the Domestic Airport traffic flow, and once round the bend near DHL terminal (formerly Yanda ... 'alas poor Yanda, I knew thee well'), I signalled and took the right lane which I knew would lead me to the half-a-dozen bike racks in the carpark near the Public Pick-up section.
Daylight, by now creeping into Sydney and turning charcoals into greys, was suddenly interrupted by the sharp blurt of a cranky car.
Initially thinking 'how rude' and ignoring it, after another sharp blurt I realised that the entitled sound probably belonged to a police car!
Was I in their way, I wondered to myself?
I tried to move over a bit only to then realise they actually wanted to talk to me. So manoeuvring to the least dangerous spot in this right hand lane flowing into the car-park (is there a 'least dangerous' spot in the right hand lane of an airport?), I commenced a 'chat' with the Australian Federal Police.
First up, they wanted to know what did I think I was doing ... and me saying 'riding a bicycle' did not allay their curiosity!
Apparently there were two things they knew that I was doing that were wrong:
1. riding without a helmet
2. riding on a road
I mentioned that I was entitled to ride on the road, to which the AFP driver of the AFP patrol car countered not without a helmet ...
So then I commenced my ususal 'police conversation' that I always seem to trot out for moments like these ... you know, how I was a campaigner actively trying to change the law, that I believed there was no evidence for such a law, that such a law had been a detrimental to Australia and an ugly deterrent to cycling here in this country, that we were on our own in the world (ooops almost forgot New Zealand - gave them a plug just in time), blah-de-blah-de-blah.
I also mentioned that I was due in Scone Local Court next Friday for a bicycle helmet matter, and that I was due to hear the magistrate's verdict via tele-link from the Adelaide Magistrate Court the following Monday (I may have got those dates muddled ... anyway I know that I mentioned Scone and Adelaide).
But it was the Christiania that had him (the main AFP protagonist) baffled.
'What,' he wanted to know, 'is your bike?'
Whilst explaining that it was a Christiania from the eponymous suburb in Copenhagen, he shared with me that he'd been to Copenhagen too, and had seen everyone cycling around. I put it to him that I bet he had not worn a helmet if and when he'd cycled around that beautiful city, to which he responded that it was not the law there ...
Is that all that stops people in Australia from not riding bicycles without helmets here?
This fatuous and unquestioning compliance?
Couldn't we just for once give some thought as to why we have such an unnecessary and restrictive law, and nobody else does?
Why don't we challenge our politicians and those numpty UNSW academics who so glibly dance to Big Oil's tune?
Anyway all that aside, next up and somewhat bizarrely, the policeman told me that he was going to photograph my bike so I told him that I was going to photograph him (hope his shot of my bike was better than my shot of him!)
He then asked me where I had come from and I told him from my sister's in Randwick but normally Scone (occasionally Newtown).
He wanted to know what roads I had been on that morning, so I mentioned that I'd 'bicycle-google-mapped' my journey to Domestic and that my sister had given me the heads up to override the first bit of google's suggestions by taking High Street in Randwick past the hospital and the University saving me unnecessary and crippling Randwick descents and ascents!
He wanted to know where I was off to now and I mentioned that I was on my way to visit my hubbie for his day off from his Flying Doctors' shifts in Broken Hill.
He then wanted to know what I was going to do with my bike whilst I was away. I told him I was going to leave it in the carpark and he told me I couldn't, and I told him that I could ... over at the bike racks ... I don't think he knew about those!!!!
He then somewhat parentally said that he hoped I had a good padlock to which I replied I did!
We finished with him mentioning that he would have to chat to his boss on what to do with me, said our goodbyes, and then I parked my bike and flew off to the RFDS base in Broken Hill.
Then on Sunday when I was somewhere in between Pro Hart's gallery and Broken Hill's Living Desert, he rang me to flag a meeting for an interview at some stage either at the airport or Newtown Police Station!!!! He would send me an email outlining all of this ... which he did.
Notwithstanding his pleasant and welcoming invitation to bring a lawyer and / or a friend, I know that I don't actually have to attend if I don't want to. But either way (whether I attend or not) I know that I am going to be booked, so I think I will meet him for the interview because I'm truly intrigued that the incredibly flat-out busy Australian Federal Police can be arsed to juggle 'unhelmeted-bicycling-middle-aged mum' duties along with their usual terrorism and drug smuggling duties.