...and it's moments like these when it's ridculously hard to remain contained & calm...but there's nothing quite like a bit of grass roots broadcasting to counter the outrageous claim that "virtually no cyclists use the cycleways"
Catastrophic climate change has expanded the question of survival, the notion of climate justice, and our global responsibilities.
Climate justice can no longer be ignored.
We must change the fundamental manner in which we inhabit this planet.
This is why I cycle.
...and because of my reasonable belief in the perils of helmets (based on expert opinion), I believe that the act of me riding a bicycle without a helmet underpins the notion of my survival.
Inter alia, our diminishing coastlines, dust storms and dying rivers demand that I cycle whenever and wherever I can in a bid to curtail carbon emissions and to relieve the environment of the destructive elements of my car.
There are no alternatives for me in my transport options. ‘Shank’s Pony’ is not a viable or even possible alternative given that I live some 8km to the west of Scone and routinely transport groceries, luggage & other stuff, all of which would be impossible on foot...and public transport from my place to Scone is non-existent.
The current global zeitgeist clearly demonstrates that not only is utility cycling an achievable start to tackling this issue but it comes with unexpected benefits in terms of health, traffic de-congestion, and tourism.
Therefore I conclude:
* that my unhelmeted conduct is a question of my survival & the planet's survival;
* that I need to cycle in order to reduce carbon emissions & unnecessary car-dependency tendencies;
* that to cycle with a helmet would put me at grave risk.
I respectfully submit, given that the law is fragmented, uncertain and inconsistent, the law ought to be repealed.
I also respectfully submit that I wish someone would listen to me.
At last, here was the 'public drama' the helmet debate has been crying out for!
There were 'heaps of television cameras & journalists', and of course 'heaps of bicycle-cops' backed up by 'heaps of car-cops'! In fact 'witness-reports' state that the 'bicycle-ones', clad in classic Australian bicycle regalia, were 'lying in wait a full hour' before bicycle protesters commenced the '10am' pedal-off!!
...but for a better more detailed account, let's now cross to 'our man on the ground', Dr Paul Martin, who filed this report yesterday:
"I did not require Her Majesty's accommodation this evening. Phew!
A lot of great support at the bicycle forum at Federation Square in the afternoon. The feeling in the forum after Mikael spoke was electric. 99% of the audience thought that the mandatory law should go. The panel of 'experts' all were talking nonsense...
$$ Australians value life...(therefore helmets are important);
$$ Have to take all stakeholders into consideration with road funding.
The next person that says the word stakeholder I think I'll thump! I hate that word. She meant 'car drivers'....
Mikael was being very careful what he said - his hosts were breathing down his neck and the Danish embassy was there keeping an eye on what he was saying I think. He still did point out that:
1) the law is counterproductive and not a good idea, and
2) fining cyclists is only going to discourage them.
Veronika and I handed out hundreds of your postcards and I put them on every bike hire bike we could find. When we came back out of the talk most of the postcards in the bike hire bikes had been removed (but were not lying around) and none of the bikes budged... We also put a big pile of the postcards on the table inside the venue for the speeches - they were gone in about 10 minutes!"
We're really happening!!!!
The helmet debate is well & truly on the map!!
Well done Mike Rubbo & all the protesters - you little rippers!!!!!!
2 mentions + 1 Local Court defended hearing + 1 District Court appeal = 4 court appearances for me because of Australian helmet laws! sigh
Notwithstanding this curial tally, the courts truly don't want to waste either their time or their precious resources over my matter. In fact they have even gone as far as to ponder on record why unhelmeted cycling is a crime.
However until such time as unhelmeted cycling is removed from the criminal law, I will continue to defend my civil liberties.
When will this national madness cease?
ASK YOUR LOCAL MEMBER TO REPEAL MANDATORY HELMET LAWS!
The idea that helmets provide a 'catch-all' protection for their wearers & believers is little more than an article of faith among honest scientists, and there are many reasons to believe that the methods of Class 1 evidence would be insufficient to prove it.
Yet we are forced by law to wilfully purchase & wear an unnecessary oil-based product:
$ All in the name of faith
$ All in a bid to protect us
...quick little caveat though - if you're a paying passenger in a bicycle taxi none of the above applies - according to government rationale, your $$$s will protect you - clearly??
If a whole bunch of us (like consumers, advocates, and even Australian bicycle organisations) said "NO" to Mandatory Helmet Laws, we would single handedly improve transport in our cities overnight!!!
...and what's more we would turn the 'safety-via-helmet' mantra into the uncertainty it really is and then we'd probably focus on the more important things we need to actually get ourselves from A to B on our bicycles (whatever 'flavour' we choose)
Having dispensed with our debilitating bicycle helmet laws, we'd start with a couple of little niceties:
* well done you, Clover Moore
* don't stop yet!!!
* what can we do to help?
...whilst simultaneously issuing a little warning:
* back in your boxes, oil-hugging troglodytes (you know who you are!)
Of course we would need to make sure that our country never forgot that MHLs are:
Please act unanimously today to remove MHLs from our lives and statute books...and please also consider implementing some form of liability legislation to hold helmet promoters responsible for the damage caused by their helmet protection spin.
After all, dear governments, you owe us this heartfelt request of ours since you have significantly denuded us of our civil liberties with your non-evidenced based policy decision over the past 20 years.
Lots of love, Civil-liberty-lovers
PS...and just to be really helpful, this could actually be quite a good little 'platform' for one of you to utilise in the run up to any of the elections we're about to have. It's been noted that none of you seem to have any ideas for responsible environmental policy so perhaps this might do for starters!
PPS...slightly off point, but any word on the 'freedom cyclist's' application for helmet exemption? - nearly 5 months since it was first submitted!
...lawyer, John Mahoney is drafting a 'Class Action' against the City of Sydney in a bid to destroy the Bourke Road bi-directional cycleway. Further he has intimated that if successful 'it would create a legal precedent threatening all Sydney's 200 kilometres of extant cycleways or those under construction' - !!!!!
What is the matter with us???
Why don't we get it?
Sydney is congested & car-infested - BUT LUCKILY FOR US & TO OUR RESCUE we have our very own amazing Lord Mayor with vision and a 'roll-up-your-sleeves' approach to problems & solutions.
Notwithstanding, the next thing we know we have some daft 'class action' being threatened (GASP! let's not tell the world - we are fast becoming inexplicable and ridiculous...jeez getting rid of half-decent prime ministers & bikeways - and all in a matter of weeks!!!!!)...
(The Hon. George Souris MP, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney)
Whilst I have heard nothing from The Hon. David Borger MP (Minister for Roads), I was heartened by a letter I received during the week from my local politician informing me of his representations to the minister with regards to my 'exemption' application for not 'wearing a helmet whilst riding a bicycle' on grounds of civil liberties and therapeutic grounds.
That The Hon. George Souris MP has been prepared to do this and keep me informed of any developments is reassuring, and I must admit that I am touched.
For the past 4 month, 'manners & communication' have been sorely lacking from the relevant government departments and authorities:
* I have been 'ping-ponged' between personnel & offices;
* I have been quoted daft interpretations of the legislation; and
* I have been repeatedly informed that I am dealing with very important people who have no time to either meet me or take my concerns seriously - after all, have I forgotten, that I'm only a VOTER?
No I have not!!...and I'm really looking forward to remembering next March 2011!!!
But back to George...
...throughout the whole of my 'mandatory-bicycle-helmet-law-quest' process, I have copied him into everything (oh! the downside of being my local member; in fact I even remarked to my husband that I've probably written to George more over the past 20 years than I have to him!!!!). Anyway whenever George has 'received' documents procured and/or produced by me, he has, without fail, courteously replied to every single one. He has never left me in the dark wondering whether or not he has got 'it' and neither has he ever ignored me. Moreover he has actually acted upon my apparent concerns, and has copied me in to numerous 'communications' despatched from his office, and occasionally received by his office from the occasional minister.
So this post is a 'thank you' to him for being there for me! - I really, truly appreciate the care that he shown me (his incessantly noisy 'constituent') & that he never ever seems jaded when I 'touch base' over and over again...
(Photos: Querida David, cycling Modena) There is no class 1 evidence proving the spin of helmet promoters; only anecdotes!
Notwithstanding, we inexplicably commit ourselves to the proposed notion of promised protection without question, or evidence for that matter. In doing so we willingly become complicit in the criminalisation of individuals who have the temerity to dispute the actual protection capacity of these oil by-products.
We prosecute 'science' in order to uphold 'consumerism.'
Christopher Hitchens' classic comment encapsulates the very daftness of it all!...
..."extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence"
...so 'Dear Minister Borger,' how about granting me my longed-for helmet exemption because clearly claims of helmets can not stack up?!!!
Before I get onto 'knit 1 pearl 1' part of the post, no kidding we were nearly squashed today cycling up Elizabeth Street, near the Strawberry Hills Hotel!
No. 310 (1146) bus should have waited behind us before pulling left into bus-stop - but oh! no! the bus driver was way too impatient for that! He commenced to pass us, then realised he was about to over-shoot his stop, so just blithely merged into bus-stop forcing us into the gutter!!!! (see mini-mud map below of 'our-almost' calamity)
Utter lunacy - what was he thinking?...was he thinking?
If I was a 'bus-driver' examiner my verdict would be:
"Failed bus driver & one who ought not to be entrusted with 'people moving'"
...but back to 'knit 1 pearl 1'...on a much 'warmer & fuzzier' note, outside "Campos" (home of best coffee in whole wide world!!) there is a pole with handknitted pole cover!!! It's a cosy looking pole, giving off good vibes, in fact really thoughtful vibes! (the antithesis to those of aforementioned bus-driver!!)
...classic handknitted cycling infrastructure!
I loved tying my bike up to it - it felt so loving and friendly!
If I was a 'city-examiner' my verdict would be:
"Sublime Sydney; home of the best coffee & cosiest bicycle poles"
(Photos: Querida David, Fiorenze) Contrary to popular opinion, helmet promotion is simply not commensurate with any health, transport or carbon-reducing initiatives. Further,the rationale that the helmet law is there to protect us from harm, has been exposed for what it is - an expedient and manipulative media-byte designed to deflect community scrutiny from our government's appalling record in health and transport.
By deftly passing the cost of 'bicycle safety' onto consumers instead of investing our taxes into true infrastructure, our government has cheaply abrogated their representative responsibilities...
...only thing is, it has cost our community dearly over the past 20 years.
I cycled passed 2 teenage boys today on the above shared path in Scone, and as I approached them it occurred to me they were watching me way too intently & that they had assumed complete control of the path. "Whoa", I thought, "am I about to be pushed off?" This unpleasant notion presented as a real possibility.
So I immediately engaged them with a breezy greeting, "hey! how're you going?" to which they grunted "good thanks", but by the time we'd put half an Olympic Swimming Pool between us, they had turned round (as I did too now) and yelled "Old bitch! Ride a f#*king normal bike!!"
I was in 2 minds to cycle after them to get them to repeat what they had just said but with all my shopping and many more kilometres to go before home, I couldn't be bothered, and by now the gutless little 'toe-rags' had bolted.
But I feel that this episode of juvenile crass behaviour has highlighted the murky & exclusive nature of Australian cycling.
That my age, gender and choice of bicycle was perceived by them to preclude me from cycling is an indictment of our Australian society - and there's no dodging it - this is how we are. In fact, these ridiculous little boys unwittingly tapped into the 'Australian bicycle view'...that it belongs only to the following:
* young sporty men on young sporty machines
Pathetic - we should be ashamed of ourselves.
How did this sense of male entitlement pervade through our society?
Why did these boys feel emboldened enough to attempt to intimidate me?
.....talk about 'out of the mouths of babes'.....
Inter alia, their 'comment' echoed a sentiment posted on this blog last week by an annoymous reader - 'get off the road, granny', I was commanded imperiously!!
The parlous state of our urban transport coupled with our Mandatory Helmet Laws (MHLs) reveal a culture committed to Oil.
Further, MHLs have encouraged frequent use of precious resources & energy in manufacturing & distribution of helmets. Yet we refuse to acknowledge that 'helmet promotion' has tricked us into frivolous consumerism, and that helmets are oil-based products.
If we continuously upgrade this headwear, as encouraged, increased 'emission of wastes' cannot fail to have a detrimental impact on habitat loss, climate change and biodiversity.
(Cartoon: Sydney Morning Herald) Here we go again!!
Our illustrious Lord Mayor is clearly having a definitive impact on urban transport and the users of 'traditional motorists' territory' because the "Car Brigade" are out in force with their standard manoeuvres:
* belittling * rubbishing * pontificating * pooh-hooing * fraternising with pretend cyclists (always a goodie!)
...you name it! - their fear is palpable - they are so scared!!!
According to the "Car Brigade" not only is Clover going to 'obliterate traffic' (OH NO!) she's going to 'choke traffic' too!!!!! (NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!)
It's brilliant - I'm so excited!!!
But my most favourite bit of the case for the prosecution is in the closing address where Clover's cycleway network is declared:
"fatally compromised by the reality of a hilly, busy, higgledy-piggledy city with narrow little lanes and too many people who actually have to get places to make a living"
WOW!! amazing! the prosecution has scored an 'own goal' by actually high-lighting the pressing reasons for our Lord Mayor's current transport plan:
* too many people * higgledy-piggledy city * narrow little lanes * need to get places * need to make a living
Clover, not only are you're gaining ground, you're pulling away...by at least half a canvas already!!