Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Australia is getting its bicycle mojo back

Photo: @melbournecrank, Helmet Optional Ride
The inspiring protest ride in Melbourne last weekend has made me determined to get back on my bicycle again in the Upper Hunter.

Frankly, it makes no sense for me (or the planet for that matter) to stay off it for the next four years.

I've thought long and hard about the 'role model'/'law breaker' dichotomy and I have come to the conclusion that as a participant in a democracy I have a responsibility to challenge bad laws, and given the glacial response from most legislative councils/assemblies/senates/HouseOfRepresentatives regarding statutory amendments and/or changes, another avenue to effect legislative change is through peaceful protest and non-violent direct action.

So I am going to dust off my darling Giant Suede (which luckily for me didn't sell!), I am going to pump up my tyres and I am going to channel my inner Sally McManus!!!

On my bike, me!!!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Helmet optional ride removes barriers to cycling

What a day!
 More hats
And even a pre-protest fine!
 From Green Park Cafe to Abbottsford, 100 protestors took to the streets and cycleways to make the point that:

... Australia's mandatory bicycle helmet law is a bad law and needs removing pronto. 
The protestors chose for themselves whether to don helmets or not, and safely made it to their designated destination for lunch and a chance to explain to Channel Nine why any barriers to cycling were a bad idea and why the rest of the world thinks we're nuts.
Notwithstanding having been fully informed of the protestors intentions, the police were not evident at any part of the protest ride. Protestors and organisers found this lack of police interest most heartening, although one unfortunate protestor did score a penalty infringement notice prior to the protest ride.

Protestors came from far and wide including one from the Gold Coast and one (yours truly) from the Hunter Valley.

And so it was that a peaceful protest on an idyllic autumn day in an idyllic Australian city showcased how marvellous cycling could be in this confused nation of ours if we only got rid of mandatory helmet laws.

It's time, Australian politicians, it's time ...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Yes we have Coles in Scone but no REDcycle

Our plastic situation has really got to me, and whilst Scone Coles is taking back my weekly collection of their scrunchable plastics this service isn't officially rolled out yet and I'm aware not everyone is prepared to be potentially rejected should that happen ... not that it would because staff are lovely at our Coles.
Anyhoo the tweets below show my conversation to date with Coles' Social Media peeps somewhere in the cyber ether. Certainly promising but not concrete yet.

We need this REDcycle bin and I won't let up till we have it!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Adelaide Bicycle Helmet Trial Date

I ❤ Adelaide
- Had standard conference with Magistrate & Police Prosecutor in Adelaide Magistrates Court this morning via telephone (✔)

- Totally agreed with police statements - rider riding bicycle without helmet ()

- Homework given - read Tkachenko v Police [2012] SASC (11 May 2012) (✔)

- New trial date set Monday 17th July 2017, 09:30am sharp, Adelaide Magistrates Court, Adelaide (✔)

Note to self:
- Book flights

- Book hotel 

- Fine tune defence

Monday, February 27, 2017

Adelaide postponed

This time it was me asking for the trial date to be vacated. Too many bushfires too close to our place plus a few other things to boot.

After brief teleconference this morning with magistrate and co, matter postponed to the Ides of March (format; pre-trial teleconferece I think, don't need to be in Adelaide so not a trial).

Will keep you posted.

(PS it's raining in the Hunter Valley)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Table talk: NSW politicians and me on bicycle helmet law

Me, Melinda Pavey & Michael Johnsen
What a week it's been! ... and yes the Minister for Roads and the Member for Upper Hunter have a new fan!

Having publicly divested myself of cycling opportunities to use my bicycle in the Upper Hunter Shire last week, since I was in Randwick yesterday I used the one parked in my sister's garage to attend a meeting at Parliament House with my local representative the Hon. Michael Johnsen MP (Member for Upper Hunter) and the Hon. Melinda Pavey MP (Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight) to discuss my position on mandatory bicycle helmet law ...

... and they listened.

They gave me the opportunity to express my frustration at this uniquely Australian compulsion ... and I did.

We discussed how mandatory helmet law (MHL) has created such a significant barrier to cycling especially to older women such as me, and how any barrier to cycling is always a shame. And yes we discussed hair and how that is an issue for women even if it isn't for me because we all know nothing could squash my crazy hair!

We discussed my long running legal saga and what a waste of police resources and court time and money that has been.

We touched upon health issues and our nation's obesity problem continuously gobbling up precious resources in the health system, and the need to get more people on bicycles.

We discussed the lack of all-age helmet compulsion in other countries such as Scandinavia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, Ireland, how the US and Canada have a mish-mash of helmet requirments in certain states and provinces but not the blanket all-age helmet compulsion that we have across our nation across theirs.

We also discussed bike share and how Mexico and Israel got rid of their helmet compulsion when bike share was introduced because they wanted their programmes to succeed unlike our dismal Australian attempts in Melbourne and Brisbane. For the sake of comparison, I pointed out that Melbourne and Dublin both started bike share in their cities at exactly the same time and that Dublin's has been a huge success story whereas Melbourne's has been a monumental fizzer.

We looked at the 'safety-in-numbers' factor and how the more bicycles on the road there are the safer it is, and how much better cycling is in the Northern Territory with their watered down helmet requirements that are far more lenient and therefore don't put up so many barriers to cycling.

And I have to say I was heartened. Yes truly ...

Both politicians ride bicycles and both were open to the view that bicycles provide avenues and opportunities that we are not utilising at the moment. The Minister for Roads said they would re-visit the data, and I urged her not to only look at Australian material which has been so very blinkered to date, but to look at what the international community have to say on this subject as well.

There were no promises made, but this new roads minister was affable and open to suggestions, even on how a new approach could be drafted!

Whether bicycle helmet law is a Department of Roads issue or a Department of Transport is yet to be decided ... but hey, we were talking, we were talking ... and that is certainly something.

Baby steps, I know, but all the same ... baby steps get you somewhere!

Thank you, Melinda Pavey and Michael Johnsen, and I look forward to chatting again very soon!!!!


(Note to self for today's TO DO list ... send Freestyle Cyclists' contact details to Road Minister's department)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why I am giving up cycling in the Upper Hunter Shire


Today in my local paper, "The Scone Advocate," a letter was published entitled "HOW CAN 'LAW BREAKER' BE ROLE MODEL FOR CYCLISTS?" In a somewhat rather non-21st Century way the Scone Advocate does not publish its letters online therefore I cannot give you the url so I've copied the content and popped it underneath my response which is below in between the two lots of dotted lines (my response that is). Oh and also the urls provided in the letter writer's letter were sourced and added by me in case you wanted to read some context to this flurry of letter writing ... sigh

In response to the letter in the Scone Advocate Thursday February 2017 (How can ‘Law Breaker’ be role model for cyclists?’), I would like to thank J McLaughlin for their letter. I understand the premise of their complaint, and completely agree that it must be confusing when viewing the Upper Hunter Shire Council’s (UHSC) excellent bicycle initiative if viewed alongside my personal campaign (which I might add is not condoned by the UHSC) to remove the Australian compulsion to wear mandatory bicycle helmets. 

Therefore in a bid not to compromise the sound community programmes that the UHSC has to offer the shire community I will here on in undertake not to ride my bicycle in Scone or anywhere in the Upper Hunter Shire for the next four years whilst I am serving my time as an elected local government representative.

Naturally outside Australia where there is a large world full of many countries without mandatory bicycle helmet law, I will ride with the rest of my global citizens as I see fit.

Consequently that now means there is a bicycle (the one pictured in the Scone Advocate alongside J McLaughlin’s letter) now idling at my place so if anyone would like to buy a white giant suede, 9 yrs old, one elderly lady rider, it is now for sale for the princely sum of $5,000.00. If sold I will donate all proceeds to the Scone Neighbourhood Resource Centre which is desperately in need of a new home.

If truth be told it has actually become a trifle dangerous cycling in this shire without a helmet what with insults, stones and egg sandwiches occasionally thrown at me whilst on my bicycle.

Once again I would like to take this opportunity to thank J McLaughlin for their salutary reminder that law breakers and role models cannot mix.
Sue Abbott, Scone
Letters to the Editor
I read with interest the article in The Scone Advocate ... Shire Notes: an enlightened new adventure ... Sunday February 12, 2017.
"New bike facility at the Scone Visitor Information and Horse Centre". Very commendable.
But what concerns me greatly is that the article seems also to (self) promote Cr Sue Abbott.
This person has shown a blatant disregard for the Bicycle Laws and bike safety.
This person has been fined many many times for refusing to wear a helmet.
From the Daily Telegraph ... August 15th 2016:
"In a seven year battle against bike helmets Sue Abbott has had her driver's licence suspended, bikes confiscated and four criminal convictions recorded".
How can this person be promoted as a role model for cyclists?
Is the Upper Hunter Shire Council endorsing her actions?
Magistrate Barko dismissed Abbott's linking of helmet laws to climate change as an argument with "no rational reasoning".
Not my words ... the words of a Magistrate ... the woman is irrational.
I reiterate, I think the idea of bike hire (and helmets) is very commendable.
But I also feel the Shire Council is treading on thin ice, both morally and legally, if it continues to use this "law breaker" to promote it.
J McLaughlin, Merriwa