And all underpinned by greedy corporations which realised early on that we'd be easy pickings in our 'petrol-head' nation devoted to our one and only right (the right to a daily road-trip) so fiercely championed by our political leaders who are notably sans political will and/or courage.
And as per normal when I'm anywhere else but Australia, I want to scream from the roof-tops:
When flying high, helmets abound but once back on terra firma helmets come off ... PDQ ...
Ordinary life needs to be got on with ... sans helmets ...
... a concept most Australian politicians cannot get their limited unimaginative, and for the most part male, heads around!
Yes, Australian politicians, people do lots of completely different things on bikes ... and yes, Australian politicians, even the same people do lots of completely different things on bikes sometimes even on the same bikes.
So my 'bring-home' message to you, Australian politicians, is that it is perfectly possible to allow people to make bike headwear choices for themselves in a grown-up 'horses-for-courses' manner without having to have a law defined and directed by limited men in an immensely limiting fashion giving endless free kicks to Big Helma and Big Corpa when prima facie Australian helmet law is utterly useless at providing the originally-intended goal - bicycle safety.
Crankworx at Les Deux Alpes was 'wicked' and I was completely hooked by the whole competition.
These guys are nuts and gorgeous.
So chilled, so friendly, so accessible, and so incredibly nice to chat to.
In between film crews and shots and interview manoeuvres, I enjoyed a quick yarn with Brett Rheeder from Ontario, Canada just before he and his fellow Crankworx competitors threw themmselves into the Slopestyle event. Perched like goats on the side of a pretty-steep Les2Alpes mountain, it was fun chatting with him and listening to his tales of biking, competitions, injuries, recuperation. I think I may have told him that I enjoy using a bike too qualifying primarily for shopping with the odd picnic thrown in for good measure!!!!
... fully sick!
Of course to date his side of Canada doesn't have helmet law so they get to make their own decisions as to when and where might be a good idea to put one on. Clearly mountainside and freestyle biking has competitors grabbing helmets on their way out of doors but once they're at the bottom of those hills helmets come off.
I resent the fact that here in Australia I am supposed to heed laws that dictate I must dress like these supremely athletic and young Grand-Prix cyclists at all times when all I'm doing is just popping out the door for milk.
(Me & offending brompton, Adelaide Airport, South Australia)
So my 'darling-one-back-in-Australia' has informed me that an 'Expiation Notice' (?) along with a letter addressed to me from the South Australia Police has landed on our doorstep (ok, in our letterbox at the top of the drive).
Laid out in the letter is an explanation of the total fine amount:
$$$ $93 - for helmet fine
$$$ $60 - for victims of crime levy (what victim?)
Grand Total: $153
The letter also explains that payment of the 'Expiation Notice' will complete the matter (well that's not going to happen!)
So as per normal, I quickly scan the 'emailed-through-letter' for the section where it mentions:
'... should you wish to elect to be prosecuted for this offence, fill out the section ... blah blah blah ... and return it to the Expiation Notice Branch' ... (there's a special 'branch' for this shit?! ... sigh)
And so here I go again, filling out 'election-to-be-prosecuted-forms' all in the name of health and safety when we still allow people to drive cars and carry passengers (even babies), and still send people off to fight and kill all round the world ...
Health and safety, my arse! ...
... bicycle helmet law and bicycle helmet promotion amounts to nothing more than a cynical case of greedy corporatocracy, wasting the Australian public's time and money.
RIDING A BICYCLE WITHOUT A HELMET OUGHT NOT TO BE A CRIMINAL MATTER ...
At the hands of Australian dogma and Australian ignorance, I am required by Australian law to wear an Australian bicycle helmet whenever I sit on a bicycle in Australia, moving or stationary (but not parked see reg 256 (2) - hmmm that's funny, don't remember too many helmets in 'Spin Classes' - or are those bicycles 'parked' rather than 'stationary'?).
Notwithstanding, bicycle helmet compulsion has a rapidly diminishing social licence when you consider that other cities have looked at introducing helmet regulation, then looked at Australia and the complete market failure helmet law has become for us, then laughed 'BAHAHAHAHAHA', and then thought to themselves 'nup, we're not going there.'
Taipei is a case in point.
They considered bicycle helmet law, but were keen to roll out a bike-share programme and bid for (and win) the 2016 Velo-City conference, so they wisely decided against it using the oodles of evidence available, underpinned by the biggest global case-study ("Australia & Helmet Laws").
So why don't we in Australia get that helmet laws have been a rubbish idea?
Helmet promotion is the answer ...
... and even in 'helmet-law-free' Britain and despite their oh-so eminent leading neuro-surgeon (Mr Henry Marsh) and his recent views that bicycle helmets are useless, we've still had to witness the distasteful spectre of 'Think-Tanks' and 'Road Safety Campaigners' go into a 'Witches-of-Salem-Overdrive' in the name of helmets ...
... which just makes me want to scream, 'Ahem, he's a neuro-surgeon and you're a ...????"
Naturally NewsCorp has weighed in with their version(me below far right!);
... reporting on Mr Marsh's 'helmets-r-useless' position, then issuing a warning that a lot of people aren't going to be happy with him, and then finishing off with 'looney-tune' view of me (and for the record, NewsCorp, I'm not a New South Welshman; I'm a New South Welshwoman ... sheeesh ... 'can't be that hard') ...
... and for the record, everybody, bicycle helmet laws are useless and sexist ... whatever your hairstyle (or mine)!
I've just had a weekend in Edinburgh attending the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, which basically is up there with all my christmases coming at once!
Festival organiser Kim Harding asked me a while back whether I'd be in the UK this June, and as luck would have it, I was winging my way over to see family et al.
I jumped at his invitation and at the chance to be part of a panel for the festival's first ever women's cycling forum and to enjoy some of the other festival bits and bobs that were happening whilst I was there - funtimes!
So last Friday 13 June, I beetled down to the Augustine United Church to hear the inspirational Chris Oliver, aka the Cycling Surgeon (Edinburgh-based consultant orthopod).
It was amazing to hear tales of morbid obesity and not being able to climb a flight of stairs let alone ride a bike, followed by dramatic weight loss and weight loss surgery culminating in cycling across the United States last year.
His tale was a cautionary one in terms of life balance and the all-too-easy trap of forgetting that life is not a rehearsal - and the Q&A afternwards reiterated the need to live our dreams in our lifetimes.
Definitely a salutary reminder to eschew chairs and discover bikes!
Naturally following that I needed a bike in this city where 'hardly-anybody-owns-a-car'! - and so who better than the fabulous Dave Gardiner from Laid Back Bikes ...
... and yes he had a bike for me ... no not the one above (with the man himself) ...
... nor this one above either!
... but this one!
A beautiful paper bike in British racing blue (matching the door-next-door), all made and specially painted in Scotland. Brilliant bike, loved it - so cruisy, with 8 gears, and perfect for travelling all over this lovely city ...
... meaning I didn't have to get off to push my bike up any of the Edinburgh hills!