Australian legislators continue to tie up valuable citizen, police, & court time with their blinkered insistence of bicycle helmet regulation. Consequently, in the Downing Centre today, another conscientious helmet-objector took the stand to argue his innocence by way of the defence of necessity.
Dan Woodall was ably assisted by Dr Veronica Harris (child psychologist) and Prof Chris Rissel (professor of public health at Sydney University) both of whom lent considerable weight to the elements of immanency and necessary belief.
For immanency, Dan argued that it is essential for him and his children to spend as much time with each other as possible (after all decreased father & child time is a risk to the family) & that the best way for him to maximise this beneficial time together is to use a bicycle for transport as opposed to any other method.
Dr Harris expressed that it was entirely reasonable for any father to undertake to spend more time with his children, and that if such a father was able to organise his affairs to do this, 'Dad-time' would be immensely beneficial. Moreover, research indicates that small children are 'solidly at an advantage' to have intensive 'Dad-time' bearing in mind their particular needs at this age, and cognitive retention rates.
Yet the law places Dan in an impossible position as it insists that he must wear a helmet should he decide to use a bicycle despite his necessary belief that helmets increase risk of serious head injury.
Prof Rissel recounted that there was a long history of head injuries attached to cycling, and that if someone believed that angular acceleration, diffuse axonal injury, and the risk compensation factor of helmet wearing increased their chances of serious head injury then this was a reasonable belief.
But this is Australia, and at the end of the day no matter how much the court accepted Dan's evidence supported by his experts' evidence, it remained constrained by the intent of the regulation. Thus Dan received a mixed bag of 'curial' goodies to take home by way of 1 small fine, a s10(1)(a) dismissal & an outright dismissal.
Importantly for all of us, Dan had his day in court, was truly heard, and was 'the' most eloquent & persuasive advocate for himself & for all bicycle users in Australia who would like to be free to choose their own hat options!