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The Freedom Cyclist v Helmet Laws blog was conceived intitially in October 2009  by me, Sue Abbott, a Scone based campaigner and activist, at the end of a graduate law degree.

The content of my blog focuses primarily on access to bicycle justice framed within the parameters of Australian law but occasionally does include other topics.

This blog has a following of some 10,000 unique viewers each month, and has benefitted (I think) from completion of a Master of Media Practice.

23 comments:

  1. Dear Mrs. Sue,



    My name is Rewat from Thailand. I am doing a research on Bicycle helmet law comparing between Australia and Thai law. The problem is that I could not find the judgment of your case. If you could help, I am very appreciated very much.

    Regards

    Rewat Chaleawsilp
    rewat.cp@hotmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Hi Rewat,
      If you go to the 'Comms'Corner section on the right hand side of the blog page, you'll find it in:

      d) Submission to Parliamentary Inquiry into Vulnerable Road Users 2010

      Good luck with it all!!!
      Heaps of bicycle cheers,
      Sue

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  2. Hello, hoping you can help

    My sons school in the UK has said that if he does not wear a helmet on his journey to school (accompanied by me he is 7 and in Primary School) then they will withdraw his bike pass and refuse him access to park his bicycle in the school Bike Rack. The Head Teacher is trying to impose helmet wearing whilst my child is not under her care, not on school grounds & not in school time, as she is trying to impose Mandatory Helmet Use with a penalty for non-compliance (Just like a law with a fine in my opinion) could I cite PART III, Article 7 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights as you did in a letter stating that her mandatory helmet policy is experimentation due to the lack of evidence to support the need and so therefore I do not wish my son to be part of this experiment and would expect him not to be penalised because of this?

    Thank you - hope you can help - thanks for your time

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    1. Hi Katie,

      So sorry it's taken my so long to get back to you.

      Why are some schools so daft and so uninformed? I cannot believe their policy on helmets - it's scary. I think it's well worth quoting Article 7, and you've probably done that already by now given that I've taken so long to respond. Hope it went well (if you have!)

      The whole belief in helmets and the safety they're supposed to provide is unfounded and not conclusively backed up by evidence. As such we should be left to make our own and our children's decisions on helmet wearing or not.

      Good luck with it all, and I'll be quicker getting back to you next time.

      Heaps of unhelmeted bicycle cheers,
      Sue

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  3. Hi Sue,
    Thought you might find this post on The Beret project interesting: http://beretandboina.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/bike-helmets.html
    Keep on your good work!
    Cheers from NZ,
    Daan

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    1. Hi Daan,
      Can't imagine wearing a beret over a helmet! ... can't imagine wearing a helmet for that matter ... but the berets look great! Good luck with it all.
      Cheers,
      Sue

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  4. Hi Sue
    I'm a France-based Australian journalist researching helmet laws.
    Are you able to drop me a line? Would love to pick your brains.
    lyn.eyb@gmail.com
    Cheers
    Lyn.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lyn,
      Lovely to hear from you - will drop you a line shortly.
      Cheers,
      Sue

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  5. Hi Sue,
    I am undertaking my honours thesis with Newcastle University (Sociology/Anthropology) and am researching experiences of bicycle advocates. If you would like to participate, could you contact me jai.cooper@uon.edu.au or 0404 828 917 and I will provide further information.
    cheers,
    Jai C.

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  6. Hi Sue,

    We would love to have you be a part of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, could you send us an e-mail (info@edfoc.org.uk) so that we can make arrangements?

    Thanks!

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  7. Hi Sue,

    I have been following your activities from NZ for some time now. I recently attempted to lodge an official complaint with our Regulations Review Committee. It was unsuccessful - but I would love to share my complaint and the official reply with you to get your thoughts!

    Email me: clinton.trass@gmail.com and I will send you the details...

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  8. You are obviously entitled to voice your opinion on helmets but please don't cry foul when your hair doesn't look so great when you eventually come off your bike, I hope you don't sustain severe injuries when this happens but hey, helmets were invented for a reason silly.

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  9. I love your website.

    I'd like to share my experience. I was cycling through a park on a path for bicycles and pedestrians and was apprehended by a policeman on a motorcycle, who gave me a fine around the $150 mark. I live near the path and never ride on the actual road.

    I was furious. The first thing I asked him was "who am I harming?" He struggled to answer this but eventually came up with "yourself". Apparently I'm not allowed to take responsibility for my own health - that's the lawmaker's job now. Then he came up with something about the taxpayer paying if I should fall and split my head open. Now, putting aside the fact that he's being paid hundreds out of taxpayer pockets to sit in a park all day to apprehend innocent cyclists, I can't see anything like that scenario ever happening. There are no cars around to hit me, and it's just a bike. There's as much chance of me falling off as a skateboarder or a jogger, and even if I did fall off my arms would break my fall. This has happened before when I hit a pothole and all I suffered was a few grazes. They act like a bike is the most dangerous thing in the world. In fact the most dangerous thing I came across during my ride was the police motorcyclist chasing after me.

    What angers me most is how they don't distinguish between roads and bike paths. Surely they can see that there is absolutely no danger riding through a park on a path designed for bikes? The reasoning seems to be "well roads are dangerous for cyclists so let's make them wear helmets everywhere!". Helmets on Australian roads - MIGHT be justified because of our awful road conditions, until we improve them (if that ever happens). But how come the Dutch and French seem to cope fine? But that's all beside the point - I should be allowed to assess the danger, not a lawmaker in his office.

    It really annoys me to see that this is a priority for police, enough to place a policeman in a park when he could be doing something far more useful. This cop got tired of my arguments about the law being stupid (which he couldn't answer) and said "my job is only to apply the law". This was the defence used in the Nuremburg trials and it was unsuccessful. I sincerely hope that police are never ordered to commit genocide or murder, because judging by this cop's attitude we can't expect them to think about what they are doing and whether or not it might be wrong.

    On a more amusing note, I was told that half the fine was to go to the "victims of crime" fund. If I'm the one being harmed cycling without a helmet, as I was told, doesn't that mean I should get half the fee?

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    1. Thank you, anon, and I feel your angst!!!! The whole helmet law saga in Australia is absurd!

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  10. Hello Sue,
    this is Alessandro from Bike & The City.
    May I ask your email?
    Thank you
    Alessandro

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  11. Hello Sue,
    May I ask your email?
    Thank you
    Alessandro from Bike & The City

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    Replies
    1. Hi Alessandro great to hear from you:
      freedomcyclisteatgmaildotcom
      Chat soon!

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  12. Hi Sue !
    This is Daniel from Sydney.
    I have been following your blog for about 5 years now.
    I have some very exciting news re bike helmets in Australia.
    Could you possibly email me on dan@danielofthelions.com ??
    thanks !
    Daniel

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for that, Daniel, will do! (how exciting whatever it is!)

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  13. Dear Sue,

    My name is Andy and I live in Germany. Last month I returned from a cycling holiday in New Zealand. I'd last been there in 1997, that was my fourth time, and fell foul of their helmet laws.

    Since 1997 I'd been wanting to go back to NZ but didn't feel like going because wearing a helmet made me feel uncomfortable. I cycled 80 other countries around the world instead.

    A year ago I was diagnosed with a throat problem and my doctor wrote a letter to the NZTA which enablem be to get a helmet exemption on medical grounds to cycle New Zealand. It was a great 4000km trip with no problems - except the constant stopping by enforcement officers and other people (pedestrians, cyclists, drivers) yelling at me things like, "Where's yer helmet yer bloody idiot".

    I would love to cycle Australia and Canada, but the respective state and provincial helmet laws prevent me - even on medical grounds. I have found that in OZ it is virtually impossible to get exemptions, Canada is similar. I've began to feel it's even a discrimination against me as I have a disability and am not being allowed to do something I like because of that. It's that my disability isn't visible like a wheelchair is.

    Sue, you are doing an amazing job showing how ridiculous mandatory helmet laws are and how they destroy a country's cycling culture. I wish you all the best and hope that you can find a way to make these lawmakers look as ludicrous as possible. Do these people who make these laws cycle themselves? Obviously not.

    As for New Zealand - I first toured in 1986 and back then I marvelled at the hoardes of kids who cyced to school, the office workers who commuted in their baggy shorts, the families going to the shops... Thirty years later: When I toured Jan to March 2016, I saw 2 cyclists in 3 months, older eccentric people at supermarkets. No kids cycling. Plenty of road-racers that reminded me of Tour de France. Simply: cycling has become a sport, a fashion statement, a collection of odd-looking people... Strange? Oh yes! And loads of fat young people!

    All the best - ANDY

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  14. Hi Sue,

    I was wondering if you would be able to delete a photo on the blog. It is for personal and security reasons. I am not sure how to private message you so please let me know ASAP

    Hope you are travelling well :)

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    1. Of course ... email me freedomcyclisteatgmaildotcom

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  15. District Court in Queensland accepts argument on Bicycle helmets https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20-sZBJ_gMI

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