Cycling in Sydney Australia
I have created a facebook group where we can warn each other about police operations targeting bike riders in Sydney.
(Note: I have nothing against bike helmets. I respect everyone's choice to wear one or not to wear one as they see fit. If you are mountain biking, racing, riding fast, doing stunts or taking risks in traffic, then a helmet is probably a good idea.)
There is a very big and obvious difference between texting while driving and not wearing a helmet. When texting and driving you are increasing the chance of killing or injuring another road user. Not wearing a helmet can never put anyone else at risk.
I'm not sure that we do expect people to obey the law.
Speaking for myself at least, I don't. Doing the right thing and doing what the law says often differ. And in some cases you can only comply with one law by breaking another.
I'd rather society challenges the dumb stuff. And in many cases it seems ok to weigh the cost of compliance against the cost of non-compliance. Taking a risk based approach, by multiplying the cost with the chance of having to pay that cost is often OK.
It's not OK when you are putting other people at risk obviously. That's what a moral compass does for you.
"Is it not better to bring the debate into public consciousness (and there are quite a few people, such as Michael O, doing a great job at doing just that) and prosecute the argument in that public domain rather than just giving the proverbial finger to the law."
This idea of Chris' is not an alternative to bringing the debate into public consciousness. It is an addition to other strategies. It is not giving the finger to the law, it is trying to avoid un just penalties. Who wants to be punished when they are doing nothing wrong ? Michael O' is indeed doing a great job bringing the debate to public consciousness as is Geoff McLeod, Sue Abbott, Mike Rubbo, Richard Bean, Nicholas Dow , Chris Rissel , Alan Todd and others. Trouble with this legitimate approach is that on its own it achieves nothing in terms of changing the law.
I belong to a group called Freestyle Cyclists who through their website have organised a petition calling for reform. We also lobby Government, front the media, organise rides, make submissions to Government enquiries, keep our members in the loop, meet with politicians , run a facebook page and a twitter account. Yes we are participating in the debate, but because this is not on the agenda of anyone casting their vote for a politician , we are safely ignored.
There is however a tiny corner of Australia (not counting the Northern Territory) where people enjoy helmet freedom and they did not get it by obeying the law. I refer to Byron Bay, where the police have acknowledged that they no longer issue fines to unhelmeted cyclists. In this town, the number of people riding without helmets was so overwhelming that enforcement became impractical. So civil disobedience ( and not the so called legitimate means of changing the law) lead to success.
When people disobey an unjust law they send a message to the police and Government that they do not believe in the law. The converse is also true. Compliance with the law is taken to mean agreement. In Victoria where the fine is so high that no-one can afford civil disobedience, Bicycle Network proudly concludes that there is no opposition to the law.
Civil disobedience is one of many approaches . We do not know which one will be successful but if we only try one approach we may miss the strategy that is going to work.
I wish Chris and the group success in this new idea.
we are safely ignored
not that mhl is about science, but this maybe worth a look/ listen
and this but yet to listen to it..
I'm against MHL and commute every day across the city without a plastic lid, but I certainly don't go round comparing myself to Rosa Parks. That kind of hyperbole does the cause no favours in my opinion.
I don't think Chris was trying to compare anyone to Rosa Parks. He was simply pointing out that breaking a law is not always morally wrong. Nor does it always lead to a loss of respect from other people.
Fortunately, human beings have a healthy disrespect for authority when it is shown to be wrong and public disobedience is part of the process of having a law removed.
Why do you dislike the Rosa Parks comparison? Is it because you believe:
Cycling is not who I am, it is a means of recreation, transport and fitness all of which can be and have been substituted by other means
Rosa Parks' black skin did not allow her this freedom (at the time, and would only debatably allow it now). It invaded every single part of her life, and her other black/non-white contemporaries lives.
The magic hat law is certainly trivial and banal compared to the discrimination of a large portion of a population based on skin colour. I don't dispute the validity of disobedience as a method of protest but I don't think the relative levels of persecution can really be compared.
If I gave a stuff about what the general public thought, then I'd wear the hat.
Hypoerbole? Rosa Parks simply sat in a seat of her choosing. The comparison is not a hyperbole.