I thought we could use a separate discussion to cover off a couple of things about protest rides. Reading all the posts in the last few days, Its hard to keep this straight when it's mixed up with the general helmetless discussion. To start, here's my two cents worth on a few of the issues that have come up in the last few days. If you've just come to this, you should review the last few days of posts from the general Helmetless Riders thread.

Sub Optimal you are right, I just meant 'claim the bridge' in a sense of protest, but I agree it is probably not the best expression. Passive rather than militant protest will probably serve us better. Think Salt March, not Long March.

On that same note, Dan mentioned riding past the police. If there are too many of us to stop, that's just the way it would happen, but I think Paul is more on the mark when he suggest that we should patiently wait for them. In a general sense I would ask that, barring wearing a helmet, we should obey any instruction that is given to us by police, rangers or any other authority. Our intent is to protest, not get into a fight. And as I think a few people have suggested, it would be better to foster sympathy from the police.

The idea that the police would reveal if and when they were going to be at Pyrmont Bridge is naive. It would breach a number of operational and ethical principles for them. In fact, telling an individual who was otherwise likely to be committing an offence would constitute corruption. I think there's been whole Underbelly episodes depicting them doing much the same for drug dealers.

Riding to Parliament House is a good idea. Possibly we could start at Wentworth Park, go over the bridge and on to Macquarie Street. If we wanted we could hang a banner of the fence outside and perhaps ride however many abreast to slow down the traffic. It wouldn't be as impressive as the firefighters, but it fits the tradition of protests against the NSW Parliament. We could then ride on to another park to finish.

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On a more practical note, can we agree a date?  How does Sunday 22 or Saturday 28 July sound?

Also, there are a few things to organize.  Maybe flyers.  If someone wants to get a petition started we could ask people to sign it (see http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/key... for the Standing Orders on petitions).  I suggested a route above, but if anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them.  A banner perhaps.

Also, I'm probably going to have to organize them myself, but I want a spoke card...

I would suggest also getting together a paper petition and getting friends and other cyclists crossing the bridge to sign it then take it parliament house and present it in an organised manner sue was highly efficient at this type of activity. I would research how she organised this.

Organising this is not likely to be quick i would suggest you need far more than one month but i am probably on the cautious side.

FYI I will be happy to setup an organised event invite on face book and promote it on line as i am sure would other people I recommend at least 3 months to plan a petition, contact media and arrange to meet a parliamentarian , possibly there is need to arrange with city council.

DO you are have plenty of time to spare to expedite it to just next month.

I think it would be a good idea to get a petition organized so that we can get signatures.  But presenting it is not necessarily in the scope of what we're doing here.

It might be worth talking to Sue Abbott before making any final decisions. Last year Sue organised the Punk Commute protest ride that took the route from Sydney Town Hall to Parliament. I had a great time at this event - there were about 30 protesters, we were escorted by the Police and received by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Roads and Ports at Parliament House. He took away Sue's notes and promised a meeting.

The meeting did eventuate a few months later and Sue was accompanied by Professor Chris Rissel and Dr. Paul Martin.

From memory (check this with Sue) the politicians then asked for further research data, this was sent  and then NOTHING HAPPENED. Paul, if you're there you might be able to give us an account of what , if anything, was promised at this point.

Sue is currently in Vancouver BC for the European Cycling Federation's Velo city conference. There she will give an account of the difficulties we are experiencing here. She may want to be involved in planning for the protest when she returns.

Here is Mike Rubbo's photographic account of the day


Wow, now I've got protest envy...

Before setting a date check with Freestyle Cyclists who are having their Campaign launch on a Saturday in September or October. Some of the people who you might want at your ride might also be wanted at that event which may take place in Melbourne. I'll keep you posted on our plans.

Hi Guys, at the risk of being howled down, I am going to say what I think here:  I think you have an iceberg's chance in Hell of of repealing MHLs.  I have done some ad hoc surveying of my own - mostly amongst cyclists and I have not had one single person support the notion of repealing MHLs.  It seems to be an idea of those who live in the flat suburbs in the inner west and who ride dutch-style bikes in their non-cycling-specific-clothing.

So let us focus on what might work:  why don't we ask the Police ot turn a blind eye to those people who are dressed in "normal" clothing and ask them to not apply the law to them.

I have found that they never reprimand me for cycling on the footpath when the path is not busy with pedestrians and the road is busy with cars - so they seem to be able to use their discretion in that instance....

Sure, if you ask cyclists they'll support MHL - it's the most self-selecting poll you could do. The relevant constituency is non-cyclists.

But I kinda agree - it's an uphill battle. But I don't think an impossible one. There's a growing constituency, including a few governments around Australia.

The blind eye thing is funny - my sense is that the police turn a blind eye towards the unhelmeted on the footpath, and even the unhelmeted in the gutter, but they'll crack down on the unhelmeted taking the lane.

Actually many cyclists don't support the law.

But there is also a filtering effect as a result of the law those worst affected would be less likely to be riding with helmet laws in place.

However if they are riding it will tend to be in places which are quieter they may not be wearing helmets but will avoid areas they are likely to get caught which is pity that they need to hide like this.

Your typical sports only cyclists would probably be more inclined to not understand why to repeal helmet laws since the law is least intrusive to them as they tend to wear a helmet whether there is a law or not.


According to the Rissel study, the people who supported helmet law tended to be the non-cyclists, and the greater the amount of cycling, the less support for the law.  Of course a survey of 00's of people couldn't be better than one person asking their friends could it? Just like the individuals who tell stories about how their helmet saved their lives - very scientific that.

Now as to our "iceberg's chance", we stand to improve our chance by standing up to be counted - and you can do just that now by signing the on-going petition at http://www.freestylecyclists.org and there is a page there you can use to invite everybody you know who is also a supporter.

I live in the Hills, and I don't own a dutch-style bike (my secret shame is I do own some lycra, but I never wear it; a sponsor gave it to me - that's my story...)  It's true my friends with racing bikes think I'm crazy, but once you talk to them, they do see the point.

History has a lot of causes that looked hopless sometime before they were successful.  But it was people who never gave up that made change happen.  During their long years of detention, do you think Mandela or Suu Kyi felt sure they'd wind up running their countries?

As Colin says, there is a wind of change, even if it's just a breath so far.  There are at least two local governments calling for change, one State that has implimented reforms.  The train still has a long way to go, but we're starting to see its light in the tunnel.

But you do touch on an important point.  I did talk about regular rides, not just a one off protest.  This is similar to my idea of ongoing protest through Eithical Objection, I would like to normalize the idea of people riding without helmets.  Protest is a good way of establishing that in a way the authorities will be reluctant to challenge - they don't really want a fight any more than the rest of us.

Israel repealed their helmet law just because no one was obeying it.  Over time, that same principle could apply here.  There are already plenty of rules that don't get enforced becase they are ignored.  To give an example, it's illegal to hang anything from a rear view mirror, but unless the police might be happening to crack down on someone, did you ever hear of anyone getting booked for it?  Other things get abandoned because there just isn't public interest - remeber when most window tinting was illegal?

In NSW, perhaps, but in QLD it's tantalizingly close. Several LNP MPs have come out in support of the repeal and at least one plans to ask a question about it in parliament. Campbell Newman has also indicated he is willing to look at the issue (of course it helps that he put in the CityCycle scheme, so is keen to see it succeed.) The QLD Police union have also informally indicated they would like a repeal, as they feel it wastes a lot of police time and is bad for community relations, especially in indigenous areas. And local bicycle groups are also supportive, with the CBD BUG in Brisbane is campaigning hard on the issue.

And once one falls..


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