Helmetless riders

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Helmetless riders

Sick of fools yelling "where's your helmet"? Can't understand why a safe mode of transport like cycling has been singled out for mandatory helmet wearing? Want to ride with the breeze in your hair? This is your group.

Members: 143
Latest Activity: Apr 21

Discussion Forum

Radio National and Bicycle Helmets

Started by Alan Todd. Last reply by sydneyCommuter Jul 18, 2015. 1 Reply

A helmet protected my brain

Started by John of Willoughby. Last reply by John of Willoughby May 24, 2015. 33 Replies

Comment Wall

Comment by Bernard on August 24, 2012 at 11:03pm

Calling a valid opinion stupid isn't really helpful. And achieving change is a little more complex than "go in hard and compromise at the end".

Comment by Bernard on August 24, 2012 at 11:07pm

We will break all of it down eventually.

Why? How?

Comment by RidesToWork on August 24, 2012 at 11:35pm

As Bernard said, it may well be that exemptions for city bike schemes (or the proposals for Fremantle) are likely to be the first step to repealing MHL.

But then, logic might take over, as it becomes clear that, contrary to the popular belief of politicians, cyclists are not dying in their thousands after all.

The belief that MHL cannot be repealed without a package of measures may be valid, but it's based on the invalid premise that cycling is so dangerous that helmet-less cycling should be banned under all circumstances.  

I'm not sure that the package of measures argument will work, because there's always a risk that some cyclists will fall off their bikes even on a segregated cycleway.  Helmet advocates can still argue: "if one life can be saved...."  

In contrast, exemptions for public bikes might make enough people realize that cycling isn't anything like as dangerous as helmet advocates have suggested, and safety will improve because of increased safety in numbers, so it might again start to become a normal activity.

 

Comment by Nicholas Dow on August 25, 2012 at 12:56am

So if a politician wanted to encourage cycling and proposed the "package" approach, what should our reaction be?

Given that off-road and shared-path cycling is already as safe as it gets, and no amount of on-road infrastructure will affect the existing off-road situation, it follows that reform of the law to allow helmet-free cycling in those places should be immediate.

Any other "package" approach that puts off reform for off-road and shared-path cycling is a hoax and a distraction, and defeats itself by building infrastructure while simultaneously putting off some of the potential users.

BTW Freestyle Cyclists has printed some small cards for dropping into bicycle baskets, to encourage people to sign up to support the campaign.  We will sell them via the website for $10 / 100 cards, soon as I can set up a cart.  If you want some sooner, let me know.

Comment by Geoff McLeod on August 25, 2012 at 12:59am

There is are some good ideas every proposed method. If some sort of repeal could be achieved by a package of measures, I'd prefer the package of measures to be locked into a timetable rather than be conditional on when politicians feel the time is right. Of course they could just ignore or change the timetable, and I agree that a package of measures would be like vindicating the false belief that cycling is too dangerous at the moment. But if it is another hammer to chip the wall, then great.

Public bike share could be the start of some kind of exemption and it's certainly helped to raise the question among the general population about being forced to wear helmets. In Brisbane, motorists drive past the bikes and wonder why they aren't being used. They certainly help make the MHL problem more visible.

The best argument is 'Choice'. Choice is just as pro-helmet as it is sans-helmet. Choice is a word that everyone understands because the average Australian believes in their right to have it. There are many valid medical, environmental and safety arguments to support a repeal in MHLs - but the average guy in the street isn't going to look into things that deeply. I know the media doesn't. 'Choice' is something that encapsulates the entire argument. It reminds people that we are free (or should be free) to make adult decisions for ourselves and our children without government interference. And when the rest of the world enjoys 'choice' people tend to agree that we should have it here too. "Choice' allows each side to win and have things their own way.

'Choice' should be the word associated with any attempt to repeal MHLs. In TV advertising, choice is a powerful emotion. MHLs are an emotional subject in the media so it requires something of equal emotion to argue against them.

And how do we bring down the barriers eventually? Through advertising, research, internet sites and public relations. It all helps to change opinions, and opinions are the only language politicians understand.

I know some very committed people who have paid for tv advertisements out of their own pockets. They have definitely given a boost to the pro-choice campaign. The best way to help bring about chance is through mass media and internet. Why not organise a small group of people to run ads every so often? It's more affordable than you think!

So, to help bring about change I'm choosing mass media and internet as that's something I can understand (I'm crap at being an academic and there are plenty of people who do that stuff better than me).

Comment by Geoff McLeod on August 25, 2012 at 6:18pm
At my son's football match today and one of the dads brought up in the conversation that some guy in Brisbane made an ad about bicycle helmet repeal and he totally agreed with this. It just goes to show that a little bit media still goes a long way.
Comment by Bernard on August 25, 2012 at 7:36pm

"Package of measures" is probably not a great term. "Recognition that MHL is most likely to be repealed in specific conditions first" is probably something everyone agrees with. Examples being Darwin where you can legally cycle on footpaths and soon, hopefully, hire bikes on separated cycle paths in several cities. I think we would all say it doesn't go far enough. Would any of us take an all or nothing approach and oppose a partial exemption? I hope not.

On terminology - the terms "choice" or "freedom" aren't for me the key issues when it comes to MHL. If a law is shown to be overwhelmingly effective at minimising harm to others or one's self I can accept a loss of choice and freedom if it is proportional to the harm being avoided e.g. restrictions on smoking, seat belts, helmets for motorcycle riders (abrasive injuries are horrific at high speed).

"Freedom" and "choice" don't address the fact that MHL does not achieve its objectives. Helmets deter people from a healthy activity and they do not provide effective protection from injury. Focusing on choice opens the door to pro-helmets lobby making out cycling is dangerous.Focusing on helmet's ineffectiveness counters the pro-helmet scare campaign.

"Remove the risk" makes sense to me but isn't a catchy slogan. It makes it clear that the only way to protect bike riders is to prevent them from being hit by cars not by fooling them that a foam cap will save them.

Comment by Dan on August 27, 2012 at 11:30am

Interesting discussion.

 

Just to be clear where I am coming from; I have a problem with bicycle advocates who support MHL, for all the reasons you already know about. Some advocates are now saying that MHL should be repealed but ‘not yet’, as we have to have better conditions first. I also have a problem with this; it’s essentially no different from the first group and seems to me simply an attempt to appease / quieten those of us who want to talk about it. It is this group I characterise as ‘package-of-measurists’.

 

However, I do support pushing for a broad range of pro-cycling campaigns – better infrastructure, relaxing MHL, driver education, tax breaks for cycle commuters, etc etc. They are all important (but MHL needs to be in the mix!).

 

I also support a phased withdrawal of MHL; this is just pragmatic. Bike share is an obvious first step, and / or cycling when using a separated cycleway. The goal for me is complete repeal (including for kids), but the path to get there is one step at a time.

 

Finally, someone made a comment about making friends not enemies. This is true, but only up to a point. And it’s also true that compromise is needed, but again there has to be a line. For me, I’m not prepared to compromise by putting the question of MHL on hold whilst we push for infrastructure.

 

I do believe, btw, that HML repeal is the only cycling issue that has a chance of gaining mainstream traction (i.e. non-cyclists might support it). If you engaged a lobby group to work single-mindedly on the issue of MHL, they would come up with some interesting angles, not all of them very palatable for many cycling advocates. Given the current political climate, however, if you wanted to you could frame MHL in a very ideological way to get it on the agenda. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about, but whilst tempted haven’t gone there; the price is too steep.

Comment by Alan Todd on August 27, 2012 at 2:31pm

I'm intrigued Dan.  Are you able to share what you had in mind?

Comment by Dan on August 28, 2012 at 10:05am

Got another ticket today - on Pyrmont Bridge (again!). But not the bike cops; they were regular patrols.

They were very apologetic, and said they had been told to come out an enforce cyclist / pedestrian rules because there had been a lot of complaints.

As usual, a few people cycled past uncomfortably fast whilst I was getting my ticket. It's obviously not their usual duties, as they had to look up the offence code etc in their little book.

And it's gone up - it's now $66.

I did ask if I could take a picture of them, and the cop who gave me the ticket said I couldn''t take one of him, as he was 'undercover', Which is odd, given that he was wearing his uniform, including a badge that proclaimed him to be Constable Delgrano...

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