Helmetless riders


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: 139
Latest Activity: Oct 17

Discussion Forum

Examples of helmet propaganda

Started by sydneyCommuter. Last reply by Kathy Francis Sep 28. 2 Replies

Fare Dodging Stockholm-Style

Started by Jason Brown. Last reply by YUGYUG Jul 17. 2 Replies

Comment Wall

Comment by Paul Martin on August 5, 2012 at 2:07pm

That's fabulous, Omar. It's really the way forward: creating environments for humans. 

Along with this groups focus, I too am involved in groups & discussions as is Etienne and many others. It's a broad subject but the disparate groups would do well to join forces as the end-point is the same. Another side of it is good urban design (and rejigging of current design) particularly when it comes to zoning laws...

All the very best with this. I look forward to joining in.

Comment by Alan Todd on August 5, 2012 at 5:29pm

Totally disagree Omar.  Mandatory helmets are a nanny state issue.  They are also a public health issue, and a transport policy issue.  As to the current approach getting us nowhere, I'm not sure what approach you are talking about.  Certainly the state cycling bodies show no interest in helmet law reform, and no support for the countless thousands of Australians who would ride, or ride more often, if they weren't lumbered with the compulsory plastic hats.  This is in itself an indictment of these bodies.  That is why freestyle cyclists is trying an independent approach, including, but in no way limited to, an online petition.

As to the "divisive single issue" stuff - well sorry, that's just the way it is.  The divisiveness was created by the legislation, and will remain so long as that is in place.  Yes there's lots more to cycling and livable cities, but this group is the forum dedicated to choice in cycling headwear.  

While we are on the topic, maybe you could answer a question I asked you when you were still CEO of BNSW, but which you never answered.  Do you think its better that I ride to the shops without a helmet, or that I drive instead? Because one activity is legal in this country, and the other isn't.

Comment by stephen on August 5, 2012 at 5:39pm

Hi Omar.
This is not the forum to debate it but while you may have an irrational view of gun ownership inspired by the ban all guns hysteria. Please consider that rural people and others use them to great effect for eliminating vermin, hunting and live stock management which is far more humane than trapping or poisoning, Security guards use them and shooting sports are popular legal hobbies in Australia why should people be prevented from legitimate gun ownership. ? I think the LDP's stance is quite reasonable here please don't get sucked into the anti-gun hysteria.
The knee jerk reaction about bicycle user head injuries has great similarities to the Anti gun hysteria both of which are used to unfairly manipulate or scare the public to vote one way or another.

We need options to vote for parties or lobby them to gain support to end helmet laws. I have taken some effort to gather political party views on just this matter to help bring about change.

You don't like the LDP for some reason I don't mind. But please provide me with the leads or info so as to add more choices to this table.


We need to use every means at our disposal to change this law - ignoring  voting as an option will reduce the chance of success. However apathetic some may be about the democratic process ignoring it will certainly not help.

Comment by Colin on August 5, 2012 at 5:49pm
"When a person who doesn’t travel by bike tells somebody that does travel by bike that they ought to wear a crash-hat it’s not at the same level of infamy as people who aren’t Jews telling Jews to wear yellow stars but there is a clear equivalence."
- Own The Road
Comment by Alan Todd on August 5, 2012 at 6:55pm

Thank you Colin.  I have given thought before to this moral equivalence, but have hesitated from stating it publicly for fear of being misunderstood.  A good point about the level of infamy being different - but moral equivalence nevertheless.

I think it is only when you grasp this that you begin to appreciate how disgusted and outraged some of us feel about being compelled to wear our own Star of David.  There's a nice line in the film biography of Serge Gainsbourgh where the collaborating Parisian police complement him on being the first to turn up to collect his yellow star.  "Its not my star" he says, "its yours"

Comment by Bernard on August 5, 2012 at 8:18pm

Yikes, I've sat back and enjoyed this discussion but now its getting weird!

I don't, for one second, want opposition to MHL to be associated with opposing gun control. To equate MHL with antisemitism and genocide is absolutely absurd. Disgusted and outraged to wear a helmet - oh toughen up - worse things happen to some. 

I oppose MHL because helmets, for the majority of the time, don't help people. I absolutely support laws that protect people from harm. e.g. bikes must have brakes and lights. I'm a builder and would not allow someone to work at height without a scaffold or harness.

The difference between justified protection and a nanny state is:

a) nanny state prevents people from taking personal responsibility and places them at greater risk of harm

b) nanny state is about controlling people not protecting them

c) nanny state makes no distinction between competent people and idiots

d) nanny state sees no difference between exposing yourself to a calculated risk and risking the welfare of others.

On an earlier point - nothing exists in isolation and MHL should be seen in context. The best way to get rid of MHL will be by having safe cycling infrastructure. Conversely, opposing MHL helps get safer cycling infrastructure because it emphasises the need to prevent bikes from being hit by cars.

BTW, I rarely wear a helmet and have successfully beaten fines in court but I'm feeling very out of place here at the moment. 

Comment by Alan Todd on August 5, 2012 at 8:40pm

Bernard, as I said, I feared I would be misunderstood.  Who mentioned genocide?  As Colin quoted, and I supported, we were talking about equivalence when we talked about forcing people to wear something which they may not wish to wear, and which identifies them as belonging to a group.  Colin made a clear statement about difference of degree.  No-one is suggesting that MHLs equate with antisemitism.

Sorry if you found it weird.  Possibly I get outraged and disgusted because of the level of enforcement we have here in Victoria.  It really is bad for us helmet dissenters.  NSW seems quite easy going in comparison.

Something we can agree on is that your four tests for a nanny state all apply to MHLs.

I would be interested in how you beat your helmet fines in court, as I have to appear there soon myself.

Comment by Omar@Go! Alliance on August 5, 2012 at 8:49pm

Stephen, I have an "irrational view of gun ownership"?  "sucked into anti-gun hysteria"?  Hmm, just because I express a different view?  Is this a "you must agree with us or must be stupid" party?  You are seeking engagement and broad support?  Vaya con Dios!

Alan, let's agree to disagree - nothing new there! ;-)  But do you agree that I can be for/against LDP without considering it a Nanny State issue?  For you it is, and that's cool by me.  Best I could tell Amsterdam and Copenhagen are both much more Socialist, "Nanny State" societies but have no MHL.  In fact they were so Nanny as to all but outlaw cars.  America is less "Nanny" and also has no MHL. 

The point I am trying to make is that it really has little to do with helmets just policy and priorities and using Nanny State as a battle cry in my view is in the main unhelpful when dealing with an apathetic at best public, media or policy makers.

BTW, sorry to say (not being your Nanny) I don't much care if you walk, skip, cycle, hop on a bus or train, hire a Go-Get, jump onto a scooter or even drive but I would hope you would have choices that you and thousands of others who don't yet cycle felt comfortable and safe doing.  Most of the people I have talked to at BNSW and now on the Southern Coast tell me they won't ride to the shops because they fear the state of the roads and the aggressive driver behaviours not because they need to put a helmet on.  But I totally agree that there is ultimately a link between feeling safe and helmet wearing.

I am suggesting that a different approach to the one that has yielded so little is to avoid narrowing our appeal through labels and those driving much broader agendas.   I personally would like to see an apolitical movement that finds value in changing more than MHL - so that it matters less if you choose to wear or not wear a helmet and riding is a more attractive choice and a reflection of a better, healthier community.

Comment by Bernard on August 5, 2012 at 9:25pm

Yeh, fair enough Colin and Alan. I respect that you recognise a "different level of infamy.' But you're presenting opposition to MHL as a libertarian issue, whereas my opposition to MHL is mainly based on pragmatic reasons - its counter-productive policy.  

My comments on the definition of a nanny state were intended to differentiate between opposing MHL and gun control. MHL is nanny state. But gun control does not fit my criteria for a nanny state because its protecting me and others from nutters.

I think the libertarian argument is pretty shaky. Laws that actually prevent harm aren't nanny state just because they impose some restriction on individual liberty. I like having a society that restricts some people's actions: their opportunity to pollute, abuse, discriminate etc.

But pointing out that helmets aren't the most effective way to protect people from harm is an easy argument to win, which BTW is how I got off my fine. Physics and physiology provide overwhelming evidence of the ineffectiveness of helmets.

Comment by Alan Todd on August 5, 2012 at 9:56pm

Bernard, one of the interesting things about MHLs is that they are a libertarian issue at the same time that they are a public health and transport policy issue.  I guess its the libertarian stuff that got me involved in the first place.  However my researches (much helped by the informed contributors to this forum) have also convinced me that the public health and transport dimensions are equally important.  

I agree too that gun control is not really a nanny state issue.  Use and ownership of a gun has the potential to cause great harm to others.  On this basis, the "control" of gun ownership falls within a libertarian's reasonable restriction on liberty - that liberty should only be restricted where the exercise of that liberty may cause harm to others.

I don't agree that the libertarian argument on MHLs is shaky.  The exercise of choice whether or not to wear a helmet is not something that can cause harm to others, whereas your other examples (polluting, abusing, discriminating) do harm others.

The contributers to this group may have different motivations, but I think we all agree that MHLs are a bad thing (except maybe Omar, I'm not really sure whether or not you agree?).  We may disagree on the most effective ways of getting rid of them - and indeed there probably isn't just one effective road to this end.  I'm sure we all have an effective part to play, including through civil disobedience and the courts.

If you feel like it, I would really like to hear a bit more detail on your successful court challenge.  Maybe you have already posted on it and I missed it?


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