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Citizens Cycling in Amsterdam .. co-existing happily with cars .. where they get to choose whether they wear a helmet!
Yesterday we went up to Aldi in Bondi Junction and bought bicycle helmets .. because here in Sydney the fine for not wearing one just rose from $71 to $319.
I ride a cycle around my neighbourhood, down to the beach or to the shop to buy milk or snacks. I don’t ride in the city ‘cause it’s too hot, there’s too many aggressive motorists out there and most of the bike lanes in this city are so unsafe.
Several months ago I was riding a bicycle on the footpath in a cul de sac close to my street when I heard a screech of tyres and brakes slamming behind me. I stopped and was immediately assaulted by a barrage of questions, false statistics and admonitions from a Highway Patrol cop who jumped out of his car like it was a SWAT drill and went on to fine me for not wearing a helmet.
I was in such a state of shock that I let this officers tirade just wash over me .. and in the back of my mind I was thinking about the 3 wheeler that I used to ride to school when I was 5 .. not a helmet in sight .. tagging along after my 7 year old sister.
Things have changed !
This morning I read that the biggest cause of premature death in Australia is heart failure. Since introducing these draconian laws re: cycle helmets .. less adults ride cycles, which translates to many more fatal heart attacks than the lives saved by forcing everyone to wear a bicycle helmet.
Apart from this fact raising the fines by almost 500 percent smacks of revenue raising and there is another more important issue here.
This is about our rapidly disappearing Civil Liberties !
These increased fines will mean that Highway Patrol Officers will be lurking around on slow days looking to bust any hapless member of the public seen ambling along on their bicycle anywhere .. a park, the beach promenade, the corner shop … to punish them for this heinous crime.
A crime so terrible that virtually NO other countries in the world have introduced these laws because .. the police everywhere else have got better things to do .. like protecting We The People.. instead of bullying us.
On a recent trip to Europe I was struck by the happy co-existence of motorists and cyclists in Amsterdam. I saw more mutual respect and commonsense on a main road at 1 in the morning then I’ve seen in Sydney ever.
Australia .. we can do better !