Just one more post before I consider where next to take this journal blogging – suggestions gratefully accepted.
Because today was a special day for me. I got out on my bike and rode about 26km. With some breaks, but mostly with a group of over 60 other cyclists. And we were helmet-less!
You see Australia has some terribly discouraging mandatory helmet laws for cyclists. It has reduced cycling participation significantly in the 30 or so years since they were introduced.
And the worst part of it is that in some cities here, the police are too busy dealing with real crime to bother about whether or not a cyclist has their mandatory helmet on or not. But in my home city, you will most likely get stopped and fined if you ride without. Up north they have had the sense to relax the laws so that people riding on shared paths and other non-traffic areas may choose to ride without a helmet. It works and there has been no increase in cycling injuries as a result. While getting the laws fully repealed would be nice, that seems unlikely to happen. We should at least be given the choice, as responsible adults, when riding in low speed areas or away from traffic, to make up our own minds about head coverings. All the scientific data is there to show that it will not increase the risk of injury. And the scientific data that the original decision was based upon has been showed to be severely flawed. In other words, the researchers made a mistake, made bad conclusions, and now we are still living with the result of that even though science says otherwise now. It’s a complicated topic, but it can be simplified by letting responsible adults make responsible choices.
Back to the positives of today. As it was an organised protest ride, we had bicycle police escorts front and rear, which meant (by some technicality) that we were not breaking the law by choosing to ride without helmets. I think that having most of the ride along shared pathways helped with this.
So I could finally feel the wind in my hair without any guilt or fear, as I rode this lovely sunny winters day. In normal clothes. On my own bike. I’ve ridden hire bikes in Europe and enjoyed the freedom, but it’s a little different being able to do so in your home town along paths you know well.
I just felt sorry for all the tourists we passed as they had their helmets on with their public hire bikes, they must have been terribly confused to see us ride past, especially if they have come from one of the majority countries where cycling is encouraged and not restricted.
Today I am grateful for winter sunshine, enthusiastic bicycle advocates, and opportunities to ride sans helmet – the way I grew up riding bikes.
I want to maintain this positive focus for my blog. It is an action that really helps me personally. I’m just unsure how to proceed. I want to do something a little different in the way I approach this positivity.
I may need a little time to sort out my thoughts. So feel free to share your own thoughts with me, any and all suggestions appreciated.