I came across Sue’s story, not in our media, but in a Danish bike blog which I avidly read.
Whatever’s happening in the world of urban cycling usually pops up for debate on Copenhagenize.com. Stories, movie clips and great photos, come coupled with pithy text from it’s creator, Mikael Colville-Andersen, and with reactions from around the world.
The blog seems to have little interest in speed, or how light a road bike can be. It’s into the social /sociolgical aspect of cycling. How bikes work in people’s lives in Denmark and around the world.
It celebrates plans and policies which make cycling more enjoyable and safer. It noses out stupidity and neglect of this wonderful way to get around.
That’s Mikael, there, and son.
That’s how I found Sue with her frizzy mop of hair, a compatriot and her story popping up on far away blog pages, but who was perhaps living not far away from my Central Coast lair.
Mikael’s blog reported how Sue had been stopped by the police for not wearing helmet, and that she’d decided to fight the small fine rather than pay it.
She’s cycled all over the world, apparently, never had to wear a helmet, and did not see why she had to wear one here in Australia. Especially since she regards them as dangerous.
The blog was very much on her side, but there was no clue in the text to say where Sue lived in our vast land.
I was intrigued and soon decided that, if Sue was was not too far away, I would film her for Youtube and my new new blog, that is if she wanted to be filmed.
Mikael passed on ny idea her and soon she was in touch, revealing she lived in Scone, a town not too many hours away, and that yes, she would tell me her story.
At first we thought I would film on the day of the trial, hoping to get into court.
But then, finding out I’d not have access, we moved the plans forward to make this, a what-will-happen-sort of film, which is down below.
The fact that we live in a nanny state which tells us we must wear helmets if we bike, comes up from time to time in the press.
Though far more people drown each year than are killed on bikes, about 8 times as many, life jackets are not compulsory, but helmets are.
From a horse, you have further to fall, but no helmet is needed on your steed.
A cynic might think the authorities had a meeting and said….
What can we do to ensure that cycling in Australia…
….never reaches the happy madness of Europe.
What can we do to make sure, instead that our people go everywhere in cars, grow plumper and plumper, not like those skin and bones Dutchmen.
Why, we can make them wear those dorky things, helmets, even if they’re not children!
And, then, they’ll give up bikes of their own free will. (which many did)
And then we won’t have to build expensive bike paths to make cycling safe.
And our kids will grow up so coddled, so SUV’d, they’ll never venture far from a play station.
Of course, our Govt was not so warped. Yet, I have heard that in the late 80’s, a big bike study was commissioned and it made 3 recommendations to the Govt.
1. Build cycleways for safer cycling
2. Educate motorists for safer cycling.
3. Make helmets compulsory.
The Govt of the day basically acted on just one of those recommendations, the one which cost them no money, and which shifted the safety burden to the rider.
If you know this not to be true, let me know the truth.
In Holland, where the above photos were taken specially for this blog by Julio Martinez Aniceto, there are presently 29,000 kms. of Cycles ways, David Hembrow tells me.
There was a second reason I was eager to film Sue in Scone, , nice country around there.
Looking at Julio’s photos and the Danish blogs mentioned above, I’m coming to realize that what is missing in my country, is the beauty and freedom of helmet-less cycling.
People on bikes without helmets do look pretty good, one has to admit, and if the situation’s safe, then the bare head’s ideal.
Couple this with the stately bikes they ride in Europe, bikes who’s handlebars curve back to embrace the rider like a lover, and you have riders of both sexes, but especially women, coming close to being sculptures in motion.
(photo from Copenhangenize.com)
And not only women, either.
Will Sue Abbott be elegant? Could she come across as a biking beauty in the bush to help make my point, as well represent as the Helmet issue?
That’s what I was secretly hoping for.
Well, here’s the film we made together. See for yourself.
And do go see more Danish bike photos on those blogs.