06 November 2009

Sue, Mr Rubbo and Australian Bixis

Some of you may remember Sue Abbott, the Australian woman fighting her ticket for cycling with a helmet. The Australian documentary filmmaker Mike Rubbo made a film about her getting ready for court, which we blogged here.

Mr Rubbo made a film following Sue on the day she showed up in court, which you can see above. She lost her case, which wasn't really a surprise, but the judge didn't really take her position seriously, which really is his job. Sue has now decided to appeal, taking her battle for bicycling freedom to the next level.

Good luck to her. We haven't had bicycle 'activists' in Denmark for many years but we certainly used to and anyone fighting to ride a bicycle as they see fit gets our respect. Not least because it's also about questioning society's tendency to ignore the problem - the automobile.

Mr Rubbo was also present at a bicycle conference in Melbourne where a bike share programme was presented. With this film he explores the problems of implementing a bike share programme in a city with mandatory helmet laws. The woman interviewed calls it a 'vexing problem' and she proposes making cheap helmets available FOR SALE at convenience stores and fast food outlets that are open late.

Basically, you want a bike. Before - or after - you get a bike the idea is that you go to a shop or fast food joint somewhere [hopefully] nearby and buy a cheap helmet. Then off you go.

Kind of defeats the purpose of ease of use and accessibility. Making helmets available for borrowing doesn't work due to the issue of sanitation. Lice and happy-sounding skin diseases like Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus are among the reasons that make sharing helmets undesirable in such schemes. There is no cost efficient way to sanitize helmets in bike share programmes. Australian authorities have known this for ages and don't really know how to tackle the problem. Buying a helmet for a short trip from A to B seems a bit far-fetched.

We'll see how things turn out in Melbourne.