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Doctor Busted on a Bike 59

Dr. Paul Martin - Brisbane Australia

All photos of Dr. Paul Martin provided by Mike Rubbo / Situp-Cycle.com

Busted on a Bike is a new series featuring people who have received tickets from law enforcement officers on their bicycles for doing perfectly normal things – like riding a bicycle without a helmet.

In an on-going saga, Dr. Paul Martin – a specialty Anaesthesiologist in Brisbane Australia – was busted yet again for disobeying his country’s mandatory bicycle helmet law.

This isn’t Dr. Paul’s first run-in with the law. He received his first ticket earlier this year for failing to wear a helmet – and he has had several warnings since then. But this is his second ticket for not wearing a helmet.

Ironically, the Doctor had just attended a lecture on promoting sustainable transport by Professor Simon Washington when he was yelled at by 4 police officers.

As Dr. Paul explains it:

I was making my way back to the bikeway to head home when 3 uniformed officers and a plain-clothes detective were walking on the footpath nearby. They yelled at me to come to them (I had to cross two lanes of traffic to do this) and they proceeded to berate me.

Again, I respected their authority and we had a good discussion and things calmed down very quickly. They took my details. Meanwhile the detective phoned for ‘backup’ so they could actually issue me a ticket then and there. So we waited for the patrol car to show up with 2 other officers (that’s 6 in total now…I feel so special).

The new arrival gave the first officer the book and he wrote me a ticket. I pointed out that it won’t change my opinion of this particular law and the financial punishment of the fine will not deter me.

Some of them appeared to be convinced of my arguments – one even going so far as to say they respected my ‘choice’ (as if I had any! They missed that minor inconsistency…).

The ‘late arrival’ police officer missed all the preceding discussion so when I asked if they were going to follow me and what would happen if they caught me again, he said that they could put me in the watchhouse overnight to ‘teach me a lesson’.

I said my legal counsel might have something to say about that and I walked off. Surely that would be an extraordinary breach of police power?

Once out of sight I continued on my way. I had to do a 5km diversion (on roads) on my way home to pay the fine… on bicycle… sans helmet.

‘Where else but Queensland’?

Dr. Paul Martin - Brisbane Australia

Dr. Paul Martin - Brisbane Australia

Photos of Dr. Paul Martin provided by Mike Rubbo / Situp-Cycle.com

In the sit-up cycling advocacy world, it is believed that Australia’s helmet law has done nothing to improve safety for bicyclists. But rather it has only resulted in less people riding bicycles and a false perception that the country is actually doing something to improve safety for bicyclists.

Dr. Martin hopes to raise awareness about the helmet issue by disobeying the law and riding at a reasonable pace on his Dutch Gazelle bicycle.

The doctor is one of a growing group of Australians who use sit-up style bicycles, ride at a leisurely pace, sans helmet – taking the country’s lycra racing bicycling culture on head-to-head.

Sue Abbott, a lawyer from Scone, NSW, Australia has also been challenging the courts in her battle against mandatory helmets for over a year now.

Here is a photo of Dr. Paul and Sue riding together – courtesy of our friend Mike Rubbo from Situp-Cycle.com:

Dr. Paul Martin and Sue Abbott - Australia

Dr. Paul has been receiving some exposure on the helmet issue. Listen to this radio interview with the doctor on ABC Brisbane radio. He is also a regular commenter on several bicycle advocacy blogs around the world.

When asked about his other run-ins with the law – Dr. Paul explains that after receiving a warning, he will walk his bicycle until the police are out of sight, then proceed on his merry way.

This surely won’t be the doctor’s last ticket for not wearing a helmet. But if nothing else, Dr. Martin is showing Australia that bicycling doesn’t require special gear or clothes.

The sit-up style bicycle is a trend that is emerging all around the world – and there is no sign of it letting up.

Have a story to share about being busted on a bike? Drop us a line!

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com.

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59 thoughts on “Doctor Busted on a Bike

  1. Reply Ryan Nov 15, 2010 6:36 pm

    As weird as it may sound, this is a fear of mine with next years provincial elections.

    If any party even hints at the idea of putting in an all ages helmet law, I won’t even consider voting for them.

    The only province I believe that will never put in an all ages helmet law would be Quebec.

    In credit to Saskatoon they shot down the idea of an all ages helmet law as they felt it would discourage people from cycling.
    Lethbridge I believe was similar in the reasoning for not going ahead with the law.

    The non-cycling public everywhere else seems convinced, despite lack of proof, that helmet laws work.

  2. Reply James D. Schwartz Nov 16, 2010 1:20 am

    To be honest Ryan, if mandatory helmets for adults gets tabled, I will go far beyond not voting for the party that is proposing it. You will see me protesting like I’ve never protested before…

    I hope you and thousands of other people will join me 🙂

  3. Reply Anonymous Nov 16, 2010 9:50 am

    As someone who lives in Western Australia (where helmet use is mandatory) I fail to see what all the fuss is about. It does surprise me that some wanker making a fuss about breaking the law is big news over there in Canada.
    Still… Best not listen to the majority in Oz about their views on helmet laws when you’ve got some attention seeker worried about his image on a Euro bike to write about.

    I really think you guys need to get it over it, we did nearly 20 years ago…

  4. Reply Ryan Nov 16, 2010 6:41 pm

    A helmet law is one thing that would definitely draw me to protests.

    I’ve emailed ONT’s 4 political parties about helmet laws.

    NDP responded saying it’s not a priority.
    Liberals didn’t say much other than they encourage to do so, though isn’t law.
    Conservatives and Green have never responded.

  5. Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 7:37 am

    Dear ‘Anonymous’,

    I don’t wear a helmet when riding my bicycle around Brisbane because it is perfectly safe to to do so. I’ve not fallen off my bike since I was a child, despite recent dodgy published ‘studies’ which show that you’re more likely to have a crash if you’re not wearing one… nonsense.

    I don’t disobey the law because of my ‘image’ on a ‘Euro’ bike. I find juvenile comments like that quite patronising – although that’s what I’d expect of someone not willing to put their real name and address to their words.

    The bicycle in the photograph(s) is not my bicycle – it is a bicycle I borrowed for a completely unrelated event some months before my ticketing. My bicycle looks nothing like it. My ‘image’ is nothing more than me wearing the clothes that I would wear for the day, dressing for my destination – I don’t ‘dress up’ to ride my bicycle.

    I ride 200km per week instead of driving a car out of choice. Not one of these kilometres of this is for ‘training’ or ‘sport’ – unlike 90% of cyclists here.

    When I compete in cycle-sport I do in fact wear a helmet. I choose to wear one when appropriate even though the law doesn’t allow us such choice.

    I have also read about this issue thoroughly and it is my firm opinion, based on this knowledge, that making bicycle helmet use mandatory is poor public policy.

    Question everything.

    Sincerely,

    Dr Paul Martin
    MBBS, FANZCA
    Brisbane, Australia

  6. Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 8:16 am

    Dr Martin,

    I am well aware of the media attention you have sought for yourself. The public perception of the research on this issue are clouded by fame seekers such as yourself.
    If you have some rigorous research findings to support your claims I suggest you present them to a refereed journal for publication.
    In the mean time, perhaps you can fight for real changes to cycling in Oz? Like NOT being so divisive towards those that use cycling for exercise/sport? Hey, those lycra clad business folks may even fund your end of trip facilities.
    PS: Yr hairdo ain’t that special you have to fight to protect it from a helmet.

    Signed: Tired of Self Seeking Evangelists Dividing and Wrecking Chances of Change (there, not anonymous any more)

  7. Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 8:23 am

    Dr Martin,
    Excuse my grammatical error in the last comment.

    One other question: “The bicycle in the photograph(s) is not my bicycle – it is a bicycle I borrowed for a completely unrelated event some months before my ticketing.”
    Another media event perhaps?

  8. Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 10:33 am

    Dear ‘Anonymous’

    Thank you for the petty insults… from someone not brave enough to put their real identity to their words.

    A few points:

    – The data is already out there. I don’t have to personally publish data on a subject to have an informed opinion on that subject. The same goes with any other aspect of medical practice. If that was expected of all professionals the journals’ editors would be swamped and nothing would be published.

    – The recent ‘study’ published in the MJA (it actually was just a letter in the journal – no peer review required) can be read here. From the start an objective of the study was to ‘demonstrate the safety benefits of bicycle helmets’. That’s not scientific at all! Utter nonsense.

    – If mandatory helmet legislation was such a grand idea, then surely the Dutch would have adopted it? You can’t say they care less about their citizens than we do about ours, surely? They know what matters and that is quality infrastructure.

    – I don’t need ‘end of trip facilities’ (which in Australia means showers & change-rooms). I am far more interested in law changes (strict liability) and proper, quality infrastructure that will allow all cyclists to travel safely to their destinations – and not just break a speed record on their ‘commute’ to the CBD. Routes connecting schools, railway stations, shopping districts are much, much more important than ‘end of trip’ facilities. ‘End of Trip’ for who? People in building X, that’s all…

    I’m doing as much as I can to advance all these causes.

    Re: The Bicycle
    The ‘event’ was not a media event at all. It was a gathering of citizen cyclists for a civilised ride in Sydney. There were all types, all bikes, all clothes and it was a great day out.

    By the way, the majority of Australians who read this article seem to think that the law should go (10,569 votes, 53% against mandatory helmet laws). Similar polls on the topic have had a similar outcome with 53% being against MHLs.

    …and what do you make of Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 11:33 am

    Yes I choose to remain anonymous… It’s call the internet, maybe you’ve heard of it… I’ll just take your word that you actually are a doctor and called Paul, you can take my word I’m known as Anonymous.

    Quoting reader polls as research? Wow, I’m shocked. I thought graduating with a medical degree required some level of intelligence. But I guess if you’re a media man, then you’re media to the core… I can only assume the rest of your research is based on ‘readers polls’ with the possible addition of forum/blog posts.

    Finally, calling me sexist because I refer to your hair? (your name IS Paul? ie: you are male?)
    All I can say is ‘that’s really tragic dearie…’

  9. Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 12:50 pm

    “I’ll just take your word that you actually are a doctor

    Why don’t you look me up and send me a greeting card? You might meet me professionally one day. I don’t exclusively work in Brisbane.

    Quoting reader polls as research?

    Your words, not mine. I never said it was research. I merely mentioned the polls… and they are interesting.

    Finally, calling me sexist because I refer to your hair?

    Again, you raised the topic and I’m still trying to work out what is has to do with the topic…

    Dr Paul Martin
    MBBS, FANZCA
    Brisbane, Australia

  10. Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 12:59 pm

    Before you call for legislative change based on A Current Affair phone polls, a few more words from Anonymous.

    Dr Martin, do you have any idea how different our cities in Oz are to European cities?
    Perhaps YOUR inner city area is well suited to your selfish demands (the comments about EoT facilitates, pure classic, “I don’t need ‘end of trip facilities'”), but lets look at the rest of Oz.
    Where I live (Perth) we have a population density of 310/km². Lets compare that to Amsterdam – 4,459/km2.
    Now unless your ‘wagon’ is only directed at the inner city and high density areas (as I am sure it is), how do you see the changes you are calling for getting more people cycling in the outer ‘burbs?

    But then it is all about YOU isn’t it Dr Martin. A quick google of your name finds some classic moments of your excitement at being published in the mainstream press.

    Do you know what you are Dr Martin (apart from a selfish pissant)? You are NOISE. You know what media noise is don’t you? Savvy self promoter like you, of course you know.
    And do you know what noise does? It allows those with the power to make changes sit back, chill, and do NOTHING!
    Now stf up and let some reason and cohesion enter the debate about cycling infrastructure in Oz and we might see some REAL action!

  11. Reply James D. Schwartz Nov 17, 2010 1:20 pm

    Anonymous, people outside of Australia are interested in hearing about people in Australia on Dutch bikes. We featured a University student from Adelaide last month, and a lot of people from all parts of the world enjoyed it: http://www.theurbancountry.com/2010/10/australia-newcomer-cycle-chic-interview.html

    Bicycle infrastructure has nothing to do with density. Assen, Netherlands has a density of 784/km2, and 41% of *all trips* in Assen are done by bicycle.

    It does have a lot to do with how we designed our cities in North America and Australia. And that’s what we are trying to promote on this website – a better way to design cities and a better way to get around our cities.

    I’m not even going to respond to your insults, because it’s completely inappropriate and offensive to the Doctor, me and our readers.

  12. Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 1:52 pm

    No offence directed at you or your readers. I hope none taken. Any offence was directed at the Doctor.

    As regards Assen v Perth, area as well as density has an impact on cycling models.

    Assen 83.48 km²
    Perth 5386 km²

    Perth has a population of over 1.65 million spread over a huge area. It would be impossible (and foolish) to model our infrastructure on a European city.
    Add to the distance required to commute to work our extreme summer temperatures; average Jan 31.5C, Feb 31.8C, recorded high 46.2C, regular heat waves about 40C, tomorrow will be 37C (summer isn’t here yet).
    When you think a commute could be 20-30 kms, into a hot dry easterly wind, claims by the Dr that end of trip facilities are not necessary is utter rubbish. But then he seems to have it in for commuters, as he has repeatedly expressed elsewhere.

    His model may suit high density inner city areas, but like most current cycling infrastructure in Oz, it leaves the vast majority in the ‘burbs further behind.

    Regards

  13. Reply James D. Schwartz Nov 17, 2010 2:08 pm

    @Anonymous, this isn’t a venue where we will tolerate personal attacks on anyone – be it other commenters, writers, or people we feature on bikes.

    If you want to stick to discussing the issues, that is fine.

    Once again, I don’t believe density or population has anything to do with the propensity for bicycle infrastructure to succeed. It’s more about how these cities are designed.

    There are towns in the Netherlands that have less density than towns in Canada or Australia. Yet, they have substantially more people riding bicycles. The problem in North America and Australia is that we have separated our residential areas from our business areas – resulting in large distances between our work, and our homes.

    This is a fundamental design issue that has resulted in these long commutes.

    To prove further that it’s less about density and population than it is about design, take two cities of similar population: New York City and Beijing.

    The metro density in NYC is similar to Beijing, as is the population. (although Manhattan’s density is 10,630 per km2).

    Beijing has far better bicycle infrastructure throughout the entire city and millions of people riding bicycles (area 16,801 km2 compared to NYC’s metro area of 17,405 km2).

    Thus, you can take a small town with low density or a big sprawling city, and they both can have proper bicycle infrastructure if done properly.

    I can’t speak to the weather aspect, but we do have hot summers here in Toronto and it doesn’t deter me from riding – although I ride a slow, relaxed urban bicycle.

  14. Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 2:17 pm

    I totally agree urban planning is at the core of the issue.
    I just disagree with the Doctor that noise about helmet laws contributes to real debate.
    My outbursts are the result of my constant frustration with ‘personalities’ promoting their own agenda, when the battle is in the ‘burbs, boardrooms and political party rooms.
    Real change is not going to come from praying at the temple of Amsterdam, it will come from creating our own models that are inclusive of those despised by so many of the loudest voices in cycle advocacy – the ordinary bogan suburbanite.

  15. Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 10:38 pm

    Anonymous,

    I was asked if I wanted your particularly venomous comments to be moderated or removed. I said no. I don’t believe in censorship and such acrimonious outbursts say more about you, whoever you may be, than me. I am not offended in the slightest.

    To assume that the only thing I’m actively involved in is ‘anti-bicycle helmet legislation’ based on a search of my name is shortsighted – please don’t make assumptions about what I’m involved in – not everything is on the internet. I’m acutely aware of the disastrous urban planning in this country and am doing quite a lot about it. We need a better mix of commercial & residential; better facilities within suburbs; any future residential-only developments on the outskirts of cities will be the ghettos of the future.

    Expenditure on city ‘end of trip facilities’ would be far better spent on quality facilities (namely bicycle parking) at major transport hubs (train stations), schools, shopping districts – similar to, surprise, surprise, how the Dutch to it. Why do we have to reinvent the wheel? Arrogance, that’s why… Spending a fortune for those that work in specific buildings or central locations is not the best way to spend public money.

    Over 50% of car trips in this country are less than 5km, 70% less than 10km. Most of these trips have nothing to do with commuting to/from the CBD. These are the trips which need targeting. This is why I’m particularly irritated by this notion of ‘bicycle for transport = commuting’ and so much focus put into that. The picture is much, much broader. I ride a cargo bike 5km to do our groceries and I’m sure more people would to this too if the journey from the suburbs were safer, more convenient and the bicycle parking wasn’t 500m from the store entrance near the bins.

    A 5km trip at a moderate pace, even in the middle of the day in summer can be done in 15-20 minutes without being a sweaty mess. I do this all the time – and I wear a wide-brimmed hat. If people can walk they can ride. Better infrastructure with shade from trees would be help though – so would better footpaths for pedestrians – another bugbear of mine.

    The peak temperatures are indeed very hot in summer (and more humid where I live – which feels even hotter) but nobody I know regularly commutes at midday. The temperature in the early morning and late afternoon when people commute in Perth today will not be 37C so you can’t use the ‘maximum’ temperature to prove a point.

    To encourage the ‘ordinary bogan suburbanite’, as you rudely describe them, to travel by bicycle for all these trips is going to require a multi-pronged approach and despite the fear-mongering, repealing MHL is in fact going to have to be one of many changes required, like it or not.

    Dr Paul Martin

  16. Reply Anonymous Nov 17, 2010 10:51 pm

    I am an ‘ordinary bogan suburbanite’… That’s probably why I dislike you and your selfish inner city mates so much

  17. Reply Anonymous Nov 18, 2010 12:39 am

    Anonymous,

    That’s a shame as I don’t dislike you. Nor do I dislike people in your position – I’m quite empathetic in fact and I have many relatives living that life.

    I am one of the few ‘inner city’ people that actually cares about what happens in the distant suburbs. I can assure you that I’m very much unlike most of my contemporaries – I don’t chase the big house, big car, lots of stuff world that they do.

    You deride me for being divisive but I’m nothing of the sort. You only think I am.

    Regards,

    Dr Paul Martin

  18. Reply Dasher Nov 18, 2010 6:00 am

    As a bike rider in Sydney I am very grateful for Dr Paul Martin and his public stance on mandatory helmet laws. I would love to do the same but simply cannot afford to pay the fines so I’m wearing the helmet but fighting for the laws to change.

    Mandatory helmet laws do stop people from riding and I have no problem admitting to vanity as a contributing factor. I hate that I can only wear my hair in certain styles if I can wearing a helmet. I am also restricted in which earrings I can wear. This may not matter to Mr Anonymous but I am proud of my appearance and ride my bike to all sorts of events.
    I also enjoy the wind in my hair when I’m not wearing a helmet. I enjoy the unrestricted movement of a helmet free head and most of all I like that I can simply hop on my bike without any “gear”. Don’t even get me started on the lack of scientific/medical evidence supporting the bloody things!

    That said I have no problem with people wearing helmets if they so desire. That’s the difference between the two sides of this debate- we’re not saying don’t wear helmets, we’re just saying don’t force us to if we judge that it isn’t necessary. Professional race car drivers have to wear helmets when racing but we don’t make people who drive sports cars to work wear them.

    Infrastructure is very important, but so too are our decisions on where to live and work. My husband and I bought a small house in the city because we wanted to be close to where we worked. We could have bought a house two or three times the size in the suburbs for the same amount but then our commute would have been too far for us to do by bike. We made that choice because that is where our values and lifestyle lead us. Having said that I visit my family who are about an hour and a half out of Sydney by riding to the station, taking my bike on the train, and then riding to their home, so it can be done when you’re not in the CBD.

    Most riders I know who commute to work do so early in the morning when it is cooler and there are less cars on the roads. By the time people head home the temperature is dropping again too. When I lived in Shanghai the cyclists on the roads all through the day and temperatures and humidity over there leave us for dead! Sometimes I wish more people rode in the middle of the day here just to raise awareness of how many cyclists there are out there! Sometimes we’re invisible in more than one way!

    Anyway I think we’re heading in a positive direction. As infrastructure is rolling out here in Sydney I see more and more people on bikes. The more people ride they often realise they don’t need a helmet, especially when riding on cycleways etc, and these voices are growing louder and louder. It’s only a matter of time.

    Keep fighting the good fight Dr Paul!

  19. Reply Dasher Nov 18, 2010 6:02 am

    As a bike rider in Sydney I am very grateful for Dr Paul Martin and his public stance on mandatory helmet laws. I would love to do the same but simply cannot afford to pay the fines so I’m wearing the helmet but fighting for the laws to change.

    Mandatory helmet laws do stop people from riding and I have no problem admitting to vanity as a contributing factor. I hate that I can only wear my hair in certain styles if I am wearing a helmet. I am also restricted in which earrings I can wear. This may not matter to Mr Anonymous but I am proud of my appearance and ride my bike to all sorts of events.
    I also enjoy the wind in my hair when I’m not wearing a helmet. I enjoy the unrestricted movement of a helmet-free head and most of all I like that I can simply hop on my bike without any “gear”. Don’t even get me started on the lack of scientific/medical evidence supporting the bloody things!

    That said I have no problem with people wearing helmets if they so desire. That’s the difference between the two sides of this debate- we’re not saying don’t wear helmets, we’re just saying don’t force us to if we judge that it isn’t necessary. Professional race car drivers have to wear helmets when racing but we don’t make people who drive sports cars to work wear them.

    continued…

  20. Reply Dasher Nov 18, 2010 6:03 am

    continued…

    Infrastructure is very important, but so too are our decisions on where to live and work. My husband and I bought a small house in the city because we wanted to be close to where we worked. We could have bought a house two or three times the size in the suburbs for the same amount but then our commute would have been too far for us to do by bike. We made that choice because that is where our values and lifestyle lead us. Having said that I visit my family who are about an hour and a half out of Sydney by riding to the station, taking my bike on the train, and then riding to their home, so it can be done when you’re not in the CBD.

    Most riders I know who commute to work do so early in the morning when it is cooler and there are less cars on the roads. By the time people head home the temperature is dropping again too. When I lived in Shanghai the cyclists on the roads all through the day and temperatures and humidity over there leave us for dead! Sometimes I wish more people rode in the middle of the day here just to raise awareness of how many cyclists there are out there! Sometimes we’re invisible in more than one way!

    Anyway I think we’re heading in a positive direction. As infrastructure is rolling out here in Sydney I see more and more people on bikes. The more people ride they often realise they don’t need a helmet, especially when riding on cycleways etc, and these voices are growing louder and louder. It’s only a matter of time.

    Keep fighting the good fight Dr Paul!

  21. Reply richard middleton Nov 18, 2010 6:05 am

    Anonymous,

    Why do you so dislike Paul Martin’s use of the media to draw attention to a foolish law? Do you imagine any laws ever get changed without leadership? Assuming you too are a cyclist, please pause before issuing volleys of abuse. The facts have been published in the medical press – I remember reading studies of this in the British Medical Journal 25 years ago. It was shown that the single thing that makes life safer for cyclists is – more cyclists. When Victoria instigated its mandatory helmet laws cyclist head injuries went down, but only in proportion to the reduction in cycling which in turn was due to people being discouraged because now they needed a helmet. If there are enough of us, motorists eventually see that we are not some minority that they may abuse. They see us as real people, which is what we are. I remember an incident in Harrogate, UK, where a patient, hurrying to a hospital appointment, crossed the path of a cyclist, knocking him off and broke his pelvic girdle. His appointment was cancelled, he found, because the cyclist he’d injured was the consultant he was about to see. I have no axe to grind here – unlike Paul Martin I always wear a helmet when cycling, even though I know it will be useless except perhaps if my head hits a kerbstone when a motorist knocks me off my bike. My own protest consists in ostentatiously wearing a helmet when driving a car, since the crash statistics show us that head injuries are more likely from a car crash than from a bike crash.

  22. Reply Anonymous Nov 18, 2010 6:59 am

    Am I supposed to be glad that one of the loudest voices in cycle advocacy in Australia is taking a stand so YOU can have nice hair after a ride?

    Yeesh…

    Maybe next time you venture outside your comfort zone into the badlands of suburbia don’t go the nicer areas with the big houses you know so much about.
    Have a look at the areas of high unemployment, low wages, socio-economically disadvantage that make up most of our ‘burbs (you know, where they don’t have the choice to move to a nice small house in the inner city).

    While you are there I suggest you take a bike to really check out the cycling infrastructure. Then tell me that the biggest issue in Oz is MHL and your nice hair.

    And who is the voice for the people in these areas?
    Certainly not those that think we all live in the ‘burbs because we are chasing a big car and a big house….

  23. Reply Anonymous Nov 18, 2010 7:30 am

    It’s becoming a little circular now, so a final comment.

    Why is the biggest voice, the best education and brightest opportunity wasted on the selfish and the petty…

  24. Reply Gary Nov 18, 2010 7:51 am

    Anonymous,
    I really don’t follow your arguments. Are we talking about cycling here, or do you have some bee in your bonnet about how much people earn & have decided to vent on someone because they are a doctor?
    You talk about people who are unemployed or low income earners “needing a voice”. Having grown up in such an area I would suggest that this group of people have the most to gain from cycling. These are the people who don’t have as much to spend on healthy eating, gym memberships or cars. They certainly don’t have spare cash to pay bike helmet fines & from my experience are less likely to wear helmets than those in wealthier suburbs. If Dr. Paul is actively trying to promote cycling then I would say this is a welcome “voice” to both rich & poor.

  25. Reply Dasher Nov 18, 2010 7:52 am

    Anonymous I think you missed my point, or perhaps I didn’t make it clear, it’s not about my nice hair it’s about getting more people on bikes as that is what has been proven to increase safety for cyclists. Helmets stop people from getting on a bike, whether it’s due to vanity or discomfort or whatever. It’s a simple as that.

    As I indicated in my previous post I do travel with my bike (via train for the long distance part) out of the city. I grew up in a suburban rural area and I assure you the area is still considered “socio-economically disadvantaged”. I’m certainly not wealthy either- I’m a school teacher for heaven’s sake! My small house in the city is just that- tiny!

    I do not disagree with you on needing more cycling infrastructure, I simply believe the two things go hand in hand i.e. more infrastructure + no MHL = more people on bikes. And of course more people on bikes = more cycling infrastructure.

    I guess my final question would be what are you doing about getting this infrastructure you so desperately desire? Surely attempting to tear down others’ constructive and proactive efforts does not advance your cause?

  26. Reply Anonymous Nov 18, 2010 8:20 am

    Gary,

    Yes, the ‘bogans’ do have the most to benefit from cycling.
    But don’t you think a bunch of white middle class inner city types constantly whining about helmets drowns out any voice that will benefit the great unwashed?

    I tell you what, when you have finished converting your local neighbourhoods into ‘Amstopia’ you stay quiet for a while and we can start to get some changes where it will make the most difference.

  27. Reply Anonymous Nov 18, 2010 8:35 am

    Dasher,

    “I guess my final question would be what are you doing about getting this infrastructure you so desperately desire? Surely attempting to tear down others’ constructive and proactive efforts does not advance your cause?”

    I am trying to stop the noise (petty whining about helmets) and get those with a voice in the media to focus on the real issues. If they cant see the real issues then I suggest they shush up and step aside.

  28. Reply Anonymous Nov 19, 2010 10:31 am

    Dr Martin

    Lets apply your model to a morning commute. Say, this morning in Perth WA.

    Lets make them an urban type like yourself, you know office worker, starting at 9am.

    7.30am leave home. 28.5C already? ‘whew’. Lucky that hot north east wind straight off the desert is only 22kph gusting to 35kph.
    This sit up bike sure is comfy, no hurry, won’t take long to ride the 10 k’s to work (I made it a short commute for your benefit).
    8.00am Hmmm… sure is warming up… 30.0C but the wind is not gusting as much, only 33kph!
    8.15am here we are, arriving at work, nice shower and change – oh, thats right, Dr Martin said you don’t need end of trip facilities… and he advised me to wear my work clothes on the way in…

    We could add to this senario, perhaps the parent who just dropped their kids to school? (on their bikes of course).
    9.00am drop kids ‘bit warm today’ 31.6C
    9.30am nearly at work! 33.2C wind speed only 19kph with 32kph gusts. Lucky! At 8.30am that hot north easterly was blowing 26kph with 43kph gusts!

    Now are you going to tell me the average person is going to do a commute like this morning in their work clothes? And NOT raise a sweat?

    Hmmm….

    I am not suggesting someone doesn’t commute on a day like today (many more to come when summer kicks in). What I am asking is how can you suggest EoT facilities are not necessary?

  29. Reply James D. Schwartz Nov 19, 2010 1:14 pm

    @Anonymous,

    I think end of trip facilities are a bonus – because it gives people less excuses not to use a bicycle.

    But I don’t think they are necessary in most situations (of course there will always be some exceptions).

    Here in Toronto, I rode my bicycle every day in the summer. I was mostly working at a client 10km from my home. But I think it really does depend on how much of a hurry you are in.

    On most summer days, I barely broke a sweat, but on the odd hot day I had some level of sweat, but nothing that required me to shower. (It also helped that I could put my laptop bag in my basket instead of carrying it on my back).

    Obviously this would be a bit more difficult in a tropical-like climate. Toronto’s average high temperature in July is 26.4C – compared to Perth’s avg high in February of 31.8.

    The point is that having no end-of-trip facilities is a convenient excuse, but most people don’t consider that maybe they could slow down a little instead.

    The only people I’ve ever met in Toronto that use showers at work are the extreme cyclists who commute 20-50km each way. That creates an obvious need for shower facilities, because you can’t realistically ride at a calm, relaxed pace if you’re traveling more than 20km.

    Most trips I take on my bike are 2-10km, so I’ve never personally had the need for a shower. But it does depend on the local climate, your riding style, and it of course varies from person-to-person. Some people sweat more than others…

  30. Reply Anonymous Nov 19, 2010 1:49 pm

    I agree they are all factors and that lack of EoT facilities can be an excuse not to ride.
    However, there is an ongoing campaign in Australia by a number of cycle advocates to dismiss EoT facilities.
    I see their proliferation as a sign ‘corporate’ Australia is accepting cycling as a valid means of transport and backing that view with hard cash.
    Corporate support in Australia is usually followed by conservative political support.
    As things stand we can only dream of bi-partisanship support and commitment to cycling, perhaps some bike racks and a couple of showers may help us achieve that.

  31. Reply Anonymous Nov 19, 2010 2:01 pm

    Perhaps my last post was a bit optimistic…

    Here is an example of corporate support: http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/cycling/1524.asp

    and here is an outsider’s (UK) view: http://bicycleslut.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/commuting-perth-style/

    I think Charlotte makes a very good observation, ‘The really nice thing about cycling here though, is that my colleagues see it as a perfectly sensible way to get into work. Back at home, the way that many of my cow-orkers look down their noses at me when they see me in the morning that suggests they’re wondering why I can’t afford a car like everyone else. In London, I have to lock my bicycle up at the sheds at the back end of the car park.’

  32. Reply Anonymous Nov 19, 2010 10:23 pm

    Anonymous,

    I will quote my earlier comments:

    “Expenditure on city ‘end of trip facilities’ would be far better spent on quality facilities (namely bicycle parking) at major transport hubs (train stations), schools, shopping districts – similar to, surprise, surprise, how the Dutch do it… Spending a fortune for those that work in specific buildings or central locations is not the best way to spend public money.”

    I will again point out that 50% of all car journeys in Australia are less than 5km and 70% are less than 10km. The ‘commute’ makes up a small component of these trips. Adding end of trip facilities to all businesses will only benefit a minority within a minority and won’t encourage ordinary folk to ditch the car. Adding EoT facilities (namely quality bicycle parking) as I have pointed out above would be money well spent.

    For the record, I’m not an ‘office worker’. I work full-time in a very large public hospital. I ride my bike 22km to get to work every day and then ride 22km home. The only EoT facilities I have is a bike rack near the loading dock – typical. If I drove my car to work, I’d have ample covered parking next to the elevator.

    When I rode to work yesterday in Brisbane (I leave home at 5:30am) it was 20C and 93% humidity, apparent temp 21C (not raining, but threatening). The weather in Perth (at your 7:30am departure) was 31C, 13% humidity – apparent temp 24C.

    I would trade the dry heat with the humid heat any day. I lived in Cairns for many years and I can assure you a 37C day with high humidity is very unpleasant.

    The solution to arrive without being a sweaty mess? I slowed down – a lot. My average speed was a very slow 15km/h instead of 25km/h. This meant that I had to give myself an extra 30 minutes. No big deal. The secret to enabling this is quality infrastructure which allows people to cycle slowly and safely without fear of being run down by a car (or fast cyclist). You should be able to cycle at 10-15km/h without feeling pressured to ‘keep up’.

    When the relative humidity is very high and the temperatures are approaching body temp (37C) it does become difficult to stay dry, however the airflow on a bicycle, even at a modest pace, assists the evaporation of sweat much more effectively than walking.

    I can also confirm that not wearing a helmet under hot and humid conditions makes the ride much more bearable… Just look at the bicycle usage rates in the Northern Territory compared to the rest of the country – almost double and three times as many women cycling. Most of these folks wouldn’t ride if they had to wear a helmet. You can’t tell me that this isn’t part of the solution? Try riding in the heat without a helmet and report back.

    I also make a point of taking it easy for the last 5 minutes of the journey so I have had a chance to cool down. That way, when I stop I’m not suddenly drenched in sweat. Works every time.

    Regards,

    Dr Paul Martin

  33. Reply Anonymous Nov 19, 2010 10:33 pm

    I wish I worked at this large public hospital, which does have an enormous EoT facility for cyclists.

    There are some problems with it:
    – You have to be a subscriber
    – It is nearly impossible to get a day entry if required
    – Access for visitors/patient relatives is not allowed
    – Access for the public is not allowed

    How is a facility like this benefiting anyone other than the regular workers?

    Similar criticism can be directed at the enormous Cycle2City Facility in the City.

    The parking is great but the place is being underutilised – so much so that they’re wondering if they should keep going…

    It is limited by opening hours between 6:00-20:00 weekdays only. This rules out using the facility for late night shopping or any activity on a weekend. Why?

    Again, EoT facilities should not just benefit the ‘workers’… This is what I don’t like about the way we do EoT facilities in this country – it’s too narrow a view.

    If they’re going to continue this approach, I would rather this money be spent on better & safer cycle routes in the city and lots of bike racks.

    Regards,

    Dr Paul Martin

  34. Reply Anonymous Nov 20, 2010 1:24 am

    I have never heard of PAYING for EoT. That is normally a benefit provided by the employer. My own employer provides free access to their Perth facilities and I have had visitor access when attending training there, though I don’t normally get the benefit of using them, my commute is about 1200km’s too far to cycle.

    All I can say is that ‘things really are different over east’…

  35. Reply Anonymous Nov 20, 2010 2:17 am

    Anonymous,

    Another issue with employer provided facilities is that they are only possible for a few businesses – mostly big ones. The majority of workers in this country work for small businesses. Not only is it financially unviable for these businesses to build EoT facilities but for some they simply don’t have any space to provide such facilities – sometimes not even a bike rack!

    I have no problem with big companies providing such facilities for their workers – I think they should – as long as they pay for them and not require public funds to do so.

    Some national leadership & co-ordination for bicycle infrastructure design & funding would be welcome. I’m not holding my breath but I’m writing lots of letters and going to meetings and being ‘noisy’ about these issues and others.

    Regards,

    Dr Paul Martin
    Brisbane, Australia

  36. Reply Anonymous Nov 20, 2010 6:03 am

    I don’t think any ‘National’ leadership of the model you are suggesting is really necessary wanted.
    Not if the number one issue is MHL.
    You guys keep your ideas over there in the east.

  37. Reply Anonymous Dec 8, 2010 8:37 pm

    All cyclists should wear helmets. People protested against seatbelts, but over time we’ve adjusted and see their value. Same thing. Just get a helmet already, and keep cycling.

  38. Reply Wookey Dec 14, 2010 2:47 pm

    Except that seatbelts really do reduce injury rates – cycle helmets don’t. And seatbelts don’t reduce driver numbers, whilst cycle-helmets do reduce cyclist numbers. So it’s not the same thing at all.

  39. Reply Anonymous Dec 22, 2010 9:25 pm

    It doesn’t matter what your riding style is or what kind of bike you ride when a car hits you.

  40. Reply sexify Feb 2, 2011 6:04 pm

    Anon – Dec 8
    Seatbelts, as concisely as possible, I’ve covered here.

    Anon – Dec 22
    Which is why we need strict liability to place the blame on motorists in a collision with bicycles, as they have in almost all European countries. This places the responsibility for harm/threat on the source, not the victims. This forces motorists to be much more careful around bicycles. And long-term we need bicycle infrastructure that doesn’t put bikes in the path of cars (as the current 1960s-styled street planning does in Australia).

    Based on your stubborn anonymity, lack of openness to debate, and emotional but research-‘lite’ twistings of your logic, I am tempted to assume you are a helmet promoter. Can you prove me wrong?

    Paul – That is a gorgeous bike and I’m very jealous. More people looking like on a bike would definitely attract more people to cycling. 😉

    Adam

  41. Reply Anonymous Mar 1, 2011 10:35 am

    Good to see the lively “debate”. The thing about mandatory helmet laws is that they impose the will of self styled bogans on others who maybe realise that the skewed sample that is used to justify the laws does not good public policy make – I ride a bike in lots of countries – the only one that forces me to wear a helmet is Australia (I ride in various Asian countries as well as Australia).

    I am not safer in Australia – bogans seem to think it is funny to drive their cars at me and road rage filled Australians seem to take offence to me on my bike.

    A flimsy piece of polystyrene on my head does not protect me very well from an impact with a car. On the contrary it anonymises me in the eyes of a driver. If anything Australian roads seem to becoming a worse and worse place to ride.

    I saw a woman drive straight over the top of a brightly dressed and highly visible commuter, how she missed him I’ll never know, as luck would have it I rode past her when she parked and asked about the incident – her response “Well YOU didn’t have your light on” – actually the poor commuter did. It beggars belief that Australian drivers are so filled with rage.

    In Japan I can amble along on the footpath and everyone smiles.

    In Singapore I can commute to work in 32C heat and not expire like the poor bogan from Perth pretends will happen in the heat. Although it is a very unsafe place to ride and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

    Mandatory helmet laws are damn terrible I hope they are repealed.

  42. Reply Anonymous Mar 25, 2011 5:57 am

    FFS, the information is out there.

    The number of injuries has gone DOWN, however, the usage of bikes has gone down substantially more, thus bringing the % of injuries UP.

    bicycle helmets are not meant to protect from motor vehicle colisions and are only really protective from falling from a standing hight.

    Wearing a helmet causes increased angular acceleration during a fall, and also increases the size of your head making impact more likely.

    any site stating otherwise leaves out the statistics that say otherwise, they just pull #’s out of their butts, but any site that actually uses recorded stats shows that helmet laws have had an adverse effect on the cycling community for a vast number of reasons.

    Injuries % increasing,
    Uncomfortable,
    Inconvenient,
    Misinformation stated as Fact,

    They just dont do the job they are intended to do.

    (yes, im aware that every once in awhile, they do save a life, but stats show more lives taken on avg)

    All that said, im not against helmets, its a great idea that needs vast improvement, and the choice should be left to either the user or their legal guardians.

    (google for stats, its pretty easy)

  43. Reply ScaredAmoeba May 23, 2012 4:21 pm

    Well done Dr. Martin!

  44. Reply ScaredAmoeba May 23, 2012 9:21 pm

    Well done Dr. Martin!

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