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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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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15589492356827998591 Ryan

    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.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 James D. Schwartz

    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 :)

  • Anonymous

    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…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15589492356827998591 Ryan

    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.

  • Anonymous

    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

  • Anonymous

    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)

  • Anonymous

    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?

  • Anonymous

    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 My Homepage

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