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President: Bill Curnow
Vice President: James Grieve
Sec./Treasurer: Jim Arnold

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  1. I have sent a letter to several of our political “leaders” concerning the helmet legislation and the effects of heat, and I shall click-and-drag it below for your convenience.

    Work continues – the heat-related illness implications and legal complications by themselves could be played out into a giant fuss. Did you know that Tony Abbot uses mind-altering substances for recreational purposes? Did you know that under NSW law, Jews can legally be killed? These and other entirely true facts can and should be used to inflict the maximum embarrassment on the pro-helmet brigade.

    ******

    (Below is the letter)

    Dear Mr Constance,
    I am writing this letter to explain why the bicycle helmet legislation should be repealed, as it is both illegal and extremely dangerous for some riders to wear helmets when riding.
    When I exercise, my head, shoulders and upper chest get extremely hot. My understanding is that many other people are also like this.
    Even the best-ventilated bicycle helmets only provide ventilation to approximately 50% of the covered area of the head, and this is insufficient to provide adequate air flow to cool my head. As a consequence, when riding while wearing one of the best-ventilated helmets available, I have experienced headaches, impaired vision through sweat in the eyes, increasingly severe drug- or alcohol-like impairment, and extreme and unpredictable aggression. These effects are symptomatic of heat-related illness, a condition that can easily be fatal. It seems very dangerous that, in order to decrease my risk of head injury by some small amount, I am required by law to wear a helmet that will injure or kill me by causing my head to overheat. I find this frightening. More information about heat-related illness can be found on the NSW Workcover website.
    According to the ‘National Drug Strategy’ (publications number D0224), the term ‘drug’ includes “…drugs, pharmaceuticals and other substances that alter brain function, resulting in changes in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition and behaviour.” Under this definition, bicycle helmets are definitely a drug, as helmets alter brain function by causing heat-related illness.
    So, for those bicycle riders like myself whose heads get extremely hot when exercising, the bicycle helmet legislation gives them no choice but to use what is in effect a powerful and potentially fatal mind-altering substance, and a substance that can seriously degrade their vehicle-controlling abilities and even kill them. This is not safe, and my understanding is that it is also illegal. From the RMS website, driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or another drug can, for a first offence, attract a fine of $2,200, a gaol term of 9 months, and a minimum licence disqualification of 6 months. Yet a person who rides a bicycle is required to wear a helmet, which in some cases can overheat the head to such a degree as to degrade the operation of the brain, causing drug-like impairments. These same impairments, if chemically induced, would be sufficient to attract the above legal penalties.
    Consider the case of a person who is prone to heat-related illness, who puts on a helmet and starts to ride a bicycle. As they ride, this person’s head gets too hot and they start to experience adverse heat-related effects. At what point does this person change from being “out of it” but still capable of safely operating a vehicle on a public road, to being “out of it” to the extent that they are too impaired to safely operate such a vehicle? I assume that they must make their own decision as to whether they are too “out of it” to ride safely. Surely, if the operator of a vehicle on a public street has the legal right as to whether they are too “out of it” to drive or ride safely, this sets a precedent which is somewhat at odds with the current approach, in which an external body such as the RTA decides according to pre-existing guidelines as to whether a person is fit to drive or ride. At which point does this helmeted bicycle rider change from being a law-abiding citizen with a very bad headache to being a criminal with an even worse headache? At some point in between these two, the rider may be aware of slight impairment, but feel that they are able to keep riding. How headachy, sick and woozy can a person get before they are no longer fit to operate a vehicle on a public road?
    There are other legal problems. An adult responsible for a child or minor is required to ensure that this child or minor is wearing a helmet when riding a bike. In short, this adult is required to force the child or minor to use what is legally and in reality a mind-altering drug, using threats or coercion as necessary. In any other situation, an adult who forced a child or minor to use a mind-altering drug could be guilty of a serious criminal offence. And what if injury or death results? When a teenager, I always got extremely hot when exercising, and it is reasonable to assume that some other teenagers and children must also be like this.
    Would you be happy to wear a bicycle helmet when riding if there was a very high likelihood that it was going to kill you? Would you like to be operated on by a surgeon who has just returned from a lunchtime bike ride, and is vague, distracted, annoyed, uncoordinated, and with a very serious headache? Would you be happy to ride on a bus driven by someone who has just started their shift, and is struggling to retain consciousness? What of bicycle riders who become violent as a result of heat-related illness caused by wearing helmets?
    I am well aware that surprisingly large numbers of bicycle riders are able to wear helmets with no ill effect. I am not one of these people. Exercise has always made me get very hot – especially me head and shoulders – and a lifelong tendency towards obesity combined with riding fairly fast and hard means that overheating my head by wearing a bicycle helmet is a very real risk to my safety. It has happened – I have experienced the symptoms of heat-related illness. And it seems reasonable to conclude that there are thousands or hundreds of thousands of people out there similar to me in this respect. In short, I do not wish to suffer discomfort, pain or even die. I am sure that the great bulk of similarly heat-prone people do not. Do you?
    In conclusion, the helmet legislation as it currently stands forces some bicycle riders to use what are in effect dangerous mind-altering drugs, drugs which may not only cause death and injury to themselves, but to other people as well.
    Yours sincerely,
    Alan West

    *********************************

    (Note that the formatting has become “messed up”.)

    To conclude, I am looking forward to the day when I can jump on one of my 5 bikes and go for a ride without being required to kill myself and random other members of the public. The law says that this is my fault because I am too fat and too fit- I am 54, with a resting heart rate of 50 and a body mass index of about 35.

    Realistically, I have the body I was born with, and it wants to go for a bike ride. I have just got a 40-year old 10-speed wide ratio gentleman’s roadster thing operating, and I think it needs to be taken for a ride. Or my best roady? My favourite FSMTB has had a few rides lately….

    Correspond. Let us embarrass this poorly-thought-out legislation out of existence. Here is another entirely politically correct, legal and safe slogan for you to think about, “Save a child – kill a Jew”. (If fat people, children and women can be killed, Jews can too.)

    Cheers,

    Alan West

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