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Terrey Hills & Boundary Riders

Captain Chunder's picture

By Captain Chunder - Posted on 30 March 2016

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.


Anyone come across some riders at Terrey Hills with "Boundary Rider" kit on???

Are they nicer people off their bikes than on them?

And what about blonde no-helmet guy - cannot wait for him to get aquainted with a rock soon.......


Pyrate's picture

Saw a no helmet guy with fluro sunnies on the weekend near the causeway on Perim. Didn't see any other kit as I was moving a bit quick. Would that be him? The no helmet bit stuck in my mind

hawkeye's picture

Haven't had any "interactions" with them.

On the other hand, a certain roadie bunch apparently representing a northside bike shop don't have a great reputation for riding in a courteous manner, and what I've seen of their behaviour around General Liberator San Martin Drive has done little to make me think it might be undeserved.

I've seen a few guys around with no helmets on at different times, trundling along at no great pace.

While I will continue to use helmets and encourage others to do the same, I don't place a great deal of store in the miraculous power of styrofoam hats to ward off serious injury, given the circumstances of my cousin's death while wearing one.

The evidence is fairly clear they dissuade non-enthusiasts (that is, *not* people like us) from casual cycling. I'd rather see someone out enjoying the wind in their hair with no helmet on than they not cycle at all.

I think we get too hung up here in Oz on helmets when there are much more important things to focus on. Overseas cyclists look at us and think "WTF's with the compulsory helmet fixation? You been brainwashed, bro?"

I'm sure there'll be lots of "but a helmet saved my life" anecdotes, and they may even be true. But that misses the point, which is that compulsory helmet laws turn people off cycling, with adverse community health impacts related to inactivity and obesity that far outweigh the cost of looking after small numbers of brain injuries.

This is a long way of saying that I think wishing the guy would hurt himself as some kind of punishment for not fitting with your percieved notion of safe behaviour to do is pretty poor form.

Dee's picture

Well said hawkeye. Compulsory helmet laws are misguided and reduce the number of cyclists. I've fallen off my bike many times and am yet to hit my head at all. A helmet can increase neck injury risks when falling off at very slow speeds.

hawkeye's picture

That came out way too harshly. Apologies. Sad Unfortunately the reply has blocked me from editing.

Last sentence should read "This is a long way of saying that I think wishing the guy would hurt himself as some kind of punishment for not fitting with your percieved notion of safe behaviour is I hope not something you really mean."

Black Flash's picture

I don't think the OP meant it to be a helmet debate. It seems to be more directed at the helmet less riders actions on the bike - ie the rider missed MTB 101 - don't be a dickhead. Happy to be corrected.

And yes, a helmet saved my life... Smiling

staffe's picture

Re Helmets I'd like to offer a different opinion.

I'd consider anyone riding without a helmet quite careless. Naturally the helmets we wear XC riding or what roadies have will not help much if anyone stacks violently at high speed but for the regular front wheel washouts and other common stacks the piece of styrofoam on our heads have saved me and most of my riding buddies a few times.

When the outcome of a stack with a helmet is a concussion that takes months to recover from I think same incident w/o helmet would in all likelihood have ended up in very serious injury and a high cost to the health system.

For casual road cyclists, the chance of getting knocked over by a car or having to dodge some unanticipated dog / pedestrian / cyclist / kid / bird / whatever is quite high and having some styrofoam between the skull and the kerb when it happens is most probably the difference between walking away with a little bit or road rash and going to hospital.

I thus fully support helmet laws as it both saves some people from themselves and it saves money for the health system not having to deal with avoidable head injuries.

arghvee's picture

I think a helmut saved my life....hit the ground so hard , lost conciousness for 5-20 minutes... but I just can't remember it. but glad i'm here to tell the story.

Yes, there are stories of the good, bad and ugly. yes, helmuts may put off non-cyclists from riding. But yes, cycling popularity is rising regardless.

Err toward safety. Our kids grow up with a safety mentality. Fewer head serious head injuries in exchange for some more minor injuries is a good deal all round. ( except helmet hair .. that sux)

hawkeye's picture

I'm not doubting for a moment they help.

However, when I said the cost of inactivity related illnesses associated with the introduction of mandatory helmet laws far outweighs the savings in head trauma at a whole of community level, I was not making it up.

It is the view of professors of comminity health and epidemiology at both USyd and UNSW. An epidemiologist I am acquainted with from Hornsby Hospital called mandatory helmet laws "an unjustified and unethical imposition on a healthy activity" - I think that is quite a strong statement.

Is it ethical to save the few at the cost of illness and early deaths of the many? When trauma surgeons come out in support of compulsory helmets they are ficussing on just their little area and are not seeing the big picture as the epidemiologists do.

staffe's picture

I doubt there will be that many who realise they should be doing something physical and would really like to get fit by cycling but the prospect of wearing a helmet is such a deterrent they consciously decided against engaging in the healthy activity of cycling and instead continue to live in the couch sucking down kegs and watching telly.

Those who are serious about doing an activity but the helmet prevents them, they would find something else like running or joining a soccer team or any of the other myriad of healthy activities on offer.

It'd be easy to state in a survey that if it was not for the helmet they be right in to but in reality, if helmet laws were removed it is my guess that they ones who are on a trajectory to or already are unhealthy, they'd still be avoiding health activities helmet laws or no helmet laws.

hank's picture

I afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one staffe and back up Hawkeye. It's not really about people activity exercising, it's about encouraging folk to leave the car at home and make short local trips by bike and 'exercising' by default.

The Manly Daily is only too happy to add to their weekly anti cycling story list by counting the number of helmetless local riders tottling along at 5km to go for a quick swim - when in fact these are exactly the kind of short trips that should be encouraged for both health and congestion issues.

All research (and admittedly there isn't much as we're one of only two countries in the world to mandate them) suggests helmets laws do reduce casual riding, especially short trips and most obviously Europe's outrageously successful bike hire schemes.

In short, I will continue to wear my helmet as I think it's the sensible thing to do, but safest of all is getting a critical mass of riders and developing a cycling culture which is clearly being stifled by the current helmet laws. (..and don't get me started on the rest of Duncan Gay's new revenue raising, sorry 'safety' measures.)

hawkeye's picture

Yes it is rising, but it is in spite of helmet laws, not because of them.

Cycling culture in this country is massively distorted by the helmet laws. The cycling population here is primarily enthusiasts riding for fitness. Usually large alpha males riding fast.

The casual rider going at a relaxed pace in normal street clothes is a rare bird. Especially the female variety, who doesn't want to mess up their presentation and have to do over again when they arrive at the office.

In other countries the proportions are reversed. The "wielrenner" aka wheeled jogger is about the same proportion as the foot jogger, with the vast majority being wheeled pedestrians who use the bike as a convenient substitute for a car. They have no particular love for cycling. Theyre not doing it for exercise, but for convenience. The attraction is purely the utility. Women are a much larger proportion.

Add a compulsion to wear a helmet and its less convenient and the car looks more attractive. Seatbelts don't mess with your presentation.

Unfortunately here in Australia that section of the cycling population is virtually extinct.

Imagine what it could be?

The experiment with partial relaxation of the laws in the NT provides some insights. Participation quadrupled rapidly after the changes and they now lead the country with 4% of journeys. The rest of us bumble along at 1%. Interestingly head injury rates have not increased.

Imagine what a full relaxation would do?

And we'd have a healthier population from incidental exercise.

Carlosdjakal's picture


staffe's picture

A bit of background:
I grew up in Sweden and rode my bike everywhere throughout my entire life w/o a helmet in normal clothes to the sops, uni, pub, everywhere until I moved to Oz. When I moved here naturally I bought a bike so I could continue to do the same ting and go to the shops and stuff like that. I stopped pretty quickly because of a whole range of reasons none of them involves a helmet.

Anyone who compares cycling in certain european places and Sydney and think Sydney can have a similar culture of biking w/o some serious infrastructure changes are kidding themselves.

The reasons it works in certain places in Europe are amongst other things:
* Dedicated cycle ways. I could ride from one end of town to the other w/o sharing a meter of it with cars. Cycle underpasses under every intersection and cycle paths completely separated from the road. Cycle paths to the local shops. One need cycle paths on the way back because with heavy bags on the handle bars the ride is very wobbly.
* It is cold, you can ride to the shop in normal clothes w/o breaking out in a sweat, even and slow speed there is no way to stay fresh under the Australian sun or high temp and humidity like we had during Feb -March
* It is not hilly either which makes riding even at winter impossible to do w/o sweating
* Shorter distances, Sydney is a big city

Hence my point here is that one cannot just isolate helmet laws and say "Hey - look at that, in Europe they don't enforce helmets and consequently people ride bikes." Helmets is the least of the issues inhibiting the use of a bike to do small errands in Sydney as suggested previously.

So, with no proper infrastructure, a completely overloaded road network where motorists gets incredibly frustrated and aggressive, biking is a really bad idea. I do it every day because I cannot stand wasting my life in a friggin' car knowing very well that the everyday near misses will sooner or later not be a near miss and when that day comes I hope a helmet will work in favour of a full recovery.

To get better uptake proper biking infrastructure where bikers can safely get to the shop or where ever they want to go is number one. Until that happens I think helmet laws is a good thing. In fact it is almost evil to suggest to anyone they should ride in these conditions w/o a helmet.

Naturally, any relaxation of an inhibitor will result in some uptake but unless the big inhibitors are addressed it will only be a small uptake.

In any case, thats my personal take on it based on my experience trying to do what's been suggest can be done if only the helmets were not required.

Anyhow, stay safe on the road - preferably with a helmet.


hawkeye's picture

Agreed on a lot of points regarding Europe, but then San Francisco is probably even hillier than Sydney and I'm not sure Portland Oregon is that flat either (could be wrong - correct me if I am).

The interesting thing - which you seem to have missed - is that even in Australia, there is ample evidence that making helmets compulsory suppresses cycling participation, which is why I included the NT example.

That said, I am pro helmet. Certainly for risk activities like mountain biking and fast road riding it is the wise thing to do.

You're right that we need a lot more infrastructure, and that making helmet use discretionary is not a magic bullet. But it is a step in the right direction. The more people there are on bikes, the safer it is for everybody. The safety in numbers effect is well documented.

Oh, and for what it's worth, that epidemiologist I quoted from Hornsby hospital is also from Sweden. Epidemiologists study whole-of-population impacts of treatment regimes and government policy, so his view carries a fair amount of weight - far more than your or my collection of anecdotes.

pharmaboy's picture

I have had one head injury falling off a bike, that was a side of head hit onto a timber deck with a helmet on. I have had similar hits of force on my head without a helmet on and had no meaningful injury, therefore I blame the helmet for my injury. (One fall from standing to ice, the other a trip at running pace and frontal impact to a stair)

Ok, so I don't really, but it illustrates why anecdote and personal experience are not evidence, and the above are real experiences.

Second anecdote on behaviour, my son and his mate who have bikes prefer skateboards to get around on - why I asked? Because you don't have to wear a helmet! Said teenagers (boys) spend a lot of time on their hair....

sippffo's picture

Your bike, wear a helmet its now the Law.

How many of us actually pay any attention to what is sitting on top of our Heads while we are all out enjoying what we do, I can guarantee if you asked anyone else whilst out and about they too would probably say the same.
Wearing a Helmet is all but forgotten about, with most of us concentrating on where we are going and what is about to come up.
They are all really light, and don't impact at all on us whilst wearing them, plus gives the Magpies something to aim for as well.

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