Mandatory Helmet Laws & stuff (MHL discussion)

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Re: Mandatory Helmet Laws & stuff (MHL discussion)

Postby uart » Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:21 pm

g-boaf wrote:I don't care about MHL if it exists or doesn't, but I do care about fixing the driving culture. Driving must be a privilege, rather than being an entitlement as it is currently in Australia.

And of all the drivers I encountered, the German ones were the best of the lot. The Italians were great too

It's interesting that one of the (anti cyclist) comments in the Herald Sun article linked recently in another thread was from a motorist lamenting that "most" (he very magnanimously even emphasized the point, "not all - just most"), "cyclists in Australia are rude idiots, unlike cyclists in Europe". I thought that was interesting, turning it around to blame cyclists.

While I cant say that I know all of the reasons for the differences in attitudes to cyclists in Europe compared to to Australia, I can tell you for 100% certain that the difference in driver behavior you observed there is due to better driver attitudes to cyclists (and more generally better attitudes to cycling in the general community) in Europe compared to Australia.

This is why people point to the distorted cycling demographics here in Australia, where we're mostly cycling enthusiasts and less "average Joe" cyclists. This is NOT blaming cycling enthusiasts for the shockingly bad attitude of many Australian motorists, but it may indeed be related to the relative scarcity of regular Joe cyclists.

This is also why people point to MHL as a possible factor in this problem. Since MHL differently impacts different types of riders (in the sense that almost all fast/sports/competitive cyclists would wear them anyway, whereas someone who wants to occasionally ride a few blocks to the local shops not necessarily), then I think that it's quite plausible that it has altered the demographics.

Anyway, whatever the reason for this difference in community attitudes, it IS the underlying problem. Australian drivers just don't think that cyclists are normal people. Seriously they don't! Whereas people in more cycling friendly countries are much more likely to see cyclists as regular people.

Would any of these attitudes change overnight if MHL was suddenly abolished? No, I very much doubt it. It's taken a long time for the situation in Australia to get as toxic as it now is, and that certainly won't change any time soon. However many people do see MHLs as helping to get us to where we currently are with the terrible attitude to cyclists in Australia.

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Re: Mandatory Helmet Laws & stuff (MHL discussion)

Postby g-boaf » Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:52 pm

Maybe he's right, most cyclists in Australia are rude. They have the audacity to run cameras and report bad driver behaviour to the Police, how dare they do such a thing? Or is it because they have the audacity to ride on the road, where only motor vehicles should exist?

I only get angry if someone passes me too closely. I don't use a camera even though I have one, because I know that "it isn't calibrated", can't be proven, whatever whatever so I don't waste my time.

So, those cyclists in Europe are less rude? Well I've been one of those cyclists in Europe very recently and riding in some cities for enough time to get a good feel for the way they are, and they don't ride any differently in the traffic to anyone else. I was even an average Joe rider some days.

The difference there is that drivers for the most part don't have any animosity to riders, and the riders don't feel threatened by every car coming along. Everyone just gets along. Everyone is there to get to where they are going without bother. Even when I was not the average Joe rider, I was nothing more than just another bike rider going somewhere, just that I was on a pretty nice bike. No difference. In some of those cities, they also have a lot of inner city bike infrastructure, off road shared pathways or cycleways, underpasses at junctions for bikes, etc. Way more developed.

And some of the town speed limits over there are very slow as well - a lot of 30km/h zones. Slower than drivers here would ever accept. Implementing those speed limits here in towns on all but main arterial roads would have a pretty dramatic effect as well. However, on highways in some places they drive very fast, much faster than we do here and well over the speed limits.

Strong enforcement of rules against bad driver behaviour and lower speed limits on all but arterial roads or highways would go some way to stopping this toxic culture. I don't think getting rid of the mandatory helmet laws is going to do a lot, because I saw a lot of ordinary people riding in Europe on their general commute/shopping rides wearing helmets. But if it makes those people who hate wearing helmets happy, then so be it.

I think enforcement against drivers and lower speed limits where possible would be a start. But my god we need to get working on bike infrastructure, even in our major cities we are far behind. They had bike lanes everywhere, bike paths, etc. Even riding through the local town square on our high end road bikes among the pedestrians didn't really raise an eyebrow for anyone. We were just some random people going somewhere on our bikes, rolling along at little more than walking speeds and threading carefully between the pedestrians. That's riding in Innsbruck. It's easy, and normal. I think I one guy stop me one day because he wanted to have a look at my bike and have a chat, and that we did for a quite a long time. That's the only thing remarkable.

Everywhere I went though, it didn't look like those Dutch cycling videos. That's the one thing I did notice.

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Re: Mandatory Helmet Laws & stuff (MHL discussion)

Postby warthog1 » Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:59 pm

Is there an English speaking country where attitudes toward cyclists are different?
US, UK, Australia all bad.
Australia is the only one with MHLs so it may be a factor but it doesn't seem a defining one.

It may seem a bit out there, but Rupert Murdoch has a strong media presence in all 3 nations and his business model is about demonising minorities, creating division and controversy, to push sales.
Have a look at his mast heads here, anytime cyclists are mentioned.
He isn't the only factor either, but we'd be better off without the miserable old pr1 ck. :x
It may only be a start but it would certainly make effecting cultural change among the driving public easier

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