Mar 222012

Media: Melbourne Herald-Sun
Date: 16th March 2012
Headline: Pic of cyclist with baby sparks fury
Journalists: Elissa Doherty and Courtney Crane

This article attacks a woman carrying a baby on her back.  The baby is too young to wear a helmet, no helmets are available on the market and in any case would likely damage the baby’s neck.  As you know, young babies can’t hold their head up, which is why they are often carried close to their carer, with the head supported against the body of their carer.

What particularly outraged these reporters was that the woman riding the bike was wearing a helmet herself: she was “selfish” for “endangering a baby’s life – but protecting her own”.  Actually she was wearing a helmet to avoid getting fined for the safe and healthy activity of riding a bicycle. Would the journalists have been happier if the rider was not wearing a helmet?

Congratulations to Garry Brennan of Bicycle Network Victoria for defending the woman, and pointing out that this is the normal way to carry very young babies all over the world. BV’s bravery in standing up to the onslaught is to be commended.

As the law in Victoria stands, it is impossible to get around on a bike with a baby too young to wear a helmet. So if the bicycle is your means of transport, you are grounded. How unfair is that?

As usual, the article totally fails to mention the reason why helmets are considered necessary: because motor vehicles endanger cyclists. So not a word about solving the root cause of the problem, ignoring the elephant as usual.

 Posted by at 12:55 am

  7 Responses to “How to carry a baby on a bike”

  1. Unbelievable reporting indeed. Showing this to my friends and family back in Europe could trigger nothing else than a “what’s your point?”, and rightfully so. Encouraging to see the BN Vic spokesman being the only sensible person in the conversation so at least somebody hasn’t lost their mind over this ridiculous discussion, although it’s very sad at the same time for having to point it out in the first place.

  2. The HeraldSun is sensationalist and populist. It melds into the psyche of everyday Australians, and right now that is a huge rift between motorists and cyclists. Sorry to say, cyclists seem more intent on holding the rift that narrowing it. Stupid ideas like tripling fines for “dooring” does nothing for cyclist after the fact, other than be some form of petty revenge. Much like motorists call for bike registration. Again, solves nothing. Each side just wants the other accountable.

    The key issue from this article is not who or who not is wearing a helmet, it’s the situation that’s forced a mother and baby to cycle in unsafe conditions. It should outrage any govt. Same with dooring. The conditions allow for these incidents, not that motorists are deliberately reckless, unlike speeding.

    There’s one other issue mentioned, the stat about brain injuries. Of 600 recorded, only 3% are cyclists? That begs the question that if cyclists are forced to wear helmets, so should any road user, even pedestrians when crossing roads. It’s discrimination. While huge lobby groups will never allow that to happen, the situation that led to the helmet law is lazy govt that rather than make cycling safer, prefer to legislate to attempt reduce injury after a crash. The mindset is upside down. While all sides of politics prefer to differ with superficial gesture politics like heavy fines, the longer cycling will remain dangerous and the longer both motorists and cyclists will be at each other’s throats.

  3. “Anon”,

    The baby in the image is too young to wear a helmet or sit upright on its own. The Herald Sun reporter was obviously not aware of this, nor were the spokespeople for the TAC and the Amy Gillett Foundation. (The fact that the last two were ignorant of this was disturbing in its own right.) As far as I know the mother was not breaking any law, although I’m happy to be corrected on this.

    To me this incident just represents another poor public perception of safety, particularly regarding bicycles. Riding a bike is much safer than many other activities, so the risks this mother was exposing to her baby were minimal. The irony is that the greatest risk to the mother and her child was the motorist behind her taking snapshots while driving.

  4. Again, it is a reduction in the level of respect afforded to us by our peers. I applaud BNV for their involvement and implore them to do more to educate the masses about these issues.

  5. Such poor reporting by the Herald-Sun. A huge beat-up if ever there was one. If the reporters had taken a momentary breather from their mock outrage they would have noticed: 1) the woman is not wearing her helmet in the prescribed manner. 2) the photograph of this ‘shocking’ incident was taken from the driver’s seat of a car. So if the baby was in any immediate danger it was very likely to be from the car driver not looking where she was going! I do hope that the police show some interest in this example of irresponsible driving.

  6. I thought helmets were considered necessary because a fall from a standing, motionless position, or at speeds of less than ten kilometres per hour, can cause life-threatening injury.

    But keep on railing at helmets — forking _cycling_ advocates in the process — for the sake of media attention for your BUG, it’s what you do best.

    Is this opinion article the viewpoint of the entire BUG, or one person in particular? If the latter, why aren’t they willing to put their name to it?

    • Thanks for your comment “anon”, amongst the comments so far you are the only person who hasn’t entered an email address or your name. The BUG doesn’t publish the author on articles because the articles represent the BUG’s views, not the author’s. Would you care to publish your name?

      Can you point out where in the article we are “railing at helmets”? Actually the article is “railing at” bad reporting, and ignorant if well-meaning doctors, who need to do a study tour of countries where cycling is much safer than in Australia. Countries where the focus is on the real causes of danger to cyclists, collisions with cars. Countries where carrying children of all ages on bikes, including babies to young to wear a helmet, is commonplace and yet injuries and deaths are far less common than in Australia.

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