By The Free Rider Craig Richards 31 August 2016
It’s amazing how humans can take such opposing views. What seems so obviously wrong to one person seems so obviously right to another. The NSW government’s plan to introduce mandatory ID for bike riders is the classic example. To me it seems like madness: blatantly discriminatory and oppressive.
But there’s quite a few bike riders and bike advocates who actually support it. No persuasive argument can move them. So if you’re convinced mandatory ID is a ripping idea, I‘m not going to insult you by trying. I just want to say one last thing, ‘It’s like you’re dreamin’ about Gorgonzola cheese when it’s clearly Brie time, baby.’
This quote is from the Hitchhiker scene in Something About Mary One of the great movie cameos of all time by Harland Williams.
So if you’ve drunk a big glass of the ‘mandatory ID will make me safer Kool Aid’, no need to read any further. Sorry to bother you. I respect your decision and won’t judge you. Please go back and spend some time with your friends.
But if you’re actually not completely decided on mandatory ID but are thinking, ‘What’s the big deal? I carry it anyway’, please read on. I’d like to take a shot at convincing you that you need to care about this. I’ve tried the formal, I’ve tried the logical, that’s why I’m trying this 2016 wisecracking style.
To prepare, I thought it was first important to peddle a kilometre or two in your bike riding shoes. It’s the best way to find out why you don’t care when others are burning up with outrage. So I took the advice of the great man Carl Spackler, the Assistant Greenkeeper from the movie Caddyshack, who when trying to remove pesky gophers said, ‘I’ve gotta get inside this dude’s pelt and crawl around for a few days.’ [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lYm0c7gYyU]
[Actually I think Atticus Finch may have expressed this slightly more eloquently than Carl in To Kill a Mockingbird. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b05CMl4hwcc]
I found 3 disturbing things when I was in that pelt. 3 things you as an ‘I don’t care that much person’ think are true that are actually myths. So I figure if I can bust those myths, you might just join the mandatory ID fight.
Myth 1: you must carry your licence when driving a car
American movies where the cop demands ‘licence and registration’ have bred the fear of god into us. We believe if you’re behind the wheel without your licence you’re sure to spend a sleepless night being spooned by a heavily tattooed psychopath in an overcrowded cell.
[Luckily Lloyd and Harry had their papers when our friend Harland Williams pulled them over in Dumb and Dumber. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=io30s7-5VaQ]
But here’s the shock: it’s not true. Yes, you need a licence to drive. No, it’s not a crime to not have it on you: you can take it to the police station later.
So riddle me this:
if it’s not mandatory for drivers to carry a driver’s licence
but you do need a licence to drive a car.
And it becomes mandatory for bike riders to carry an ID or driver’s licence
but you don’t need a licence to ride a bike.
Why on god’s green earth aren’t you annoyed?
Myth 2: because the risk of injury is high bike riders need to be identifiable
I looked up the latest comprehensive report I could find on Australian injury hospitalisations (http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129552564). It shows that more people went to hospital from falling off a bed or chair (10,631) than after a bike crash (9,001). It also showed significant numbers of hospitalisations from playground equipment falls (6,223), ladder falls (4,657) and skates, skis and scooters crashes (5,936).
So here’s the big point: surely it must be one in all in. What’s good for the bike riding goose must be good for the lying, sitting, playing, gliding and ladder climbing ganders.
Myth 3: if I carry my licence the medics have a better chance of saving me
Grab your driver’s licence out of its plastic, zip lock bag and have a read of it. It’s pretty light on for info about you. Name and address. That’s about it. No next of kin details. No blood type. No details of your allergy to pork fat or your spleen irregularity.
So just throwing it out there; if you’re heading toward the light, the paramedic knowing your name and address is not going to bring you back. The medics aren’t going to stop, tap into a top secret database, look up your next of kin, call them on their mobile, get your medical history, then start treatment. By the time they’ve done that they’d be changing your Facebook status to crossed over.
So that’s it. My last shot at persuading you to abandon the don’t care camp and come and join us in the this is outrageous camp. If you’re on board, welcome to the resistance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7bSYG0qL3Y
If not, well maybe you’ll join us when the next wave of anti-cycling laws hits. It might be when the NSW government heads over to Missouri and finds out that Republican Jay Houghton introduced a bill into the Missouri House of Reps to require bikes to fly a 15 feet orange flag.