Issue 140, December 2000–January 2001

BISA’s mission: To promote cycling for transport and to represent all cyclists at the local, state, and national levels by working collaboratively with other interest groups and governments.

Ride to Work Day 200

Ride to Work

President Terry Leach addresses the gathering in Victoria Square


Pedal Update

Peter Carter, Editor

If, as I do, you carry shopping home by bicycle, you were no doubt annoyed by recent RAA advertising. In this issue we have the correspondence between Terry Leach and John Fotheringham, the RAA’s CEO. I must confess that I find his reply less than inspiring.

Terry reports on recent happenings, and Clive Palfrey commends the members of the team who bring you, literally, your copies of Pedal Update and Australian Cyclist six times a year. Margaret Day reports on some pedalling politicians in Canberra: perhaps there’s a chance that some of that extra road funding can be used on cycling infrastructure. Margaret also reminds us that should you need it, free legal advice is available through BISA.

Enjoy the festive season, preferably on two wheels, and keep the fluids up...


President’s Report

Terry Leach

Things are hotting up, and I’m not just talking about the weather, although it does seem to be a fairly sustained hot start to summer. But some hard work seems to be bearing some fruit at last.

Ride To Work Day

Darren Mik, Rod Munro, Peter Sampson and Tony did a wonderful job under trying circumstances in staging RTWD 2000 on 17 November. A lack of government funding did not prevent the event being at least as successful as last year. The media exposure is an important part of RTWD. I did four live radio interviews in the morning, and Darren showed that he has plenty of ability with his debut media performance on 5AA. Managing the interviewer is a key part of the process, and we were successful getting across key messages such as high fuel prices being an opportunity not just a problem, end of trip facilities, greenhouse gases, health benefits and so on.

The RAA and those insurance television commercials

I received quite a few complaints about these commercials from BISA members, most of whom were also RAA members. Most people were annoyed about the one showing a woman struggling to carry groceries on the handlebars of her bike, with others also peeved about the negative public transport messages in the commercial with the lad and the surfboard.

Copies of the correspondence between John Fotheringham, RAA Chief Executive and myself appear later in this issue. If you feel strongly about this matter and are an RAA member, why not drop him a line?

RAA election results

Once again I stood for the Board of the RAA, and received broad support from the membership. While 14% of the vote might not sound particularly good, the fact that each member can nominate four candidates actually means that the majority of members who voted nominated me as one of their choices. Hopefully one day the message will get through to the Board that most members think just as much about the environment, global warming and public health as they do about the cost of petrol.

Thanks for your support. I’ll be back next year, hopefully with another good, progressive candidate to reduce the leakage of votes to the directors seeking re-election.

Road Safety and the Australian Road Rules Review

I attended a road safety forum held by the RAA, invited as BISA president. While I listened to some very good experts in their field, I was disappointed overall. The RAA failed to acknowledge that reducing motor vehicle usage is a valid road safety initiative, not to mention the other benefits to society. Also, the stated aim of the day was to provide input into policy development, but the opportunities to do so were extremely limited. I am writing to the RAA to provide further input to their deliberations.

I also spoke with a consultant employed by Transport SA reviewing the implementation of the Australian Road Rules. Issues I raised were concerns about cyclists having to give way to cars behind them on roundabouts, speed limits, older riders and supervising adults on footpaths, and justice for cyclists killed or injured by motorists.

Sustainable Transport Alliance

The inaugural meeting of a Sustainable Transport Alliance was held and, by the time you read this, a follow up meeting or two. The STA brings together organisations from the public health, pedestrian, bicycle and public transport advocates. The aim is to work better together to achieve outcomes that more than one group desires. For instance, 40 km/h in residential streets is important to all these groups, whereas an issue such as bike racks on buses might only involve a few of the organisations.

Once the way we will work together is ironed out, we will make further efforts to involve other groups, particularly from the environmental lobby and disadvantaged transport users such as citizens who are younger, older or have disabilities.

The STA was an initiative of myself as BISA president and Sheila Brown of Smogbusters. It wouldn’t have been possible without the financial support of BISA, who funded the hiring of a facilitator for the first meeting, who ensured that we started off in a productive manner.

Amalgamation discussions with Bicycle SA

Things have certainly been heating up in this area as well. While unifying the bicycle movement in South Australia is the aim, this has the potential to be divisive within BISA. I think we all need to ensure that our strong feelings in this area are balanced with respect for opposing points of view. We all have one thing in common: we want what is best for cycling advocacy in South Australia. The amalgamation proposal to be put to members is starting to take shape. I hasten to add that it is a proposal only. There will be plenty of opportunity for debate and questions before it goes to a vote. And the amalgamation will only go ahead if 75% of BISA members who vote are in favour of the proposal.

Two hot issues are membership fees and the Australian Cyclist magazine. The economics of Bicycle SA’s operations dictate that the fees in a merged organisation will probably be $40 for an individual membership, with the magazine about $12–$15 as an optional extra. For BISA members who wish to continue to receive the magazine this is a substantial price rise, and may be an issue for some. However, the 120 BISA members who are also Bicycle SA members will save money.

I have been informed that current BFA policy is that new member organisations must supply Australian Cyclist to all their members. However, this is an issue of discussion within the BFA. Bicycle SA is considering applying for membership to the BFA, regardless of the amalgamation outcome, on the basis that the magazine is an option for its members. This is not just a South Australian issue, as Bicycle Victoria is also considering applying to rejoin the BFA on the same basis.

Hopefully this issue will be resolved before we decide on the amalgamation proposal. Many members, myself included, would be loath to vote for a proposal that meant losing membership of the BFA. Equally, I would be very disappointed if such a valuable advocacy tool as Australian Cyclist keeps us apart, rather than helping to bring us together.

There are a many advantages for cycling advocacy and BISA members in merging the two organisations. They include:

Bicycle SA is as keen as I am to see tangible improvements in cycling transport advocacy arising from the merger. It is proposed that BISA’s accrued surplus will be invested and the funds used only for transport advocacy. We are also confident that we will be able to employ, on a part-time basis, a staff member to do work that BISA volunteers currently are unable to do. I would be very keen to see this person working to invigorate the BUG network, so that grass roots advocacy is improved.

Some people believe that it is impossible for one organisation to have both a recreational focus and an advocacy focus. I don’t subscribe to this view, and I point to Bicycle Victoria, Bicycle NSW and even the RAA as examples where the two have been combined successfully. Indeed, there is an argument that profit from recreation and other tangible services often funds advocacy work.

I would welcome members to contact me with their views on the developing proposal, by telephone or e-mail.

All the best for the festive season, and may you and your tyres stay pumped up.


Those RAA commercials: the correspondence

2 October 2000
Mr John Fotheringham
Chief Executive Officer
RAA of SA Inc
Hindmarsh Square
Adelaide SA 5000

Dear Sir, I am writing in response to two advertisements showing on Channel Seven recently, and at the unsolicited request of a number of Bicycle Institute members. Please note that these members are mostly also RAA members. The two offending advertisements show a woman struggling along on an overladen bicycle, and a young man waiting at a bus stop with a surf board. Both advertisements clearly denigrate these two modes of transport. It is grossly irresponsible for such an influential organisation as the RAA to take such a position. Reasons for encouraging such modes of transport over the use of private motor vehicles include:

These atrocious advertisements are particularly galling as your organisation has clearly demonstrated that it is capable of producing excellent and socially acceptable advertisements. For example the advertisement encouraging people to use the time saved using the telephone to practise driving skills, then cutting away to a golf ball breaking a car window is excellent. It is funny, encourages physical exercise, but in no way denigrates golf nor encourages anti-social activity.

In comparison, the catching the bus advertisement, as well as denigrating public transport, shows illegal and anti-social behaviour without any negative context. I also question whether permits were obtained for exemption from the Australian Road Rules during the production of the advertisements. On behalf of the many RAA members who support safe and sustainable transport, I would ask that you withdraw these advertisements. Additionally, I would ask that future advertising campaigns are vetted to ensure that all the messages being communicated are congruent with the espoused (although I argue often ignored) values of the RAA.

Yours sincerely,
Terry Leach

Mr Terry Leach
Bicycle Institute of South Australia
GPO Box 792

Dear Sir,

In response to your concerns relating to recently produced RAA Insurance television commercials, I provide the following advice.

The RAA is highly cognisant of its responsibilities, as South Australia’s principal motoring organsisation and leading advocate on road safety issues, at all times.

Accordingly, Harrison Market Research was commissioned by the RAA’s advertising agency to conduct a series of focus groups (comprising an appropriate demographic mix eg age, gender, users and on-users of public transport etc) to dertermine the overall credibility, understanding and appeal of each television commercial.

At the RAA’s instruction, the market research firm went to great lengths to identify focus group participants’ likes and dislikes in relation to the commercials and, specifically, to explore whether participants were offended by any of the commercials or whether they believed the commercials to portray negative messages. Participants completed individual questionnaires, provided unprompted opinions and also contributed to lengthy group discussions.

I advise that the reaction to all four television commercials (surfer, bike, golf and football) was extremely supportive.

In terms of your query as to ‘whether permits were obtained for exemption from the Australian Road Rules during the production of the advertisements’, each commercial was filmed in controlled circumstances with the permission of the relevant Local Council and after notification to residents. Qualified Safety officers were present for the duration and the street was closed to the public.

Thus, no exemptions were necessary as the Australian Road Rules apply to ‘an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has on e of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles.’

The RAA has been monitoring member response to the television commercials since they went to air and will continue to do so. I am advised that negligible negative feedback has been received. I trust the above information allows you to adequately respond to your members.

Yours sincerely,
John Fotheringham
Chief Executive

14 November 2000
Mr John Fotheringham
Chief Executive
Royal Automobile Association of SA
41 Hindmarsh Square
Adelaide SA 5000

Dear Mr Fotheringham

RAA Insurance Television Commercials

Thank you for your letter dated 11 October 2000 regarding this issue. Regrettably, I find your response unsatisfactory for two reasons.

It is disappointing that so much effort was put into market research for such a poor result. After talking to many commuting cyclists I find it hard to accept that any would find the bicycle commercial acceptable. It clearly depicts the bicycle as an inferior mode of transport, unfairly indicating that it is not capable of load carrying. Many of us do carry such loads using appropriate equipment such as racks and panniers. Are you sure that your focus groups included any commuting cyclists?

My second reason for disappointment is your dismissive attitude to our complaint. I am president of an organisation of 1000 members, many of whom are also RAA members. I have received an unprecedented amount of unsolicited feedback from members on this topic, some of them strangers to me. Do you really consider my first letter Śnegligible negative feedback’?.

Before you dismiss this issue as an over-reaction by a few fanatics, I suggest that you contact Mr Peter Solly, Executive Officer with Bicycle SA, an organisation with 2000 members. I can assure you that the disappointment with that particular advertisement is widespread amongst cyclists.

Disappointment with the public transport commercial is less widespread. However, the subtle negative message is extremely disappointing to the many people who have a clear understanding of the issues, and are working hard for a more sustainable transport system.

I have discussed the issue of transport policy and the RAA’s performance widely over the last few years, and can assure you that there is substantial dissatisfaction with the RAA’s position on sustainable transport. As you would be aware most people join the RAA for the emergency road side assistance, and many remain members despite their opposition to your transport policies, not in support of them. If your response to me is an indication of your listening skills, then it is no wonder that you receive so little negative feedback.

Yours sincerely,
Terry Leach


Hot Work

Clive Palfrey

As I type this it’s 37° C outside and the December magazines will be here any day. So please as you read this spare a thought and vote of thanks for our regular volunteer deliverers who take this magazine out to over 80% of our members. We have had quite a few new deliverers join us over the past year and we thank:

Colin Twelftree
Adolf Pergler
Stephen Janes and Family
Tanya and Andrew Newhouse
Terry Leach

for their enthusiastic help.

Many of the following members have been delivering from day one and it’s nothing unusual for them to telephone me and ask if I can get their magazines to them ASAP so they can deliver them before going on holiday:

Andrew Napier and Kerstin Oecklers
Andrew Jolly
Bruce and Ann Lee
Christoph Neumann
Mary and David Wilson
Clive Palfrey
David and Kathy Zilm
Deborah Martin
Dennis Jury
Dennis Cox
Dexter Palmer
Edward Pindral
Elaine and Philip Whitham
Fiona Johnston
Geoff Monaghan
Graham Brown
Gerry Velaitis
Janet H Kelly
John T Mellor
Kath Cooper
Kath Haskard and WI Lloyd
Ken Macdonald
Manfred Meidert
Margaret Day
Graham Day
Margaret Carty and Tony Wilson
Matthew Harding
Michael Noske
Mike Watters
Paul Anderson
Paul Jewell
Malcolm Healey
Peter Hughes
Peter A Whiting
Raymond Deed
Richard Rowland
Rodney E Munro and Family
Scott Hamon
Stephen Janes and Family
Tanya and Andrew Newhouse
Terry Leach
Wayne and Joelle Wearn-Jarvis
Wendy Marchment and Lee O’Connor

In addition we have volunteer deliverers who put their hand up when one of our regular deliverers is away, sick, or otherwise indisposed: Greg Harmer and Ian Kennett, and a special mention for Richard Rowland and Stephen Janes who have frequently taken on extra rounds in addition to their own in times of need.

Finally, special thanks to the following: in addition to delivering magazines Margaret and Graham Day also collect, collate and fold Pedal Update as well as delivering bundles of magazines to most of our deliverers in the near Southern, South Eastern and South Western suburbs. Rod Munro steps into the breach with preparing Pedal Update when Margaret and Graham are away. Malcolm Healey who assists with delivering to the deliverers in the South West and Terry Leach who has taken half of the magazines that I used to deliver in the North Eastern suburbs as well as taking over my deliveries to the deliverers in the Eastern suburbs.

Some of our deliverers have quite big rounds in terms of numbers or distance so if you would like to help please let me know: I’m sure they would be delighted to share their load,. If you can’t help out with deliveries how about writing an article for, or a letter to, Pedal Update. I know Peter Carter our editor would love it if just for once he could just compile the newsletter without having to chase promised articles or overdue reports.


BISA kickstarts Appeal!

Michelle Grady

The Conservation Council of SA wishes to thank the Bicycle Institute of SA for their generous donation of $200 to kick start the Council’s Building Renovations Appeal. CCSA’s Conservation Centre in Wakefield Street, used by many of CCSA’s member groups including BISA, is having its meeting room facilitites upgraded. This donation will get the ball rolling—CCSA extends its sincere appreciation to BISA!

Michelle Grady is Executive Officer of the Conservation Council of SA Inc


Ride to hit day

Margaret Day

Friday 17 November was Ride to Work Day. But for one of our long-term BISA members, it was Ride to Hit Day.

As usual, he pedalled some distance to work in the Southern Vales and at the end of the afternoon, he pedalled his usual route home, uphill. That was when he was hit from behind by a person driving a vehicle with P plates. The rear wheel of his bicycle was badly buckled and the chain wheel and crank set damaged. The bicycle could not be ridden but had to be carried the rest of the way home.

As is always necessary in such circumstances, the member noted the driver’s name, address and vehicle details. There were no witnesses. When home, he reported the incident to the police and rang BISA for support. By 6 pm, he had the phone number of one of BISA’s legal advisors who was able to suggest how to proceed to enable him to claim appropriate damages from the driver.

Fortunately, although he was shaken and upset, he did not break any bones nor suffer major injury. The vehicle driver has now agreed to pay the cost of repairs.

The member is still cycling to work on his other bike. And special thanks to the volunteers of the BISA Legal Advisory team who are prepared to give members free advice in such times of need.


Head cases

New Scientist, 4 November

Cyclists no longer have an excuse not to wear a helmet. Records of emergency admissions clearly show that they do protect riders.

There has been controversy over the worth of helmets, with some people suggesting that they encourge cyclists to ride dangerously. So Adrian Cook and Aziz Sheikh from the Imperial College School of Medicine in London studied records of people who had been injured while cycling between 1991 and 1995.

During that time, cycle helmet use rose from almost zero to around 20 per cent. Among injured cyclists, the percentage with head injuries fell from 40 per cent to 28 percent, the researchers found (British Medical Journal, vol 321, p 1055). The drop was similar among all age groups. ‘Helmets protect against the vast majority of head injuries,’ Cook concludes. ‘There is a strong case for legislation to make helmets compulsory.’