Category Archives: Advocacy

Kinesio Tape. Quackery?

GCN have started a series on using Kinesio Tape to treat injuries. Being of a skeptical mindset, I was rather suspicious of this. How can a simple strip of tape prevent or treat injuries? I decided to check this out.

Now, I need to make it clear up front. I’m a Skeptic. That capital S is there for a reason. I’ve spoken at Skeptical conferences and gatherings, appeared on a number of skeptical and science-promotion podcasts and I organise an annual event in Sydney called Skepticamp, where science advocacy and quackbusting are the order of the day. I’ve been involved with Stop The AVN since Day One

In short, I like evidence.

And I don’t see much evidence for this product’s efficacy. In addition, I see several red flags that make me deeply suspicious, which I explore below the fold. Continue Reading →

Dear Motorist


Image: Daily Telegraph

The last couple of weeks have been pretty tough. In Sydney and London, my two most recent home cities, cyclist deaths have been mounting up, and naturally nerves are wearing somewhat thin. For my part I’ve been alternating between despair and fury over the situation. I either want to stay at home and never ride again, or I want to go out and kick some wing mirrors off.

In the press and on the blogs, much ink has been expended on the fact that the Amy Gillett Foundation’s “A Metre Matters” campaign needs to be implemented here and it needs to be implemented now. With this I strongly agree – though I personally think more than a metre is needed.

Very few column inches, however, have been expended on the fact that we already have safe overtaking laws, right now.

In NSW, rule 15 defines vehicles. It is abundantly clear over the fact that a bicycle, for the purposes of the rules, is a vehicle.

We are not second class citizens on the road.

Many road users, cyclists included, seem to be entirely ignorant of this, so let me just underline it – because it’s important for what follows. A bicycle, for the purposes of road rules, is a vehicle, and therefore carries all the rights and responsibilities that any other vehicle carries – with some specific exceptions.

Further down the rules, you come to Division 3: Overtaking. Within this division, rule 140 forms a master template for safe overtaking between vehicles. It’s pretty clear and unequivocal

A driver must not overtake a vehicle unless:

(a)  the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic, and

(b)  the driver can safely overtake the vehicle.

Let’s just repeat that

A driver must not overtake a vehicle unless:

(a)  the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic, and

(b)  the driver can safely overtake the vehicle.

This rule, part B of rule 140, would cover every single one of the dangerous overtaking moves that I’ve experienced as a cyclist, and criminalise them with 20 penalty units. What we seem to lack is general knowledge of this rule, the fact that it applies to overtaking cyclists, and meaningful enforcement. Being inside a metre is emphatically not safe. A driver passing this close has breached rule 140.

NSW Police, and more broadly all jurisdictions in which similar laws exist – yes, they exist in the rest of Australia and in the UK too – could be enforcing this rule right now. But they never seem to bother. What we get is mealy-mouthed excuses and instead of being charged under rule 140,  drivers are sent on their merry way with a mere warning – or at best an incorrect charge – while at the side of the road, the ambulance service and the health system is left to pick up the pieces.

Enough is enough.

If, like me, you’ve over it, may I suggest you write to the NSW Police Commissioner and demand that rule 140 is enforced, in the absence of more specific one metre rules. Demand that his officers correctly handle collisions and near misses when reported. Write to your local politicians and press home the point that we need a metre or more, and mention that we already have unenforced laws which can handle this. And if you have driver friends who aren’t aware of these rules, tell them. Make sure they know that if they can’t get past a bike with a safe margin, then they must not overtake. Make sure they also know that bikes are vehicles and therefore they are treated as such – at junctions, roundabouts and when emerging from parking spaces. Give way, give space.

This needs to change. Enough people have died.


Rocky Trail Shimano GP, Stromlo, 2013

Found via Carbon Addiction, this interesting post from the NY times takes a helicopter view of cycling safety and injury rates. Overall, it paints a cautiously positive picture of the kind of dangers the average cyclist will face.

For my part, I could see a lot of my own cycling history in the post. As the article notes, many cycling injuries go unreported. I’ve never yet been to hospital, or even a GP, for a cycling-related injury, though I’ve had many. In my former life, before taking over a decade away from the bike, I was largely injury-free, with cuts and bruises being pretty much the limit of what I picked up. Low speed crashes in icy conditions spring immediately to mind as a hazard of riding year-round in Britain. Usually, the bike would be worse off than me – I’ve pretzeled a couple of mountain bike wheels in crashes that left me personally unscathed. The worst I can think of is a black eye picked up when I put a pedal on the ground in a corner and went face first into a kerb. I was pretty lucky. Continue Reading →

Bike Lanes


In Memoriam: Colonel Horace Threepoint OAM, CBE, DSM. April 1 1822 – July 5th 1913

Horace Threepoint was a man of many parts. A polymath, if you will. Among his myriad patents were the Thrimping Jimmy, a now-obsolete but revolutionary flax weaving device, the Phrooking Valve, a crucial component in steam-driven hostess trolleys and his most famous , eponymous invention, the Threepoint Turn.

Before Threepoint’s inspired turn, users of horse-drawn and later petroleum-driven transport had precious few options to turn their vehicles through one hundred and eighty degrees, and certainly none that would drastically impede the  flow of traffic in the immediate vicinity. Afterwards, drivers were able to gaily throw their conveyances across roads, engage a reverse gear to propel them back, then proceed forward once again in the smooth ballet of mechanised, road-jamming motion now familiar to us all.

Many attempted to improve on Threepoint’s original, assertive and distinctly British Colonial technique. Such suggestions include the frankly preposterous “indicate first”, the absurd “look both ways and ensure your turn will not cause an accident” and the frankly outlandish “safety first”. All failed the test of time, with Horace’s original descriptive text remaining the canonical form of the Threepoint Turn to this very day. An excerpt of the original patent is inscribed into Threepoint’s Tomb at Rookwood Cemetery, and reads

“Pay no heed to the peasants you may observe around you. You are the pilot of a motorised conveyance, showing your true rank in society. All others are merely chaff before your wheels, and you must pay them no heed. Throw yourself assertively into the turn, glancing neither left, nor right, nor behind, and if a ‘pedestrian’ or ‘cyclist’ should happen to blunder under your wheels, then this is a right and proper expression of the natural order. Though if a child should be nearby, take some extra care, since the nation is enduring an unbearable shortage of chimney sweeps.”

Alas, Horace’s star is now all but faded. No longer is his birth celebrated as a public holiday in such far flung places as Bangalore, Baghdad and Bogota. He is now remembered privately, though by many thousands of devoted motorists, who keep the flame alive by blindly flinging their motorised jalopies into Colonel Threepoint’s famous Turn each day, with neither fear nor favour, and with their eyes averted – or preferably closed – in the proper Victorian fashion, lest they espy a sight which may disturb their inner calm. Such as a cyclist, a pedestrian or another driver.

Threepoint was born in Sydney, Australia, during one of his parents’ regular convict-whipping sojourns. There he will be remembered, on this the anniversary of his death at the hands of an angry mob of the peasantry, by thousands of drivers who will execute his famous turn as many as five times in a single short journey. The sight of them devotedly hurling their modern-day cars, vans and utilities into ill-considered road-blocking manoeuvres, scattering pedestrians and cyclists alike to the four winds, is a truly fitting tribute to memory of this great man.

Another less well-known figure from this age of invention is Dame Myra Signal-Manoeuvre, inventor of a now all-but forgotten situational awareness technique now abandoned by the drivers of the world. Dame Myra’s resting place has been lost to history, and is presumed to be under a car park somewhere in Mildura.


Jason Brown is a sometime historical journalist specialising in obituaries of long-forgotten heroes. Among his hobbies are cycling, cursing at traffic, and making stupid jokes on the internet.  He is currently working on a book about the drivers of Sydney entitled “Die, you pointless pricks, die”.