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Uneasy riders on the nanny state

By David Leyonhjelm - posted Tuesday, 12 September 2017


It's the pain and cost of a crash that should dictate safety wear for motorcyclists, not opinionated policemen.

I was mightily pissed off the other day when I heard a senior Victorian policeman interviewed on radio, telling listeners that it is time to legislate to make the wearing of gloves and protective footwear compulsory for motorcyclists.

There were two aspects that annoyed me.

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First, wearing a uniform and badge, or even attending traffic accidents in which motorcyclists are involved, does not entitle anyone to tell riders what to wear. Indeed, it is not a qualification for anything except to enforce the law as it exists. The police do not legislate and are not responsible for determining public policy. As for giving safety advice, they have no greater right than our mothers.

Second, motorcyclists are seriously sick of being told they do not properly recognise the risks involved in riding a motorbike.

This involves the assumption that when we don't wear protective gloves and boots it's because we are stupid and irresponsible, leading to the conclusion that it should therefore be made compulsory.

Clearly this is utter bollocks. It would be rare to find a motorcyclist who is not acutely aware of the consequences of coming off their bike. Most of us have done it at least once, and remember perfectly well the pain involved.

The point is, we accept the risks.

Whenever we throw a leg over our bike, we know that it will hurt if we come off, particularly without protective clothing. It's our choice, and because no one else is harmed, we should be left alone to pursue what we love.

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I am no different from any other rider.

My bike, a BMW S1000R, is extraordinarily powerful and capable of getting me into extremely painful situations. And that's an issue, because I don't like pain. I am very much aware of what it's like to scrape my skin along the bitumen. I don't even like the cold, and regard heated hand grips as the best invention since soft toilet paper.

Most of the time, I choose to wear protective gear. In the summer I prefer a lightweight jacket and gloves. And yet, there are times when the combination of hot weather and heat from the engine makes even that uncomfortable. In full knowledge of the risks, I snip down.

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This article was first published in the Australian Financial Review.



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About the Author

David Leyonhjelm is the Liberal Democrat Senator for NSW.

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