Sunday 6 March 2011

the one about the bike and the police car and me

In the early 1980's Australia was the first country to introduce laws requiring bike riders to wear helmets. {source} Rosebank Products was the first company to produce helmets designed to government standards and mass-produced and marketed to the public. {source}

The stackhat was that helmet.

It became an icon of the 80's.

Yellow was the most common colour, but it was also available in white, and in later years, pink.

Mine was white. My brother and sister had yellow. My dad told me the night he brought them home that I had to have white because my head was bigger. Way to go, dad!

I think I've shared before that I grew up in Horsham, Victoria. We lived on the edge of town, and our school was visible from our front door (as was the local hospital - I had never experienced a power blackout until we left Horsham, because we were on the same power grid as the hospital), but we used to ride our bikes everywhere. I had a Malvern Star bike, kind of like this one (but it was green)

In 1986 I started high school. School was a 15 minute ride from home, and while I'd struggle to do it these days, it was just part of life, rain, hail or shine, to ride to school every day. There weren't many kids who rode from my side of town, most caught the bus, so I often rode by myself. Kids are cruel, so the helmet was often hanging off the handle bars, instead of on my head.

One day I was riding home, and in the distance I could see a bike rider pulled over by a police car. The rider wasn't wearing his helmet (but I was) and I knew he was being pulled over for not wearing his helmet. I was brought up to respect the authority of the police, so when the car came towards me, then stopped beside me, I was terrified. The officer on the passenger side motioned me over to him, and by the time I hopped off the bike and walked over to him I had tears streaming down my face. I couldn't figure out what I was in trouble for, I was wearing my helmet for a change!

Turns out they wanted to give me a sticker for being a safe bike rider and wearing my helmet! They said, yes, they had given the other rider a warning for not wearing his helmet, but I was doing the right thing, so deserved the safe rider sticker! I was so proud of that sticker when I put it on my bike that night, and it was a long time before I rode without my helmet again!

I'm linking up to Story Telling Sunday at Sian's blog



  1. Oh the good old stack hat - at least you had your own bike Cate, as the eldest of four, we had to share our bikes!

  2. This is a GREAT story Cate! Isn't it funny how moments like that make such an impression at that age and stay with you?

    It took quite a bit longer for us to get bike helmet safety here, but I know my doctor friend is still dealing with the wreckage when someone not wearing a helmet comes in to her injured.

    Thanks for telling your story this Sunday :)

  3. Great story ~ I would have been crying, too!

  4. Great story...I would have been sure I'd done something wrong as well....funny how the police have that effect!!

  5. Fab little story - I used to ride to and from school (pre helmet days) and remember peddaling through a thunderstorm :o - scary stuff!!!
    Godd for the police to be encouraging as well as enforcing - it makes a better impression.

  6. Lovely story and well done on wearing your helmet.
    I used to ride to school up a very steep hill, mostly pushing it up as I remember, but coming home was so much fun. Down the hill at full pelt with no breaks on I used to see if I could get to my front door without peddling. No helmet of course, I'm talking about the 1950s and the hill in question was a 1in9 so yes steep, in fact it was the steepest hill on the London bus route

  7. Yes I would have been crying too! great story Cate, thanks for sharing x

  8. Growing up on a farm in the 70's meant we never wore a helmet. It's a wonder we never suffered from it, as I do remember taking many a tumble on our dirt roads:) Great story and I love the photos too!

  9. Good for you! I teach a lesson to kids about wearing a helmet - you drop a watermelon from a height with and without a helmet strapped onto it. It makes an impression on them for a while at least!

  10. great story! I was right there with you and the tears.... I was pulled over by the police in my car a few months back and promptly burst into tears as I rolled down my window because I had no idea what I'd done wrong, and I was 30 gazillion weeks pregnant and rather high hormonal and all they wanted was to tell me one of my brake lights wasn't working!

  11. What a great story! I would have been in the same state you were, tears streaming down my face; I was such an authority pleaser--still am, I guess. I love how you found (and labeled) the map in your story.

  12. Enjoyed your story! I have to admit to never wearing or owning a bike helmet until about a year ago! I bought one for me and one for my niece to wear when she's here visiting. It seems wierd to wear it after all those years of not wearing it, but I'm assuming I'll adjust. Thanks for sharing your story.

  13. Great story Cate - love your illustrative photos!

  14. I remember the stack hats. My brother ahd a yellow one, he used to ride his bike all the time, I didn't by then.
    I thoroughly believe in helmets. Although Brian doesn't which drives me amd. Our teenage boys dont seem to car and at best they pop them on without doing them up, like that's going to help!
    Well the other night Randall (15) was walking his bike home form work as he had a flat tyre, and the police pulled him over. The asked his what he was doing out at night blah blah and said that it was good that he was walkinghis bike home na did he know that if he wasn't wearinghis helmet by riding at his age it would be a $400 fine!
    so now he belives us, that he will get pulled over and that he will ne fined.
    we have also told him that if he gets pulled over for not wearing his helmet then HE is going to pay that fine.
    My old english teacher had a bad cylcing accident (bike vs 4WD) just before christmas 09. He spent a week in a coma. He is fine now but they showed him where his head his and if it wasn't for the helmet he most certainly be dead.
    He now uses the helmet to show kids at school to always wear a helmet but also to show the young drivers to beware of cyclists.


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