A woman is riding a bicycle over a brick-paved bridge in what must surely be the Netherlands, with the slogan: "Don't just visit, live it. Navigate new paths in Europe."
Unexceptional, sure, save for the fact the Dutch cyclist is wearing a helmet--which it turns out was added so as not to offend delicate Antipodean sensibilities:
Closer inspection indicated the helmet had been added to the original image with an editing tool, such as Photoshop.
Not only that, but they appear to have also subtracted the red bag on the handlebars, presumably because it could cause this reckless daredevil to lose control of her bike and wind up at the bottom of a fetid canal.
Yes, apparently Australians are as touchy about depictions of helmetless cycling as Americans are about corrupting young minds by teaching evolution in schools:
Advertising Standards Bureau CEO Fiona Jolly told me that the self-regulation body receives complaints from the public, and if the item falls under the bureau's codes and initiatives, the board will consider the material and require the ad to be removed if the complaint is upheld.
Last year, the board tackled a 30-second video ad for Fernwood Fitness that featured a three-second clip of two women riding on a bike without helmets. People wrote to the bureau to say that state law in Australia requires helmets.
Wow, what is this relentless sense of dissatisfaction that plagues Australians? You've got to have a massive New Zealand-sized hole in your heart to narc out a couple of women for riding bikes helmetless on TV for three (3) seconds.
And who could forget that black day back in 2008 when Australians were subjected to this horrific image?
In 2008, the Advertising Standards Board tackled the airline over an ad featuring a laughing woman getting a lift on the rear rack of a bicycle along a cobbled street, with a baguette in her hand, and the slogan: "The world is your playground."
People who complained about the ad noted that while "the presence of the baguette" suggested it was shot in France, "to a younger audience this may not be obvious".
They said it sent a message that "reckless behaviour with a total disregard for safety" as ordained by Australian laws, is "something which the viewers of the advert should aspire to".
Reckless indeed. In order for this image to meet Australian decency standards it would need to be edited thusly:
--The woman should be wearing a helmet;
--The helmet should be fitted with an avian defense system because that pigeon is clearly about to attack;
--The woman should be riding in an adult bicycle passenger seat that meets ACCC standards;
--She should be handling the baguette only while wearing work gloves and protective eyewear.
Incidentally, "The Presence of the Baguette" is how Mario Cipollini announces he is ready for coitus:
("Good news for you! The baguette is present!")
Anyway, it's telling that the Australian idea of a dream vacation is to travel someplace where you can ride a bike without wearing a plastic hat:
If the evidence for the laws was so compelling, surely every nation would have them?
Instead, international cycling advocates see Australia as an example of what not to do. They argue that the law's main effect is to act as a barrier to cycling, with a resulting negative effect on population health.
One of my joys is to visit countries where bike riders aren't faced with fines of up to $319 for choosing not to wear a helmet.
Though I'm sure his fellow Australians are disgusted and consider that the equivalent of sex tourism.
Therefore, in order not to run afoul of the censors, I pledge from this day forward that no Australian shall be depicted on this blog without a helmet:
I feel safer already.
Meanwhile, say farewell to the bicycle as you know it, because I've seen the future of cycling and it's this stupid thing:
It's called the "Cyclotron," which feels like copyright infringement:
But don't judge until you've read through all the features and seen just how stupid it is:
The Cyclotron - The Future of Cycling
- STOP! - Please take your time and read through all the features of this groundbreaking vehicle. The Cyclotron IS NOT just an ordinary bicycle!
For example, consider that it represents the next phase of bicycle evolution:
Wait a minute. Are they saying the most noteworthy innovation between the advent of the safety bicycle and now is...the touring bike?
I mean sure, it was a serviceable fish out of water comedy and all, and obviously it was successful enough to spawn the sequel "City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold," but it's not like sending some Jews out west was exactly breaking new cinematic ground. (Case in point: pretty much the entire filmic works of Gene Wilder.)
And naturally the Cyclotron features all sorts of "smart" technology, like the obligatory app that tells everybody you're about to die:
As well as sending a press release and pre-written obituary to all local media outlets containing vital information such as whether or not you were wearing a helmet, as well as an artist's rendering of the incident:
But to truly understand the Cyclotron you've got to consider it in the context of the entire universe, of which it is naturally the center:
It's also got an uncluttered cockpit, free of any comfortable place to put your hands and designed to impart to you as little control over this idiotic machine as possible:
"Utility Slot Module" is easily the most suggestive phrase I've heard since "the presence of the baguette," and indeed you'll experience a whole new world of convenience on your next shopping trip when you slip your baguette into your utility slot module:
I'm not sure why putting baskets inside your wheels where your groceries can get all splattered with digusting road scuzz is in any way preferable to carrying them on a rack or in panniers, but I suppose this bike is designed for a dystopian future in which the Earth has gone bone dry.
It even has an adult bicycle passenger seat that meets ACCC standards:
Lastly, every so often "Bicycling" takes a break from insisting you need stuff like dropper posts and "keeps it real" by telling you that you should ride a fixie or a singlespeed:
I love when they do this, because it's always so delightfully stilted:
If you think of singlespeeds as merely the mountain bike of choice for disheveled mechanics, it’s time to think again. No matter who you are, singlespeeds are, first and foremost, fun. They strip away equipment excess and offer a simpler, more challenging experience.
Do people really think of singlespeeds that way? I mean, I never saw Cooter riding a singlespeed:
Though I think some bike company just found its next irreverent model name.