There are only two countries in the world where it is an offence to pedal a bicycle without a helmet: Aotearoa and Australia.
However, across the ditch it's not enforced in all states.
In countries where cycling is prevalent one observes that cyclists participating in sports or high-speed cycling wear head gear and other protection.
Those who commute or casually bike for whatever reason, choose for themselves if they should don headgear or not. Authorities in those states as a general rule highly recommend helmet use, but stop short of criminalising its absence.
As a regular rider both here and previously overseas, I will point out that it is seldom a sensible cyclist has an accident and then it is mostly body scrapes.
Here in Rotorua we have the excellent idea of share with care whereby cyclists are allowed on footpaths, giving way to eventual pedestrians in the process. However in our fair city as well as the rest of Aotearoa, commuter cyclists are a small minority. Why is that?
Many commuter and casual cyclists wear head gear, not because of an accident concern but reluctance of the hassle about being stopped, confronted and possibly fined.
Now may we ask, who is keen on that? So one simply takes the car instead.
A backtrack by Wellington lawmakers on the offence part concerning omitted helmets, to one of recommendation as an eventual safety precaution, by the cyclist, would bring a number of commuters out of car seats and on to bike saddles.
As I travelled to Mt Maunganui and back I noticed the number of tourist buses travelling to Rotorua from the massive Cruise Liner at the Mount.
On my way home later in the day, the buses were returning their passengers to the cruise liner.
Also, the logging train that runs into the port was travelling along the side of the road.
Wouldn't it be great if we could extend that railway line to have a "Scenic Train Route" from The Mount to Rotorua?
Not only would the visitors have a great scenic trip, but also locals in Rotorua and Tauranga.
It would also save wear and tear on the roads and less traffic.
In my opinion, money on such a venture would be well invested, as logs from Rotorua could also be transported along the same line.
Did anybody notice the brief report in the Rotorua Daily Post (page 5, November 2) titled, 'Rates reviewed'?
It explained that "council's eight rates review focus groups have been completed. The focus groups were to see if any changes to the current rating framework were needed."
I am not holding my breath. Let me explain why.
Council agreed on August 9 to a proposal from officials that a ''rates pre-view'' should begin with ''ground-truthing'' workshops for councillors (run by officials to clarify the principles of the rates system), followed by confidential focus groups of selected ratepayers (restricted to rates allocations and controlled by officials), with outcomes to be reported by officials.
In my view, this process has four political purposes.
It reinforces a narrative that rates rises are due to rising property values, when in fact they are to pay for the promises made in the Long-Term Plan.
It insulates the mayor and councillors from feedback from ratepayers at proper public hearings about the fairness and efficiency of this property tax, and how well rates are being used.
It distracts attention from the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers' 36-page report on August 15 that identified 14 acute policy and practice issues around rates, starting with an affordability crisis.
The focus groups divide and conquer ratepayers by collecting the information needed to manipulate the allocations of rates between them and to minimise electoral impact.
So, how do you rate their chances?