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Just imagine if the bicycle had been invented by a Government Committee.

The first 20 years would have been all about the specification of an agreed working brief, wherein 19 of those 20 years would have been all about coming to an agreement on the Terms of Reference for the Brief. Then there’d be the exhaustively important process of setting up a Working Party (WP) to oversee the overseeing of the process of writing up that brief from it’s earliest forays via a due participative process of exhaustive review with a view to Green Paper (GP) documentation. With the white hot excitement of Real Progress (reportable against sixteen duly agreed Progress Milestones (PM’s) (overseen and assessed via a properly constituted External Review (ER) process populated via an appropriately credentialed Expert Panel of Industry and Community Authorities (EPICA) working through an existing system of Regional Development Authorities (RDA’s) and their own (in turn) Regional Review Panels (RRP’s)) the breezy path-breaking next step would be to write up the entire show as the Official White Paper (OWP)!

With the White Paper to hand, it would then be time to select some appropriately credentialed consultants to advise on a short list of Community Relevant Design Briefs (meeting all appropriate specifications for environmental-friendly, low carbon footprint materials and manufacture and dutiful compliance with Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines, Equal Opportunity Protocols, and Indigenous Sensitivities).

Once done, our fevered white hot innovators would field a short list of five recommendable design briefs over which we, the intended Target Audience (or Adoption Community) could indicate relevant preferences via the machinery of a cascade of State-Local instrumentality Community Consultative Committees (SLICCC) – Slick, for short, just like the process…

Onwards to the benchmark quality assured milestone-meeting Deliverables!

From the esteemed Department of Industry, Trade and Philately, we’d have a duly and exhaustively considered Benchmark Quality Assured Delivery to do us all proud. We’d have a roadside Sign depicting the ultimate prize of the Committee-Selected winning Bicycle design. A mock up illustration. Together with 4.6 million industry Best Practice full colour brochures (printed on paper with no less than 46 percent recycled consumer waste) for distribution to all interested parties. And a $6.6million advertising campaign on TV espousing the immeasurable (but OH&S measurable) benefits of using this new, wonderful machine (should it ever be built).

From the Department of Transport and Infringement Revenue Collection – Purveyors of Take-a-Ticket-and Wait-Until-You-Are-Called Traffic Collectioneering, we’d have a brand new (Best Practice) (Quality Assured) Bicycle Inspection and Registration Protocols and Administration Service (BIRPAS) (Working for the Interests of Community, Safety, and Making big piles of cash). Together with a $19 million web INTERACTIVE! (we are even on Facebook…) website for further information (toll free for your (in)convenience).

From the Department of Privatisation and Pretending We Really Do Know What Happens in the Real World, we’d have an issue of the Largest Roll Out Programme This Country Has Ever Seen: with a bicycle planned for direct delivery to each and every home (no matter where those homes are located – as long as they are not located in the country in which case you should move to the city and stop being a nuisance to Governments of all jurisdictions). All pending the appointment of a tender winning Implementation Contractor (that is, someone who can actually manufacture a bike) meeting full government specifications (notwithstanding the secret but nevertheless widely reported, if not leaked, provision for $1billion in Risk Assessed likely cost overruns).

From the Department of Roads, we’d all receive a carefully demographically tested brochure (in sixteen languages with translator services available for the illiterate and profoundly ignorant) explaining that you really do need to give way to bicycles on the left as you enter into roundabouts, or is that to bicycles already in the roundabouts, or is that to bicycles on the right that are already in a roundabout but not yet turning left. Or something. So there. Fines apply.

And then we’d be able to purchase our new bike.

And what a bike that bike would be! 65kg of first grade carbon sequestered steel (which is real) surrounded, surmounted and subsumed by 50kg of Industry Best Practice Safety Gear (for your protection). Colour choices of safety fluoro orange or yellow. Flashing yellow lights, protection bars, air bags, inertia reel retractable foot straps, and a safety hazard label panel heads-up display to display on your handlebars – designed to remind you to ride with a helmet, check your wheel nuts, check your handlebars are screwed on, check your seat bolt, check your tyres, check your brakes, avoid sitting passengers on your handlebars, else they’d cover up your hazard label warning display… Speed is limited to 28km/hour on the Standard Use Plan, extendable to 36km/hr via Special Registration Premium Plans subject to suitable special OH&S licensing, testing and payment of a usurious fee, subject to Reserve Bank indexing and current Market Conditions (assessed quarterly).

All problems, issues, complaints and solicitations for assistance will be considered via a queue based support service outsourced to Delhi. Just dial 0100 999 666 999 444 999 BIKE for help. And then enter your Tax File Number. And your Date of Birth. And your credit card number because these calls are charged; at a prevailing market rate. Of $100 per minute. Even while you are on hold. Which is all the time.

And two years on, the entire show would be sold off to the Private Sector via an appropriate Public Float. And two years after that, the Government would bail them out and take over once again. Until the next election. When everything will be reviewed and referred to a brand new Green Paper – White Paper Task Force all over again… Round and around just like our wheels.

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There’s one last outpost of the uncivilised world, largely untouched by the machine manicured perfections of the bureaucrat’s ordered vision. We, the cyclists of the world, are still, largely, free to do our thing. Isn’t it wonderful!

You can almost understand why we’ve been left to last. Consider the different kinds of cyclists out there. Granny coaster-riding her way to the shops with bagel basket attached, is a cyclist. That 10 year old wobbling down the cycling track oblivious to the wider world, is a cyclist. Mountain bikers are cyclists. Lance is a cyclist. Even Cadel… Tandem riders are cyclists. So are recumbents(!) Pork bellied dentists riding the latest and greatest from the artisans of Italy and France, are, it is rumoured, cyclists. I am a cyclist too! Even my mate who only ever gets as far as remembering the bike rusting away in his shed, is a cyclist (because he did indeed ride once). Yes, consider the diversity of machine and riders out there who fit the Bicyclism bill. Was there ever such a diversity in the world of cars? It’s a glorious, fabulous untamed chaos of diversity and confusion out there in the land of the pedal powered machine. A confusion that enrages the Lego Land, Swiss clock tick tock of the bureaucrat’s lab-white Matrix model of how the world should and must be.

How long can all this last? We live in a world where the only sign of economic growth is via the perpetual inflation of government bureaucracy. Every day, in every way, we get more and more policies and rules to bandaid us from the anarchy of our unruly policy-confused lives. Like birds need to build nests, bureaucrats need to layer the world with ever more rules. It’s what they do. It’s in their genes (or perhaps it’s the drugs in their OH&S triple-approved water coolers…).

The bureaucrats have to rake the policy compost of their nests. How else can they maintain control over all the other turkeys rooting about in peripheries of their territorial domain?

So, when more and more cyclists take to the roads (as oil runs out and the rules that govern the mobility of cars finally governs all that mobility away), what precisely do you think the bureaucrats are going to do?

They’ll be wanting to save us cyclists from the compounding anarchy of our under-governed confusions, that’s what.

We’re the last Great Promised Land of unclaimed policy paradise for them to explore. There’s a gold mine of policy claims to be staked. A new world of confusion for our bureaucrats to tame! You can see the excitement build. Restructuring plans to make, Departmental re-organisations, policy summits to attend! World fact finding missions to plan. Green Papers and then White Papers to write. Senate reviews, Commissions, Investigations, Policy Councils to set up. Endless fun. It’s Party Time! A cycling-led recovery for a bureaucracy that might otherwise have fallen asleep…

Clearly, when our bureaucrats turn their gaze in our direction, they will feel the urge to do what they have always done before; to do what it is that is in their genes to do: to reproduce a litany of categories, classes and schemas through which to manifest order onto the unruly chaos within which we have wallowed for too long. In a flash, they’ll be convening committee structures all over the land. They’ll be appointing Committee’s with chairs charged to tame this last vestige of free flying chaos. They’ll be charged to deliver a vision of groomed hierarchically ordered landscapes – tick boxed, cog-driven, procedurally accountable, results/outcomes directed … ‘transparent'(!) … audit-compliant pathways to bureaucratic heaven!

In no time soon, there will be categories within categories with manuals of glorious specifications a thousand pages thick through which to define which particular hole within which we each would then be deemed to fit.

In no time soon. I’d become a cyclist Class IV, Category II, Grade V, open-restricted. Log books required. Annually reviewed. Insurance Category 1006b, Annex 1a. All for the one low and terribly reasonable cost of $500 per year. Not including medical and mechanical certification tests, also required – enlightening our prospects for eternal safety for ever more! Hallelujah! Blessed be the enlightenment bestowed by our benefactors to rescue us from our chaotic untamed-policy wilderness…

As a Class IV, Category II, Grade V, open-restricted cycling person, I’d get a series of rights. Right’s I never had before if only because I was too ignorant to know that these are the things to which I should have aspired, instead of the simple crude pleasures of just going for a ride… Please see pages 1004-6009 of the Official Cycling Code book through which to familiarise myself with what I now can and cannot do. Ownership of said Code Book being compulsory. $910.95 please. Payable at any friendly Roads and Cycling Authority Office (please take a number and wait in the queue). Credit cards – or gold bullion – acceptable. A small inconvenience to pay for the enlightenment now bestowed! Ah Men; long may the bureaucracy live forever… and ever… in accordance with the doctrines of policies decreed. Blessed be the rule makers.

Yes. This new orderly world of manicured policies through which to govern us once wild anarchical cycling louts will sing the song of glory to our bureaucratic lords. A sight to behold and admire! The vision splendid for thousands of repurposed bureaucrats once so terrifyingly dispossessed when the oil ran out.

Yes, I can see the next great trend. I can see the day, aeons from now, when we cyclists will tire of having to ride behind displaced motorists charged to walk ahead, waving a red flag and flashing a red light, to warn pedestrians of the dangers we might represent. Then, I’ll guarantee, we will all turn the last vestige of our primeval unruly urges to that final challenge of walking. Then, in those final days, the bureaucrats will turn their gaze to the wild chaotic horrors of unmanaged feet.

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