Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bike Shares Struggle To Work With Helmet Laws

by Keiran Thomas

With popular bike share schemes in over 100 cities in Europe, across the USA, Asia, South America, the Middle East and even in car focused Mexico City , Australian cities are still struggling to implement similar schemes due in part to the compulsory helmet laws. Mexico and Isreal repealed their adult helmet laws in order to support their bike schemes and generally encourage more bike riders in urban areas. It might be time for Australia to follow suit.
Recently Dublin launched a program of similar scope to Melbourne's (450 bikes versus Melbourne's 600), but its fleet sees 5,000 trips per day, while Melbourne's barely manages 70. "Dublin's program has already racked up a million trips without a single fatality, and a stunning 40 percent of users are first-time cyclists."
Where cycling infrastructure is lacking and cyclists are forced to compete with fast moving, dangerous traffic, helmets are of course a necessity, but with the growing bike lane system of our cities, and the use of upright, and generally slow and steady, bikes in bike share programs, the time for compulsory adult helmets is over.
Adults should be allowed to choose whether to wear one or not, just as they are allowed to choose whether or not to smoke or have unsafe sex or even surf (all of which might kill them and perhaps others), just as they can choose whether or not to have house or life insurance. And that is basically what a helmet is, insurance / protection for the small risk of an accident occurring, which should be up to the rider to decide on utilising.

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