Thursday 5 November 2009

Bike share... and helmets

I've pointed out before that I'm a skeptic about the potential for bike share schemes because the numbers just don't add up to a significant culture of cycling.

I also rarely post about helmets, as I see them more as a symptom of a problem, primarily that there is inadequate subjective safety which causes people to see a need for safety equipment.

However, Mike Rubbo's latest blog post and film, makes an excellent point that compulsory helmets and bike share are fundamentally incompatible. Neither can exist with the other.

Incidentally, we had a film crew here in Assen yesterday who only after the shoot realised that they'd not worn a helmet as they would have in the UK. It just doesn't feel necessary to wear one in somewhere like Assen.


Unknown said...

McGill University in Montréal tried to push for BIXI to start giving out helmets in the city.
However the people who run BIXI shot it down right away. Main concern about giving/renting helmets with the bikes is hygiene.
You simply can not keep washing helmets and you can not give out a helmet that has already been worn.

In Vancouver, many there would love to have a BIXI like system...HOWEVER the province of BC has an all ages helmet law. Simply won't fly.

I keep reading that Toronto will be starting either a BIXI bike share system or something similar. The province of Ontario only has an under 16 (or 18) helmet law so it could work. I live in Ontario and see daily kids riding without a helmet, and the police simply don't care.

One thing I'm finding with Toronto though, it has a growing anti-bike movement from motorists (mostly living in the 'burbs). One city councillor fought to keep bike lanes off the streets in his ward.
Another (perhaps the same) is strongly pushing for ALL cyclists in Toronto to be licensed, insured and to wear a helmet. I believe he even has a petition on his website.

I don't live in Toronto, but close enough to it that something like that could spread.
99% of politicians in Canada still view cycling as either a recreational sport, or something poor activist "hippies" do.
It's still not taken seriously as a ligament form of transport.

Mark W. said...

"Incidentally, we had a film crew here in Assen"

Surely, that is not all you are going to tell us about that!?

What, how, why, who, when?

David Hembrow said...

Mark: that was a bit incomplete. They came from ITV in the UK to film reasons why people cycle less in Britain, and reason why cyclists are less safe than in Britain. They didn't film very much, but I guess what was taken will be cut quite a lot anyway. Hopefully I'll get to see the result eventually, though as we don't get ITV here, I'll have to rely on someone recording it, or see it online.

Mark W. said...

Thanks David, for explaining that a bit more. I hope we'll one day find out what they did with the footage. But at least a film crew finally came to the right place ;-)

Nick said...

I'm afraid I've never understood the helmet thing. As a kid in GB I used to cycle to school (and everywhere else) every day without a helmet - and without any fears either. And since I've been cycling on the European mainland - in various countries - it's never occurred to me that a helmet was necessary. And since I'm still alive and not yet brain-damaged (well, not as a result of cycling anyway), I doubt that my attitude's going to change any time soon (and you tend to look such a dork in a helmet anyway!). As for bike sharing, let people buy their own; bikes aren't so expensive - or heavy on fuel use - that you need to share one.

Neil said...

I agree entirely, however some of the commentators come from countries or states where they don't get a choice. Obviously any (stupid) helmet law throws a spanner into works of getting cycle hire operational.

The reason for cycle hire is obvious isn't it. It's not hire vs owning (necessarily) it's about having access to travel by bike without having to arrange for your own bike to be there. The same reasons people hire cars when on holiday instead of driving all the way there!

e.g people visiting the town/city, people who take the train and don't have or want a folder, people who only want a bike for a short time out of a longer visit/trip, people who want a bike, but set of that morning by other means, etc, etc.