The Roads Minister surprises no one by ruling out the relaxation of the Mandatory Helmet Law for any Bike Share scheme.... 

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I wouldn't say I am part of the helmet cheer squad, more of a member of the jeez the anti-MHL spouts a lot of crap at times party, but I suspect that the generally cycle unfriendly road environment has a far bigger impact than helmets, even if they are a factor (which I genuinely suspect they are).

I don't see how bike share could be successful when we do not have one, not even one, real bicycle friendly way to cross the CBD east-west/west-east. I am a fairly audacious cyclist, but I would not be happy doing a traversal with my bubba on the bike, which is my own little test for how cycle friendly somewhere is, except on the footpath which regardless of somebodies opinion on footpath riding, does not exactly indicate quality cycle infrastructure.

Most existing cyclists said the same thing about the London and Paris schemes when they started off (and remember, the uptick in cycling infrastructure in those cities can after the bikeshare was introduced, not before as is commonly thought). Indeed, Will Self wrote a piece in on newspaper about bikeshare users being 'lambs to the slaughter', send out onto the roads to tame motorists in some sort of kamikaze mission.

The reality is, of course, that bike share in Paris and London has been very successful (and been the catalyst for increased investment in bike facilities), and that injury and accident rates for bikeshare users is much much lower than for regular cyclists. Yes, those inexperienced, wobbly, slow bikeshare users without helmets are safer cyclists than you and I. 

Oh, and user research shows that the primary reason why people don't use the Melbourne bike share is helmets (61%). Next is weather (16%), then safety concerns (9%). So you can see that the helmet question dwarfs the safety issue.

Nothing wrong with footpath riding with bubba, IMO, provided it's done with consideration for pedestrians. Although I agree that it's hardly an endorsement of cycling infrastructure.

I was in Paris just a few months before the Velib scheme was introduced and it didn't look inviting for bike riding at all. I could also say the same for Lyon and Barcelona.

Brussels was cited by BV as a scheme that has failed due to a poor cycling environment, however the fact that it has less than half the number of bikes and stations than Melbourne is also a factor.

I've heard many excuses for why bike share hasn't worked in Melbourne but they've all been debunked in cities around the world. And as Dan said, all those inexperienced riders let loose on the streets have actually been far safer than experienced riders with their own bikes.

Tick tick boom! I don't know about the other cities, but for Lyon that there
didn't seem to be pretty much any souls off well established bike paths. I'd guess
that 60% of people just go up and down the river where there are no cars. 30% go
on pedestrian areas in the city, maybe 10% in that big park with the animals in

I'm a regular user of the Nice system for the last two years. If you don't visit
the sea side, or see odd ones rolling down the tram tracks, you'd probably not
even know that the bike share scheme exists. I've seriously noticed effectively
almost zero people off the path. On paper, maybe these schemes are a huge success.

Honestly the vast bulk of French people around here arrive at work with bikes in
the boot of their cars. Frankly it's a big disappointment, but also refreshing to
see the reality. Europe is no mystical land with an abundance of helmet free
cyclists cruising every street. It's more like nutcases going too fast, trying to
overtake on blind corners, smoking too much while talking on the mobile phone.

If you want to ride down just any street here, even with drivers who are at least 87% nicer
than any driver would dream of being in Sydney, you still need to grit your teeth , and take a big dose of harden the ^^ up. It's really not for everyone,
less so with a heavy 3 speed slothlike beast, where about half of them have wobbly
wheels, grinding gears and defective brakes.

Helmets are not the answer to everything, and there is huge variation in bike usage on this side of the foam curtain.

"Europe is no mystical land with an abundance of helmet free cyclists cruising every street."

Whoever said it was? Europe is a continent and many of the countries within (ie. most of them) have very average cycling numbers, infrastructure, etc (but they're still better than us and that's saying something).

There really is only one country which is doing it right but most people ignore it and the locals there don't even think it is anything special: The Netherlands. And in The Netherlands, Amsterdam is probably one of the *least* impressive cities as far as cycling provisions is concerned.

Even Denmark is nothing to get excited about, despite the marketing hype. Sure, there are some fancy bits in Copenhagen but the bulk of the country has approximately bugger all provisions for cyclists.

If we want to see world's best practice; if we want to see how to construct 'gold standard' infrastructure; if we want to see how to create an environment for people, not just cars, then The Netherlands is the only place we should bother looking at.

Of course we won't, because like everything here we have to reinvent the wheel for 'Australian Conditions™' - a phrase I dislike as much as 'Working Families' - and in the process, totally cock it up...

Europe is no mystical land with an abundance of helmet free cyclists cruising every street.

I've never claimed that and I don't recall anyone else making such a statement. I've seen for myself the huge variation in bike usage across Europe. The thing is, defenders of the helmet law are just as likely to point to international examples to explain away the failure of Melbourne bike share, and I think it's fare to challenge these claims.

>"I've heard many excuses for why bike share hasn't worked in Melbourne but they've all been debunked in cities around the world."

So what I'm trying to say is that these "myths" remain undebunked. The failure of Melbourne's share scheme is not solely MHL. 

"Europe is no mystical land with an abundance of helmet free cyclists cruising every street."

It's the impression I get that when people talk, all we need to do is get rid of MHL, and let nature take care of itself. It's not enough. If you want to create the Netherlands here, bear in mind, the Netherlands has 35000 km of cycle-paths. They spend "about £25 per year per person (actually €30, roughly equivalent to $38). For the UK this would amount to a total of not £100M, but nearly £2B per year, every year, to be spent on cycling infrastructure. The USA would have to spend over $11B on cycling each year to match this."

That's $A42 per person, or about $924 million nationally for Australia. Like Hembrow says, this is a what we need to be aiming for. It would save at least that much compared with building road capacity required to move the same number of cars. Economically it should be an easy thing to achieve, if you did the road budget objectively.

Am not defending MHL, and I'd definitely vote to remove it. It's not the answer though, in itself.

No, the failure of Melbourne's bike share scheme is not solely MHL. It was poorly conceived to begin with and is operated by a motoring organisation that (only in the last year) has campaigned against speed limit restrictions and separated bike lanes in the CBD. At the same time, I haven't met anyone outside of the hardcore MHL brigade who honestly believes it isn't a hindrance to be in possession of a helmet 24 hours a day. (I'm an annual subscriber but the law pretty much renders the convenience of the shame useless to me.) Whether the scheme would get a boost with an exemption is a moot point, but even with the current inadequacies I believe it would. Unfortunately we will probably never get to find out for sure.

OK I agree with all that.


Also, regarding your point Edward, that the removal of MHLs is not the "answer in itself", I completely agree.

It is one of *many* things that needs addressing. I guess I hope that an exemption for bike share will allow many people to experience the bikes as intended, realise that it isn't something that requires 'gearing up' and perhaps become advocates for the sort of changes that really do improve cyclist safety. The vast majority of current 'avid cyclists' really don't care about such things (infrastructure, etc). Pity. They don't know what they're missing out on. Having said that, there are very few examples in this country of proper infrastructure.

Brisbane is a good starting point for an exemption as the bike share bikes can be ridden almost exclusively on bikeways, streets with speed limits of 40km/h and, in Queensland, on the footpath, legally.

What is rather absurd is that we are told the law 'might' be removed if the infrastructure is 'good enough'. In other words, an eternal delaying tactic...

@Paul, 'avid cyclists' really don't care about such things (infrastructure, etc) -> for sure. I think most people on this site are more transport nerds, and livable city types, than sport types.

It's time to start the Cyclist's Party (it's not sport, it's transport), as per the Shooters/Hunters, to get these things to happen. With bikes outselling cars, surely there are enough people who'd like to have somewhere to ride the things. Most people who don't cycle seem sympathetic to the need for separated infrastructure for those who do want to cycle.

People are so annoyed with the major parties, that often it's the special interests groups who hold the balance of power. Thanks to some unknown deal with the shooters party, everyone can now light up their favourite firearms in our previously virgin national parks, which is just bizarre. We should be able to get the $100m bike plan implemented. Lord knows, that's peanuts in the grand scheme of the road budget. "I'd like to cycle, and I vote"..

Did you see that Leichhardt Council set their cycling budget from $400k to $0? Labor and Liberals voted in a block apparently. It's time to show these turkeys!


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