06 December 2008

Australian Helmet Hurdle

From the always entertaining Yehuda Moon comic strip.

There has been recent confirmation that Velib-type bicycle hire will be available in London from 2010, as you can read here and here.

The main hindrance in some regions to implementation of bike share programmes is helmet laws or helmet culture.

Regading Australia, it's been assumed that no Australian city or municipality will adopt a bike hire scheme because of national mandatory helmet laws as you can read here and here.

Infection is cited as one reason why mandatory helmets create a health/legal obstacle for bike hire schemes.

However, Israel has had a national all-age mandatory helmet law for the past six months.

Despite this, Tel Aviv is adopting a Velib-type bike hire scheme. It's interesting to read this May 2008 story about the clash between Israel's bike helmet law and bike hire plans.

In addition, sources at city hall in Tel Aviv said that the mandatory helmet law recently passed by the Knesset dealt a "serious blow" to the project and will hinder its success. According to Tiomkin, residents will be reluctant to rent a helmet previously worn by dozens of others. The law, which was passed despite the strong objections of public transportation advocacy groups, will go into effect at the end of the month. It requires all cyclists to wear a helmet or face a fine.

A possible solution can be found toward the end of this story, published last month in Israel.

"The municipality is also hoping for an amendment to the helmets law in the near future, which will require the use of helmets only when using sports bicycles off urban roads."

It's fascinating that in Israel it seems they're effectively pushing to repeal the helmet law so they can have a bike hire scheme, whereas in Australia (the fattest nation on earth with a carbon trading scheme possible from 2010) it seems the helmet law will prevail over the bike hire scheme.

Thanks to Chris in Western Australia for the rundown.

And while we're in Australia, there is an interesting article on the Civil Liberties Australia website written by Colin Clarke of the British Cyclists Federation - CTC.
There is a .pdf to download and read on the page or you can get it here.