No, there is no going back now. Not with honor. Nor can we plead ignorance or special circumstances. MBS was warned helmet would be their albatross. They ignored the warning
What do do? Firstly, stop throwing good money after bad. Subsidized helmets will always be a band-aid.
Secondly, bite the bullet and toss the albatross. Bring in a helmet exemption for these bikes, on a trial basis if necessary.
How can Minister Mulder justify what will worry some in the medical and law enforcement fields and upset cyclists who are sure helmets offer them vital protection?
1. Marshall the evidence that bike share works safely around the world, and in fact delivers safer riding than cycling in general.
This is because the bikes are invariably the sit-up variety which ride slower and on which you see better, and are seen better.
Bike Share delivers reliable stats so it’s not hard to find out how few serious accidents befall it’s riders in the 130 cities around the world in which Bike share operates.
Of course all human moving around involves some degree of danger which must be kept in mind. We readily accept that in the case of cars.
But let’s be reassured. Dublin Bike share has had only two accidents in the year plus that it’s been operating.
Here, Andrew Montague, who helped set it up (and who, by the way, says he’s happy to advise Melb. if desired) explaining how it works so well.
Montreal’s Bixi scheme, soon to be in its third year with 5000 bikes on the streets, clocked up 3.5 million Kms. in its first year with just five minor Bixi accidents.
Same story for Barcelona and London, though London has had a few more prangs but no deaths with over 1.35 million rides taken
Bottom line, a helmet exemption on a trial basis could be introduced for MBS with very little risk.
Doing so will not only
1. Allow MBS to thrive,
2. Save the Govt a lot of money, but
3. Stand as the trial we need for going forward for the whole country.
There is a precedent on our Continent if further reassurance is needed. The NT has had a partial helmet exemption since the mid nineties which has had only beneficial effects. No increase in head injuries.
I went to Darwin to check it out.
A trial exemption is only a matter of time in Australia, so much sense does it make.
The mayor of Freemantle, Brad Pettitt, is going to bat for helmet choice for his city, as you see below . Melbourne should be leading the way, given the more urgent need.
For Brad Pettitt, Mayor of Freemantle, that penny has dropped.
It’s not as if MBS wasn’t warned. I posted this cautionary analysis before MBS was launched flagged the obvious solution.
As I said, MBS will neither die nor limp along quietly. The whole world is watching as the Dublin film shows.
Riding a share bike is more and more a global tourist expectation, and if we can’t make MBS work, we are going to look very stupid as well as suffering financially.
Right now, there is nothing sadder than stands of unused bikes
My next posts will delve exactly how the NT exemption came about, and also how the famous Bicing Bike share scheme is faring in Barcelona. My team will be filming there next week.
One last point. The opposition, and it will be strident, will come from the trauma doctors. Those on the front line who see the damage hitting one’s head can do.
Sadly, they have played a negative role globally since they want policy made on a tiny number of dramatic events, whilst not taking onto account the over all health picture of the population.
The rampant obesity and diabetes are infinitely greater threat, one alleviated by riding, than a bike head injury.
Their call must be respected but resisted just as Montreal resisted the pressure from Dr. Tarek Razek, head of the McGill Trauma unit seen here.
If this good doctor had got his way, Montreal would not have the flourishing bike share scheme it has today, and that city would not have been transformed for the better as it has been.
True safety is under the wheels not on the head.
When the emphasis moves from head protection, the public and political resolve emerges to build what’s really needed, that is separated paths.
This is how Europe got its great cycleway networks and why they are so far ahead of us today.
Thanks to Gen. and Henrik for being in the photos.