Monday, November 16, 2009

Government-sponsored bike hire in Australia

Filigree, in her fantastic Lovely Bicycle! blog, has posted about hiring - or in this case choosing not to hire - a bike from the Citybike system in Vienna. This very European idea is introducing itself to Australia. You can already hire bikes in central Adelaide, which from memory are mercifully without adverts plastered all over them.
Brisbane City Council, however, is being very 'Viennese', and its planned bike hire system will offer advertising opportunities for sponsors and identify bike hirers very easily with brightly coloured and labelled coat guards. See here...
Sydney City Council has also been considering the idea of government-run bike hire. You'll note this linked post was two years ago. Being Sydney, nothing has happened since then.It's all too hard. And that whiney bloke Scruby from The Pedestrian Council hates bikes and wails regularly at the idea that cyclists might hit pedestrians. (As an aside, Sydney City Council last year raised the suggestion of widening footpaths in the City central business district, to make them foot and cycle paths. It got howled down by Harold Scruby of The Pedestrian Council. I thought it a brilliant idea, as drivers in the CBD can be awful to cyclists and it might encourage more people to cycle as they'd feel safer.)
Obviously there are lots of private rentals available already in our major cities. Having cheap, government-run rentals with high visibility in obvious downtown locations would be fantastic for tourism and for people like me who'd prefer to bike around rather than bus or walk in Adelaide or Melbourne. But...
They've all hit a snag. The old helmet problem. Helmets are compulsory here in all States, and there is debate at the moment about the wisdom of offering hired helmets from a health and hygiene point of view. If you want to hire a bike will you have to bring your own? Or will you be made to purchase one? It'll be interesting to see what the outcomes are as Brisbane introduces its system next year. There is nothing obvious on the linked page about helmet hire, only that wearing one is the law. The helmet issue may mean that these bike-hire schemes won't be the success they deserve to be.


  1. Does Mr Scruby think your pedestrians are stupid? Or cyclists are stupid? The cyclist would be hurt just as badly as the pedestrian if they come to a screeching halt when they hit one and then tumble to the ground. And are the pedestrians so addlepated that they won't keep their eyes and ears open? Do they wander all over the path like drunken sheep?
    I wonder if Mr S fell off his bike once when he was little and banged his head? Hard.

  2. Mr Scruby is a self-seeking publicist. If you've read that link I posted you'll understand why I want to smack him on the back of the head when he's not looking. Some pedestrians ARE stupid - but there's usually alcohol involved at the time. I ride in parks and on bike tracks where the bike lane is shared with the walking lane, and cyclists, joggers, walkers and inline skaters all get on just fine. Haven't seen an accident yet. You just use your eyes and your common sense.

  3. Oh boy. I think I will abstain from commenting here : ) I hope things improve for cyclists in Australia, and I hope the bike share programme - if it does happen - is ad free.