April 2011
UK cycle campaigners responded what they describes as a one sided safety campaign - the Automobile Association's helmet give-away
by staging a Highway Code give away for drivers.  As corporate cycle helmets and hi-viz tabards were distributed in central London on April 15 April, CTC staff and volunteers showed them what they should have been doing - giving copies of The Highway Code to drivers.
Cycle advocates were concerned that the AA's focus upon vulnerable road users risked misrepresenting the sources of road danger.
   CTC's Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen explained: "The AA's gimmick merely gives the impression that cycle helmets are an essential safety aid, and that cyclists who don't wear them are to blame if they get hurt - neither of which is true. Cycle helmets aren't designed for fast or heavy traffic, and increased helmet use has never been linked with improvements in cyclists' safety. The one thing we know about helmet promotion is that it puts people off cycling, which in turn worsens not only congestion and pollution, but road safety as well.
    "If the AA wants to improve safety for cyclists, it should work with groups like CTC to encourage all road users to follow the Highway Code. Yes, this includes cyclists too, but police data show that the risks cyclists face come overwhelmingly from dangerous driving."

April 2011 CycleSafe's submission on National Road Safety Strategy commends the aim of reducing deaths and serious injuries on Australian roads by at least 30 per cent over 10 years and that repealing helmet laws would ncrease cycling, reduce injury rates because of increased Safety in Numbers and reduced risk compensation.  With the estimated benefits of cycling amounting to $0.48 per km, compared to savings in injury costs (according to a NZ study) of at most $0.13 per helmet per year, this was a very misguided policy.

Economic Research by Price Watehouse Coopers, commissioned by the NSW RTA, estimates that the benefits of cycling amount ot $0.48 per km.
16 October 2010Sustainable Living Armidale will make Peak Oil the focus of their display at the 2010 Armidale Sustainable Living Expo.  Volunteers welcome
Bike hire scheme on course to become the only profitable public transport system in London
13 October 2010: "London's bike hire scheme is on course to become the only Transport for London (TfL) system to make an operating profit, just 10 weeks after its launch. ... As of this morning (13 October 2010) there are 94,500 members of the bike hire scheme and between them they have made over 1,068,000 journeys." TfL expect the project will cover operating costs within three years and will then go on to meet implementation costs.

30 September 2010: Focus on car safety leaves Australian cyclists worse off
Measures which have made roads safer for cars occupants may have done little to improve cyclist safety, according to a new study into cycling injuries in Australia.  While bike riders were over-represented in injuries relative to their exposure to traffic, they appeared to be under-represented in interventions aimed at reducing crashes and injuries ...

29 August 2010: In a bid to save Melbourne's troubled bike share scheme, the state government is considering providing collapsible helmets that could fold up and be carried in a briefcase or handbag.  The scheme, which is costing taxpayers $5.5 million over four years, has been crippled by Melbourne's compulsory helmet laws. Bike share schemes are established in 135 cities around the world, but Melbourne's is the only one operating under such strict laws ...  Figures obtained by The Sunday Age show annual subscriptions - which cost $50 - dropped in August, from 135 in July to 108 as of Friday. New casual users of the bikes dropped from 1461 in July to 1070 and the number of rides fell from 4116 to 3775. According to the figures, Melburnians are taking 140 rides a day on the bikes.
... So Dublin has 450 bikes, used about 2720 times per day, Melbourne has 600 bikes, used about 140 times per day.
See also the Herald Sun: Let our cyclists bare all, if that's what they want.

SMH: A/Prof Chris Rissel calls for repeal of Australia's bicycle helmet laws
16 August 2010:  ALMOST 20 years after Australia became the first country to make it illegal to ride a bike without a helmet, two Sydney University researchers say the law does not work and we would be better off without it.
   Chris Rissel and a colleague, from the university's school of public health, said their research showed that although there had been a drop in the number of head injuries since the laws were introduced in 1991, helmets were not the main reason.  General improvement in road safety from random breath testing and other measures were probably the cause, he said.
   Fewer people would be discouraged from cycling If compulsory helmet use were scrapped, he believes, improving health and reducing injury rates because getting more cyclists on the roads would make motorists better at avoiding them.  See also the University of Sydney news release: Bicycle helmet legislation of limited benefit and the research on Australia's bicycle helmet laws published in the British Medical Journal.
More than 37,000 users for the 450 City Bikes in Dublin
9 August 2010: About 37,347 people have signed up to Dublin's City Bike scheme, which will celebrate its first year in operation in September 2010, and only one of the 450 bikes made available to commuters has gone missing since last September   ...   So far this year, there has been more than 828,688 journeys made through the scheme; 95 per cent of people are using the bikes for less than 30 minutes, which is the permitted amount of free minutes on each trip.


It has been a month since Paris introduced its city-wide bike rental scheme. So how is it going? Local resident Angelique Chrisafis finds out.

No doubt the Tour de France helped, but when my rather substantial friend Jean, who has never knowingly walked more than 100m without the promise of a four-course meal at the end of it, began to trumpet the joys of cycling, I knew something profound was happening to the Parisian psyche. One month after its launch, Paris's Vélib', or "freedom bike" scheme, has turned the city cycling mad. You simply pick up a bike from one of the ubiquitous stands, ride it along for your short trip and drop it back at any random stand at your destination.

The first half-hour's pedal-time is free, with charges rising steeply afterwards. Day and night, tourists, commuters and returning party animals cruise by on the chic new machines. People have joyfully discovered the cheap new way of exercising en route to work or getting home drunk after the metro closes, hence a rush of hires after 1am. There's a glut of bikes deposited at stands at the bottom of hills and none left at the top, as people freewheel down from the heights of Belleville and Montmartre.

So huge is the success of the Vélib' that Paris is proclaiming a veritable "vélorution", reclaiming the streets for two-wheelers. This is not the first scheme to provide bikes for cheap short-hires - Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Oslo got there first, and Lyon was the pioneer in France - but Paris aims to be the biggest. More than 1.6m hires have been registered in the first month from the 800 bike stands around the city. Currently 10,600 bikes are in circulation, but by the end of the year that will double. The unisex bikes are provided by the poster advertising company JCDecaux to Paris city hall in return for ad space in the city, so at no cost to the taxpayer. It's a political triumph for Paris's socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, and his opposite number Ken Livingstone is so impressed that he has ordered a consultation on bringing the scheme to London.

Even in the world capital of fashion, the municipal bikes have quickly become dernier cri. As the French first lady Cécilia Sarkozy attests, a chic French woman should never diverge from the strict colour scheme of black, grey or camel, and the bikes, with their metal casing, fit perfectly. Initially, they were derided by right-wing councillors for blending so well into the landscape that they risked being dangerously invisible. But, in fact, Paris has avoided a plague of garish neon bikes in favour of an understated colour scheme that looks good gliding down the boulevards. More important, the bikes are excellent. Laurent Fignon, twice Tour de France champion, was impressed, though he did warn that they weren't great for racing or riding hands-free. But perhaps that's a good thing.

The Green party has congratulated Parisians for leaping on a scheme that shows that protecting the environment "is not a punishment, but a delight".

But for all the hype, has Vélib' actually stopped people using their cars? Anecdotally, most people using the bikes are coming off public transport, seeking an alternative to bus, metro and expensive Paris taxis at night. At rail stations, so great is the rush for suburban commuters to jump on bikes rather than cram into Metro carriages that some have tried to lock up bikes on stands at night to secure them for the morning. But the increase in people cycling does seem to be boosting bike awareness and challenging the car mentality. Paris, with its wide streets, is already a better city for cyclists than London. And no, you don't wear shorts, helmet or pollution mask; most people prefer a suit or high heels. Blase cyclists can be seen negotiating the high-speed free-for-all that is the Place de la Concorde while puffing a cigarette and calling a friend.

"If a critical mass of people get on these bikes, it will change the way drivers react to cyclists - it will force the city to put in more cycle lanes," says Alexandre, an IT technician who has cycled to the Champs-Elysées for lunch with a colleague who hasn't ridden a bike since he was 12. Wisely, they have taken the pedestrian underpass rather than negotiate the Étoile roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe.

Already taxi and bus drivers are complaining about the mass of inexperienced cyclists hogging bus lanes. Paris city hall has stamped rules of the road on the handlebars such as "Don't cycle along pavements". But everyone knows rules are made to be broken. Of regular Paris cyclists, 71% admit to jumping red lights, over a third regularly go the wrong way up one-way streets, and more than half cycle without lights at night.

There must be something in the air if even I decided to get on a bike for the first time since primary school. I can testify that, like all good things French, simply getting out a one-day Velib' ticket at a roadside machine involves a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare of special codes, endless button-pressing and loud swearing. I signed off a €150 deposit on my credit card for the €1 ticket that gave me half an hour's cycle time. (The prices for daily and weekly passes are different from yearly subscriptions - I told you it was complicated.) The spin around the Marais was lovely, but when I glided the bike back into a stand, the light, which should have been green, went red. Should I call the hotline? I asked passersby in what has been termed the new "social networking" as strangers in the street discuss bike hire (or panic about glitches). It was Sunday night, the line was closed. I rang the next morning and, yes, the kind lady established that something had gone wrong - my bike had been "blocked". If I hadn't called I would have been billed for the equivalent of a summer biking holiday along the Canal du Midi.