Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Difference of Opinion...

Its been interesting, reading blogs and seeing the views that are being shared, the major concerns so far are:

- Lack of Urban Density
- The system being political spin.
- The cost of journeys being higher then that of public transport.
- And the need for Helmets!

Urban Density hasn’t been seen as that large of an issue but Sara Phillips, writing for the ABC has mentioned that Melbourne, unlike a number of European countries does not have the same urban density that has allowed other bike sharing systems to be as successful as they are.

The cost of journeys being higher then that of public transport!
At present the system is meant to be for short trips across the city, because of this the cost of riding does increase dramatically after the first 30 minutes. The issue here is that outside of the CBD, Melbourne is quite large. For example if someone wanted to cycle from the Docklands to St. Kilda - the trip would go beyond the free 30 minute timeframe.

The Melbourne Urbanist has suggested that changing the fee structure would promote longer journeys and increase participation with tourists. Another suggestion would be to average the typical time between two stations and if the ride is beyond the standard 30 minute time frame, allow for the system not to penalise the rider when the bike is returned.

And the biggest issue that people appear to be concerned about is the fact that a helmet is required.
It appears that people believe this is the largest hurdle that will determine the success of the Melbourne bike sharing system. Unfortunately, laws in relation to the rental of helmets means that people need to buy or bring their own helmet to ride.

Once again The Melbourne Urbanist suggested that only Victorians should be required to wear helmets. There has also been suggestions that helmets should not be required when using the bike sharing system.

The Age has written that the helmet law will act as a positive deterrent stopping non-cyclists from using the system and allowing drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists to remain safe.

My suggestion would be to change the laws in relation to the rental of helmets, at present helmets need to be inspected before another rider can use it. It would be far better to have a program similar to the Test and Tag system most businesses in Australia use as part of their OH&S policy.

For example, instead of inspection after each use - it would be better for helmets to be inspected during predetermined intervals, identified with a barcode/serial and logged. A automated helmet rental system can then be implemented and allow for a greater uptake of impulse riding.

If anyone has any other ideas, I would love to hear them.

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