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Melbourne Bike Share begins free helmet trial to boost use

Jim Fischer's picture
Melbourne Bike Share station. Cycle Traveller

Melbourne's Bike Share program has begun to provide free helmets with its shared bicycles as part of a trial aimed at boosting the number of people using the system.

Bike share programs, in which users pay a joining fee to be able to pick up, use and return bicycles at numerous locations across designated cities, have boomed in many cities around the world, such as Paris, Barcelona and the densely populated Mexico City. However, such programs in Melbourne and Brisbane have been slow to take off, largely due to mandatory helmet laws that make using the bike-share system strategically difficult for many.

Timed to coincide with the school holidays, 165 free helmets will be available across Melbourne's 51 bike sharing stations, comprising 600 bikes, RACV, which operates the program on behalf of the Victorian government, said in a statement today. The trial will run for the next 12 weeks.

Gordon Oakley, general manager of motoring and mobility at RACV, said they believed the trial would encourage greater use of the shared bike program.

“By placing free helmets on some of the bikes at all locations across the city, we believe it will encourage more spontaneous use of the system," he said. "The free helmets will be clearly marked, however those who prefer to buy a new helmet can do so for just $5 at existing outlets and from vending machines.”

The $5 helmet scheme has been in place for some time, helping to contribute to a 30% increase in user numbers in the last financial year.

Mr Oakley said all helmets will be replaced once a week, inspected after use, cleaned, recycled and placed back at the bike stations.

“Free helmets have been trialled in Brisbane through the CityCycle scheme and the plan has met with success, with those bikes with free helmets being used three times more than bikes without helmets,” he said.

Cyclists can use the Melbourne Bike Share bikes for free for rides less than half an hour long, or pay $2 for a ride of up to one hour, $8 to be able to use the system for a week, or $52 to use the bikes for one year.

Image: Melbourne Bike Share station. Image copyright Cycle Traveller.


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