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New Yorkers Enraged, Delusional Over Bike Sharing

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CitySolver
CitySolver  
5/21/2013 2:09:20 PM
User Rank Blogger
bike helmets
Maybe the helmet sharing turn off could be avoided if the machine dispensed disposable head covers like shower caps(bear with me!!) These would be worn under the helmet making it hygenic. Or are the helmets always new when dispensed??? I think the reaction to the bike sharing stations is crazy. Its a great idea. However is NY ready for bikes though? Is it easy to cycle across town? 

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
5/17/2013 3:37:41 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Congratulations to New York!
Susan, cool article about the Vancouver vending machine! The comments on the post, however, suggest that people aren't going to use it. Even if the helmets do go off to get sanitized, I can imagine that the sharing-headgear thing would be a turnoff to a lot of people. While it's an interesting idea, I just don't think it's going to work. I think we're going to see that cities that have helmet laws don't succeed as well with bike share; and cities without helmet laws do succeed. It's a tough one, but I think that's how it's going to pan out.

While I think the vending machine idea is interesting, it kind of makes me cringe, because I truly don't believe it'll work, and therefore, a lot of resources and funding will have been wasted on building and supplying these kiosks.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
5/17/2013 1:37:17 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Congratulations to New York!
@Nicole, I guess I'm not convinced helmets make things safer. Americans are more concerned about helmets. Europeans tend to wear them only if they are sport cyclists, not for quick trips around the city. I think they can offer a false sense of security, so the benefit is often offset by more reckless cycling. 

For instance, when Australia introduced mandatory helmets, bike injuries actually went up!! Fewer people biked; cars got less used to seeing bikers on the road etc. and became more aggressive. It's more complicated than that. But the stats are definitely counterintuitive. Helmets don't seem to reduce accidents, according to most research.

As for fold-up or portable helmets, a couple of years ago Melbourne's failing bike share program introduced $5 disposable helmets from vending machines. If you return them, you get $3 back. They then get disinfected before being rented out again. The downside is that it only works if the government heavily subsidizes it. 

As a result of the vending machines a few more cyclists are using the program, but it's still struggling apparently.

And then there's Vancouver, which is about to launch its own bike share program and is trying to come up with a new design of the helmet-vending machine.

Here's the plan from vancitybuzz.com:

Each public bike share station will be equipped with a solar-powered helmet dispensing machine, with each machine capable of dispensing up to 20 helmets. The prototype machine is said to be easy to use just like any vending machine and will allow bike share cyclists the ability to select the size and style of their helmet. 

 

 

 

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
5/17/2013 12:35:07 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Congratulations to New York!
Susan, I read the article, thanks for sharing. So really the best arguments against helmets are that, 1. not enforcing their use allows more people to take up bike share; and 2. the more people that ride bikes, the less the city relies on cars, and, therefore, the less air pollution and less road danger.

Of course, there's really no argument to be made against the fact that helmets do make cycling safer; so that's where things get tough.

What if someone were to design a collapsible helmet -- something that can literally fit in your pocket or purse, but can still protect?

Here are the closest things I've found that are being worked on: This one by Overade (which I don't think collapses to be quite small enough); and... this "invisible" helmet, called Hovding, which is worn as a collar around your neck. If/when you are about to fall off your bike, an inflatable helmet will emerge from the collar and surround your head.

Weird and cool, eh? 

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
5/17/2013 7:00:46 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Congratulations to New York!
@thinbluedba There's no mandatory bike-helmet law in Spain and that has been critical to the success of the Bicing program here in Barcelona. Just from personal experience, I know I wouldn't use the bikes half the time if a helmet were required, because so often it's a spontaneous decision. 

There's also continuing debate about how much helmets really help. It's not cut and dried. And there's evidence that the more bikers and the more bike lanes, the greater the awareness of bikers on the road, which may offer more safety ultimately than helmets on a few dogged cyclists. Here's one perspective on that: http://helmetfreedom.org/987/risk-in-perspective/

 

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
5/16/2013 3:27:29 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Can't Wait to Ride the "Citi Bike"
Hi VCR1. I don't think there will be many people who choose to rent the bikes for the sake of abusing them. Such individuals will likely be very easy to track down, since each credit card transaction will trace right back, I'm sure, to each individual bike. 

VCR1
VCR1  
5/16/2013 1:04:14 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Can't Wait to Ride the "Citi Bike"
This is interesting and can't wait but I just hope the bikes are respected and not abused as I'm sure they will be. As for repairing and maintaining them, hope they have a plan on that also. Hopefully this bike program helps rather than make more problems but atleast the City is trying.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
5/16/2013 12:01:56 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Helmets
Pablo, Thanks for the info. I tend to agree that if a city has proper lanes and roads for bicyclists, and if there's proper separation between bikes and cars, there's less of a need for a helmet when riding.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
5/16/2013 11:57:36 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Congratulations to New York!
@kq4ym: I like your relaxed attitude about it, and I sure hope you're right!

There have been lots of changes in New York in recent years that people were opposed to initially and came to love and appreciate. The smoking ban comes to mind, as do pedestrian plazas. I think bike share will be among them. I, for one, cannot wait to test it out. We'll be sure to video blog our first test-run once the bikes arrive.

Pablo Valerio
Pablo Valerio  
5/16/2013 10:10:17 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Helmets
Nicole, we are not required to use helmets in the city, but helmets are mandatory on other roads.

There is a proposal by the Spanish government to make helmets mandatory everywhere but cities such as Seville and Barcelona, with bike sharing programs, are fighting it.

It has been demostrated that security comes when many people use bikes, and cities provide bike lanes. Cities such as a Copehagen and Amsterdam, with a large pecentage of the population using bikes, do not require helmets

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