Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Decaux cycle hire idea for Sydney?

Sydney cycling activist Fiona Campbell tells us that a public cycle hire plan already successful in Lyon and Brussells is under discussion for Sydney. Advertising company JC Decaux sets up the operation in return for advertising rights. Short term hires are free of charge. Click the headline to see a Dateline story on the Lyon operation. And Councillor Shayne Mallard reports on the Brussels version on his blog HERE.

The system uses smartcard technology to avoid the pitfalls of previous public cycle schemes such as the one in Amsterdam where anti-social types simply stole too many of the bikes.


pedaller said...

and will be hiring approved bicycle helmets from them as well?

The Editor said...

It does seem to be a problem with the scheme -- but they seem to work it out somehow in Lyon and Brussels? Or are helmets not mandatory there? Recent research shows that car drivers overtake helmeted cyclists a lot closer than non-helmeted. And closer to males than females. Helmets are indeed a tricky subject.

pedaller said...

Ofcourse the cities mentioned do not have a problem with helmets because helmets are not compulsory there.
As for the "research" you mentioned, this is from the same "researcher" that found, in an earlier "study", you are more likely to be hit by a white van. And, it is worth noting that his study involving female cyclists was based on him wearing a long blonde wig while cycling. Need I say more?

Helmets are no more a "tricky issue" than the introduction of compulsory seatbelt wearing was a "tricky issue" for motorists and their passengers, or the introduction of compulsory helmet wearing for motorcyclists..

Back to the Decaux scheme .... who will be responsible for maintaining the bikes in good working order?
Who will decide where these bike hire stands will go? You might like to talk to Clover Moore about the relocation of a Decaux bus shelter at 67-69 Macleay Street, Potts Point in this regard. The response to enquiries about this led to the following quote from Council
"the new positioning was determined by JCDecaux which viewed the new site as better for advertising"
Will the positioning of these bike stands be viewed the same way, ie, the advertising potential far outweighing its function and purpose?

The Editor said...

I meant helmets are tricky in relation to a bike hire scheme. I don't want anyone else's nits, and helmets are a big thing to carry around. As to the Decaux locations I share your concerns. We would need strong council negotiators. Ha!

I suspect a big reason we can't have Copenhagen-style lanes in Sydney is they would reduce visibility of the Decaux signage.

And I note your average small business can't put a sign on the footpath because of 'pedestrian amenity' yet the Decaux fixtures often leave only a metre or so of passage when construction hoardings intrude onto the footpath.

But what would I know. I'm a Green. (See comments under 'Clover loses the plot' story!

pedaller said...

I totally agree with you regarding signage. That sign at the end of the Pyrmont Bridge shared bike lanes on the corner of Sussex and King Streets must cause thousands of near collisions each and every day.

Are you aware that many cyclists are NOT in favour of those Copenhagen style bike lanes, or indeed any bike lanes at all? You might like to read some of the comments on the Bicycle Victoria forum with regards to their newest bike lane proposals. I only mention this forum because it is one of the few places you get to see this other point of view. It appears that the City of Sydney is basing its view of bicycle infrastructure on a few Councillors beliefs about cycling and the views expressed by Bicycle NSW and BUGs, hardly a representative sample of cyclists.

The Editor said...

Yeah I've been joining this debate on Spinopsys (having just linked there thru your blog). See

Real surveys that I am aware of show most people don't use bikes because they are scared of the traffic. The anti-cycle lane cyclists are really in a small minority, population-wise. But I think my strategy is a win-win solution for both sides. (See Spinopsys)

I absolutely loved the lanes on William St before the RTA took a section away again -- even I can't stand the build-up of motor stress behind me as I labour up the hill in front of a column of enraged steel.

The lanes got me out of their way and also I could overtake them far more safely. I now use alt routes, at least citybound.

pedaller said...

I have to plead ignorance since I am unaware of any real NSW surveys on cycling related issues, but if you can supply some details I'd love to look at the survey and the results.

I'm not so sure the "anti bike lane" group is all that small, its just not heard. Perhaps one day we will have a public forum to discuss cycling issues.

The Editor said...

Hi there pedaller -- Fiona Campbell who is in the thick of all this sent me this: (I have replaced the 'at' in the email address to foil spammers)

Two places I can think of to start are:
* if you search for BikePlan2010 should come up with the research document behind the plan. This has lots of good stuff in it, I think including this question.
* Contessa Hajinikitas did a study a few years ago on women and cycling. If you can't google it on the web by using her name, you could email her for a copy: cyclepln at

pedaller said...

Thanks for this.
I'll try to locate the background research into the RTA plan.
I'd discount the Hajinikitas report on the basis that the questions were leading the respondents towards the answers required, ie, lack of infrastracture and safety. There is a big difference between asking people an open-ended question, and asking them a question and providing several alternatives, even if those alternatives appear later on in the survey.