It seems the debate on the wearing of bicycle helmets is reaching new levels, especially since the introduction of the Bike Sharing program that started in Melbourne last June.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

It seems the debate on the wearing of bicycle helmets is reaching new levels, especially since the introduction of the Bike Share program that started in Melbourne last June.

It's the same program that has proven to be a big hit in several European cities such as London and Paris.

The aim is to encourage more people to ditch their cars for cycles when either commuting to the city office or just gettin' around the CBD.

Now, while I applaud the concept I wonder how successful it will be.

The reason I ask?

In a country like Australia where the wearing of helmets is compulsory, how many of us would be prepared to carry a bulky item such as a helmet in order to embrace the program?

I mean sticking a helmet in a backpack along with a change of clothes and a cut-lunch doesn't exactly make for a perfect fit - does it?

I totally understand helmets save us from serious injury (I, for one, wouldn't be seen on a bike without one when training in a bunch situation) but given the slow speeds one might travel on busy city streets or to and from work, is it really necessary?

I was recently in the Dutch city of Rotterdam for the start of the Tour de France where the cycling culture has always been a way of life.

People from the ages of nine to 90 can be seen cycling on designated bike paths to and from work.

None, I repeat none, were wearing head protection because in Europe it's not law, and probably hasn't been since bicycles were invented.

When riding their two-wheeled machines, male commuters can be seen travelling to their employment in Georgio Armani suits, while the city's female set are dressed to the nines in hats and heels, in some cases.

In all cases however, no helmet is required.

It's not to say what they do is right, but it is fact.

Back in Australia, wearing a helmet when cycling is akin to putting on a seat belt before driving a car - it's a habit.

And given the spate of deaths and serious injury on our roads related to cycling, I would never encourage riders to dispense with their helmet, especially since so many more of us are using bikes as a form of transport these days.

There's no doubt Australians are better educated when it comes to cycling safety on the roads - foundations such as Amy Gillett have certainly led the way.

I'm not arguing that Australia should adopt the European way but if Melbourne's Bike Sharing scheme is to work properly and become popular, and other Australian cities also adopt the plan, then perhaps the exemption of the wearing of helmets may be required ONLY in such cases.