Helmet laws flouted

WORLD renowned cycling expert Mark Wagenbuur says it’s safe to ride about Perth without a helmet and notes that many local cyclists are flouting helmet laws.

Mr Wagenbuur was here in March to check out our cycling infrastructure and the Transport department’s new bike boulevards in Bayswater and Mount Hawthorn.

The Dutchman’s just posted his report online, and while local cyclists moan about the lack of cycle infrastructure and the gaps in the bike path network, he says “I found cycling in Perth very easy”.

“Some busy streets are better avoided, but all in all the cycling climate…is really very nice”.

• Mark Wagenbuur enjoys a helmet-free ride on a principal path shared by pedestrians and cyclists. Photo by Tim Burns

In Perth he chose to flout our helmet laws, riding “as I have ridden for almost 50 years: with nothing on my head”.

“Many people in and around Perth choose not to adhere to the obligation to wear a helmet.

“Many of those riders would exchange nods of understanding”

He said our principle paths, shared by pedestrians and cyclists, are almost unheard of in other parts of the world, but are pretty safe and it’s “perfectly sensible’ to go for a casual ride on them sans helmet.

Mr Wagenbuur also swung by the bike boulevards the transport department recently installed in Bayswater and Mt Hawthorn, which are intended to slow down cars on the street and make it a safer ride for cyclists.

The Dutch have a similar concept called the “Fietsstraat”, or cycle street.

While he liked the idea, he said the “pinch points”, where the road narrows in an attempt to slow down cars, could be a problem.

“I was not too sure about the design of the pinch points either,” he wrote in his report.

“Since people cycling also need to se the road, narrowing it can be unpleasant at best, dangerous at worst.”

But Mr Wagenbuur said these pilot projects will be learning opportunities.

“When the Dutch had such demonstration projects in Tilburg and The Hague in the late 1970s, most was learned from the things that didn’t go right at first.”

Mr Wagenbuur’s full report on the state of Perth cycling infrastructure is on bicycledutch.wordpress.com

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