Yolanda Zaw, The West Australian, Updated June 4, 2012, 2:25 am
A city-wide bicycle-hire scheme, similar to that introduced in Melbourne and Brisbane, will be considered as part of the City of Perth's long-awaited draft cycle plan.
The council will fund a feasibility study into a bike-hire scheme with a view to having it up and running as soon as 2015.
Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi admitted that similar schemes in the Eastern States had been held back by compulsory helmet legislation and said she supported a relaxing of the law in WA.
"People should have a choice - it should be up to them whether or not they want to wear a helmet," she said.
"From a hiring perspective, I think we could perhaps have people sign a disclaimer to say they have made this choice not to wear a helmet and take responsibility for it.
"While I think people who are riding fast through traffic on major roads should probably wear a helmet, people who are just enjoying a leisurely bike ride should be able to ride with the wind in their hair if they choose.
"What the Melbourne and Brisbane examples show is that helmets can be a deterrent.
"For hygiene reasons companies there had to provide a hairnet to wear under the helmet as well as the helmet itself and that just becomes cumbersome."
Ms Scaffidi said that when completed, the City Square and the waterfront precinct would be ideal places for a bike hire base.
"Ultimately I envision people picking up a bike at the waterfront, riding it to Northbridge and leaving it there at a designated rack," she said. "The system could be run by a smart card, used for hiring.
"Trucks from the company would then drive around the city, sharing the bikes around, making sure there are enough bikes spread at different locations."
The draft Cycle Plan 2029, which will be tabled at the council's meeting tomorrow, includes $2.5 million invested in infrastructure in the CBD over five years.
Almost $1 million has already been earmarked to enhance the existing bicycle network in 2012-13.
Key shared paths into the city will be extended, dedicated bicycle lanes will connect major CBD destinations and some routes will be turned into slow-speed shared zones for cars and bicycles.
Ms Scaffidi said the plan aimed to double the number of cyclists in the city by 2016 and treble them by 2029."We want to make cycling more visible and more available," she said. "We want to take cycling from a recreational or sporting activity to an integral part of everyday city life."