We all hear calls from time to time for cyclists to pay vehicle registration, have a numberplate, and generally be held accountable for their behaviour on the road. A Sydney designer reckons he’s found the solution. Toby King has presented his idea of a ‘smart-hat’ or ‘smart-helmet’ to Mosman Council. Duncan Gay, Minister for Roads in New South Wales has asked his Department for a list of recommendations. The smart-helmet has a registration number on the back, a mini numberplate if you like, that can be recognised by CCTV and speed/red light traffic cameras.
Before I go any further, I’m not against all cyclists. Just like I’m not against all car drivers or motorbike riders. I’m against idiots who disobey the road rules, put other people in danger and generally act like they own the road. I think that all road users should be held accountable for the way they behave, so I think this smart-helmet is a pretty good idea just like the registration plates for cars and motorbikes are a good idea.
However, I know this would be a very, very difficult, near impossible, policy to implement. The first thing I considered was whether every single bike owner has to have one of these helmets or just people who ride regularly on the road. And if it’s those who ride regularly on the road, how do you determine that? No one is going to put their hand up and say ‘yeah, I do – make me wear a dorky-looking helmet and pay money I would rather spend on something else.’ Plenty of people have a bike for leisure purposes but occasionally have to ride on the road to get where they’re going – do these people have to register their bikes? If they don’t, does that mean they literally can never ever ride on the road? If they ride on the road and get pulled up by police for not having one of these helmets, how do they prove they don’t regularly cycle on the road? Do only owners of road bikes have to register them? Plenty of people ride other types of bike on the road, how do you prove that they’re regular riders on the road? The possibilities go on forever.
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Many will argue that implementing registration plates on bicycles or bicycle helmets will discourage people from riding and force them back into cars. Well… if cyclists don’t want to be held accountable for the way they ride, maybe they should be discouraged from riding. If you obey the road rules, what have you got to hide? If bicycle registration forces someone back into a car where they will be held accountable for their actions, then that’s a good thing. I understand that people don’t want to have to pay to do something they’ve previously done for free, however paying for car registration, insurance, petrol and all the other costs of running a car would be significantly higher than the costs of registering a bicycle.
I don’t believe any major political party would ever support this or take it to an election, definitely not in the ACT anyway (however, if I’m wrong, Katy Gallagher or Jeremy Hanson should please feel free to correct me!), so some might argue that this discussion is just a waste of time. If that’s the case, perhaps more should be done to crack down on people disobeying the road rules. Most mornings on my way to work I see at least one cyclist running a red light, just because they can. Greater police presence on our roads would be extremely helpful but understandably that’s not always possible.
I heard a story recently of a cyclist that t-boned a car and in this instance it was 100 per cent the fault of the cyclist. It caused damage to the car but the cyclist just rode off and the motorist couldn’t get their details – in this situation, a numberplate to memorise would have been handy. Again, I reiterate my point of not all cyclists do the wrong thing. It’s absolutely the minority that ruin it for everyone else, but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions. I don’t think many people would disagree with that… except cyclists.
Aside from identifying cyclists by their registration plate, the smart-hat also has a range of fancy features such as brake lights and indicators. For more information on these features you can check out the website.