Ben's bikes could save young lives

BEN Donohoe often rode his bike home after a night out in Byron Bay.

But on July 18 last year, he hitchhiked – an unusual move that ended in tragedy.

The well-known Suffolk Park 20-year-old died in a car crash on Bangalow Rd.

A year on and sadness still looms with those who knew and lost the “happy-go-lucky” man but a plan also brews to improve transport for Byron’s youth.

Yvonne Donohoe said the concept for Ben’s Bikes, a bike sharing system “for young people, by young people”, came not long after the death of her son.

“After Ben was killed, I started thinking how he used to bring bikes home when he was out but this night he hitched home and didn’t come home and maybe if he did take a bike...” she said.

“It was just a normal Byron to Suffolk trip and it should not have happened but it did.

“Young people don’t have access to reliable, flexible transport.”

The bike system would be similar to those currently operating in Brisbane and Melbourne, where people rent a bike from one location and drop it off in another.

Mrs Donohoe said she was keen to get youth actively involved in the project, including Byron Bay High School students to decorate the bikes and their racks.

“It’s something for the local community done by the local community,” she said.

“It will reflect the spirit of Ben.

"He was such a happy-go-lucky person and he cared about people.”

Businesses could choose to sponsor a bike, she said.

Byron mayor Jan Barham has liaised with Mrs Donohoe about the bike sharing plan, which is similar to a Park and Ride proposal council is awaiting a report on.

“The priority for council is to provide safe bike ways for young people particularly, who don’t have a car and who we don’t want hitching,” she said.

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