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Bike Sharing Cities Making Plans to Provide Riders With Helmet Access

While many of us might believe that bike share programs can only be found in the nation’s larger metropolitan areas — New York, Washington, D.C., Boston — the truth is that we have active programs right here in Tennessee. Indeed, both Nashville and Chattanooga have kiosks where a person can pedal their way to their destination with just the swipe of a credit card.

While the cities with bike share programs love to tout how they are eco-friendly, affordable and convenient, safety advocates note that they do perhaps fail in one regard: safety. Specifically, they fail to offer prospective riders the accompanying option of renting a bike helmet.

This a legitimate concern when you consider that multiple studies have proven how bike helmets substantially reduce the number of serious head injuries, and that the overwhelming majority of fatal bicycle accidents here in the U.S. over the last two decades involved riders who weren’t wearing helmets.

For many cities with bike sharing programs, the reasoning behind the lack of bike helmets for rent can be attributed to everything from cost and a lack of available options to liability concerns and, of course, hygiene issues.

While many cities encourage bike share riders to bring their own helmets and routinely partner with sponsors to offer giveaways or sizeable discounts on bike gear, two other cities are now taking things one step further.

Seattle, which launches its bike share program in September, and Boston, which has had its bike share program in place for three years, will soon be unveiling vending machines that allow bicyclists to rent bike helmets for a low price.

Here, the helmets can be rented like the bikes with just a swipe of a credit card and returned in bins, where they will be collected, inspected and cleaned before being returned to the vending machines the following day.

“You maximize the likelihood that someone will put on a helmet if you make it hyper-convenient and very inexpensive,” said the director of the Boston bike share program.

What are your thoughts on the idea of a bike helmet vending machine? Would you be willing to pay the extra few dollars for a helmet or would you consider it unnecessary?

If the negligent or reckless actions of a motorist have caused you or a loved one to suffer serious head injuries, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to discuss your options for securing both justice and peace of mind.

Source: The Washington Post, “Why don’t bike share programs provide helmets?” Lenny Bernstein, May 15, 2014

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