While it's preferable for cyclists to wear a helmet, it isn't exactly critical on Capital Bikeshare. The BIXI bikes are designed to be stable, and slow. This helps explain why the accident rate has been so low. The injury rate has been even lower, with only a couple serious accidents that I'm aware of over the first 2 million rides.
(A recent CaBi accident received a lot of local press coverage, so I don't think there are dozens of unreported CaBi accidents happening every month.)
In the recent accident, a helmet would not have lessened the severity of the injuries. So helmet wearing, or the lack thereof, has made very little difference to the overall safety of the system.
As for the CaBi helmets, they are OK as a way of showing enthusiasm and support of Capital Bikeshare. But I think most frequent cyclists are going to be buying other helmets. The styrofoam structure seems safe enough. But the decorative red covering is held on with electrical tape. It's not a safety issue, but it does look kind of cheap.
I've read many comments from people who were reintroduced to cycling through Capital Bikeshare. Then they went on to buy their own bikes to have more options in cycling (longer trips, recreational riding). Local bike rental shops like Bike and Roll seem to be doing well too. They offer services that complement Capital Bikeshare.
I'll continue to use my own bike helmets while riding, whether on my own bikes or on CaBi. I'll save the CaBi helmets for those occasions when I have out-of-town guests who may want to go on a CaBi ride.
Good article. Does anyone have a good suggestion for a good bike lock for Bikeshare bikes (seriously, oftentimes I just want to bike to pick up some food at a place not convenient to a station and want to lock up for 5 minutes)?
You can buy a helmet from the private sector for $16 pretty easily.
It is not the government's job to provide a level playing field for business by not competing with them, although that is not what is going on here.
This entire article is based on the assumption that cycle helmets reduce the risk to cyclists, but the evidence shows that this is not true.
Cycling is about as dangerous, or safe as walking, so if you aren't in favour of walking helmets, you aren't in favour of cycling helmets either. Nowhere with a helmet law, or massive rise in helmet wearing due to propaganda campaigns like this one, can show any reduction in risk to cyclists, only a reduction in cyclists.
Since cycling confers such huge heath benefits, regular cycliists, those most exposed to the risk, live longer, are healthier, fitter and slimmer than the general population, so it's more dangerous not to ride a bike than to ride one. The only effect of helmet campaigns is a reduction in the number of cyclists, and therefore a reduction in the number of people getting the health benefits of cycling with no safety improvement, so the overall effect is large and negative.
Cycle helmet campaigns have been compared to tobacco advertising: ill health for a huge number of individuals, massive costs to the public purse, and obscene profits for the manufacturers.
The capital bikeshare program and even selling helmets will only continue to make bike stores more viable and profitable. Joining the program has resulted in me riding my bike more often. Just sold my car again. (I also live a block from Metro.) Yes, if they start getting into selling the whole range of accessories that would present issues, but I the more helmets they sell to individuals, the more likely those individuals will become more dependent on bikes in general, creating a larger and more stable customer base.
I highly doubt they'll take business away from bikeshops. For one thing, the helmets are kind of ridiculous looking. They match the bikes and are useful for the occasional ride (as I'm considering buying it for when I forget my own), but I can't imagine someone concerned with style buying it for everyday riding. What's more likely is that it will make helmets available to people who wouldn't be able to afford a $55 one otherwise and would just go without.
I think people tend to think that wearing a helmet is a safety net in case of an accident, but as a daily bicycle commuter, let me tell you why I wear a helmet: DC has a lot of trees, a lot of trees that have branches that hang low or are broken and hanging on level of a biker's head. It's happened to me, I look up and big tree branch in front of me. I quickly tilted my head down and let my helmet take the hit. It was at that point I realized I would always wear a helmet to protect my head from the unknown overhead obstacles the city has to offer.