Excitement has been building for years around the idea of a potential Seattle Bikeshare system, with many pointing to our strong tourism sector, moderate weather and ranking as a top-10 U.S. cycle-commuting city. But one key question persists: Can a bikeshare system be implemented in our city, which has mandatory helmet laws? Helmet-sharing? That seems ludicrous, of course, but so does the odds that the kind of person who might rent a bike for a couple hours might just have a helmet tucked away in that purse, fanny-pack or man-bag.
Cyclists in Washington, D.C. who use Capital Bikeshare for their daily commutes are much less likely to wear helmets than commuters on their own bikes. That is the finding from an observational study conducted by Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) researchers that compares the rate of helmet use of casual and commuting Bikeshare riders with private cyclists. The research was published June 14 in the American Journal of Public Health.
Bike sharing is a popular option for transportation in the interest of personal fitness and environmental protection. Washington, D.C. is home to one of the largest bicycle sharing programs in the United States, Capital Bikeshare, and the concept has rapidly expanded to other cities, such as New York City and Chicago.
“Cycling is a healthy activity which both improves heart health and reduces air pollution, and we want to encourage it, but we also want to be sure riders are as protected as possible should they be in a crash,” explains John Kraemer, JD, MPH, assistant professor of health systems administration at NHS and the study’s lead author. “While Capital Bikeshare bicycles are designed to lower the risk of a crash occurring, with a lower center of gravity, heavier frame, lights, and reflective paint, helmets are essential for preventing serious injury in the event of a crash.” (Continue Reading: Seven of ten commuters using Capital Bikeshare forgo helmet use)