Bike sharing programs, which are gaining widespread popularity, provide users with free or affordable access to bicycles for short-distance trips as an alternative to motorized public transportation and private vehicles. The goal is to reduce traffic congestion and noise. Sounds like a great idea, right? It did to us, until we learned that 80 percent of these riders don’t use a helmet, according to a new study.
After tracking more than 3,000 bicyclists at 43 bike rental kiosks in Washington, D.C. and Boston, researchers from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that more than half of all bicyclists weren’t using helmets. That number jumped to 80 percent among bike-share riders.
We can’t help pointing out that, unlike the hypothetical risks of trace levels of benign chemicals found in plastics, head injury is a real risk. As lead author Dr. Christopher Fischer notes, “Head injury accounts for about a third of all bicycle injuries and about three-quarters of bicycle related deaths, so these are some pretty shocking numbers.”
As ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan proposes, “Helmets should be made more readily available for bike-share riders, and, at the very least, these kiosks should be reminding folks of the importance of wearing helmets.”