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City Still Working on Hubway Helmet Solution

While city officials are still eager to partner with MIT helmet vendors HelmetHub, a fix to the lack of helmets on the Hubway is unclear.

Boston’s Hubway bicycle sharing system provided 650,000 trips in its first 12 months of operation, and while the program appears to be a success there’s been one glaring omission: helmets.

Kris Carter, interim director of Boston Bikes, said at a Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association Meeting that a helmet system was supposed to be in place last fall but never came to pass. 

“The Mayor is aware of the need,” he said.

Carter was at the meeting to pitch the idea of a Hubway station in Jamaica Plain, but a conversation on the system's lack of helmets erupted. He said Hubway officials are looking into teaming up with HelmetHub, an MIT-based company, which has created a helmet vending machine.

Though the Hubway system has exceeded expectations - the city projects it will turn a profit in its third year - there are still those who view the current lack of helmets as a deal breaker.

Carlos Icaza, member of Jamaica Plain BAPA, recently suffered a concussion after falling over the handlebars of his bicycle. He was wearing a helmet at the time, and he said the Hubway's helmet problem needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

“I think it’s a serious flaw in the system that you don’t have access to helmets,” he said.

Carter said the Mayor’s office is stressing education and community outreach in the meantime, and officials briefly looked into a system involving a partnership with convenience stores nearby to Hubway stations that could make helmets available. 

Brad Kilburn November 15, 2012 at 02:14 PM
What would a director of a business association know about bike share, helmets and risk? Clearly not much as the view on a helmets protective abilities are as far fetched as the relative risk while riding. Bike share has shown to be incredibly safe and as the director of the BA learned, helmets don't prevent the few concussions that can happen. Leave helmets out of a bike share system, that's one of the most effective ways of killing off its use (something Australia has learned the hard way)
j k01 November 15, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Another flaw in the system is putting Hubway stations in the street when there is 20 feet width or more space on adjoining sidewalks for their location. Along Washington Street in the South End, there are two such locations, near the intersections of West Newton Street and Union Park Street, where despite all logic Hubway stations exist in the street directly in front of SilverLine bus stops!! We were lucky this year and last that there were no collisions between Hubway riders and buses at these points, but there's always the potential for a sad such accident in the future.

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