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.