Study: Bike-Share Riders Aren’t Wearing Helmets

A new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine has come to some troubling conclusions: not only are half of all cyclists going without helmets, a staggering 80% of bike-share riders are going without – at least in Boston and Washington, DC, where the study was carried out.

There are a few potential reasons for the low use of helmets. Tourists might be renting a bike on a whim when they don’t own a helmet (or don’t have it on them), and commuters may not always remember to grab their helmet on the way out the door. While it would seem the benefits of wearing a helmet while biking are clear, states are hesitant to pass laws requiring their use.

It’s a delicate balancing act says, Christopher Fischer, one of the authors of the study in an interview with NPR:

“There’s been a lot of back and forth about this,” Fischer tells Shots. “Wearing a helmet is a good idea because if I’m going to fall off my bike and strike my head, I’d rather have a helmet than not.” But it’s not clear that the lack of a helmet should completely deter somebody from biking. “We want to increase people’s ability to get exercise and do things that are environmentally sound,” Fischer says.

Only 21 states require helmets for young bike-riders. No state currently requires helmets for adults. Lawmakers have argued that mandatory helmet laws discourage people from biking, when it’s so much healthier and more environmentally-friendly than driving. And some argue that infrastructure improvements like adding bike lanes, along with adding safety features to bikes, are more important than enforcing helmet use.

Nevertheless, DC’s Capital Bikeshare is doing all it can to encourage its riders to wear helmets. The program now sells helmets for its users, and some hotels in the area are beginning to stock helmets to loan to guests who might be interested in riding around DC on their visit. As these bike-share programs become more popular, the study says, efforts need to be undertaken to increase the use of helmets among riders. And these are just the sorts of measures the authors suggest.

 

Related Stories:

Should Bicycles Have License Plates?

World’s Biggest Bike-Share Programs

U.S. Cities Begin To Adopt Bike-Sharing

Photo credit: Mark Hogan via Flickr

61 comments

Robby C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Luvenia C -

"The real issue here is the LAW; it is NOT if helmets keep you safer. This seems to be a HUGE problem here in America. There is always someone out there that thinks they know better than you. What part of 25% of the incarcerated don’t you get? You either believe in freedom and the right to choose or you believe that you are too stupid to run your own life. You really can’t have it both ways.

Take a long hard look at what is happening all around you. You have cameras on every street corner and drones are coming to a city near you “IF” they are not already there. Children are having their home lunches taken and given what THEY think your child should eat. We had better wake up to what is happening or give in and follow their rules. Bad things happen all we should do is educate and let people make their OWN choices"

Well put!

Berny P.
Berny p.4 years ago

You either believe in freedom and the right to choose or you believe that you are too stupid to run your own life.

You really can’t have it both ways.!!

Pearl Duval
Pearl Duval4 years ago

I've been riding horses over obstacles for 30 years. You will agree with me that equitation is a dangerous sport where, not surprisingly, helmets are mandatory.
Riding a bike in the city is not exactly a high risk activity in my book, unless I decide to sign up for a race.
I do not wear a helmet when I ride a bike because I consider all those years of training with unpredictable horses have prepared me to deal with a bicycle : I use my perepherial vision to anticipate any problem situations, I have excellent balance, and I have learned a long time ago how to fall, roll, and protect my head.
So sorry, you can vote all the laws you want, I will NOT wear a helmet !
As for motorcycles, I think helmets are a must. We are talking about very dangerous machines that can carry you over 100 miles an hour ! Can you imagine the damage to your head if a bug, or a small stone hits you at that speed !! Ouch !

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V.4 years ago

The real issue here is the LAW; it is NOT if helmets keep you safer. This seems to be a HUGE problem here in America. There is always someone out there that thinks they know better than you. What part of 25% of the incarcerated don’t you get? You either believe in freedom and the right to choose or you believe that you are too stupid to run your own life. You really can’t have it both ways.

Take a long hard look at what is happening all around you. You have cameras on every street corner and drones are coming to a city near you “IF” they are not already there. Children are having their home lunches taken and given what THEY think your child should eat. We had better wake up to what is happening or give in and follow their rules. Bad things happen all we should do is educate and let people make their OWN choices.

Richard C.
Richard C.4 years ago

I would never wear a helmet.
Does anyone have any idea how silly a helmet looks for the person too low income to own a car (and dresses that way)?
Does anyone have any how distracting a helmet is when biking... even on a motorcycle?
A helmet probably increases the chance of having an accident, but it will protect you when you have one.
Does anyone have any idea how difficult it is to carry briefcase or tools, lunch, and a helmet?

Dave C.
Dave C.4 years ago

not surprised.....

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson4 years ago

thanks

Jennifer C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks.

Mike Barnes
mike Barnes4 years ago

So. What.
Seat belt laws in automobiles were mandated because insurance companies lobbied for them to increase their profit margin, not because anyone, anywhere, was concerned about safety. I see this every single day in the construction industry. It's not about your safety - it's about insurance costs. My bike is 1348 cc, and I do not wear a helmet. The CIA deals more dope than Merck and Abbott combined, yet people are incarcerated for personal behavior at home.
Grades 1 thru 12 teach how to obey. College teaches one how to be a dutiful debtor. Schools stopped teaching critical thinking long ago, and that has not been by accident.
People who think, question. They especially question 'authority' who issue edicts like wear a helmet for your own good, or trans-vaginal ultrasounds, or don't grow your own food because you're supposed to eat the genetically modified stuff, and btw, if you have more than a week's worth of food, you're a terrorist.
You're not supposed to be capable of deciding what to wear or eat, but be fully capable of making a split-second decision ala a stand-your-ground law? Please.