Capital Helmet Share?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    D.C.'s bike sharing program is popular, but wearing helmets is not. So the city is giving away 500 bike helmets to frequent riders.

    Capital Bikeshare keeps expanding, with more stations and more bikes, which means the number of helmetless bicyclists on the streets of D.C. likely is increasing, too.

    The program is popular, but most who take advantage don’t wear helmets. D.C. doesn’t require bicyclists wear helmets unless they are 16 or younger, but for safety reasons, it’s a practice that’s encouraged.

    “We’ve had trouble finding ways to get helmets to everyday users,” said Chris Holben, of the D.C. Department of Transportation. “The bikes are self-service. We need to have, someone can check the helmets. It’s just kind of tricky right now.”

    DDOT is buying 500 helmets to give to frequent riders. Officials said they hope to buy more in the future.

    “There’s two users with the system,” Holben said. “One is an annual member who is typically a resident. They really have the option to bring a helmet from home and carry it around with them or keep it at work. Those are some people that we’d like to get helmets to.”

    For tourists, the city is teaming up with hotels.

    “Those are a little trickier to get to ‘cause they’re usually here for a couple of days,” Holben said. “So actually we have a pilot program with some hotels … where we’ve given them helmets to give out to guests.”

    Those helmets must be returned.

    Fortunately, since Capital Bikeshare launched in the fall, about 800,000 individual rides have been recorded with only 13 accidents.