New study: bike-sharing programs should be promoting use of helmets for safety

5:16 PM, Jun 14, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - It's common to catch Capital Bikeshare riders cruising down crowded District streets, which is home to one of the largest bicycle sharing programs in the United States. But catching Bikeshare cyclists wearing helmets isn't common at all, according to a new study published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) researchers say cyclists who use bike-sharing options for transportation are less likely to wear helmets than cyclists on their own bikes.

The researchers urge bike-sharing programs across the country to target helmet promotions towards its riders.

The researchers used the time and location of their travel to categorize cyclists as commuters or casual users.  This study shows that commuters would ride weekdays during rush hours and casual or tourist would ride in the afternoon on weekends. The riders' sex and approximate ages was recorded and whether they wore helmets or not. These observations took place for 30 days in the fall.

The researchers concluded that out of the total 2,297 cyclists, 10.1 percent of commuters and 12.4 percent of casual riders were Bikeshare users. Of those Bikeshare users, helmet use was significantly less compared to private cyclists.

"We're looking at the study closely and we're going to find out what will get more people to wear helmets more often," Jim Sebastian at District Department of Transportation said. DDOT supports helmet use and recently started a helmet promotion, where new and renewing members can get a Capital Bikeshare helmet as an incentive. "We've sold almost 300 helmets," Sebastian said.

Sebastian says if you want to get your hands on a helmet, log onto and renew or start your Bikeshare membership, and you're all set.



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