An important first step for cities eager to encourage cyclists to reclaim the streets might be to install some bike lanes. A second step? Implementing a city-wide bike-sharing program–as more and more cities around the world are doing–so that people can try out urban cycling before investing in their own vehicle or can bike without worrying about theft and maintenance.
Now in Boston, they’ve arrived at a sensible step three to ensure the safety of all those new bikers who are flocking to their bike sharing system the Hubway (and potentially, bring new bikers into the fold): vending machines that rent out helmets exactly next to the bike-sharing stalls.
The new “system” called HelmetHub is a response to the fact that “helmet use in bikeshare programs is low—less than half the rate of cyclists as a whole,” according tot the company’s webiste. “Making helmets more available lowers the barrier to entry for bikeshare users, and addresses liability concerns for cities.”
When the system rolls out this July, according to PSFK, it’ll work quite like bike share systems themselves. Bostonians will grab a bike and then a helmet from the vending machine for $2 as a rental (or more to own). When they’re done, they turn it back in, and it’s “inspected and sanitized before being put back into circulation.”
The machine was designed over the course of a product engineering class at MIT in 2011, and perfected over the course of last year. A single, solar-powered machine can store 36 helmets in three different sizes. HelmetHub’s website says that the machine’s can be branded to match the aesthetic of different cities’ bikesharing programs, so perhaps Boston’s will just be their first of many clients.