City wants to install helmet vending machines for Hubway riders

With Hubway bikes ready for riding for the season, Boston is soliciting bids from companies that would want to install and maintain "bicycle helmet vending machines at various locations throughout the city."

Bids are due by April 10 for the initial one-year contract.

H/t Brian D'Amico.



    Free tagging: 


    Way to go

    Just crap on the efforts of those who want to keep people safe. Bravo.

    It's a fair point. Would you

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    It's a fair point. Would you put on a shared helmet? I am sure they will address this issue and find a work around.

    Reusable helmets

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    HelmetHub, which is the MIT startup, says:

    Finished with your ride? Just drop your helmet off at the HelmetHub kiosk where you returned your bike and you're free to go about your day. Helmets are inspected and sanitized before being put back into circulation to assure they're as clean and safe as the rest.

    It's actually contentious to

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    It's actually contentious to say that bicycle helmets are increasing safety. Here's a talk about this:

    I choose to wear a helmet, but that's my choice. Adults are not required to wear a helmet in Boston, nor should they be. Providing shared helmets has all sorts of issues. Helmets are not expensive, and if people choose to wear them they can BYOH.

    They don't enforce children wearing helmets either

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    (I'll just say that I'm extremely pro-helmet, having worked in a brain injury program where part of our program centered around educating the public on prevention of brain injuries...)

    I frequently notice children on bikes, none of them with helmets, riding around near parks or housing developments, in the summer when there's a police officer stationed right there. I've never seen them say anything.

    Similarly, any time a parent of children I work with mentions anyone riding a bike, I always ask about helmets, and most of them are unaware that there's a helmet law for children. Many have told me I can't possibly be correct on this, because they never see anyone wearing one and don't know of anyone who's had any trouble with their kids riding unhelmeted.


    Risk of brain injury is

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    Risk of brain injury is higher when wearing a helmet
    14% greater chance of getting into an accident while wearing a helmet
    Helmets are tested only for impact on the crown of the head
    Helmets are designed for non life threatening solo accidents under 20 kph (not car collisions)
    Pedestrians have a higher risk for head injury than bicyclists do

    Stop scaring people away from bicycles. Helmets aren't helping.

    Health benefits of cycling are 20 times greater than any risk involved.
    We should be doing everything we can to promote the bicycle.

    You are kidding, right?

    Risk of brain injury is higher when wearing a helmet

    What a crock of shit, pal.

    I've got a number of friends who have suffered minor concussions in crashes where they would have had much more serious injuries without the helmet. We're not talking simple broken bones that generally heal nicely. We're talking brain injury that can have long-term effects.

    Give me a break.


    Here's an Anecdote

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    I'm alive.

    Why? Because I was wearing a bike helmet in a side-impact situation.

    If you know how blood flow in the brain procedes and where hematomas typically form, side impact is bad news.

    I had bad headaches for a week and was knocked unconscious. But I am alive because my helmet deformed and split up the back instead of my head slamming in a bad area.

    I still have that helmet, and I've never had to get after my boys to wear one, either.

    When I was cycling in France, a member of our group hit a curb inside a culvert-like underpass and slammed his head into the side of the tunnel. He put a very serious dent in the side of his helmet, but was on the road the next day after being checked at the hospital.

    I can go on ... and I know it is anecdata, but I also know that a NATIONWIDE Canadian study of helmet laws for kids showed the same rates of non-head injuries after the laws went into effect, but deaths and hospitalizations for head injuries droped preciptiously. Thus they know that kids were riding at the same rates as before - and crashing at the same rates as before - but that helmet use was exceptionally protective against head injuries.

    most bike helmets offer zero temporal node protection

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    "Why? Because I was wearing a bike helmet in a side-impact situation. If you know how blood flow in the brain procedes and where hematomas typically form, side impact is bad news."

    Unless your helmet is one of the VERY few that extends well down to protect the temporal region (not even the "skater" style helmets do), your helmet did you absolutely no good, and may have actually worsened the impact, because helmets make your head larger.

    Wearing a helmet and having a minor injury does NOT mean that not wearing a helmet would have resulted in a more serious injury.

    "I can go on ... and I know it is anecdata, but I also know that a NATIONWIDE Canadian study of helmet laws for kids showed the same rates of non-head injuries after the laws went into effect,"

    Bzzt, no.

    It wasn't nationwide, it was provincial, and it showed an INCREASE in head injuries in the year or two immediately following. Helmet studies following mandatory laws rarely adjust for the precipitous decline in cycling that results.

    In the US, during the 90's, cycling rates dropped like a rock, helmet usage went way up from previous levels, and yet head injuries and deaths skyrocketed. It caused US health officials to declare 'round 2002 that it wasn't enough to promote helmets; they weren't saving lives or injuries. Yet here was are, a decade later, screaming at cyclists to wear their helmets and not at drivers to stop slamming into them.

    Helmets are tested for 12mph impacts (same speed your head is going if you simply fall over), designed by consumer feedback not scientific testing, etc.


    Depends on where the data comes from

    As I'm sure Swrrly can attest, researchers can up with data to prove anything.
    The world is flat? Sure, here's the proof.

    Now, are helmets the answer to everything? Are they infallible? Of course not. People can still get seriously hurt or killed while wearing a helmet. One can even still get a serious head injury.

    But, even in the simplest of bike crashes, one can slam their head pretty good and end up with TBI. There's a way to avoid a lifetime injury - wear a helmet.

    Frankly, I don't care if anyone else wears a helmet or not. I'm not a helmet nazi. I respect your decision to were or not wear one. When I had a motorcycle in my youth, I loved riding without a helmet.

    But, don't go telling me a helmet is worthless or that one is more prone to injury with a helmet. That's a good one.


    This is no proof of anything

    Here's the conclusion from one of the "studies" you pointed to:

    Sports cyclists wear helmets in an attempt to limit the consequences of the risks they want to take. However, the much greater representation of these cyclists in the hospital statistics suggests that their attempts to limit risks are inadequate for the risks involved. Indeed, putting their faith in 'technical fixes' such as cycle helmets may encourage many people to take greater risks than they should. In cycle sport internationally, the number of deaths in races has increased markedly since helmet use became mandatory.

    "May encourage"??
    Maybe the number of deaths in bike racing has increased is because there are more people participating.
    There's no proof here. We have more proof in our anecdotal evidence than this "study" has.


    that's not evidence

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    "I've got a number of friends who have suffered minor concussions in crashes where they would have had much more serious injuries without the helmet."

    Unless your friends were wearing data recorders and the crash was captured by high speed cameras, and their head injuries examined by MRI - there is, in fact, no evidence that their helmet helped them in any way.

    If their helmet was deformed or dented, then it's possible. If there was no deformation, the helmet did nothing. If the helmet broke apart, it failed (and did nothing other than fail.)

    TOTAL B.S.

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    Only an idiot would ride around Boston on a bike without a helmet.


    People who want to keep other people safe?

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    The evidence for helmet effectiveness is poor and mostly anecdotal, which is no evidence at all. All long term, large scale, reliable peer reviewed evidence shows at best no benefit from mass helmet use, and at worst an increase in risk. These people you claim want to make me safer are in fact just busy-bodies and do-gooders who selectively ignore data. If they really wanted to keep me safer they would be controlling the source of almost all fatalities to cyclists: drivers.

    There were dire predictions of death and disaster when the very successful London bike hire scheme was introduced, and many calls for helmets to be hired with the bikes. But what actually happened was that the hire bikes were considerably safer than normal cycling, and nobody on them wore a helmet.

    Hire schemes where helmets are mandatory are almost complete failures.

    Drunk College Kids

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    will defiantly piss in these thing, Shit i know i will!

    I'm guessing maybe the

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    I'm guessing maybe the machines will only sell helmets, not rent them. There's nothing in the bid about accepting returns.

    FYI - the machines are

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    FYI - the machines are designed to clean and sanitize used helmets before they are made available to the next user. no one thinks that vending sweaty helmets is a good idea.


    Funny, when I read this, I

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    Funny, when I read this, I interpreted it as meaning for purchase, not for sharing. I wonder which one it will be?


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    There was a post about this a while back. A group at MIT made a vending machine (like a coke machine) where you insert money and it spits out a helmet. There are no returns.

    Sweaty heads?

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    My head is LESS sweaty when I wear a helmet. They are designed to scoop up air for cooling.

    Shows how much time you spend riding anything but your hobby horse.


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    are not designed to cool your head, their designed to protect your brain (though it seems yours has already been damaged). Why would one get sweaty biking 10 mph down some side street.

    You are obviously not very athletic and have no REAL athletic experience. Maybe you want to try my helmet on after i play some puck!

    most bicycle helmets are

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    most bicycle helmets are designed to ventilate as well as protect-- isn't that neat? Who knew the world isn't just a rotating a selection of extreme polar opposites?

    Look at one sometime

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    They are designed to, as you ride along, channel the airflow from forward motion through their vents. If you look at a typical helment, you may note that the vents are sculpted to channel air into them.

    This is possible because the shell sits on a suspension system that holds helmet to head with pads and straps and leaves some space at the bottom. Air goes in, and then out, taking heat with it.

    I had one of the first non-racing helmets explicitly designed this way - A Bell TourLite - nearly 30 years ago.


    Vending outside the box

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    Great idea! They should also sell umbrellas, ponchos, water, reusable bike worthy shopping/carry-all bags, bike gloves and pants elastics. There's more than enough foot and bike traffic to plant these next to the Hubway stations and do a brisk business.


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    they can sell small little men to be used as rickshaw drivers too....

    Alternative system

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    My husband works a short distance from me downtown, and we share a Hubway key. We actually use it a fair amount to run errands, get to grocery stores, or just an interesting lunch break.

    We prevent the key from getting lost, misplaced, locked in a desk, pocketed-and-laundered, etc. by attaching it to a semi-retired helmet that stays in one of our offices when not in use.

    If you use Hubway regularly, this system works pretty well. If you already share cooties with somebody (BOY COOTIES! OMFG!) this can work pretty well.


    Been in the works for a while now

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    It's a pretty good idea which I support and since a bunch of people above lack the ability to intelligently discuss an idea let me go ahead and point you to a friend's company who is already working on solving this problem.

    Helmet Hub

    While I do not know the ins and outs of the whole system I'm fairly certain that if a "drunk college kid" wants to pee in a helmet they rented with their credit/debit card then they'll also be more than happy to foot the bill for said helmet.

    A helmet is like a

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    A helmet is like a toothbrush. It's not something you want to share with the rest of society.

    This is a great idea.

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    This is a great idea.

    Ignoring the helmet wars, having a cheaper helmet rental option for those not ready to throw down $40 minimum for their own helmet or who for whatever reason aren't carrying one at the moment, is a wonderful thing for those who want them. Helmets are a personal choice and don't protect you from being flattened, and may make drivers less cautious around you, but they are also really useful in low-impact crashes and falls-- common with inexperienced bikers!

    I often feel concerned that Hubway riders often seem less knowledgeable about safe city riding (lots of sidewalk riders and door zoners, lots tourist families with kids) and therefore they're more vulnerable. Having a helmet option makes so much sense.



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    Thank you. From everyone.

    The competitor who lost to

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    The competitor who lost to bixi had helmet sales ($5 a pop) as part of the their bid.