While both Vancouver and Seattle–two cities with mandatory, all-age helmet laws–are expected to launch bike share programs in spring of 2014, the City of Boston will be the first city in North America to have helmet vending machines for its bike share users.
Boston, a city that doesn’t have a mandatory helmet law, is deploying bike helmet vending machines within its program area. HelmetHub is set to debut next to four Hubway stations soon, with each helmet equipped with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag. Developed by a group of MIT graduates, each machine holds up to 36 uni-size helmets and cost about $2 for a 24-hour rental.
Boston will be the first city in the US to pilot the helmet dispensers. Seattle’s bike share program, set to launch in spring 2014, plans to provide helmet vending machines as part of the station design. Melbourne’s bike share program currently provides helmet rentals in convenient locations throughout the city to increase bike share use under Australia’s mandatory helmet law.
HelmetHub is not the only helmet dispenser company in the industry. Its main competitor is Sandvault’s Helmetstation, which has partnered with Spinway’s bike share system in Australia. They also contracted with the City of Vancouver to develop a prototype for its program set to roll out in 2014, but it is uncertain whether if it will be implemented.
To read more about the HelmetHub machine and its design challenges, including sanitation, go here. And if you missed our editorial piece covering the issue back in April, check out Justin’s commentary!