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Risks for Injury in Boston Minimized by Rental Hubway Helmets

The Hubway is now nine-months old and offers roughly 600 bikes at more than 60 stations to residents and visitors across the city of Boston.

Bicycling advocates say there’s one thing it’s missing though – helmets. This is probably the main reason why only about 20 percent of bikers in the city wear a helmet while biking. A recent study, conducted by experts at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, looked at more than 3,000 cyclists in both the Boston and the DC area and concluded that bike-share customers were about twice as likely to bike without a helmet as those with a personal bike. Experts say that these statistics are putting bikers at a higher risk for a serious head injury in the event of a bicycling accident in Boston and elsewhere, according to the Boston Globe.
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“It’s often more of a spur of the moment decision to use a bike share, and riders often find themselves without helmets,” said study author Dr. Christopher Fischer, Beth Israel Deaconess emergency room physician.

Our Boston bicycling accident lawyers understand that the number of Hubway users with helmets may even be lower, according to previous Boston studies. Previous studies determined that less than a third of Hubway users wore a helmet. In 2009, there were more than 50,000 bike accident-related head injuries and nearly 650 fatal bicycling accidents that happened across the United States. Researchers believe that helmet use can actually decrease the risks for serious brain injury in the event of an accident by as much as 88 percent.

Fischer says that there are a large number of accidents that happen because bikers fall off of their bike because of various traffic and bike-related accidents and victims suffer anything from a little bump to a severe and traumatic head injury, and in some cases even death. He adds that helmets may not be able to protect riders in every situation, like being hit by a bus, but he says that the pros outweigh the cons and that this protection is better than none.

According to state law, bikers under the age of 12-years-old have to wear a helmet while riding a bike. Like other states, there are no laws in the books that require older bikers to wear a helmet.

According to a recent study from undergraduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, helmets would be beneficial if they were available to Hubway riders. The students even developed a prototype, called HelmetHub, that would offer helmets to Hubway Riders. The helmets were adjustable and would fit most heads. The helmets would be distributed by a touch screen vending machine-like device that would work much like the bike-sharing devices. The helmets could be rented and returned to any other kiosk within the city. Officials with the City of Boston expressed a little interest in the prototype, but ultimately say that issues regarding sanitation would be a top concern to overcome before making these helmets available to all Hubway users.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a bicycle accident in Boston or elsewhere in the state of Massachusetts, contact Boston Injury Lawyer Jeffrey S. Glassman. Our law firm offers free and confidential appointments to discuss your case. Call 877-617-5333 to schedule your appointment.

Additional Resources:

Only 1 in 5 Hubway bike-share riders in Boston wear helmets, study suggests, by Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff
More Blog Entries:

Risks of Bicycle Accidents Reduced with New Wayfinding Signs, Says Mayor, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, April 26, 2012