Do any bike sharing schemes provide a way to rent or share helmets along with the bikes, either in a kiosk or through an arrangement with local businesses?

None of the schemes that I've used (London, Vienna, Boston) or am aware of provide them, and in most that I'm aware of it is rare to see helmets in use at all, despite the fact that most recommend them and in several cities riding without them is illegal.

Have any of the cities that have cycle hire schemes come up with a convenient way to provide helmets along with the bikes in a way that's consistent with the "use and forget" philosophy of the schemes?

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  • Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN had a bike sharing program a few years back, and I'm pretty sure it included lending out helmets. But I can't find anything on the web about it so I suspect they dropped the program. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 7 '11 at 3:33
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    (And keep in mind that head lice would be a serious concern with any helmet sharing scheme.) – Daniel R Hicks Oct 7 '11 at 3:33
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    Not sure how much of a problem head lice really is anymore (well, other than in childern, who seem to be disease and parasite magnets even when they're not sharing things). It's pretty common for beginning motorsports events to have helmets freely available for sharing amongst everyone. Can't recall any episodes of lice coming out of one of those ever... – Brian Knoblauch Oct 7 '11 at 19:19
  • People would still worry, and there would be those horror stories that you heard from a friend of a friend. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 13 '11 at 2:23
  • Just checked the Nice Ride web site for Minneapolis/St Paul. They apparently don't offer helmets (though the pictures on their site mostly show them being worn). – Daniel R Hicks Oct 13 '11 at 12:15

In Melbourne, we have a bike share scheme. You can buy helmets for $5 from various outlets and then return them for a refund of $3 (they are then cleaned and reused).

Despite this, many people are saying that Australia's compulsory helmet laws are responsible for the lack of success of the bike sharing scheme.

  • One problem is that "compulsory helmet laws" tend to make people think that riding a bike is high risk. – Ian Oct 17 '11 at 12:19
  • Styrofoam hats have caused biking everywhere to be ruined. – Neil Fein Oct 18 '11 at 3:45
  • Reminds me of the MIT study on the efficacy of tin foil hats. – James Schek Jan 1 '12 at 6:23

My own personal experience of the Melbourne BikeShare scheme is relatively extensive and I have spoken to quite a few tourists at the various kiosks even if only to help them understand how it works(It is actually quite simple and easy by international standards). Invariably they express a disinterest in hiring a bike when they learn that a helmet is mandatory. On a couple of occasions when I offhandedly suggested I had seen a few people not wearing helmets and there seemed to be no interest from the police in this they hired bikes. It is impossible to refute the claim that the helmets are not limiting the success of the scheme.


Brisbane has a bike sharing scheme where a helmet is included with some (not all) of the bikes. I don't believe it is an additional fee. With regards to head lice, it is gets hot enough in Brisbane that they aren't likely to survive for very long in a helmet without food. The Brisbane Council is expanding the sharing scheme and I am often seeing people on these bikes where I work in South Brisbane. The other thing that has helped the success of the bike share in Brisbane is more reasonable pricing. I think $2-3 for the day.


An additional resource that may point the way for the future: "A vending machine that serves up safety: MIT class creates bike helmet dispenser" for use in conduction with Boston's Hubway cycle hire scheme. The first of these are now being deployed in Boston.

  • Those students founded a company to continue the development process (because that is what you do at MIT) called Helmet Hub – alsothings Nov 13 '12 at 13:48

I'm in Charlotte, NC. The city is considering a bike share program since we are hosting the Democratic National Convention next year. I heard at a bike club meeting that vending machines would be next to the bikes with helmets available for purchase. Helmets are not required here except for children. The price of the vending machine helmets will be $10 I think.

  • I wonder how you're supposed to try them on for size? – Daniel R Hicks Oct 15 '11 at 2:48

Many smaller, university-based bike sharing programs provide helments. For example, the City Cycles program at the University of Rochester (in New York) provides helmets:

We have 20 street bikes (Gary Fisher brand) with fat, smooth tires for fast rolling and no punctures. We also have one tandem (a "bicycle built for two"). All bikes come with racks. Helmets are available (are encouraged) for all riders.

The bike rental program at Louisiana State University also provides helmets:

LSU students may rent bikes for two hours each day free of charge from the UREC Student Recreation Center equipment desk. In addition, day and weekend rentals are available for a nominal fee to include use by UREC members and the community. A helmet is included with each bike rental and LSU UREC recommends for it to be worn for the rider’s safety while operating the bike.


In New Zealand and Australia, bicycle helmets are compulsory, and required by law.

So a bike programme must provide helmets, or specifically say to bring your own.

There's not as much bike usage as one might expect if it was another large flat city ideal for riding.

My city's scheme FAQ http://www.nextbike.co.nz/en/christchurch/common-questions/


I wouldn't think that most of these bike rental places would include a helmet, mostly because most people consider any piece of head gear a personal item not to be shared with others. There is hygiene involved with a those that may have worn the helmet prior to you.

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