Startup HelmetHub Helps Riders Protect Their Noggins

Photo courtesy of Hubway

Photo courtesy of Hubway

As the price of gasoline continues to soar and more individuals and families choose to make their homes in urban cores, cycling has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years. In fact, many larger cities across the U.S. are looking to become more bike-friendly by installing bike lanes and implementing bike-sharing programs to encourage residents and visitors to ride instead of drive. With more bikes on the road, however, there is an increased concern for riders’ safety.

In Boston, an MIT startup has set out to protect riders from serious head injuries by launching HelmetHub, a machine that dispenses helmets. The solar-powered kiosks, designed by a group of former engineer students, are located at Hubway bike-share stations across the city of Boston. Each kiosk holds a total of 36 helmets, which rent for $2 each. Riders also have the option of buying the helmet for $20.

Riders who choose to rent a helmet can return the helmet to any HelmetHub kiosk at the Hubway station closest to their destination. In addition, the company also offers software for its kiosks that let bike-share programs track usage and damage of helmets so they know when a station is running low or a helmet needs to be repaired.

By the end of November 2013, Hubway had 3,600 annual riders. Only 42 percent of riders, however, wear helmets.

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