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City Still Working on Hubway Helmet Solution

While Boston officials are still eager to partner with an MIT vendor, a fix to the lack of safety gear in the citywide bike system is unclear.

Boston’s Hubway bicycle sharing system provided 650,000 trips between July 2011 and July 2012, its first 12 months of operation, and while the program appears to be a success there has been one glaring omission: helmets.

Kris Carter, interim director of Boston Bikes, said at a Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association Meeting this week that a helmet system was supposed to be in place last fall but never came to pass. 

“The mayor is aware of the need,” he said.

Carter was at the meeting to pitch the idea of a Hubway station in Jamaica Plain, but a conversation on the system's lack of helmets erupted. He said Hubway officials are looking into teaming up with HelmetHub, an MIT-based company that has created a helmet vending machine.

Though the Hubway system has exceeded expectations—the city projects it will turn a profit in its third year—there are still those who view the current lack of helmets as a deal breaker.

Carlos Icaza, member of Jamaica Plain BAPA, recently suffered a concussion after falling over the handlebars of his bicycle. He was wearing a helmet at the time, and he said the Hubway's helmet problem needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

“I think it’s a serious flaw in the system that you don’t have access to helmets,” he said.

Carter said the mayor’s office is stressing education and community outreach in the meantime, and officials briefly looked into a system involving a partnership with convenience stores nearby to Hubway stations that could make helmets available. 

There are two Hubway stations in Charlestown, one at Thompson Square (Main and Austin streets) and one at Warren and Chelsea streets.

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