Bike Share Helmet Hub machine in Boston lets you rent a bicycle helmet with your bike

Mom always told you to wear your helmet, and now you have one less excuse not to oblige.

Bikeshare programs are exploding in the US, but helmet usage is simply not keeping up. In a Chicago survey 60% of people said they’d use a bikesharing program if they felt safer.

Students at MIT decided to tackle this discrepancy by augmenting Boston’s Hubway BikeShare system with rentable helmets. Their prototype HelmetHub was first revealed at MIT in December 2011.

The production version is solar-powered with the ability to hold 36 helmets in three different sizes. Returned helmets are inspected and sanitized prior to being rented out again. Expect to see this service spread to other bikeshare programs.


  1. “said they’d use a bikesharing program if they felt safer”
    Seeing other people wearing a helmet only affirms the (wrong) idea that cycling is dangerous. Stop the fearmongering, there is absolutely no need to wear a helmet when riding in the city.

  2. Yes, Steven, you’re right.
    Cycling is not dangerous. It’s the falling and crashing that’s dangerous.
    Besides, if stupid people are forced or encouraged to wear helmets, we’re short-circuiting evolution.

  3. Steven couldn’t be more correct. Helmets scare people. That’s why no one rides motorcycles or race cars on city streets.

    What the officials should do is concentrate their efforts on a share system for foam clown noses. No one fears those and what could make cycling appear safer and more fun than smiling participants cycling around town with clown noses affixed?

  4. There is a reason to wear a helmet- idiots with poor reflexes operating large hunks of metal while texting. You can be the safest rider and an excellent city biker but you can’t account for motorists who can’t drive, don’t care, and don’t paying attention. Even at low speed, an impact can cause a pretty bad knock to the head. It’s not fearmongering, it’s just reality; bad drivers are everywhere.

  5. @ Chicken Boo
    I totally agree, I have rode bmx freestyle for about 16 years and such have pretty good bike skills. Porbably better at handling a bike than 90% of riders using a bike share scheme, but I still wear a helmet in traffic. You cant calculate the risk of cycling on roads with shared lanes, any cyclist that thinks they are a good rider and wont have an accident is a vegetable or will be one very soon.

    These bike share schemes shouldnt be able operate without helmet provisions in the first instance.

  6. No matter how “sanitized” they may or may not be, I’d say the vast majority of people will have reservations about using rental helmets.

    If not, maybe there is a market for rental bibs.

  7. It is just a helmet, not a magic shield deflecting all harm.
    Yes; it can protect your most vital organ, but it seems that most people wear helmets for peace of mind. For that safe feeling.

    As with the rest of life, there are dangers to bicycle riding. You can’t plan for all of them.
    If you want to protect your head against select impacts (if your helmet is fit properly. If time+environment hasn’t reduced its impact absorption. If it stays on your head) then wear one.

    I’ll be wearing mine when I feel like it.
    I’ll be using my brain to ride safely regardless of what is on my head. That gives me peace of mind.

  8. To prove that Steven is right …

    There is a rumor that the International Federation of Hockey will no longer make jockstrap mandatory.
    The reasoning behind it is that, apparently, there are fewer player due to the fact that a jockstrap scares them away of the sport, reminding them that they might get injured to their precious genitals while playing Hockey.

    Therefore, in an attemp to attrack more player, the federation, will remove jockstrap from the list of mandatory pieces of equipement.

    To justify the decision, the hockey federation studies show that:

    a) Hockey players weairing jockstrap were subject to as many serious injuries to other body parts as those not wearing it.

    b) Hockey players weairing jockstrap were still getting injured, and even some seriously, to their genitals.

    c) Hockey players weairing jockstrap had a tendancy to see themself as invincible and were engaging in more risky behaviour.

    d) Hockey players were bullying their opponenets knowing they were wearing jockstrap.

    NOW, That’s Logic!

  9. Now that you have read my previous message, what are the usual arguments againts mandatory helmets

    The reasoning againts mandatory helmets, is that apparently, there would be fewer cyclist (Hockey player) due to the fact that a helmet (jockstrap) would scare them away of the sport, reminding them that they might get head injury (injured to their precious genitals) while Cycling (playing Hockey).

    Also studies show that:

    a) Cyclists (Hockey players) weairing Helmet (jockstrap) were subject to as many serious injuries to other body parts as those not wearing it.

    b) Cyclists (Hockey players) weairing Helmet (jockstrap) were still getting injured, and even some seriously, to their Head (genitals).

    c) Cyclists (Hockey players) weairing Helmet (jockstrap) had a tendancy to see themself as invincible and were engaging in more risky behaviour.

    d) Car and truck drivers (Hockey players) were bullying their “opponenets” knowing they were wearing Helmet (jockstrap).

  10. I do not wear a helmet when on a casual ride, or on a bike path. It is safe enough.

    I do wear it if I find myself surrounded by cars and when off-road.

    Commuting is safe enough without a lid.

  11. Helmets are only designed to protect against very minor falls (e.g.: toppling from your bike, your head falling ~2 m). Crashes with motor vehicles involve much more energy than any bicycle helmet is designed to mitigate. There’s no good reason to wear a helmet for commuting on paved roads, unless you are prone to falling over of your own accord.

  12. Two points occur to me here:-
    1) I thought the article was about a helmet hire facility – but as usual the debate has descended to a discussion on mandatory helmet use. If you want one, it’s there to hire, great idea.
    2) The argument that a helmet can’t protect you against impact with a motor vehicle, so there’s no point wearing one, is patently absurd. It can’t – so what? Tough.
    If, on the other hand, I am going to hit the tarmac from 2m I would like to have the protection from the very real risk of brain injury. And no, it’s not because I am prone to falling “of my own accord” – stray dogs, kids, potholes, equipment failure and plain bad luck can all result in a fall.

What do you think?