Researchers: Head injuries up in cities with bikeshare programs

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – As the weather gets warmer, many people are renting bikes from the Pacers Bikeshare system in downtown Indianapolis. However, some researchers found something to keep in mind when you ride these here in Indy, or rent bikes anywhere else.

In the American Journal of Public Health, researchers said head injuries went up in cities where bikesharing is offered. Riders who rent these bikes rarely wear helmets, according to them.

“I cringe that I don’t have my helmet because I am a bicyclist and I always wear a helmet and my kids grew up and they always had to wear their helmets,” Linda Schwinghammer, of Durango, Colorado, said after renting a bike in Indy.

“We’re not aware of any incidents that have happened regarding head injuries on Pacers bikes,” Karen Haley, who runs the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare, said.

She says in a self-serve set-up like he Pacers Bikeshare, it would be difficult to provide helmets and that’s standard around the country.

“We’re following really what the national model is – just providing information where people can go rent helmets while they’re on the bikes downtown,” Haley said.

That means anyone who rents one of the bikes is directed to downtown bike shops where riders can rent or buy a helmet.

Riders must also accept responsibility for whatever happens while on the bike.

“You cannot get, check out a bike or get a membership without agreeing to that release, that liability waiver,” Haley said.

250 bikes are scattered in the kiosks around downtown and Pacers Bikeshare statistics show that in the first month, each was ridden an average of 52 times.

“I feel like, with the Indianapolis cultural trail, we have some of the best bike infrastructure in the country,” Haley said.

The Pacers Bikeshare website says “please wear a helmet” and it offers a long list of shops around town which offer them to riders. Click here for more information and additional safety tips. 

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