Free-Floating Bikeshare and Helmet Use in Seattle, WA

  • Stephen J. MooneyEmail author
  • Bella Lee
  • Allyson W. O’Connor
Original Paper


Wearing a helmet when bicycling prevents traumatic brain injury in the event of a crash. Most cyclists nationwide use helmets when riding. However, the growth of free-floating bike sharing systems, which offer short-term access to bicycles but not helmets, may erode helmet-wearing norms among cyclists. We counted cyclists over several hours at four locations in Seattle, WA. We categorized each rider according to whether he or she was wearing a helmet and to whether or not he or she was riding a bike share bike. Whereas 91% of riders of private bikes wore helmets, only 20% of bike share riders wore helmets. Moreover, in locations where a greater proportion of riders were on bikes hare bikes, fewer riders of private bicycles wore helmets (r = − 0.96, p = 0.04). The impact of bike sharing programs on helmet wearing norms among private bike riders warrants further exploration.


Helmet Injury prevention Bicycling Free-floating bike share 



We thank Smita Stepanova-Pednekar, Kelsie Clebowski, and the participants in the INSIGHT high school summer intern program at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. Fred Rivara, Monica Vavilala, Jana Hirsch, and Tony Gomez provided comments on a version of this work.


This work was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shiver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (T32HD057822) and a research grant from the Better Bike Share Partnership.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen J. Mooney
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Bella Lee
    • 1
  • Allyson W. O’Connor
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Harborview Injury Prevention & Research CenterUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health ServicesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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