CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte's popular bicycle-sharing program B-Cycle will soon launch a helmet-sharing program later this summer. Executive Director Dianna Ward tells NBC Charlotte, helmet sharing is an important next step in protecting riders.
"We're actually working on that. We just need to make sure we do it right. Whenever you put helmets in a public place, we have to be able to sanitize them. If we're offering helmets that we're asking people to leave, then we need to make sure we have a process in place."
Ward will lead a group to Seattle, Wash. to study their program. Seattle has a helmet-sharing system now in place.
Under North Carolina law, anyone over 18 is not legally required to wear a helmet. People age 17 and under can not participate in Charlotte B-cycle. Any adult can receive a free helmet by stopping by the Time Warner Cable Arena location on Trade Street. While technically legal to ride a B-Cycle without one, safety advocates strongly encourage helmet use.
"I would never ride a bike without a helmet," said Janice Williams, director of injury Prevention Program, Department of Emergency Medicine for Carolinas Health Care System. "I would never recommend in good conscience, a friend, or someone I'm teaching to go ahead and ride without a helmet."
The State of North Carolina keeps track of bicycle crash data every year. Williams points out that last year there were 220 bicycle crashes in Mecklenburg County, and only 17 riders were left unhurt. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says helmet use has been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent.
Williams says fitting a helmet correctly is also important: "You need two fingers between your eyebrows and the visor of the helmet. The "V" straps on the side of the helmet need to go around your ears. You only want to fit one finger between the chinstrap, and your chin so that the helmet is tight and doesn't rock back and forth. Nowadays helmets come with back straps that expand to fit a larger range of heads."