Boston to install first bike helmet vending machine


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A bicycle helmet vending machine? A bicycle helmet vending machine.

Boston will become the first city in America when it installs a bicycle helmet vending machine at one of the city’s Hubway Stations, where residents rent bicycles for daily use.

“I am thrilled to introduce another Boston biking first. This is the first bike share helmet vending machine in the country,” Mayor Thomas Menino said. “Our goal is to make Hubway a great and safe way to get around town, and HelmetHub is a step in the right direction for our growing cycling culture in the City of Boston.”

The HelmetHub machine is a street kiosk built right into the Hubway platform that allows for users to rent and return helmets at the same time they rent Hubway bicycles. Returned helmets are removed from the machine and taken for inspection and sanitization.

Helmets will cost just $2 to rent if returned within 24 hours or $20 to buy.

HelmetHub has its roots in the Boston. The company was started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received startup funding from the MassChallenge, an nonprofit incubator program that selects more than 100 startup companies annually to participate in its four-month accelerator program that awards $1 million in grants to the program’s top companies at its completition.

HelmetHub won a contract with the city in May to design, test and implement this kind of helmet rental system in Boston, which Hubway riders have been asking for since the sharing service began in Boston.

The first machine will be installed as a trial as the Hubway season winds down. HelmetHub will take lessons learned from the trial and implement it into a more wide-scale implementation next year. HelmetHub’s team hopes to garner significant data during the rest of the 2013 season, and staff will be on-site at the machine to help answer questions and provide support to users.

Improvements and expansions to the Hubway system also support the mayor’s Greenovate Boston initiative, which encourages residents to help reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by taking actions like biking, walking and using public transit.

For more on HelmetHub, check out this video made by Boston University’s television station this past spring that talks about the company.

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Massachusetts, States