(Update, 4:45 p.m. Despite reports of HelmetHub rolling out on August 26, co-founder Breanna Berry has informed me the helmet vending machines will not be released until the first week of September. The title now reflects that change.)
Following months of anticipation, and a speculated July release, helmet vending machines will be rolling out to Hubway bike-share stations Monday, making Boston the first city in the country to offer the added safety feature.
The city has been working with HelmetHub, a silver winner in the 2012 MassChallenge competition and a startup with MIT roots. First developed in 2011 by 12 undergraduates in a product-design course, HelmetHub has been shifting gears under the watchful eye of Boston’s Bike Czar Nicole Freedman. She worked closely with the students throughout the initial stages, “giving them parameters that would make [HelmetHub] successful.”
With an official launch set to kick off tomorrow, it’s clear she did her part.
City officials, including Mayor Thomas Menino, are expected to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate one of the first HelmetHub stations, set to be parked outside the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, according to the Boston Globe.
Three other pilot vending machines are said to be rolling out, as well. Although the final word on where they will be located has yet to be announced, Freedman said they will likely be installed at Hubway stations known to attract “casual ridership,” or riders least likely to wear helmets. The Boston Globe reports:
The top Hubway stations for casual ridership are at: Beacon and Arlington streets, Boylston and Arlington Streets, Charles Circle, North Station and South Station, [Freedman] said.
Helmets will be available for sale or rent, ringing in at an alleged rental fee of $2. Each helmet is unisize, and can be bought by credit card. Individuals looking to purchase the helmets will be paying a price somewhere “in the $20 range.”
Each solar-powered HelmetHub can hold 30 to 36 helmets and features a touch screen similar to those on Hubway rental kiosks. Once a cyclist is finished with their helmet, they can return it to the location they’re dropping off their borrowed bike, and it will be sent to the company’s headquarters to be inspected and sanitized before being put back into circulation. Riders who fail to return a rented helmet within 24 hours, however, will become the helmet’s new owner and their credit card will be charged accordingly.
In a previous interview with BostInno, now-advisor and MIT alumna Danielle Hicks said, “We’d love to see the HelmetHub at every bike-share system in the U.S.”
Tomorrow, the company will be one step closer to officially reaching that goal.
The photos below highlight where HelmetHub started in 2011, to what the stations look like now.