Free Bike Helmets for Delivery Workers Today

In anticipation of two new laws that take effect in July, DOT is handing out free helmets to commercial cyclists. One law requires businesses to provide helmets to employees who use bicycles as part of their work, and to make sure their workers wear them. Another law requires businesses to display this poster (pdf) in their workplace. From the DOT press release:

nyc_bike_helmet.jpgTransportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Chinese Chamber of Commerce Chairman David J. Louie will distribute free NYC bicycle helmets to delivery workers on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will also distribute reflective safety vests at the event. The helmet fitting and distribution will be held from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, 62 Mott Street.

The event is intended to inform businesses and bicycle operators about two new laws that take effect on July 26th, 2007 and were sponsored by Council members Gale Brewer and Alan Gerson, both of whom attended today’s announcement.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has begun a pilot program to provide delivery workers with reflective vests that increase cyclists’ visibility and allow for easy display of identifying information. Under city law, commercial cyclists must display a sign indicating their employer’s name and a personal, three-digit identification number.

  • cmu

    Just as with the proliferation of draconian anti-smoking laws, guess it’ll only be a matter of time before helmets are mandated for all of us.

    Getting the average person to use a cycle is hard enough; as experience in Australia and other countries shows, cycling drops when helmets are compulsory.

  • Zam

    To me, this looks like city government saying: “Sorry, NYC cyclists. We’re not going to do much of anything to protect you with physically-separated bicycling infrastructure (a la Copenhagen), so here, take this helmet. Protect yourself.”

    Sorry to bust up the feel-good vibes around the bike helmet give-away but I think it’s utterly lame. I doubt that Bogota, Amsterdam, Copenhagen , Berlin or any other great biking cities have ever done helmet give-aways.

    Armor up, folks!

  • v

    check out that poster – welcome to the police state. what with the employer id etc, looks like dot is getting kickbacks from the minutemen.

  • Seems like a similar poster should be created for motorists.

    Given that head injuries inside motor vehicles vastly outnumbers head injuries among cyclists, I think we should mandate helmet use for car drivers.

  • Dan

    Wow. Sorry to leave a negative post and clash with the fuck the man attitude, but I have to say, the comments to this post are a tad ridiculous. To the argument that having to wear a helmet will discourage people from riding, I say good, keep the idiots off the roads. I thought it was incredibly stupid when motorcyclists refused to wear helmets, and I think it’s just silly that so many cyclists don’t. But I guess maybe it is be worth it to look cool on a bike 364 days of the year if you only have to die once.

    I also really disagree with arguments that amount to ‘This isn’t the best thing to do, so lets argue against anything else at all getting done.’ That results in nothing getting done. Fritz’s point is the most sensible. I say go for it! make it an issue. Unfortunately I couldn’t ever see it going anywhere, but requiring cyclists to wear helmets isn’t such a bad idea.

    Last: This isn’t the only thing the city’s trying to do. Not saying the city’s run by angels, but I support any measures toward greater bicycle safety in NYC.

  • Steve

    Giving these guys helmets like giving condoms to prostitutes. We call it public health. DoT is giving out free helmets to people who bicycle for a living and often get paid dirt, and who in many cases are at risk while bicycling because they never received any formal driving or bicycling instruction and can’t understand English. Who can oppose that?

  • Ian Turner

    Dan,

    The main thing is that reducing the number of cyclists makes the road less safe for all cyclists. This “safety in numbers” phenomenon has been well documented (*) and even measured — doubling the number of cyclists on the road decreases the chance of an individual cyclist getting in an accident by around 30%.

    Since it has likewise been well documented that mandatory helmet laws reduce cycling by as much as a third, the overall safety benefits of such laws are highly questionable. Furthermore, the health benefits of cycling outweigh the safety risks by as much as 20 to 1 (***), so any policy that reduces the number of cyclists in the name of health is clearly misguided.

    Mandatory helmets make some sense in the context of people who will cycle in any case, such as delivery workers and bike messengers. But the public health implications of widespread mandatory helmet use appear to be negative and indefensible. (***) Finally, bicycling is in fact safer than driving and walking (****), so it’s not at all clear why it should get special treatment as a mode with respect to helmet use.

    (*) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=retrieve&db=pubmed&list_uids=10868762&dopt=Abstract
    (**) http://ip.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/7/4/343-a
    (***) http://ip.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/7/4/343-a
    (****) http://www.magma.ca/~ocbc/comparat.html/ped

  • Gelston

    They should also offer them face masks, since pollution is a constant and unambiguous health hazard. The sight of all these cyclists with masks and helmets should send a message about the state of our streets that can only help reverse the tide.

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