“A micromobility device is only complete if it includes a helmet,” so says bikesharing service Wheels.
That’s why it’s just unveiled a redesign of its electric bike that now includes a helmet for riders to use as they zip across town. The company will even offer an automatic 20% discount if you wear the helmet during a ride, with built-in sensors able to detect when the helmet is being worn.
California-based Wheels, which operates in eight U.S. locations that include Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami, said the helmets can be quickly unlocked and locked to the back of the bike using the Wheels app, and include removable liners for hygiene.
The safety move comes as bikesharing and scootersharing services come under increasing scrutiny in cities around the world. The growing number of shared two-wheelers hitting the streets have brought safety issues into sharp focus, with an increasing number of riders landing up in hospital following collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, or obstacles such as lampposts.
In a bid to protect riders, and to avoid a clampdown by regulators, providers of such services are making efforts to improve their respective safety records.
In 2018, for example, Lime splashed $3 million on a campaign to encourage safer riding among its users. Spin, too, launched a page on its website dedicated to scooter safety, while at the same time offering a discount on folding helmets that fit easily into a bag or backpack for carrying between rides.
Bird, meanwhile, recently revealed it had given away nearly 75,000 free helmets in 18 months, though the company admitted that it failed to increase helmet use in a significant way. In response, it launched another effort — free rides if you wear a helmet when you use one of its scooters, though it involves sending a selfie to “prove” that you wore it.
“Wheels is committed to providing a free helmet to every rider, removing the hassle of having to remember to bring it or keep it with you once you’ve reached your destination,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing its new initiative.
It added: “We hope that riders recognize that a helmet can save their lives. When one is offered to you for free without requiring you to carry one around, using it is a no-brainer.”
The helmets will be available first on Wheels’ bikes in Los Angeles before arriving in its other cities soon.
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