Berkeley Free Bike Helmets: City Gives Free Helmet To Every Citizen

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Biking has a lot of advantages—it's great exercise, and your average Schwinn gets infinitely better gas mileage than even the most Prius-y Prius.

That said, biking does have its disadvantages. Hills, for example.

Also, most bikers aren't protected from collision by two tons of steel (Iron Man excluded). The best the average biker has at his or her disposal is a helmet, which is precisely why the City of Berkeley has started a new program distributing free bike helmets to all of it's citizens.

Berkeleyside reports:

All you need to do to claim a helmet is turn up at the City of Berkeley Public Health Division at 1947 Center Street, on the 2nd Floor. Office hours are from 9am-5pm. No appointment necessary. The initiative to give out helmets is sponsored by the City of Berkeley Injury Prevention and Chronic Disease Prevention Program and the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The helmets are being distributed as part of the City of Berkeley Injury Prevention Program and the offer stands until supplies run out.

According to a 2008 national Gallup poll, only 50 percent of bikers ever wear a helmet, even on occasion, and a mere 35 percent use one every time they ride. Interestingly, the same survey found that 62 percent of Americans are in favor of laws requiring helmet use for both children and adults.

In 1993, California passed a law mandating all children under the age of 18 wear a helmet every time they ride a bike.

A study by the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies said, "Of the 1,430 bicycle-related head injuries reported for 1991, 1,216 (85%) could have been prevented or mitigated by helmet use, with a potential savings (hospital charges only) of $16.7 million."

There is a limit of one helmet per person.

For more information about the program, contact (510) 981-7676 or nxiong@cityofberkeley.info.

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Filed by Aaron Sankin