[This post has been updated]
The bright red bicycles of Capital Bikeshare are slowly but surely infiltrating the suburbs around Washington, but one key element has been missing from the process: helmets.
That changed on Friday as Bikeshare announced that monthly or annual members could buy helmets online for $16. The helmets are only available when you buy or renew a membership.
Bikeshare also announced a monthly payment plan allowing annual members to pay $7 per month. That does increase the cost of a yearly Bikeshare membership: It’s $75 if you pay in one lump sum versus $84 for the monthly plan. The 30-day membership remains $25.
The helmets and monthly payment options are already available on Capital Bikeshare’s sign-up page.
There are 15,000 annual members of Bikeshare, according to John Lisle of the District Department of Transportation. He said the monthly payment option was added in response to feedback they’ve received from the public.
“What we’re trying to do is remove as many barriers as we can,” he said.
Selling the branded Bikeshare helmets online “makes helmets available in a convenient way,” said Chris Eatough, program manager for Bike Arlington.
Eatough noted that while helmets aren’t required for Bikeshare members, this is a way for Bikeshare to promote rider safety and encourage helmet use.
Helmets are legally required for riders age 15 and younger in Washington and for age 14 and younger in Arlington and Alexandria. For anyone older, helmets are just strongly recommended. Members of Bikeshare must be 16 or older.
Capital Bikeshare currently offers 1,400 bicycles at more than 150 stations in the Arlington and the District. Arlington, which has 26 stations right now, plans to triple that number by next year.
The helmets and new payment options come as a bevy of potential members await Bikeshare’s arrival. The bikes should hit Rockville and Alexandria by the summer, while Montgomery County hopes to bring stations to Bethesda, Silver Spring, the Medical Center area, Friendship Heights/Chevy Chase and Takoma Park.