Capital Bikeshare to sell helmets to members

The bright red bicycles of Capital Bikeshare are steadily rolling into the suburbs around Washington, but one key element has been missing from the process: helmets.

That changed Friday as Bikeshare announced that monthly and annual members can buy helmets online for $16. The red helmets, branded with the same yellow “Capital Bikeshare” found on the bikes, 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 rather than one payment each year. That increases 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 Capital Bikeshare, which was co-founded by Arlington County and the District in 2010.

The monthly payment option was added in response to feedback from the public, said John Lisle, spokesman for the District Department of Transportation.

“What we’re trying to do is remove as many barriers as we can,” he said.

Arlington gave away 550 free helmets last month, with residents snapping them up in just two weeks.

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 15 and younger in the District and for riders 14 and younger in Arlington and Alexandria. In Montgomery County, anyone under age 18 has to wear a helmet. For anyone older, helmets are strongly recommended. Members of Bikeshare must be 16 or older.

Capital Bikeshare offers 1,400 bicycles at more than 150 stations. Arlington, which has 26 stations, plans to triple the number of locations there 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 hopes to bring locations to Bethesda, Silver Spring, the Medical Center Metro station area, Friendship Heights/Chevy Chase and Takoma Park.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.

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