PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland’s new bike sharing program is wildly popular. More than 100,000 people have used the orange “Biketown” bikes in less than two months.
But some people argue there’s one thing missing: helmets.
"I think it’s really important to provide bike helmets,” said Alex Luty of Portland. “I know logistically it would be pretty difficult but considering how many people are using them every day, it would be really great if they would think about people's safety."
City officials say at least two people have been injured while riding the bikes. The Portland Tribune reported a Beaverton woman suffered a head injury after falling off a Biketown bicycle in Northeast Portland.
Similar bike-sharing programs in other cities, like Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, offer helmets at each location. They’re cleaned and disinfected after each ride.
In those cities, helmets are required. Under Oregon law, only those younger than 16 have to wear a helmet.
"Our approach has been to encourage bike helmet use as much as possible,” said John Brady of the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
Biketown has participated in promotions offering discounts on bike helmets.
Portland city officials said they explored offering helmets but it was too expensive and the technology wasn’t good enough.
Riders say the bikes are heavy and they’re made with safety in mind.
“You’re not going that fast. Maybe like running speed. So if you need to wear a helmet when you go running then maybe you need to wear a helmet when you ride these,” said Karl Fezer as he returned a Biketown bike.