Official: Bikeshare crashes are rare

Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir


A Capital Bikeshare rider was involved in a nasty wreck Tuesday morning with an 18-wheeler, but such crashes are unusual, according to the popular bikeshare system.

The public bike system has had 17 crashes reported systemwide out of 1.6 million rides since it began in September 2010, according to Chris Holben, who manages the bikeshare program for the District Department of Transportation.

He said he was aware of only one crash besides Tuesday’s that involved serious injuries, with most coming in as damage to the bikes alone.

Tuesday’s crash occurred at 8:46 a.m. at the intersection of U and 11th streets Northwest, according to D.C. Fire & EMS.

An 18-wheeler flat bed truck was turning right on a red signal from 11th Street’s southbound lanes into U Street’s westbound lanes, Holben said.

The biker was initially transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries, according to the emergency officials. But D.C.’s Metropolitan Police said the case was downgraded from a major case when it appeared the rider would survive.

An update of his condition was not available Wednesday.

Still, the crash highlights a key concern about the bike share program: a lack of helmets. The rider was reportedly not wearing one.

Under the system, riders can take a bike easily but helmets are not provided, nor are they required to wear one.

Holben notes that wearing a helmet does not prevent a crash. But it can protect riders – or even save their lives— if they are in a wreck.

The bikeshare system is looking into ways of making low-cost helmets available to its riders. It plans to sell helmets for about $17 to new members or renewing members, Holben said, and is looking at selling low-cost options at non-traditional locations such as CVS.

Already many local bike shops sell discounted helmets to Capital Bikeshare’s annual members.

The system is also trying to promote safety to prevent riders from needing to rely on helmets to protect them. 

“We’re very concerned about any crash,” Holben said. “We ask bikers and drivers and pedestrians to all follow the rules of the road to alleviate any injuries like this.”

The bike system provides members with safety tips when they sign up. It then sends them a pamphlet with membership key. And in the next few weeks, each bike will feature a sticker with one of 10 safety reminders on the front handle area of the bikes where riders won’t miss it, he said.


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