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Boston launches public health campaign promoting use of bike helmets

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  October 16, 2012 04:56 PM

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(Photo by Johanna Kaiser for

A new marking on the bike lane on Commonwealth Avenue near Kenmore Square reads "No excuse, wear a helmet"

The Boston Public Health Commission has launched a new campaign to encourage bicyclists to wear helmets as the city continues to boost biking on its roads.

The new public awareness campaign features new markings on bike lanes that show a profile of a person wearing a bicycle helmet in a white circle with "No Excuses" painted on the top and "Wear a Helmet" painted on the bottom of the circle.

Posters feature a young man holding a tissue on his bloodied face read "Still think it's the helmet that's unattractive? There are no good excuses."

The advertisements and bike lane markings are designed to target young men, said Kristopher Carter, interim director of Boston Bikes, the city's initiative to promote bicycling.

The bike lane markings are limited and are concentrated on streets near college campuses, such as Commonwealth Avenue. The markings have also been added to Columbia Road, where the city has found a low level of helmet use, Carter said.

The campaign comes less than a month after a female bicyclist was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer truck in South Boston. In June, a female bicyclist was killed after she fell from her bicycle into traffic on Huntington Avenue near Northeastern University.

While the city has seen a 30 percent increase in bicycle ridership over the past two years as it installed 57 miles of bike lanes and welcomed The Hubway bike share program, the number of accidents have dropped by 25 percent, according to Carter.

"It takes time to educate everybody in the city of Boston and all the visitors. We’re doing all we can and are continuously coming up with new ideas with support from from local organization," Carter said.

Those efforts include on-bike training sessions, group rides, educational programs in the public schools, and distributing bikes and helmets to low income residents and children.

Boston University police also stopped 152 bicyclists who allegedly violated traffic rules while riding along Commonwealth Avenue during a three-day span in late September.

The focus on safety and traffic laws doesn't stop with cyclists, Carter said.

"It's not just about bicyclists, it's about cars and pedestrians as well," Carter said.

Boston Bikes sends material about bike safety, sharing the road, traffic rules, and biking infrastructure with annual excise tax bills, which are sent to every car owner in the city.

The program is also working with the transportation department to send literature out in other mailers, according to Carter.

"We're just getting better and better each day," said Carter, noting the number of biking improvements over the past few years.

"Ten years from now it will be that much better,” he said.
Twitter: @YTFenwayKenmore

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