Helmets encouraged, but not provided for Divvy bike users - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Helmets encouraged, but not provided for Divvy bike users

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Divvy bike-sharing stations are popping up everywhere in Chicago. There are now more than 130 stations offering more than 1,000 bikes, but even some of the program's supporters are questioning why helmets aren't included with the ride.

Michael Levin, like the vast majority of Divvy bikers we've observed, doesn't wear a helmet when riding. No surprise. The bike rental system advises riders to wear a helmet, but doesn't provide any.

Levin says it's not worth it, for short rides through The Loop.

"You don't need a helmet around here," Levin says. "I take the train down here, so carrying a helmet would be just another thing I don't need to deal with."

Others admit they're taking a big chance.

"You should always ride with a helmet, and I'm an idiot," attorney Mark Swartz told our cameras.

And some say they would never use a rental helmet.

"It seems a little disgusting to wear someone else's helmet," Divvy rider Ted Holsteen adds.

But there is the occasional rider, who brings a helmet along for the ride.

Plaintiff's attorney Matt Willens has been questioning the lack of helmets for months. He says they can reduce the likelihood of head injuries and deaths.

Tourists using the bike sharing system might especially need them.

"That's definitely a concern," Willens says. "Now you'll have riders, new riders, you'll have tourists from other states, other countries, riding around the streets of Chicago, not knowing the bike laws, maybe their attention is focused on the beautiful architecture here instead of their bike riding."

A spokesman for the city told us that "Riding a Divvy bike is safe. Still, we encourage the use of helmets."

And during our interview, Michael Levin came around to that point of view.

"I would advise people who aren't experienced riders, of course, to have a helmet, people who aren't familiar with the city, to have a helmet, and I probably should have a helmet too," he said.

The city also points out that the average speed of a bike share rider is about 7 miles per hour, and that all of the bikes are equipped with flashing front and rear lights.

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