No helmet? No problem. Seattle's bike share includes helmet workaround

I’m in Seattle visiting family this week and getting a much-welcomed reprieve from the summer heat back home.

It’s been a few years since I last visited the Emerald City, and one of the first changes I spotted upon disembarking from the ferry terminal the other day was the stations filled with lime green Pronto bikes along the Puget Sound.

A Pronto bike station near downtown Seattle.
A Pronto bike station near downtown Seattle.

Seattle is certainly well ahead of most places in convincing its residents to get around by bike, and is putting most other American cities to shame in its efforts to make itself even more bike-friendly with infrastructure like the enviable Burke Gillman Trail and plans underway to ensure all Seattleites reside within a quarter mile of a bike facility.

Bike share is hardly a novel idea anymore, with some version of these systems in place in 65 cities across the U.S. and growing. These programs are fantastic additions that add to the quality of life in a city for residents and tourists alike; They’re also great for introducing more people to biking and getting more people to ride. Yet despite bike share’s many benefits, a few of which are enumerated here, I had assumed bike share would be one bike-friendly amenity missing from Seattle’s very impressive repertoire thanks to a law on the books since 2003 requiring the use of a helmet. The city is one of the few with this type of requirement for adults.

But as Seattle has proven once again, there are few excuses for failing to provide progressive bicycle infrastructure.

If you happen upon a bike share kiosk without your helmet handy, you can simply rent a clean one.

A Pronto helmet rental kiosk.
A Pronto helmet rental kiosk.


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