Article in PubliCola about how Seattle is struggling with mandatory helmet laws and public bike sharing:
… one clear down side to helmet laws is that they discourage bike-sharing systems like the popular programs in Portland and Washington, D.C., where helmets are not required. Bike sharing programs are designed for short, spur-of-the-moment trips: You grab a bike from the rack, go where you need to go, and lock it into another rack.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty unlikely to carry a helmet with me everywhere on the off chance that I’ll decide to take a quick, unplanned trip down the street (people make fun of Josh for carrying his helmet around after he locks up and runs errands). And I’m not going to put on a helmet that’s been used by dozens or hundreds of other sweaty people of unknown sanitary standards, any more than I’m going to wear clothes I found on the ground. Thus, the conundrum: How do you promote bike-sharing in a city with a mandatory helmet law?
The article mentions several options to get around this problem, but the most promising is to simply repeal the mandatory helmet laws.