Helmet vending machines set to debut, and a cycle track in the works for the Seaport District

It’s been a big week of bike news, what with Boston Bike Week, a deluge of bike-to-work exhortations, and the release of the city’s comprehensive bike crash report.

But there are a couple bits of news that haven’t gotten reported.

Remember those helmet vending machines, the ATM-like kiosks intended to help Hubway riders stay safe without dragging around their helmets? Those are coming soon – and in a big way.

The first four of the vending machines will debut sometime between late June and early July, according to Nicole Freedman, Boston’s bike czar.

After any kinks are ironed out, the city will order 12 to 15 more, scheduled to appear by the end of the summer.


The city is still hammering out a contract with HelmetHub, the contingent of MIT students who came up with the design, but they know this much: Helmets will be available for rent or for sale, and city officials are aiming to keep the cost low — the rental fee will likely be $2, Freedman said last week. Down the road, she’s hoping to introduce a membership program for frequent helmet users.

They’ll be the first helmet vending machines on the street anywhere in America, Freedman said.

“It’s awesome,’’ Freedman said. “The machine’s fantastic.’’

And if you, like me, have gulped down the Kool-Aid and consider the Seaport District the coolest place in town, you’ll be excited to hear that plans are in the works for the neighborhood to get a cycle track — a pair of bike lanes separated from the street by a barrier or buffer zone.

Bike advocates have called for separated bike tracks for years, and so far, city officials have only spoken in broad strokes about their intentions to install a few in the city. (Freedman has promised that more details will come out during her Boston Bike Update Tuesday night at Boston Public Library.)


But Thomas J. Tinlin, the city’s transportation commissioner, says the Seaport District is a prime spot.

The route city officials currently envision would start at South Station, run southeast on Summer Street, on the side of the road opposite the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The route would then take a left on East 1st Street in South Boston, eventually ferrying cyclists to Day Boulevard — perfect for a summertime excursion to Sullivan’s.

That project, if it passes muster with city officials and community members, would likely be completed by 2015, Freedman said.

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