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Scooter Riders Hate Wearing Helmets. Maybe This Will Help.

As the debate over electric scooters and safety continues, Bird is trying to tap the power of the selfie to encourage riders to don protective headgear.  
A scooter rider zooms past a parked school bus as he rides along the beach in San Diego, California.
A scooter rider zooms past a parked school bus as he rides along the beach in San Diego, California.Mike Blake/Reuters

Wearing a helmet has not been an easy habit to instill for most electric scooter riders. Lugging a bulky helmet around doesn’t seem to fit with the free-and-easy image conveyed by this sassiest of micromobility devices. And, indeed, relatively few users don the protective headgear: One survey, from the specialized mobility insurance company Voom, claims that 80 percent of e-scooter users don’t wear a helmet consistently, and a spot-check of riders around any major city will confirm that impression.

Now Bird is encouraging helmet use by tapping into the formidable behavior-influencing power of selfie culture. The e-scooter company launched a new program, “Helmet Selfie,” to incentivize people into wearing their brain armor. Taking a helmeted self-portrait photo in the app at the end of the ride allows users to receive future ride credits.