Free Burritos For Bike Helmets

Promoting bike safety on a two-wheeled campus

October 27, 2016
By Lauren Riebs

Photo of young woman passing out food to participants

A representative of SHCS Health Education and Promotions (HEP) handing out free burritos to bike helmet-wearing students

What would you do for a free burrito? Earlier this month, UC Davis Transportation Services (TAPS), the City of Davis and representatives from the SHCS Health Education and Promotions (HEP) handed out free burritos to students exemplifying bike safety by wearing a helmet.

Hundreds of students lined up at the Bike Barn on October 13, with helmets in hand (or on head) to receive a free burrito, delivered by the CoHo at 11 AM. While many were aware of the event ahead of time, HEP volunteers flagged over other bikers wearing helmets as they rode past to offer them a free lunch. In about an hour, all 230 burritos were handed out.

While waiting in line, representatives from TAPS and the City of Davis engaged with the crowd to talk about other bicycle safety resources on campus and around town. Students were also able to sign a pledge to wear their helmet on a consistent basis.

The pledge reads: “As a UC Davis student, I pledge to always wear a bike helmet on every ride, even on short trips, because my brain is more important than helmet hair.”

The burrito giveaway is part of Student Health and Counseling Services campaign, “Helmet Hair, Don’t Care,” aimed to normalize and encourage helmet usage on campus. On a campus full of bicycles, only 7.9 percent of undergraduate students report wearing a helmet most or all of the time. This number is far behind the national average of 30.9 percent of undergraduates, according to the American College Health Association’s Spring 2015 National College Health Assessment.

Students line up for the program

Students lined up at the Bike Barn with bike helmets to make their pledge and receive a free burrito

“Students are here to learn and expand their knowledge,” emphasized Shantille Connolly, Wellness Health Educator, “Not wearing a bike helmet can be detrimental to the reason why a student is here at UC Davis.”

The two main barriers to wearing a helmet, as discovered through student focus groups, are appearance and peer usage. The campaign has featured ads across campus and on Unitrans buses with a variety of students and employees advocating for helmet wear, despite what they may look like.

“Having a bad hair day? Wear a helmet – That’s my excuse!” Bryan Enderle, Ph.D., UC Davis Faculty member enthuses on one of these campaign ads.

Students can take the “Helmet Hair, Don’t Care” pledge online and bring their confirmation to the Bike Barn for a free bike helmet. More than 200 helmets have been distributed through the Helmet Hair campaign since the start of fall quarter.

SHCS received funds for this campaign and others through the Be Smart About Safety (BSAS) Funding Program to support safety on campus. Some of the other plans for the BSAS funds include headlight and taillight distribution and expanding the Bicycle Education and Enforcement Program Promotion (BEEP).

TAPS hopes to see these campaigns improve campus safety and cyclist behavior and decrease accidents. Check out their website to learn more about bike safety and campus transportation initiatives. 



Lauren Riebs is a student news editor for the UC Davis Division of Finance, Operations and Administration.