Hoping to keep her fellow student cyclists a little safer, Northwestern University undergraduate Christina Cilento organized an effort to bring more than 300 free bicycle helmets to campus.
Cilento, a senior in the School of Education and Social Policy and president of Associated Student Government, partnered with the local Evanston bike shop Wheel & Sprocket and the Office of the President, which contributed $10,000 toward the effort.
Wheel & Sprocket provided 330 discounted Bontrager helmets from Trek and dispatched two employees who donated their time. The local bike shop also handed out 100 water bottles and $1,000 worth of $10 gift cards.
“It’s a testament to the proactive spirit of the students,” said Bruce Lewis, associate vice president and chief of police at Northwestern.
Wheel & Sprocket representatives helped fit students with their new helmets while Northwestern University Police assisted with bike registration.
“We look forward to donating more of our time with the ASG and Northwestern staff members like Elizabeth Adamczyk to make cycling safer on campus and the greater Evanston area,” said Eric Krzystofiak, general manager of Wheel & Sprocket.
The helmet giveaway, which coincided with a University-wide effort to increase bike safety, came as the community mourned the recent tragic loss of Northwestern student Chuyuan “Chu” Qiu.
“I'm a cyclist on campus, so Chu's death hit me hard and made me want to ensure we don't lose another student to a bike accident again,” said Cilento, who is studying in SESP's Learning and Organizational Change program. “We wanted to bring helmets to campus for free because very few people wear them. Now they no longer have a reason to ride without one.”
The University, meanwhile, is working with the City of Evanston to improve roadway safety for bicyclists, which includes adding a two-way protected bike lane on the east side of Sheridan Road and reducing the speed limit to 25 miles per hour.
Later this year, Northwestern’s Department of Safety and Security will begin providing free helmets and bike lights to all students, faculty, and staff who register their bike.
“ASG's role is to make the student experience richer and safer, so providing resources like helmets and lights to any student who needs them is a top priority of ours this year,” Cilento said. “And I'm really glad to see that the University is carrying on what we started for future students.”