If your kids have a brand new bike they can’t wait to give a spin, they’re gonna need a helmet. Just because some of us may have gone helmet-free in (ahem) the 80s, doesn’t mean bike safety isn’t super important. However, we also understand that the cost can sometimes be a barrier.
On average, a good bike helmet for kids costs at least $30. Trust me, I know children’s lives are priceless, but if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, this price tag may not be feasible. This is especially true if you have multiple bike riders. That’s why I’m sharing ways to get a bike helmet for free.
Whether it’s through local events or government programs, there are some surprising avenues available to obtain bike helmets at no cost. Every community is different, so it wouldn’t hurt to call your local fire or police department to see if they’re hosting an event.
If you happen to have a garage full of old bike helmets, consider donating them to friends and family or posting them on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Project. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has the federal safety standards that all helmet riders should comply with so you can pick the right type for your child’s age. For more savings hacks and smart shopping tips, text HACKS to 57299.
1. Check your local children’s hospital to see if your kid qualifies for a free helmet.
A number of children’s hospitals give free helmets and fittings to children and teens through bicycle safety initiatives. I’ve seen these programs hosted in partnership with Safe Kids, the nonprofit organization that helps kids eliminate injuries. Most of these events are for kids 12 years and younger, and they must be present to get a proper fitting.
Another associated resource for free bike helmets for kids is through a chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. For instance, Ohio hosts a Put a Lid On It Bike Helmet Safety Awareness campaign that donates kids’ bike helmets to local pediatrician offices, county agencies, schools, and fire departments.
Here are a few medical facilities with free bike helmet events:
NOTE: In the past, Kohl’s Cares partnered with hospitals to distribute free helmets, but I’m not seeing programs for 2023.
2. Attend a YMCA Healthy Kids Day and get a free helmet.
YMCAs all over the country host Healthy Kids Day events, which are historically held at the end of April. They often give a limited amount of free helmets on a first come basis. You don’t even have to be a member. In select communities, Boys and Girls Clubs also host free helmet giveaway events.
3. Ask your health insurance provider if they offer a free bike helmet.
Some insurance companies will give free helmets or reimburse policyholders. Call to see if your plan has your head covered. Companies like Tufts and Mass General Brigham Health Plan are examples of providers that offer this perk.
Foremost is a motorcycle insurance company that has replacement costs for helmets. Geico covers bike and helmet accessories under its collision coverage policy, and Farmers includes safety apparel and helmet coverage in their motorcycle policies.
4. Check Helmets First for a free helmet.
5. Find free bike helmet programs through your state’s Department of Transportation and local programs.
Having a bike safety event through a Department of Transportation (DOT) is a no-brainer, so it’s no surprise that states often have free bike helmet programs. For example, the North Carolina DOT has an annual bicycle helmet initiative for kids. In this instance, organizations distribute helmets to low income residents.
Here’s a sample of local programs:
- Solano County, California: Bicycle Helmet Safety program
- Florida Department of Health: Monroe County Bike Safety program
- Santa Cruz Health Services Agency: Bicycle Helmet Fit and Distribution Program
- New York Department of Transportation: Bike Smart
RELATED: 75 Free Things to Do With Kids (Bookmark This List!)
6. Check for a Safe Kids event in your area.
Reach out to your local Safe Kids Network, and they’ll keep you updated on events. A lot of these happen at local police and fire stations, and at the end you get a free helmet.
Shop for helmets in May for the best price.
May is National Bicycle Safety month, so many stores run their best bike and bike accessory sales during this time. Look for helmets under the $10 mark for biggest savings. If you can’t get them for free, buy them during this time for the best price.
Lids for Kids has free bike helmet events for Western Michigan residents.
Michigan’s Lids for Kids is a non-profit that has free bike helmet giveaways in Lansing and Grand Rapids. Visit the Lids for Kids event page for details on locations, dates, and times.
Discounted bike helmets are available at local hospitals and nonprofit organizations.
Free is the goal, but discounts are helpful too. Some hospitals and nonprofits offer bike helmets for kids for as low as $10: