An example of the bike helmet that will be give to all incoming freshmen at Stanford University Kate Chesley, Stanford University

An example of the bike helmet that will be give to all incoming freshmen at Stanford University.

Donor is giving free bike helmets to 1,800 freshmen at Stanford University

Safety advocates want to make wearing bike helmets the norm on campus.

Freshmen at Stanford University will be given free bicycle helmets when they arrive on campus this fall.

The university says that two Stanford parents—Russell and Beth Russell Siegelman—are donating the helmets to make bike-riding safer on campus.

Russell Siegelman lectures at Stanford's Graduate School of Business and is a cyclist who has suffered brain trauma and experienced a catastrophic bike accident. He and his wife decided to give away helmets to an estimated 1,800 new students to bring about change in the bicycle culture on campus and make wearing helmets the norm.

Siegelman learned from his son and other young people that college students often don't wear helmets because they will be labeled as “uncool.” At Stanford, only about 20 percent of undergraduate students report wearing helmets when pedaling to and from classes and events.

Each day, about 13,000 bikes are on the Stanford campus. The university is considered a bicycle-friendly campus and has been designated a Platinum Level Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists.

Despite that, the university says, 626 bike accidents have been reported over the past 10 years—some with unfortunate consequences. So the Siegelmans are partnering with Ariadne Scott, the university's bicycle program coordinator, to make wearing bicycle helmets the norm.

At New Student Orientation in September, students will receive white with a red Stanford “S” logo emblazoned on the side.

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