Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS), the non-profit created to bring bike share to Seattle, has announced that Alta Bicycle Share has been awarded the contract to provide 500 bikes at 50 stations–and lots of helmets. Seattle will be the first city in the United States to launch a bike share program with a mandatory all-age helmet law.

This isn’t Alta’s first rodeo when it comes to mandatory helmet laws. In 2010, the company launched a program in Melbourne, Australia which also has such a law. Unfortunately, the program has faced relatively low ridership numbers which has been widely attributed to the helmet requirements. PSBS Executive Director Holly Houser has reminded us that Seattle is not Melbourne and Seattle will not repeat Melbourne’s mistakes.

According to a draft business plan created by Alta last year, the initial equipment costs for the Seattle system are estimated at $3.7 million, with operations costs for the first year expected to be around $1.4 million. Only $750,000 of that has been secured at the moment via a grant from the Washington Department of Transportation. But, now that they have chosen an equipment supplier and operator, PSBS will be working to attract major sponsors to help raise the additional money to launch the program.