They’re part of last year’s ill-conceived “safety campaign” by the Boston Public Health Commission. I wrote about it here. As far as I’m concerned, they can’t fade away fast enough.
You’re absolutely right, adding graphics like those to the road doesn’t help anyone. Everyone knows about helmets, there’s no need to “raise awareness” of their existence. And people will either use them or they won’t—a sign intended to shame helmet-less bikers isn’t going to change that. They’re a waste of paint at best, and a dangerous distraction at worst.
Also, speaking of backwards, it looks like the guy’s helmet is on backwards. The campaign cost $40k, you’d think they’d at least be able to hire a competent graphic designer.
So yeah, feel free to paint over them in the middle of the night. Just kidding. That would be illegal.