Helmet Laws Do Not Reduce Cycling

By Charles Pekow

Cycling West - Cycling Utah Magazine logoHelmet laws do not reduce riding nor encourage recklessness. So concluded a metaanalysis by the University of New South Wales in Australia. The study examined 35 studies of laws in 28 countries.

It reported that 13 studies found that helmet laws don't reduce riding, eight reported mixed results and two said they did — but only in certain circumstances. In Australia, for instance, fewer children were seen biking to work when required to wear helmets — but that likely resulted from other factors, such as an increase in busing and even a New Zealand campaign to discourage kids from riding.

Regarding taking increased risks, a review of 22 studies found 17 said helmets don't encourage dangerous behavior, three found pro and con evidence and only two supported the thesis. But the studies contain some limitations: some dealt with risky behavior in general, not entirely bicycling.

Reference: Bicycle Helmets: Systematic Reviews on Legislation, Effects of Legislation on Cycling Exposure & Risk Compensation: https://www.trafikverket.se/contentassets/d799726f68ec49f69466f08e533b1f30/bhl_systematic_review_final.pdf; Olivier et al., UNSW Sydney.

 

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