Sunday, November 21, 2010

Helmets: the horse behind the cart?

This issue has been a disputed topic for about 20 years and continues to cause problems see Erke and Elvik (Norwegian researchers) 2007: "There is evidence of increased accident risk per cycling-km for cyclists wearing a helmet. In Australia and New Zealand, the increase is estimated to be around 14 per cent. When helmet laws were tried in Australia survey details showed cycling was reduced following legislation. Victoria, 297 extra people wearing helmets and 1110 fewer cyclists. New South Wales, 569 more people wearing helmets and 2658 fewer cyclists. More than 4 people stopped cycling for each extra person wearing a helmet, 866 started wearing a helmet while  3768 gave up cycling. Data published for children in New South Walles, number of injuries increased from 1310 in 1991 to 2083 in 1993. The UK's National Children's Bureau (NCB) provided a detailed review of cycling and helmets in 2005, stating that the case for helmets is far from sound and the benefits of helmets need further investigation before even a policy supporting promotion can be unequivocally supported. The 'Health and safety assessment of state bicycle helmet laws in the USA' provides useful information. Also tead this article from Freakonomics in the NYT. The source for this blog was Nieuws uit Amsterdam.