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Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

Can you trust this site?




Summary: This summary tells you who we are and how we got here.




The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) is the helmet advocacy program of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. It grew out of WABA's Helmet Committee, whose members began testing helmets in 1974, and was set up as a separate program, still under WABA, in 1989.

BHSI is a small, active non-profit that serves as a consumer advocacy program and a technical resource for bicycle helmet information. Its volunteers serve on the ASTM bicycle helmet standard committee and are active in commenting on standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. BHSI provides an email newsletter, and sends out many copies of its Toolkit for Helmet Promotion Programs to anyone who is organizing a helmet effort, and to anyone needing materials for teaching. We are staffed by a few volunteers and funded entirely by consumer donations. We do not accept funding from the helmet industry.

On the Internet, BHSI's domain name is helmets.org. We also continue to use our older domain name, bhsi.org. Our Web page makes BHSI materials available to anyone at any time, and we reached almost 600,000 visitors in 2005. That's nothing for a big site, but huge for us!

BHSI's Web master, Randy Swart, is a full-time volunteer and is the author of most of the pages on our site that are not identified as having been written by someone else. We sometimes ask others to review a new page, mostly members of the ASTM F8.53 Helmet and Headgear standards subcommittee. A number of other members of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association have also reviewed pages for both editorial changes and content. We take comments from anybody and respond with changes where warranted. We never request review of any page by manufacturers, but do respond to comments from them, particularly if they relate to our page on Helmets for the Current Season and are factual rather than judgmental in nature. Where possible we refer readers to primary sources or identify through links other sources with different points of view.

Here is a chronological view of our history:

Before 1974,there were no bicycle helmet standards in use and there was lots of junk product on the market. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, recognizing the need for helmet information, began investigating helmets, with these events over 25 years time:
  • 1974 - WABA Helmet Committee forms, collects helmets for riding tests.
  • 1976 - Helmet Committee runs out of steam.
  • 1978 - Steam regained, Committee resumes testing. Safety Committee also promotes helmet use.
  • 1979 - Committee produces Bicycling magazine article on helmet wearability. Bicycling check covers all testing costs.
  • 1981 - Snell Foundation agrees to provide lab testing for another article.
  • 1983 - Second Bicycling article published with Snell's crash lab data, the first time impact protection ratings were ever made available to the public. WABA joins ANSI helmet standards committee.
  • 1984 - ANSI standard adopted after battle, sweeps junk off market. WABA article had helped to build pressure.
  • 1989 - BHSI established as a WABA entity, hoping to set up a lab to post results on new helmets immediately. Funded by consumer donations, not a drain on WABA!
  • 1990 - BHSI joins ASTM committee taking up where ANSI left off. Consumer Reports publishes their first helmet article, covering few helmets.
  • 1991 - BHSI concludes that funding will not be available for test lab.
  • 1995 - BHSI puts up Web page (this one), and a page for WABA too at www.waba.org. BHSI's Randy Swart was appointed 2nd Vice Chairman of the ASTM F8.53 headgear committee.
  • 1997 - BHSI Web page receives 50,000 visitors. Swart becomes 1st VP of F8.53.
  • 1998 - Web page visitor rate over 60,000 for the year.
  • 1999 - Web page visitor rate over 90,000 for the year.
  • 2000 - Web page visitor rate over 120,000. New DSL connection speeds Web page. Annual budget still at about $12,000.
  • 2001 - BHSI moves Web server to Pair Networks to provide better service and reduce costs.
  • 2002 - Web server visitors top 200,000.
  • 2003 - Web server visitors top 320,000.
  • 2004 - Web server visitors top 439,000, headed for a half million.
  • 2005 - Web server visitors reach almost 600,000.
  • 2005 - Web server visitors top 850,000. (See our hits page for details.


Our parent organization: WABA

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has a Web site that explains its activities as a local bicycle advocacy organization. You can also check out WABA's financials on Guidestar or take a look at this IRS reporting form in .pdf format. BHSI appears as a line item in the IRS form.


We also have up a page with a description of our current program.




This page was last revised on: April 27, 2007.

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