Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Consumer-funded, volunteer staff

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BHSI Program for 2021

Summary: Our program this year continues to rely on our website for outreach and includes work on improving helmet standards, some new projects and continued lab testing as well as other activities. With minimal funding for all basic programs assured through the year, 2021 may see some program innovations. But with the pandemic still impacting all our activities, some new initiatives may have to be delayed.

1. Our website

BHSI will actively maintain this website with daily updates through the year. This is our 26th year on the web. Our simple web design is still fresh, although we don't use some of the newer bells and whistles. We hope to reach a million visitors in 2021, since we have had nearly a million since 2009. The web is our most effective means of reaching consumers, researchers, the press, manufacturers and others. It enables us to serve as a clearinghouse for bicycle helmet information. It is the most rapid means of disseminating new developments in the helmet field. It revolutionized our work when we came on line in 1995. We continue to search for new material. Our precious volunteer time is better spent on enhancing and maintaining the website than any other activity. We understand that some of our pages are Too Long To Read and are continuing to streamline our pages to reach the texting generation and those who are surfing on very small devices. Social networking does not work for us, so we so not engage in it. During 2019 we upgraded our secure server with a higher-level security certificate similar to those used by banks. (Tap or hover over the lock symbol on the left side of the address window above for info.)

2. Lab Testing

We contract for testing by fully-accredited labs. In the past BHSI conducted a unique project to test helmets for possible damage by various commonly used consumer products. For 2017 we published our research on the effects of washing helmets in dishwashers and In 2020 we added info on COVID19 helmet cleaning with bleach. We also tested a variety of cheap and expensive helmets to compare their levels of protection. We procure a number of new concept helmets as they come out and send some of them to a lab for testing. Based on lab testing we also send helmet samples to CPSC if the believe they do not meet the US standard.

3. Consumer Representation on Bicycle Helmet Standards Committees

BHSI continues to work on the ASTM F08.53 Headgear Subcommittee. We work on various task groups and participate actively in drafting and updating standards. BHSI sends a representative to all ASTM F08 Committee meetings. For 2021 that could possibly include meeting again in person if travel and meetings become safe. BHSI's Executive Director is Membership Secretary of the ASTM F08 Committee.

BHSI also participates whenever the Consumer Product Safety Commission holds a meeting to discuss the Federal bicycle helmet standard. We will provide a representative to any CPSC helmet standard meetings organized during the year. We will also continue to cover CPSC meetings on other helmet-related subjects, and periodic meetings of the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization where CPSC staff brief the membership. We are encouraging CPSC to update their 1999 bicycle helmet standard. We submit comments on the Commission's actions such as this one from a manufacturer requesting an exemption from the bicycle helmet standard.

4. International helmet rating efforts

BHSI is pleased that we have been asked in 2021 to join an international effort to further bicycle helmet rating systems. The meetings will be hosted by an organization in the UK and will include representatives from Virginia Tech and other universities who have been developing rating systems. We consider this an alternative to stalled efforts to improve bicycle helmet standards.

5. Participation in Other Organizations

We attend the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) Annual Symposium when our budget permits, and will do so in 2021. We will also participate in the annual Bicycle Summit (virtual) in Washington, DC. We will send a representative to other meetings that come up as we do every year. Most will probably be virtual.

6. Publications

  • Newsletter The web is our main publishing outlet, and BHSI will continue to send its email newsletter, The Helmet Update to over 500 helmet researchers, promoters, manufacturers, standards committee members, press, medical researchers and interested helmet users. We send new issues only when there is news, rather than working up filler to keep up a set publication schedule. We discontinued our paper newsletter in 2004. You can be on our email list by sending us an email request. We send about five or six Updates per year.

  • Pamphlets BHSI will update the Buyer's Guide to Bicycle Helmets and A Bicycle Helmet for My Child at least once during the year. We will also keep current our pamphlet on How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet and other fact sheets that we provide. We send out paper duplicating masters of our pamphlets, but many users download the files now and print them locally.

  • Helmets for the Current Season Each year BHSI researches and publishes a page on helmets on the market for the coming year. We do the research as time permits throughout the calendar year. In the past, most of the info was collected at trade shows, but with Interbike discontinued and Eurobike on hold due to the pandemic we do not anticipate traveling this year.
  • Helmet Standards Comparison BHSI will publish on the web at least one annual update of our technical standards study comparing eleven international bicycle helmet standards. This year we will add the ASTM standards for downhill mountain biking and BMX cycling, as well as the new Dutch standard for electric bicycles.

  • Frequently Asked Questions About Bicycle Helmets BHSI will update this FAQ writeup explaining many aspects of helmet design and performance to reflect new developments.

  • Materials for local helmet promotion campaigns We update our Helmet Promotion Toolkit, a package of materials from numerous sources, frequently during the year. We add new materials as they become available and update content. The Toolkit is entirely available on the web, but we still receive some requests for it on paper. We send pamphlet duplicating masters and a CD with our entire website. We also send five DVDs with bicycle safety and helmet safety videos. Demand for the Toolkit has decreased as more teachers and local program organizers rely more on downloading online information, and as the pandemic has reduced in-person safety instruction.
  • Compendium of crash stories BHSI updates this collection of stories frequently, primarily from email messages.

  • List of Mandatory Helmet Laws We keep our list of mandatory helmet laws current with frequent updates. The pace of new laws has slowed almost to a halt, but states and localities have been adding new ebike laws, so we have a page up on those as well.

7. Briefings and background materials for the media

BHSI makes a special effort to provide materials to media people working on helmet articles or programs. Many researchers make use of our website, where we have a Press Room section and a Quote of the Day for those on tight deadlines. Although the quote not may be current, we respond promptly to press emails to info@helmets.org or phone calls to 703-486-0100 as well.

8. Communications

BHSI has two secure Internet domains: helmets.org and bhsi.org. Both point to the same files on the same physical server. All our web traffic now funnels to helmets.org, and we have a secure https server with Extended Validation certification by Comodo (now rebranded as Sectigo), the largest certifying agency on the Internet. Our local area network is connected to the Internet with a fiber optic broadband connection. Our website has run very reliably at Pair Networks servers since 2001. Their low rates reduced our web costs from the old days of running our own server here. For the first ten years we monitored our Pair Networks service every three minutes 24x7 and found that it is very reliable. It is rated as 99.99 per cent up. There is no charge to our users for any of our web services, and we will not add any. We do not buy, sell or exchange email addresses, contact lists or server logs with any other organization. We do not use cookies to track visitors. We do not have ads. We do not pop up annoying windows asking you to subscribe to our newsletter, although you can subscribe to it by sending an email to us.

BHSI has telephone service with voicemail at 703-486-0100. We do not maintain a fax machine.

9. Budget and donations

BHSI remains an all-volunteer organization, paying no salaries or rent. About 80% of our budget goes into program expenses. We operate on a budget between $10,000 and $15,000 per year, sustained by donations from bicycle riders who believe in this work. We do not accept funding from helmet manufacturers or any organization involved in the retail sale of helmets. That includes independent bicycle shops. Checks made out to us or credit card and paypal donations are welcome from anyone else! We can't accept anonymous donations, though. BHSI is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, so all donations are tax-deductible under IRS rules, and our confirmation letter from the IRS is here. To promote the fullest possible distribution we do not charge for our Toolkit for Helmet Promotion Programs and other materials. We can certainly put all donations to good use!

10. Organization

BHSI was founded in 1989 and benefitted from the support of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association during our earlier years. In 2016 we made the transition to a fully independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Our Board of Directors holds its annual meetings in early February.

11. Contact Information

BHSI is located at 4611 Seventh Street South, Arlington, VA 22204-1419. You can contact us here. Our website is at helmets.org, our registered trade name, or can still be accessed at our original URL, bhsi.org.

Thank you for your interest!
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This page was revised on: February 12, 2021. BHSI logo