Our Response to Some
Negative Views on Helmets
Summary: Our response to arguments against helmet laws and helmets. Disclaimer: we are helmet advocates, this is not a
balanced view. Please do not quote this page out of context. Provide the URL and let the reader decide.
For studies and references we have a page up linking to many helmet studies
. Websites with
opposing views are at the bottom
Negative assertions are in bold italics
below, followed by our responses. They fall into two categories:
helmet laws and helmets themselves.
Opposition to Helmet Laws
We consider anti-helmet law views as legitimate and rational positions in the spectrum of political viewpoints. We do not
consider ourselves "better than" those who oppose the laws, or even better qualified to make public policy, for which
every citizen in a democracy is equally qualified.
Helmet laws are unnecessary government interference.
Response: In some areas laws are being introduced before there is a popular consensus that bicycle helmets are an
essential safety requirement. But the laws raise awareness that helmets save lives. We have laws here requiring seat
belts, air bags, child car seats, smoke detectors, lights on bicycles operated at night, and a whole range of other
safety devices. When a bicycle is a vehicle operated on a public roadway its operator is subject to the same rights
and obligations as other vehicle operators. If it is reasonable to require motorcycle helmets, airbags and the use of
car seatbelts, requiring bicycle helmets is also reasonable. If you see helmets as needed safety equipment rather
than optional cycling apparel, the need for legal requirements is as apparent as the need to require lights on a
bicycle operated at night. Back to top
Mandatory helmet laws discourage cycling, increasing the risk to all riders.
Response: If true, this would be a serious drawback of helmet laws. Anyone who has observed the difference in riding
in a city or country with many, many bicycles on the road understands how increasing the number of riders improves
The cyclic trend reducing bicycle use that began here in 1999 was related to fashion, to the rise of other forms of
exercise and to safety concerns as car traffic was becoming worse. We had a decade of experience prior to that with
states and cities passing helmet laws, and did not observe declines in cycling related to the laws. The decline that
did take place was not limited to the areas that had helmet laws, and the subsequent recovery in cycling and sharp
rise in bicycle use when gas prices spiked in 2008 was not related to helmet laws either. In urban areas there has
been a change in the attitudes of parents, who are concerned about traffic and crimes against children, and no longer
allow their children the freedom to roam that bicycling used to facilitate. In addition, our helmet laws are so
spottily enforced in most states that there would have been minimal effect in any case. In the last ten years the
cycle has reversed. The current boom in bicycles for both transportation and sport use has coincided with trends in
urban living, changes in attitudes toward car ownership, emphasis on fitness and improvements in bicycle facilities.
All of this growth in bicycling in the U.S. has occurred in the presence of the bicycle helmet laws passed between
1987 and 2010, most of them not including adults.
Cost is not much of an obstacle to acquiring a helmet here, since our market supplies helmets at very low prices. We
require seatbelts here in most of our states, but drivers do not stop driving because of that requirement. People do
not move out of their homes to another state when smoke detectors are required by law. There is no statistical
evidence that large numbers of motorcyclists quit riding in states that adopt mandatory motorcycle helmet laws,
although it is certainly clear that some individuals in that group are extremely resentful.
On the other hand, the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute found indications that helmet laws can
reduce cycling there in some age groups: see this abstract of their study for more info.
research project in Toronto before and after their law came into effect showed that "although the number of child
cyclists per hour was significantly different in different years, these differences could not be attributed to
legislation. In 1996, the year after legislation came into effect, average cycling levels were higher (6.84 cyclists
per hour) than in 1995, the year before legislation (4.33 cyclists per hour)." We are convinced that the answer to
the question will lie in observational studies, and most of them will be local.
In 2009 a paper published on the website of the University of California at Irvine's School of Education used
statistical analysis of national data to reach the conclusion that helmet laws resulted in a ridership decline of 4
to 5 per cent in the age group they covered. They do not seem to have realized that cycling overall declined in the
US during the measured period (and has since increased). The data was collected from parents in telephone
conversations, and we don't think that method is valid for helmet use studies. They did not control for traffic
increases or parents' crime concerns in the states with laws, and those included California, New York, Pennsylvania,
Florida and others where traffic grew the most. And some states have many local laws instead of a state-level law,
skewing the comparison. Fortunately, you can read the entire paper, titled Intended
and Unintended Effects of Youth Bicycle Helmet Laws on the web and judge for yourself.
Canadian study showed that bicycle usage remained constant after helmet laws were adopted in two provinces.
For the latest assessment from Queensland, Australia, see this study. We cite its conclusions below. Back to top
This Australian study concluded that there is no evidence to support the
contention that helmet laws discourage cycling.
Another survey now disappeared found that at one time 94 percent of Australians support helmet laws.
blogger concludes that repealing the laws would do almost nothing to increase cycling.
Mandatory helmet laws covering adults discourage urban bike share programs.
Response: One Australian bike share program reported dismal results in its early stages, and many attributed that to
their all-ages helmet law. In 2018 the Canberra (ACT) government's Road Safety Minister is reportedly
re-examining their helmet law's effects on anticipated bike sharing programs there. And in the US there was a
bike share program in Seattle that tried to resolve that problem by making helmets available at the bike share
stations. There were other factors at
work in Seattle that doomed their program, but the helmet law probably contributed. See our Bike Share Page for more. Back to top
Mandatory helmet laws discourage cycling, raising health care costs as a more sedentary population
Response: The British Medical Association once took this point of view. Apparently they had thought that Brits would
either ride bicycles or become couch potatoes. In 2004 they reversed themselves and issued a
call for helmet laws there. That is not the case in the US, where cycling certainly contributes to the overall
fitness level of the populace, but millions of others prefer running, walking, swimming, rollerblading,
skateboarding, skiing, rowing, basketball, football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, handball, squash, volleyball,
climbing, equestrian sports, aerobics or combinations of a thousand other activities to keep fit. But if the number
of riders on the road were reduced this would be a serious issue because it would make the roads less safe for
bicycles. Fortunately that is not the case. Back to top
Helmet laws discourage cycling by making it appear dangerous.
Response: If safety equipment is required for any activity it does figure in the perception of the dangers involved.
But in the US we find that requiring seatbelts and airbags in cars has done almost nothing to convince our drivers
that there may be some remote danger in driving a car on our roads. We passed laws to require the use of belts and
added passive restraints as well, but our annual highway death toll is still nearly 34,000 souls. That level of
danger has done nothing to curb the use of the automobile in our society. The perception of danger in cycling here is
almost exclusively confined to the danger of riding in traffic. For that reason cyclists without helmets here often
say "I just ride on trails, so I don't need one." We do not believe that a requirement to use a helmet reduces
cycling mileage here any more than seatbelt laws reduce driving. Back to top
Helmet laws are used by police for racial profiling.
There have been allegations in various cities that selective enforcement of helmet laws facilitates police profiling
and provides officers with a mechanism to implement racial or other bias. There is no national study that we know of,
but as the issue heated up in 2020 there will be more effort to document it, and with the growth of the Black Lives
Matter movement there is likely to be more attention to this question, All we can suggest is this Google search for the most recent information
on it. In Seattle, a group of cycling organizations has launched
an effort to have their all-ages helmet law repealed because Black people make up about 8% of Seattle's
population but they received more than 17% of the helmet violations. There are myriad ways for a police force to
penalize minorities that are probably more pervasive than helmet laws, and the numbers do not tell the whole story.
But any allegation that laws are being selectively enforced in racially-biased ways has to be a concern for us all.
Back to top
Helmet laws have not worked in Australia.
In Australia, bicycle helmets are mandatory in all states and territories. Compliance is high but varies by area,
with some cities over 90% and rural areas much lower. In the State of Victoria cyclists' head injuries declined 41%.
There were 36% fewer child riders on the road, immediately after the legislation passed, but perhaps more adult
riders. Changes in ridership may or may not have been related to the passage of the laws, and the road culture in
Australia is unique to that country. Injury reduction was below expectations, but still spectacular. Hospital data
from Western Australia showed that the number of intracranial injuries was cut in half with increased helmet use,
while head injuries were less serious, and hospital stays shorter. After more than a decade of experience with helmet
laws there is no serious consideration in Australia of repealing their laws, although in 2011 a film maker in
Brisbane produced this anti-helmet law video for an
organization called helmetfreedom.org that hopes to repeal the
Queensland law. For that side of the Australian argument, see their site or the links at the bottom of this page. But
a recent study from Queensland's CARRS-Q has examined
the issue thoroughly from the bottom up, and concluded: "Current bicycle helmet wearing rates are halving the number
of head injuries experienced by Queensland cyclists. This is consistent with published evidence that mandatory
bicycle helmet wearing legislation has prevented injuries and deaths from head injuries. It is reasonably clear that
it discouraged people from cycling twenty years ago when it was first introduced. Having been in place for that
length of time in Queensland and throughout most of Australia, there is little evidence that it continues to
discourage cycling. There is little evidence that there is a large body of people who would take up cycling if the
legislation was changed." In 2013 the report of a Queensland parliamentary committee ignored this finding and
recommended a trial suspension of the helmet rule for those 16 and over riding on trails and low speed roads, or
using bikeshare program bicycles. More recently two studies have concluded that the
"evidence" put forward by critics of the laws is bogus. In 2018 the Canberra (ACT) government's Road Safety
Minister is reportedly
re-examining their helmet law's effects on anticipated bike sharing programs there. Back to
Helmet laws have not increased helmet use in the US or other countries.
We have a page up linking to many studies that have concluded that helmet laws do increase
the use of helmets. Back to top
Helmet statistics are generated by pro-helmet researchers and the studies that support helmet use are
Response: Many attempts we have seen in the U.S. to measure helmet effectiveness or helmet use nationally based on
general statistics of bicycles on the road or rider surveys are indeed not useful. Anyone who has worked with bike
riders in this country would not ask the question "How much did you ride last year" and expect a valid answer.
Exposure data calculated from such surveys, including the survey by CPSC, are not in our opinion valid. The New York
Times published an article in 2001 written by a reporter who missed that point, and reached some startling -- and
invalid -- conclusions. We have a page up on that article. But we do consider valid a
number of clinically-based studies in the U.S. on helmet effectiveness. We have parts of several of them included in
our statistics page, including the landmark study by Thompson, Rivera and Thompson done at Harborview Injury Prevention Center and published in
the New England Journal of Medicine in 1989. The same team completed another study that adds helmet analysis
to the clinical data. You can find it on the Snell Foundation website. The study is
old, but helmets sold in the US have actually improved since the data was collected, so we regard the conclusions as
still valid and probably conservative. More importantly, the protective effect of helmets has been demonstrated in
the field so thoroughly over a period of decades that statistical analysis based on poorly gathered data adds nothing
to the knowledge base. Back to top
The 85 per cent effectiveness number from the Thompson and Rivara case control study has been
Although other studies have found lesser effects, this one remains close to the reality that club cyclists observe.
Here is a search for
articles about misunderstandings of the nature of case control studies and misinterpretations of their data. The
authors (Drs. Thompson and Rivara) are probably the most misunderstood and misinterpreted in the helmet field. For
alternative numbers, see the SWOV paper above. When we refer to specific numbers, BHSI now quotes this 2009 study by the same authors showing that "helmets provide a 68% to 88% reduction
in the risk of head, brain and severe brain injury for all ages of bicyclists. The Washington Area Bicyclist
Association has asked Federal agencies under the Data Quality Act to correct their use of the often-cited 85% number,
and DOT has done so. Back to top
Promoting bicycle helmets takes attention away from the effort to improve basic bicycling safety.
Response: The US now has the most concerted effort to improve bicycling safety in our history. There are more safety
advocates here pushing for better cycling facilities (on or off road), cycling education, bike share programs and
safer bikes themselves than at any other time in cycling's century-plus here. Every state department of
transportation and many local governments have bicycle coordinators whose main focus is on improving bicycling
conditions. Their activities sometimes extend to motorist education, where we bicycle questions appear now on
drivers' permit exams. Our Federal government is funding bicycle transportation improvements of all kinds through
transportation funding with millions of dollars at an unprecedented rate. In 2010 the Secretary of Transportation
declared that bicyclists and pedestrians would get equal treatment with car drivers in Federal programs. The Federal
Department of Transportation has produced helmet and
bicycle safety materials and among other bicycle safety initiatives has sponsored development of a National
Bicycle Safety Education Curriculum. The League of American Bicyclists kicked off in 1999 its most comprehensive
safety initiative in more than 100 years of operation, and in 2007 proposed the development of a national bicycle
strategy. The association that coordinates state traffic laws and safety standards in the US (AASHTO) has produced
for the first time in its history a complete traffic engineer's handbook devoted only to standards for bicycle
facility construction. All of this activity has been reinforced by the effort of many US cities to make their city
safer and more attractive for bicycling and walking.
Although cycling organizations here had been trying to produce results like that for more than a century without
success, the growth of these activities has occurred here concurrently with the growth of helmet promotion and use.
The U.S. experience has demonstrated that blurred focus is not a problem here.
The fact remains that despite everyone's best efforts to make cycling as safe as it can possibly be, there will
still be crashes, and without helmets there will still be an unacceptably high rate of head injuries, and given our
conditions and riders, helmets will still be necessary here in the U.S. even if we can achieve the safest of cycling
environments. Back to top
It makes no sense to require helmets for cyclists and not for motorists, since most fatal head injuries occur
Response: Bicycle helmets and helmet laws are a rational response to a problem. Helmets may or may not be sensible in
other activities such as motorcycling, skydiving, kayaking, horseback riding, skating, construction work, American
football, baseball, hockey or driving a car. There is risky behavior of all kinds we are not addressing adequately,
with people killed in the U.S. every year by lightning strikes at swimming pools and golf courses, or by fires in
homes without working smoke detectors, or by carbon monoxide poisoning or by heart attacks brought on by smoking and
lack of exercise. It is not necessary to optimize the entire world's injury prevention culture to appreciate the
injury reduction that can be achieved in the U.S. with bicycle helmets. Back to top
Criticism of Helmets
Bicycle helmets restrict vision and hearing, endangering the user.
Response: We have never found this to be the case. Bike helmets do not affect vision. If the helmet intrudes on
upward vision it will be evident to the user, who can adjust the tilt of the helmet to raise the front lip. Bike
helmets also do not affect hearing, since normally they do not cover the ears. That question is easily settled by
riding with and without a helmet, or by standing beside a road with helmet on and off. The US DOT has conducted
a study on this question using motorcycle helmets and found that even these larger helmets with additional
coverage do not affect hearing, and have little effect on vision. Back to top
Helmets are hot, heavy and uncomfortable.
Response: This is a subjective judgment for each individual, and is easily tested by the user. Most riders find
today's helmets light, comfortable and cool enough. Back to top
Helmets are inconvenient when getting off the bike to shop or go to class.
Response: Putting a helmet on takes less time than putting on bike gloves, but it does add another step every time
you get on the bike, and we agree that it can be a nuisance on very short trips from one store to another. So is
fastening your seat belt in a car, but you do it for safety. The helmet can be left with the bike, locked if the bike
needs to be locked in that location. Back to top
Helmets are not effective except in minor crashes.
Response: We have ample evidence from medical studies that helmets are indeed highly effective, and you will find
references on our statistics page and our Journals page. Although
bicycle helmets are tested in labs in impacts at 14 miles per hour, they usually do a fine job of protecting the
rider in a crash where the initial forward speed is higher, because the severity of the impact is normally determined
by the closing speed of the head and pavement, not by the rider's forward motion. Research on crashed helmets shows
that most people hit the ground at a relative speed of about 10 MPH. If a rider is hit by a car or hits a brick wall
at 30 mph and the head takes a direct blow at that speed, no helmet will prevent injury or death. But that type of
crash is rare, and helmets are designed for the severity of the most frequent crash types.
As a reality check, ask any club cyclist about helmet effectiveness. They have shared experience that gives them more
perspective on crashes. Club cyclists were the first to adopt helmets in the US, and the first to see the results.
You will see helmets on all or most of the riders on virtually any club ride in the US. Among racers, the United
States Cycling Federation (now USA Cycling--our road racing organization) adopted a mandatory helmet rule in 1986,
because every year two or three riders were being killed in their races and more were suffering head injuries. In the
years since it has been rare for a racer to die in a US race, even though their crashes occur at racing speeds. We
have a page up on helmet protection limits. Back to top
Helmets are not designed to protect against rotational injury, when the blood vessels and nerves attached to
the brain are stretched or ruptured by the brain's inertia during sudden jerks of the skull.
Response: There is no consensus among the medical community on the threshold of rotational injury or how to measure
it, although there is probably a rotational component in most serious head injuries. The standards-making community
believes that a helmet that protects well against straight through (translational) impacts also reduces the effects
of rotational injury, since most rotational motion comes from off-center translational impacts. But the damage to the
interior of the brain is not simply a function of a turning motion. It results from different parts of the brain
moving in different directions at different speeds after even a translational impact. Reducing the severity of the
impact reduces that type of damage.
There is potential for improvement of current helmets eventually when rotational injury is better understood and
means of predicting it in a crash are developed and accepted. Because this is an area requiring further research it
has always been an easy target for raising doubt about the performance of current helmets. But in fact current
helmets are a long way from perfect in almost any respect, and this is just one element that can be improved. That
does not negate the benefits of wearing today's helmets. They work very well despite their imperfections. Back to top
Cars pass riders more closely if they are wearing a helmet.
Here is our page on a 2006 study done in England of passing distances. We think that
study did not prove that wearing a helmet makes you less safe, and the research has been discredited by others.
Back to top
Helmets give a false sense of security. A helmeted rider will take more risks, and is more likely to
Response: We have not observed that phenomenon. Riders here were just as careless in the 1960's and earlier without
helmets as they are today. We have never been able to identify a case where a rider we knew began wearing a helmet
and changed their risk-taking. The individual's perception of injury risk in a bicycle crash is generally not
centered on their head, but on body parts. Most riders do not consider the head the most vulnerable part of the body.
They are primarily concerned with the road rash and broken bones that are much more frequent than brain injuries.
Helmets do not change those risks. Many motorcycle riders here who reject helmets still use leather clothing for skid
protection. Once accustomed to a helmet, riding without it does make the rider feel vulnerable - - for the first half
mile. Similar effects can be seen with seat belts, where the risk compensation argument also was used at one time,
and even anti-lock brakes and airbags have been accused of making car drivers more aggressive. We think there may be
a few who would smoke in bed more if they installed a smoke detector in their house, but not many.
In 2016 the article titled Risk compensation: revisited and
rebutted was published in Safety. by Barry Pless, Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics and Epidemiology, McGill
University. The full study is available without charge. It a well-written critique of risk compensation theories
related to helmets. In 2011
this Norwegian study concluded that there are complex issues in determining how much risk compensation cyclists
might do when they use helmets, but that "The use of [a] bicycle helmet as such does not seem to be related to either
accident proneness or speeding." And a study
published in Australia in 2013 concluded that riders not wearing helmets were actually more likely to take risks
like disobeying traffic controls or cycling while drunk.
We have other risk compensation journal articles here.
Back to top
Helmets can contribute to injuries by adding weight and size to the rider's head.
Response: When the impact occurs, the helmet is between the head and the hard place, where weight is unimportant. If
that were not the case, we would see an increase in head or neck injuries in helmeted riders, and that has not
happened. Motorcycle helmets are much heavier than bicycle helmets, and if there were a tendency for helmet weight to
be a factor it would have shown up there. Under normal riding conditions, the weight of a helmet does not destabilize
the rider. Competitors in BMX competitions with three pound motorcycle helmets on their heads maintain amazing
balance despite difficult track conditions and jumps. In 2011, a published study confirmed that motorcycle helmets do
not injure necks. A helmet does have a larger diameter than the head. But it would be more accurate to say that the
helmet might increase the likelihood of hitting the helmet itself, not the head. Back to top
Helmets are made of plastic, and plastic may contain dangerous chemicals.
Response: Although polycarbonate is used in many helmet shells and some formulations of it are suspected as one of
the sources of the chemical BPA in the environment, there is no evidence yet that the helmet shells pose any danger
to the wearer. We are more concerned about materials used in the interior of the helmet in contact with the skin. See
our page on plastics in helmets for more info. Back to top
Helmets are expensive.
Response: Like any piece of wearing apparel, you have a choice of cheap or expensive. In the US market, cheap helmets
are $10 to $20 at the big-box discount stores like Wal-Mart and Target, and are just as
protective as the more expensive ones. Under Five stores now have a $5 helmet. A study in New Zealand once
suggested that helmets there were not cost-effective, but in the US the analysis prepared by Ted
Miller of the Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation in 2009 suggested that every dollar spent on bicycle
helmets saves $15 for adults and $47 for children. Back to top
Nobody uses helmets in the Netherlands or ...
Response: Actually, some do, and increasingly parents are helmeting their children there, as evidenced by this report on helmet promotion by their Foundation for Consumer Safety. And there are calls for
mandatory helmet laws for children and seniors. The cycling tradition is so ingrained in Dutch culture that most
adults do not see any need for helmets, despite the injuries documented by the Foundation report. They benefit from
uniquely safe bicycle facilities and drivers who are expecting them on the roads because they are so numerous and who
must by law give them full right of way when appropriate. When compared to the US, there are significant differences
in road design, road surfaces, trails, traffic, signalization, motorists' attitudes, cyclists' attitudes, legal
consequences of a car/bike crash, the bicycles themselves, car lighting, bike lighting and accessories, climate, the
type of riding people do, the normal uses they put bicycle to, the number of cyclists on the roads and a whole range
of other factors. We would not tell the Dutch they need helmets, although we wear one when cycling there. But we
would tell a US rider that we think you need one here. (For a view of what we need to be doing in the US to improve
our road environment, check out this
campaign, one that we have supported and have attempted to advance with very little success.) For a very lucid
explanation of the Dutch view, see this SWOV paper on helmets
and helmet effectiveness. It has some much lower estimates for the injuries helmets can prevent, but says their
European helmets are not to be compared with the more protective US and Australian standard models.
A study published in 2020 by van den Brand
et al concluded: "In this study we found that patients with TBI due to bicycle accidents did not wear helmets as
often as a comparable control group. This association could not be established for patients with TBI as a result of a
collision between a bicycle and a motorized vehicle. This study has some limitations, but the results strongly
suggest that TBI in adult cyclists could be reduced if cyclists in the Netherlands would wear a helmet more often.
Future research should focus on establishing the exact frequency of bicycle helmet use in the Netherlands and ways to
promote helmet use without discouraging cycling." Back to top
Developing countries don't use helmets, and they don't suffer as a result.
Response: Developing countries usually have other problems that swamp their head injury problems, and there is not
much info on the head injury rates. We have begun to see indications that there is a significant unpublicized problem
in China, and as this article on Vietnam shows, other countries as well. In 2007 Vietnam
adopted a stringent helmet law for motorcycle riders. The trend should continue as more countries can afford more
motor vehicles, a factor that contributed to the Chinese problem. Back to top
Why we are not on the blogs, twitter or facebook.
We are not helmet warriors. We don't clutter blogs and other social media with repetitive rhetoric and sterile rebuttals.
We add to this page as new stuff comes to our attention. We have changed this page in response to good comments from
those who do not agree, and will read anything you send us, whether or not we reply.
This site is specialized in helmet information. We don't cover smoke detectors, seat belts, airbags, diet, exercise, or
other beneficial stuff. But on our home page in the section Who We Are
, we put helmets in
perspective as a secondary safety measure, and we never lose that perspective. When we see "straw man" assertions in a
blog that we are blind helmet promoters, that we are all about helmet compulsion, or outright lies asserting that we
accept funding support from the helmet industry, we judge the poster's other statements with those inaccuracies in
No matter what you may read in a blog or other message, we do not and have never accepted funding from the helmet
industry or anyone connected with the retailing of helmets. And we don't own stock in helmet companies. Anyone who says
that is mistaken or deliberately lying. That should prompt you to question other assertions by the email's author.
We have seen some amazing misrepresentations of fact in helmet wars messages. We have seen many bloggers misquoting
studies. Others base misleading or incorrect statements on illogical or misleading interpretations of a study whose
authors actually reached different conclusions. We have seen seemingly authoritative statements about helmet standards
that were just plain wrong, with specific numbers pulled out of thin air. (We have a standards
up if you need to check any of them.) In some cases guesses and opinion are stated as known fact, and on
the Internet it may be difficult to judge the sender's competence or clarity of thought. That includes ours, of course,
although the context of this website may provide more basis for understanding our biases and where we are coming from.
Our conclusion is that the blogs and other media have proven a poor choice for discussion of helmet questions, and
readers can find more accurate and better-organized information at websites, including the anti-helmet law sites below.
This explains the reluctance of many social media users to get involved in the exchanges. Please note that this paragraph
did not single out either side in the arguments as the primary transgressor.
The Other Side
- An early publication finding helmets not worthwhile was Mayer Hillman's Cycle Helmets: the Case For and Against,
published by the Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster, in 1993 and on Hillman's website as "The cycle
helmet: friend or foe?".
- The Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation was the most definitive UK site
that promotes scepticism about the use of helmets and laws to require them. You can get the flavor of their approach by
reading their Policy Statement page. But on the site now we find: "Updated 2020-08-29 to reflect the current status
of this website. Below is an archive of the original page. Currently the site is mainly an archive, to preserve links
that site articles. Not much has been added since about 2016, efforts are currently underway to renew the editorial
direction and add new content."
- Several Australian sites protest the laws adopted there more than a decade ago. Some seem to be running out of
steam judging by the refresh dates on their pages, and some have disappeared. The
Cyclists Rights Action Group, has an extensive site with links to other resources for opponents of helmet laws,
including other web pages. Note: These are not mainstream views Down Under, where the question is generally considered
settled. But in 2010 a researcher at Sydney University recommended repealing the laws, using the same rationale
promoted by British helmet law opponents. You can find the latest on that with
this Google search. In 2011 the Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety published this
formal retraction of a paper by Voukelatos and Rissel, citing persistent "data errors" as the cause. The paper
had concluded that helmet laws did not result in fewer head injuries. Dr. Piet de Jong of Macquarrie University in
Sydney has published a paper using a mathematical approach to evaluate the (negative) public health impact of helmet
laws. We have a page up on his analysis.
- Here is a fine article by John Wren about New Zealand's helmet
wars. There is another titled Evaluation of New Zealand's
bicycle helmet law by Colin F Clarke published in the New Zealand Medical Journal that concludes that New
Zealand's helmet law "has failed in aspects of promoting cycling, safety, health, accident compensation, environmental
issues and civil liberties."
- The UK Department for Transport has published a study of helmet effectiveness geared toward decision-making about
mandatory helmet requirements. It is worth reading if you can find it in their archives and can
dispel myths about "the British view of helmets" that come up in mandatory helmet law discussions.
- Mikael Colville-Andersen has put up a TED video opposing helmets and helmet promotion. We have a page up on his inaccuracies.
article on the European Cyclists' Federation site attributes the entire cause of various injury statistic trends
to the mandating of helmets, as if nothing else were changing.
- Here is a very thoughtful blog post by a student who
has decided not to wear a helmet.
The European Cyclists' Federation position
paper on helmets. (1990) The ECF is an umbrella organization for 25 Bicycle Advocacy Groups in Europe with some
250.000 members in 17 countries who say they represent 100.000.000 daily cyclists. Their conclusions: "Properly
designed cycle helmets can avert some cycling deaths and injuries. The effect on safety is however secondary of
nature and is often exaggerated. Cycle helmets make cycling less convenient and should, therefore, by no means be
compulsory. Safety-campaigns should be directed towards primary safety - reducing the number of accidents by measures
of infrastructure, equipment and education of cyclists and motorists - rather than secondary safety as for example
promoting use of helmets."
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation. Here is a motorcyclists' site with an
anti-helmet law message.