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Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

The Helmet Update by Email

Vol. 17, #2e, April 21, 1999

McDonalds and CPSC Launch Major Helmet Campaign

In a joint announcement today, McDonald's and the Consumer Product Safety Commission launched a helmet promotion campaign including public service announcements, a new helmet website and the inclusion of bike helmet information with every Happy Meal sold at McDonald's for one week. Participating restaurants also will give away bike helmets at local events.

The press release with the announcement is up on the CPSC website.

The two sponsors also released a study of bicycle helmet usage in the U.S. with some rather startling conclusions:

  • About 50% of all bicycle riders in the U.S. regularly wear bike helmets while riding a bike.

  • Of the 50% of bikers who regularly wear a bike helmet, 43% said they always wear a helmet and 7% said they wear a helmet more than half the time.

  • The percentage of bikers who reported regularly wearing a helmet rose from 18% in 1991 to about 50% of all bike riders in the new survey.

  • About 38% of adult bike riders regularly wear a bike helmet; about 69% of children under 16, as reported by their parents, regularly wear a bike helmet while riding a bike.

  • Bike helmet ownership among bike riders rose from 27% in 1991 to 60% in the new survey.

  • Bike ridership rose 20% from an estimated 66.9 million riders in 1991 to 80.6 million riders in the new survey, or about three times the U.S. population increase over that time period.

    The study can be found at


    We don't believe for a minute that half the bicycle riders in the U.S. are wearing helmets. But if the sample is not just flawed, and they are responding that way on the telephone, it must at least signal an attitude change, and perhaps an acceptance that wearing a helmet is good behavior, whether or not you do it. If a survey asked if you were wearing clean underwear, everyone would say yes, because they know that it represents good hygiene. But at least it shows that respondents want to be politically correct, and recognize what response that requires. Helmet wearing has certainly increased since 1991, but based on observation we don't think it's that high, and no community in the US has actually measured helmet wearing and reached anywhere near that level with the exception of Seattle, a special case where helmet promotion has been intense for a decade.

    The new website is called Cranium Canyon. It's great. If our site seems too serious for you, this is your page! It is co-sponsored by McDonald's and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It has delightful graphics, and is the only helmet place on the web that may appeal to kids. They also have a press page with photos you can download.

    CPSC and McDonalds have put together a blockbuster campaign. We hope it has lasting results.

    The Helmet Update - Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
    Randy Swart, Editor
    4611 Seventh Street South
    Arlington, VA 22204-1419 USA
    (703) 486-0100 (voice)
    (703) 486-0576 (fax)
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