Bicycle helmet legislation is ‘not associated’ with a reduced rate of head injuries caused to cyclists, a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has concluded.
The report, conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto in Canada, compared injury rates between jurisdictions with different helmet laws and the number of journeys made by bike.
The results revealed that helmet legislation was not associated with reduced hospitalisation rates for brain, head, scalp, skull or face injuries, indicating that factors other than helmet laws have more influence on injury rates.
The researchers suggest that in order to reduce bicycling injury rates, transport and health policymakers should focus on encouraging more people to cycle and to teach people how to cycle more safely – following the lead of female cyclists.
It makes this suggestion as the report found that females had lower cycle-related hospitalisation rates than males in analyses of all injury causes. These results are consistent with those found elsewhere and for other travel modes, an effect often attributed to the conservative risk choices that females tend to make.
It also found that hospitalisation rates for traffic-related injuries were lower with higher cycling mode shares, a “safety-in-numbers” association consistent with results elsewhere and for other modes of travel.