August 2010

Comprehensive bike helmet laws show results

New research out of the University of Ottawa suggests that bicycle helmet use is much more widespread in provinces that enact the most comprehensive helmet legislation. Youth in Ontario, for example, were much less likely to obey the provincial law mandating helmets for those younger than 18 years of age than youth in Nova Scotia, where helmet legislation applies to everyone. The authors note that six of 10 provinces have bike legislation. Helmets were worn by 73.2% of respondents in Nova Scotia, where legislation applies to all ages, by 40.9% in Ontario, where legislation applies to those under 18, and by 26.9% in Saskatchewan, where no legislation exists. Just 46.7% of youth in Ontario reported wearing helmets, compared to 77.5% of Nova Scotia’s youth. And in response to those who argue that bicycle helmet laws lead many people to quit cycling rather than wear a helmet, the authors conclude that the amount of recreational and commuting bicycle use remained unchanged among youth and adults following the implementation of legislation in PEI and Alberta.

The study is published in the Injury Prevention journal.

Updated August 16, 2010