The Habits of Cyclists in Regard to Helmet Usage
To analyse helmet usage and practices in Europe, Working Group 1 developed a questionnaire to collect relevant information by means of a field study carried out from 2010 to 2014.
Despite some limitations and boundary conditions, the results of the survey did indicate that helmet usage varies, depending upon the country and the type of bicycle. Cyclists in Finland tend to wear helmets more often than in other countries, for example. And those who ride racing bikes are more likely to wear helmets than riders of other types of bikes.
The survey also provided insight into cyclists’ perceived safety. In general, those interviewed thought that riding a bicycle was more dangerous than walking or driving a car, whether cyclists wore a helmet or not.
Cyclists seem to be aware of the dangers of biking in general, and most believe that helmets increase cycling safety even more, and also increase the cyclists’ overall feeling of safety. However, a litany of reasons was given for why bikers nevertheless choose not to wear them. From carelessness to short biking distances, from warm temperatures to inconvenience, bikers tend to go without protective headgear. Even a lack of a place to put the helmet when arriving at their destination was a reason given for not wearing one. Physical complaints like excessive sweating, headaches, or a narrow field of vision were also among the reasons.
Most remarkable from the survey was that 48% of the respondents indicated that they had been involved in a serious fall from a bike, and 26% reported a collision with a car while cycling. Collisions were rarely reported to the police, and primary impact zones were given as the sides and front of the head/helmet. In this way, the survey substantiates the conclusions drawn from earlier research, and supports the recommendation to modify helmet designs to further protect these impact areas.