Main Conclusions of the COST Action
HOPE has enabled an unprecedented level of international collaboration, as well as significant output that will help advance developments in the field of bicycle helmets. With the establishment of a Europe-wide database and suggested standards for accident reporting, researchers in various countries can be stimulated to continue collaborating in a way that benefits cyclists across Europe.
The inclusion of psychological and social aspects of helmet usage is crucial in the effective development of both helmet design and legislation. In order to increase and encourage helmet usage, these factors must be taken into consideration. After all, a helmet cannot be effective if it is not worn, and worn properly. The information and guidelines developed by HOPE will help address these issues in a concrete way.
Furthermore, the collection of published research, testing results and accident simulation has identified shortcomings in both current helmet design and test standards. The proposal of a new bicycle helmet test method, which integrates more realistic impact conditions and pass/fail criteria, will likely increase helmet efficacy and reduce the number of serious head injuries as the result of falls or collision with vehicles.
Lastly, the research conducted about thermal comfort resulted in improved techniques for addressing this ever-important factor in cyclist compliance. Through specific design and manufacturing improvements, thermal factors can be addressed in a way that significantly reduces discomfort and thereby increases helmet usage.
One of HOPE’s interesting observations is that focussing on the same issues, explored from different perspectives, can produce different results. It therefore follows that, while most of HOPE’s findings are comparable to and consistent with each other, there are some findings that seem to contradict each other at first sight, when viewed as a whole. This illustrates the need for further research and investigation to find the right balance, in which the different approaches are integrated even further.