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What do we know about bicycle helmets?

Niels Bogerd

Paper belonging to the presentation 'What do we know about bicycle helmets?' held during the International Cycling Safety Conference on November 7th and 8th by Niels Bogerd of SWOV.

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Cycling is an excellent sustainable alternative to driving for many journeys. But cyclists have fewer safety options than car-users, with a helmet being the main safety device that is available. However, there are indications that increasing bicycle helmet usage through legislation causes confounding effects which might cancel out the positive effect of helmets on head and brain injury. Thus, increasing voluntary helmet use seems to be the most fruitful approach for now. However, current helmet design is suboptimal. Since several fields are important to bicycle helmet optimization, a combined effort involving all of these is necessary; so that a given parameter is not optimized at the cost of another. Finally, the attitudes of cyclists towards helmets must be considered if helmet usage is to be changed. Therefore a multidisciplinary approach respects the complex nature of the issue, is unique in Europe, and will provide more complete information to legislators, manufacturers, end-users, and scientists, ultimately leading to increased safety for cyclists.

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