Different Views on Bicycle Helmet Laws

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With Spring finally here, many more people are out biking. Some wear helmets, some don't. Helmet-wearing is generally taken to be beneficial, especially when looking at the incidence of serious head injuries. See, for instance, the 2011 study "The Impact of Compulsory Cycle Helmet Legislation on Cyclist Head Iinjuries in New South Wales, Australia," by Scott R. Walker et al. (Accident Analysis and Prevention, 43(6):2064-2071 (Nov. 2011). The authors found that "[h]ead injury rates decreased significantly more than limb injury rates at the time of legislation among cyclists but not among pedestrians. This additional benefit was attributed to compulsory helmet legislation. Despite numerous data limitations, we identified evidence of a positive effect of compulsory cycle helmet legislation on cyclist head injuries at a population level such that repealing the law cannot be justified."

There are, however, other ways of looking at the statistics. One group, the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation, asserts that insistence on helmet-wearing through the passage of mandatory helmet laws reduces the number of cyclists on the road. Since they've found the number of accidents doesn't appear to be reduced proportionally to the reduction in ridership, they argue that helmet laws serve to increase the rate of accidents. Check out their site as well as the Walker article and see for yourself which side of the argument you agree with.
For more literature, use the keyword search "bicycle and helmet? And law" on Tranweb.