ECF Bicycle Helmets and Road Safety. Ceri Woolsgrove,

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1 ECF Bicycle Helmets and Road Safety Ceri Woolsgrove,

2 European Cyclists Federation European Umbrella organisation of national associations 60 members world wide Promotion of cycling for recreation and daily transportation EU Policy and projects, including VeloCity conference series EuroVelo the European cycle route network Cities for cyclists global network PRESTO LifeCycle 2

3 Benefits of cycling Great everyday health benefits Psychological well-being physical activity help children pay more attention at school doubles up as transport; saves time and money Many authorities recommend at least min/day exercise, cycle to work is perfect Eases congestion on the roads, parking needs, energy use Evidence of road safety benefits for all road users; plus you are twenty times less likely to cause a fatality whilst riding a bicycle as you are when driving a car. Lowers air pollution; lowers CO2 emissions Creates more pleasant environment; livable neighborhoods a low skill activity Anyone can do it, unlike some sports Socially inclusive/democratic Improved mobility options to be used with public transport and car 3

4 Safety in numbers 4

5 Safety in numbers Theory: A 100% increase in cycle use will result in just 34% increase in cycle casualties (Jacobsen) Practice: The Netherlands: from : 45% more cycling, 58% fewer cycle fatalities Germany: from : Share of cycling up from 8 to 12%, 66% fewer cycle fatalities WHY? 1.motorists get used to driving with cyclists 2.More drivers are actually cyclists themselves 3.authorities spending more money on infrastructure with more of their citizens cycling 5

6 Helmet Legislation and the effect on cycling numbers Aus Victoria modal share still at 1970 s levels 2012 Canadian Medical Association Journal - suggests a 62% reduction in cyclist numbers in Halifax the year after helmet law enactment 2012 New Zealand Medical Journal - from1990 to 2009, NZ showed that average hours cycled per person reduced by 51% 6

7 New Zealand data travel to work census details from 1976 to 2006 Cycling share % % % % Helmet law % ( 75% of 5.39 ) % ( 58% of 5.39 ) % ( 47% of 5.39 ) 7

8 Cycling injuries after legislation 8

9 Possible effects of a helmet law Road Safety only Shift to Health Costs and Benefits Does a helmet law decreases cyclist numbers? Does a helmet law decrease casualties? If a helmet law decreases numbers of cyclist then we lose the health benefits for those lost cyclists a health net disbenefit 9

10 Cycling is a healthy activity Cycling 30km/week reduces risk of heart disease to half that for non-cyclists who take no other exercise (Heart Foundation, Morris) Regular cyclists enjoy a fitness equal to that of a person ten years younger. (National Forum for Coronary Heart Disease Foundation, Sharp) 10

11 Health figures The Copenhagen Centre for Prospective Population Studies concluded that " those who did not cycle to work experienced a 39% higher mortality rate than those who did. A Washington study of 600 people cycling 16km or more at least four days a week had a rate of cardiac problems of only 42.7 per thousand as against 84.7 per thousand for noncyclists. Similar figures were recorded for high blood pressure, chronic bronchitis, asthma, orthopaedic problems, diseases of the sebaceous glands varicose veins of the lower limb 11

12 Cycling risk and benefits UK BMJ study concluded that the life years gained due to the health and fitness benefits of cycling outweighed the lifeyears lost through injuries by a factor of around 20:1 12

13 Cycling Risks and Benefits - de Hartog 2011 Risks and benefits of shift from car to bike for short journeys; factors include Road accidents Air pollution Benefits of Physical activity cycling s health benefits outweighed the injury and pollution risks by an average of 9 to1. If pollution risks are excluded, the ratio is 35:1 13

14 De Jong study Public health benefit only if eq q = between zero-1; Head injury costs as fraction of total injury costs in un-helmeted cycling e = between zero-1; is the proportion of those costs which could be avoided if all cyclists wore helmets -Helmet effectiveness eq>μβ μβ β = is the ratio of the health benefits of (helmet-free) cycling relative to its risks (20:1?) μ = ratio of cycle use lost after helmet law:cycle use retained 14

15 De Jong study - eq>μβ Assuming that head injuries account for all of the injury costs of cycling e = 1 assuming that helmets are effective against all injuries not just head injuries q = 1 Using a 20:1 health to risk ratio β = 20:1 a reduction of about 4.7 % cyclist numbers brings about a net health disbenefit 15

16 Conclusion Question whether there is evidence to suggest that helmet legislation improves head injury or fatality rates for cyclists Question whether there is evidence to suggest that helmet legislation reduce cycling numbers Question whether there is evidence that the reduction in health benefits of a loss in numbers of cyclists would be far greater than safety benefits of helmet legislation 16

17 Thank you For more information

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