Friday, 28 January 2011

Are bicycle helmets really safe?

Letter to South China Morning Post today:
Andrew Cheng Kar-foo has called for the wearing of bicycle helmets to be compulsory (SCMP, Jan 28). But we should be wary of bringing in such a measure. Even the most well-intentioned laws can have unintended outcomes. 
In Western Australia, which has had compulsory bicycle helmet laws since 1992, studies on the effects of helmet legislation suggest that it has (i) increased hospital admissions per cyclist on the road (ii) reduced the popularity of cycling and (iii) reduced public health.
A 2009 study by Macquarie University suggests that bicycle helmet laws incur a health cost to Australia of more than half a billion dollars a year ($HK 3.8 billion). 
Information on these seemingly counter-intuitive outcomes is at