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Measures for prevention of bicycle injuries
4/26/2010 1:34:44 PM

Measures for prevention of bicycle injuries

In the injury-prevention and safety-promotion arena, the literature highlights several measures against bicycle injuries, which concern risk factors (environment, agent and individual. Passive measures attempt to control the conditions and try to reduce the hazards to which bicyclists are exposed. They are often regarded as abatement strategies capable of leading to considerable risk reduction without putting excessive demands on individual compliance and conscious participation. Road design (lane widths, roadway surfaces, and traffic signs) and cycling accommodation (cycle lane, separate lying cycle track, adjoining cycle track, and cycle track) are considered to be effective manners of preventing the occurrence of injury (crashes). However, active measures are demanding – they can be imposed or encouraged, and their adoption may require a considerable amount of community work. This kind of measure requires influencing behavior through increased knowledge, skill, and awareness. Bicycle-helmet wearing can be regarded as an active, individual from protection and it has a strong potential for reducing the risk of bicycle-related head injuries.
Enforcement and education are two strategies used in the attempt to increase and sustain bicycle helmet use. Enforcement is implemented in the form of helmet legislation – and usually follows an educational campaign, as was the case for instance in New Zealand and Australia. Many governments in the world have adopted mandatory bicycle helmet wearing or are in the process of doing so.
The point has been made that the legislation is the most cost effective method to increase bicycle helmet use (Hatziandreu, 1995). A recent Canadian study of the impact of mandatory bicycle-helmet wearing shows that the reduction in the rate of bicycle-related head injuries over a 4-year period was 45% in provinces with the legislation as compared to 27% in provinces without such legislation (Macpherson, 2002).
Otherwise, educational campaigns on bicycle helmet effectiveness in preventing head injury are a popular type of intervention, that can be community-based, school-based, physician-based, or some combination. There are also a number of educational programs with documented success in increasing the voluntary use of bicycle helmets.


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