Goal #1: Motorists Will Share the Road

Goal #2: Bicyclists Will Ride Safely

Goal #3: Bicyclists Will Wear Helmets

Goal #4: The Legal System Will Support Safe Bicycling

Goal #5: Roads and Paths Will Safely Accommodate Bicyclists


Bicyclists Will Wear Helmets

Bicycle helmets are 88% effective in preventing serious brain injury. Yet fewer than half of the bicycle riders wear one, and teens almost never do. The reported reasons among infrequent and recreational cyclists for not wearing helmets include their lack of social acceptability and their belief that they are uncomfortably hot to wear in the summer. Experienced riders, particularly adults, cite their superior bicycling skill as one reason, among others, for not wearing helmets. Research has shown that comprehensive programs -- those that provide helmets at a discount, teach the importance of their use, and include helmet use laws -- are most likely to result in increased helmet usage.

Strategy #1 Create a national bicycle helmet safety campaign.

Action Steps

  1. Evaluate the feasibility and potential effectiveness of such a campaign.
  2. Hire a full-time campaign coordinator and recruit staff support from participating agencies.
  3. Recruit a media firm to create a campaign.
  4. Develop the themes, content, and target audiences for the campaign and identify channels of delivery.
  5. Encourage corporations and bicycle advocacy groups to sponsor the campaign.
  6. Monitor campaign effectiveness.

Strategy #2 Create tools to promote and increase bicycle helmet use that can be adapted for use at the state and local levels.

Action Steps

  1. Compile and catalog community-based bicycle helmet safety materials, resources, organizations, and programs.
  2. Review and assess materials to ensure that the messages are accurate, culturally sensitive, and developmentally appropriate.
  3. Develop additional materials (e.g., model curricula, books, video games) as needed to address bicycle helmet education.
  4. Disseminate materials to school-based and community-based educators (via video, the Internet, resource centers, etc.) and encourage them to incorporate bicycle helmet messages into their programs.
  5. Monitor implementation of tools and assess the effectiveness of use at the local level.

Strategy #3 Assist states and communities that decide to address bicycle helmet use through state and local laws and enforcement. Footnote to follow.

Action Steps

  1. Collect existing laws utilized by state and local governments.
  2. Draft model laws that can be made available, as requested, for state and local government officials and advocates.
  3. Encourage law enforcement agencies to enforce existing bicycle helmet laws.
  4. Monitor the effectiveness of helmet laws for changing behavior and reducing injury.    

Footnote: Conference participants were not able to arrive at consensus on the inclusion of a strategy targeted at promoting mandatory helmet laws for bicyclists. Proponents argued that the best way to promote helmet use, and thereby reduce mortality and serious injury, is to require bicyclists to wear helmets. Opponents argued that requiring helmet use interferes with personal freedom, exaggerates the dangers of cycling, and reduces ridership. To promote the broadest possible participation in the National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety, it was decided that advocacy for mandatory helmet laws would not be included in this document. However, those states and communities that are looking for assistance in this area will be supported by individuals and organizations who agree that helmet use laws are beneficial. Organizations with an interest in this area will continue to pursue efforts to secure passage of these laws.