BikeParts Wiki

The arguments for and against the introduction and enforcement of bicycle helmet compulsion are surpisingly diverse. Here is an attempt at a systematic pro et contra overview.

Work in progress... Arguments to be added, counter arguments and references filled in.

Pro-compulsion arguments and replies[]

Very many cyclists hit their heads[]


Every year many thousand persons report to hospitals with head wounds


True, but the vast number of head injuries pertain to falls and to Traffic injuries to pedestrians, car occupants.

Science says helmets are very effective[]


Several high-profile scientific reviews of the literature have concluded beyond doubt that cycling helmet show superior efficiency in reducing injuries. Template:Ref:Helmets for preventing head and facial injuries in bicyclists


The reviews have only chosen a very narrow selection of articles on the subject and do not answer the criticism they have recieved. Also in the Cochrane case, the reviewers have themselves carried out the majority of the studies. The other review uses virtually the same narrow choice of studies.

Template:Ref:Curnow WJ., The Cochrane Collaboration and bicycle helmets. Accid Anal Prev. 2005 May;37(3):569-73. uids=15784212&dopt=Abstract

Most cycling accidents are single-vehicle[]

Cycling is much more dangerous than driving[]

Even concussions can have long-term effects[]

Cyclists need protection just like car drivers[]

Protection is forced upon car-occupants[]

If a single life is saved by a helmet law it is worth it[]

Helmet compulsion for children even more pressing[]


Children have larger and heavier heads, relatively and therefore more easily get head injuries. Abilities to judge distances and speeds are also less than in adults.


True, but amongst children, neither is cycling a major cause of serious head injuries. On the other and physical exercise and freedom to explore is paramount to childrens deveolpement. The scientific evidence specifically on efficiency of helmets for children is no more conclusive than for adults or whole population studies. The frequently cited studies have so many errors. See the appendix of "Cycling and children and young people" by Tim Gill, for a treatise on children and helmet compulsion.

Contra-compulsion arguments and replies[]

No evident injury reduction in compulsion regions[]

Cycling has a very positive net health effect[]

Cycling is the most environmentally viable vehicle[]

Helmet compulsion reduces cycling[]

Reduced cycling reduces safety in numbers[]

Helmet compulsion leads to risk compensation[]

Rotational forces are the most dangerous[]

Helmets do not help against rotational forces[]

Strong evidence of net good needed[]