Are bike sharing schemes leading to a major rise in head injuries? Researchers call for helmets to be given to riders following rise in accident risk

  • Called for schemes around the world to implement helmet loans for riders
  • Schemes found to increase the risk of head injuries among cyclists by 14 percent

By Mark Prigg

Having a bike sharing scheme can increase the risk of head injuries among cyclists by 14 percent, researchers have found.

Researchers looked at the change in head injuries before and after the implementation of bike-share programs in five cities in the United States and Canada.

They called for schemes around the world to implement helmet loans for riders.

New Yorkers use the Citibikes dotted around their city. However, researchers warn that helmets should be available to riders following a rise in head injuries among cities who run bike sharing schemes

New Yorkers use the Citibikes dotted around their city. However, researchers warn that helmets should be available to riders following a rise in head injuries among cities who run bike sharing schemes

SEATTLE SET TO OFFER HELMETS

In September, Seattle will implement a bike-share program called Pronto Cycle Share, one of the first such programs in the United States to offer helmet rentals.

Each helmet will cost $2 and be sanitized after each use.

Providing helmets in Seattle is essential due to King County’s bike helmet regulation law.

Other cities have now been urged to look at implementing similar schemes.

Researchers from the University of Washington and Washington State University looked at the change in head injuries before and after the implementation of bike-share programs in five cities in the United States and Canada.

 

They also gathered similar data for five cities that did not have bike-share programs.

Of all bicycle-related injuries that occurred in bike-share cities during the study period, the proportion that were head injuries rose from 42 percent to 50 percent after bike-share program implementation.

No such increase was found in cities without these programs.

'Our results suggest that bike-share programs should place greater importance on providing helmets so riders can reap the health benefits of cycling without putting themselves at greater risk for injury,' said Janessa Graves of the Washington State University College of Nursing, who led the research.

London's hire scheme has been a huge success, and is dubbed the 'boris bike' after Mayor of London Boris Johnson (pictured)

London's hire scheme has been a huge success, and is dubbed the 'boris bike' after Mayor of London Boris Johnson (pictured)

Helmets are regularly shown to help lower the risk of head and brain injury, whereas not using a helmet can increase fatality among people who incur a traumatic brain injury in a biking accident.

Despite these findings, many bike-share programs worldwide do not offer helmets to cyclists.

Graves and her colleagues examined trauma-registry data for bicycle-related head injuries for two years before and one year after bike programs began.

They studied the same timeframe in control cities.

They collected injury data from trauma center databases and registries in the United States and Canada.

The cities with bike-share programs were Boston, Miami Beach, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Montreal, Quebec. None of the programs provided helmets to users during the study period.

The cities without bike-share programs were Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York City, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.


 
“It doesn’t take much effort to wear a helmet when you bike,” Graves said, “but doing so could make all the difference.”


.

She led the study; Frederick Rivara, a UW professor of pediatrics, was senior author.


 

The comments below have not been moderated.

Cycling is a cheap method of getting from A to B. They don't pollute the atmosphere and their pedal power doesn't use expensive fuels.... However, a simple registration system which is like our car tax but of course free should be implemented along with the necessity to wear a helmet and high viz band or outerwear. There should also be something in the regulations which means a cyclist uses designated cycle paths when they are available!

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There are less cyclists around here following crackdowns on insane risktaking and general lawlessness. Though, last night I did see one lightless cylcist go the wrong way up a one way street and shoot into traffic at its end without giving way. Basically the question of enforcing helmets does seem a little academic whilst this kind of behaviour continues. What is really needed is CBT to deal with the problem of totally clueless people buying a bike who have never operated any kind of vehicle before, and numberplates to allow the persistent risktakers to be identified.

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Yes, release the Red Arrows! I say things that need to be said....

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Too many idioms take Boris bikes No experience of the road Should be a bike test

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well seeing as alot of motorists dont know the legal amount of space you need to leave when going past a cyclist or what an amber light actually means, so its not always the fault of the cyclists

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Seems even less cyclists give similar clearance to pedestrians when riding ILLEGALLY on the footpath. Do unto others..

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Bicycle helmets reduce and prevent head injury, if not fatalities.

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Helmets help prevent head injuries and fatalities.

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Let every participant buy their own helmet. Make it compulsory to wear one or be ticketed and fined first time an officer sees you riding without one.

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I don't think the bike share should offer the helmets. Too much liability. What if someone fell, didn't report it and the helmet was compromised for the next rider. People need to take as much or as little responsibility for themselves. Good grief - helmets are cheap. It is less than $25 or more.

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OHHHHH, so it's not the scheme itself that is fueling head injuries, it's the people who use such scheme without a helmet that is. These researchers should learn how to apportion blame in the right direction.

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