A helmet law for cyclists under 18 was introduced in Alberta, Canada, on 1 May 2002.
Edmonton – 59% reduction in children’s cycling by 2004
Cyclists were counted in Edmonton (a city in Alberta), in 2000 (pre-law) and 2004 (post-law). The percentage of cyclists under 18 fell from 26% in the pre-law survey, to 15% post-law (Hagel et al, 2006
), suggesting that the law discouraged substantial numbers of youngsters from cycling. Compared to adults who were not required to wear helmets, children’s cycling (<13 years) fell by 59%, with a 41% reduction for teenagers aged 13-17 (Hagel et al, 2006
At the time, great concerns were also expressed that injuries per cyclist had increased after the introduction of Alberta’s helmet law (BHRF, 1055
Wider surveys – 56% reduction in children cycling and 27% reduction in teenagers, by 2006
Comprehensive survey results were published in 2011 in a PhD thesis (Karkhaneh, 2011
). The data were collated from observational studies of Albertan cyclists in several cities, involving 330 hours of pre-law observations in 2000, and 313 hours of observation post-law in 2006.
The survey showed a large and significant 56% decrease in children's cycling, confirming the large decrease in children’s cycling noted in the Edmonton survey, 2 years earlier. The greatest decreases were at schools (68% decrease), on commuter routes (41% decrease) and in residential areas (37% decrease).
With only 44% as many children cycling, there should have been only 44% as many injuries – i.e. 44% of 1676 = 744. The observed post-law number of injuries – 1676 per year – is 2.37 times higher than would have been expected for the amount of cycling. In contrast, the safety of adult cyclists (who were not affected by the law) improved.