Summary: Helmet and bike safety links.
The sections below: - or you can just page down
- Helmet Information Sites
- Promotion Campaigns and Resources
- Injury Prevention Sites
- Sources of Statistics
- Other Places of Interest
- Sites We Disagree With
- Helmet-related products and add-ons
- Helmet Covers
If we are too serious for you, this is your site! Sponsored by an HMO in California, this site
is totally cool and absolutely graphic. You do need Shockwave to see their pages, but
everything moves and the advanced graphics are worth the visit. There is a whole 20-page comic
book there, for example. The HMO has developed a package of materials for schools and ties
their Web site into homework, with an interactive test for kids to take home to work on with
their parents that give instant feedback on correct responses when done on line. (You can see
the test without Shockwave, by using this
link.) This is a dynamite site!
1. Helmet Information Sites
SafetyLit produces a weekly digest with hundreds of journal articles abstracted every week. A search using the phrase "bicycle helmet" finds more than 300 journal articles and reports on the topic. A goldmine for researchers provided by the Center for Injury Prevention Policy & Practice at San Diego State University. You can subscribe for the weekly report, one of the most useful ways to keep current on journal articles in the helmet field.
You can research transportation-related journal articles on bicycle helmets (and other subjects) on the TRIS Search Page. TRIS has more than 400,000 books, journal articles, and technical reports on transportation research from the 1960's to the present. Put "bicycle and helmet" (without quotes) in the search window and it will return more than 145 references. The abstracts are sometimes disappointing, but the citations are very useful.
Snell's site has info on their standards and publications. They develop standards and test helmets to them in their own labs, issuing a certification if the helmet passes. They have a list up of Snell-certified helmets. They also have the first published reports from the Harborview research that Snell funded.
NOCSAE sets standards for helmets for football, lacrosse, baseball and softball batters. Their headear is all for multiple hits and usually provides for replacement of the interior at regular intervals. They use an "anthropomorphic" headform designed to respond to impact like a human head.
SEI's page has info on their safety equipment certification programs. Their helmet certification
program tests helmets to the ASTM standard and verifies the manufacturer's quality control
procedures. They include a list of certified helmets.
CPSC has a page up with information on their helmet standard, product recalls and hazards,
research, and the agency's current calendar of meetings. Here is the page with their listing of recalls including helmets. (We have a page of just their helmet recalls.) They have other material you can find by doing a search on "helmet." You can also subscribe to their press release by email service and receive recall notifications.
A private for-profit source of copies of the bicycle helmet standards we discuss.
The famed consumer magazine has a Web site that is part free, part paid subscription. We have summaries of their helmet articles. They mentioned us in their Blog in 2007.
2. Helmet Promotion Campaigns and Resources
The Minnesota State Bicycle Advisory Committee in collaboration with Injury Prevention Specialists of the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Twin Cities Bicycling Club presents a ‘Train the Trainer’ Workshop on Bicycle Helmet Safety. The workshop teaches instructors how to run a class on selecting and fitting a helmet. Check the Web, or this page with the email they send out to publicize the workshop.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association does safety education for nearby jurisdictions. WABA has resources for teaching on-street bicycle classes and rodeos, including a teacher guide and a train-the-trainers presentation that include layouts for training areas with diagrams and photos. There are materials for the program including letters to parents in English and Spanish. There is a description of the WABA trailer that carries bikes and materials to the schools, including an inventory before and after the class. Lots of photos. Good stuff!
Train the Trainer Helmet Workshop
Safe Kids Worldwide is a movement to prevent unintentional childhood injury. They have more than 300 state and local coalitions running community-based campaigns on child occupant protection, bicycle safety, residential fire detection, and scald burn prevention. They ran the most extensive and most effective helmet promotion campaign anyone has ever mounted in the US in 1989,and continue to have an active interest in helmets. Safe Kids provides inexpensive helmets to their chapters and to other non-profits through Bell, one of their sponsors. We have contact information for that on our page on inexpensive helmets. In addition, some of their local coalitions have helmet information up.
Ride Safe was a for-profit program supplying helmets at very low cost for helmet promotion campaigns. Though they are out of business now, they have given us permission to post the fine series of instructions they had developed for running a bike rodeo.
(Formerly the Lexington Bicycle Safety Program) This now-defunct non-profit organized bicycle safety events, coordinated media campaigns promoting bicycle safety throughout Massachusetts, and produced a
variety of educational materials for national distribution. Among their more interesting products were kits for school assemblies. They also had lesson packages, a helmet for eggs for drop demos and videos. When we last heard from founder Olga Guttag in 2005, she was looking for someone to take over the program. You can contact her by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Ride and Roll, 273 Emerson Road, Lexington, MA 02173, USA.
Ride and Roll Safely, Inc.
DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a Web server up with materials for
teaching kids to ride safely, including a bike safety Web page. It links to pamphlets and materials available for campaigns, and classroom materials for teachers.
This a New Jersey helmet campaign funded by the state and put together by The Brain Injury Association of New Jersey. It is targeted to both children and adults, and includes radio and TV spots, a survey on helmet use, a coloring page, a place to report your crash story and lots more.
Safe Moves is a traffic safety education program based in Los Angeles.
Stanford University's program for bicycle safety.
California's Department of Public Health had a great injury prevention program. This page is a tombstone for it, with resources still available.
This very useful page features the author's observations of the ten worst situations for cyclists getting hit by cars, and his suggestions for how to handle them. Includes clear illustrations of the bad situations.
David Scott is a teacher at Jiangnan University in Wuxi. He has launched a local helmet initiative, beginning with his students. He is working on getting some statistics and information together about helmets and head injuries in China. He has produced this well-done video to promote helmets there.
Stakki Stikka is an Australian program using unique helmet stickers.
This blog is the center for a helmet campaign built around the slogan "You'd look hotter in a helmet" with the mission statement: "To erase the stigma that wearing a helmet is dorky or uncool and to encourage the idea that wearing a helmet is attractive, cool and smart." Tee shirts, stickers and buttons are avaiable. Their international stickers drop the unfortunate "hotter" and just make it sexier in a helmet, probably a better choice of words. Has not been updated for a while.
This site promotes the use of helmets in cars, particularly for children. We have no idea of what the effect of that would be, but the idea is interesting. It might be inspired by frustration with our inability to deal with the huge number of deaths on our highways.
Home of the famous Thompson, Rivara and Thompson studies on helmet effectiveness. Summarizes
major studies of helmet effectiveness, with estimates of the protection helmets offer and more. Don't miss their page on helmet effectiveness, which charts the findings of a number of studies. Equally useful is their page on the effectiveness of helmet education interventions.
3. Injury Prevention Sites
A national campaign to address all of the problems that discourage bicycling in the US. The Steering Committee is the National Bicycle Safety Network, a committee that meets periodically in Washington, DC, to coordinate bicycle safety promotion activities among members. The Strategies are sponsored primarily by NHTSA and by the members of the Network, including BHSI. If you wonder why you have never heard of it, the NBSN has been somewhat less than dynamic in pushing the program.
This project of the University of North Carolina is funded by the US Department of Transportation. It provides resources primarily to officials who serve as bicycle planners in localities all over the US, but the Web site has injury prevention info, research data, statistics and other resources available for all.
This Web site has access to many CDC documents on injury prevention, including helmets. For helmets the most interesting document is their 1995 Injury-Control Recommendations: Bicycle Helmets. (Also available in .pdf format.) We have one page of the Recommendations in our page on bicycle helmet laws, a compilation of evaluations done on helmet law effectiveness. CDC also has an interesting page on head injury and concussion. Since their resources move, we sometime use this search link.
This is a link to a 2003 study by P. L. Jacobsen titled "Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling." The author examined statistics for many countries and found that the more cyclists and pedestrians there are on the streets, the safer they all are. And an article in Berkeley's Planetizen newsletter in discusses other studies showing that pedestrians are safer as well. Riding in a place like the Netherlands or another location where there is lots of bike traffic will tell you that the thesis is correct, and these studies attempted to document it. Those who oppose helmet laws contend that the laws reduce cycling, thereby increasing the risk to each cyclist left on the streets. There is no evidence of that in the US.
BHIT of the UK is a non-profit helmet promotion organization focussed on increasing helmet use among under-16 riders in Britain.
An extensive collection of everything Australian that is bicycle safety related on the Web, with New Zealand info of course and international links as well. The site is maintained by the Australian Bicycle Council and is a repository for data, information and best practice relating to cycling planning, policy, programs and projects.
A good source of data on highway injuries and fatalities. We have some of their stuff up on our
4. Sources of Statistics
The FARS Database is the Fatality Analysis Reporting System put up by NHTSA - DOT. You can
construct your own query to generate data on fatalities (not lesser injuries, just fatalities) by year, by time of day, in your state or
by many other criteria. They have some Frequently Used Queries as examples.
Query the FARS Database
Linda Tracy and John Williams have a unique Web server dedicated to bike program planners. It has information on bicycle-friendly facilities, a growing and evolving online bicycle planning and program guide, an extensive reference library and much more. This is not just a helmet site, but a full-range site on the primary measures to reduce the bicycle crashes that make helmets necessary. A highly recommended resource.
6. Other Interesting Helmet Places
A brief description of a program at Stanford sparked by the hospital. From a beginning with two percent helmet use they managed to distribute 2,500 helmets.
This Boston-area group has an innovative helmet rebate program for members, as well as lots of info on riding in their area.
OHSU has helmet fitting instructions in English and Spanish.
Oregon Health Sciences University
6. Sites We Disagree With
The most definitive site that promotes scepticism about the use of helmets, and about laws to require them. They find "serious flaws in the evidence most frequently cited in favour of helmet effectiveness. Moreover, it has become increasingly clear that real-world data, from independent sources and based on large populations where helmet use has become common, do not support these claims. Most disturbing of all, there are sources of evidence to suggest that increased helmet use has sometimes been associated with an increase in the number or severity of head injuries to cyclists.
All that is on their Policy Statement page. They have links to other like-minded sites.
This Australian site opposes helmet laws. Their presentation is reasonable and thorough, and they have a lot of stuff collected since their founding in 1992. There is a lot of information here to support the anti-helmet law viewpoint.
An annotated collection of links to info on the Web on "the Helmet Wars." We would have to list more of them if this page were not there to provide the URLs.
The ECF is an umbrella organization for 25 Bicycle Advocacy Groups in Europe with some 250.000 members in 17 countries who say they represent 100.000.000 daily cyclists. Their conclusions: "Properly designed cycle helmets can avert some cycling deaths and injuries. The effect on safety is however secondary of nature and is often exaggerated. Cycle helmets make cycling less convenient and should, therefore, by no means be compulsory. Safety-campaigns should be directed towards primary safety - reducing the number of accidents by measures of infrastructure, equipment and education of cyclists and motorists - rather than secondary safety as for example promoting use of helmets."
A New Zealand site that advocates repealing their helmet law. It repeats nearly all the arguments that anti-helmet people use.
Here is a motorcyclists' site with an anti-helmet law message.
7. Helmet Manufacturers
Bicycle helmet stickers in graphic designs to add either reflectivity or florescent color to your helmet. There is one warning bystanders not to remove the helmet after a crash. We have examined a PET-shell helmet with their graphics on it for a year and found no evidence that the adhesive had damaged the shell. The reflectivity seemed decent to us but their florescent colors are not reflective.
Strip lights you can attach to your helmet or bike. We have never seen one in the field and don't know if they would help or not. Our sample self-destructed in about 12 minutes of operating time. See our page on the ideal helmet for our cautionary ideas on attaching anything to the outside of your helmet.
Da Brim makes very large helmet visors and all-around brims for really good sun protection. Probably a little flappy in high winds or if you ride too fast, but they also have a front stabilizer for riding on a recumbent bike. Here is a review by Philip Boroff.
You can attach a helmetcamera.com camera to your helmet and film for a safety video, or you can attach one to your helmet and bomb down a mountain. It's your call. Either way, you don't want that camera to catch on anything and jerk your neck. This product at least has a low profile and is attached with a breakaway mount.
Manufacturers of related products
Has your helmet gone sour? This is a problem usually limited to motorcycle or BMX helmets with full liners. Bennett Engineering makes a product to eliminate helmet odor called Helmet Fresh. We have not used it, but were pleased to find that it has no masking fragrance, just a faintly medicinal or bleach odor. Cycle World said "After kneading the clear fluid into the liner, we left it to air dry. Once it had dried, the helmet didn't smell like new, or even like cheap perfume. In fact, it didn't smell at all." Other reviews on the Web support that. We can't find their Web page any more, but motorcycle stores and Web sites have it, including Bell (motorcycle) Helmets and Simpson. A four ounce spray bottle runs about $5. See also No Sweat Sports below.
Helmet Gear makes a large wrap-around visor, similar to a motorcycle face shield but covering only the upper face. We don't recommend using this type of visor. In general, the lower edge of that type of visor can cut the rider's face in a fall, or the visor can shatter and the shards can do serious damage. We do not know if the Helmet Gear product has either problem, because there is no visor test in any US bicycle helmet standard yet. So you are on your own to assess this one until we can get a test added to the ASTM and CPSC standards. For eye protection we recommend sunglasses, glasses or goggles that meet the ASTM impact standard for eyewear.
Ice Dot is a crash sensor mounted on the exterior of a helmet that attempts to sense when the wearer has crashed. It records helmet motion, not head motion, but it senses velocity, torque and impact severity. When an impact sets it off, the rider has time to deactivate it. If not deactivated it uses the rider's smart phone to send a text message with GPS coordinates to the Ice Dot web site reporting the crash, and the web site passes the SOS along to your pre-entered contacts. There is an info sticker on the helmet with your unique identifier pointing EMT crews to medical info that you have loaded on the Ice Dot web page. The initial cost is $150 for the sensor and setup, and $10 per year after that. For those who just want to use a wristband, Ice Dot sells those along with the helmet stickers for $20, with a URL that EMT's can use to access your emergency data on the Ice Dot site. That service also has the $10 annual fee. The site is icedot.org. The sensor must be charged from a charger or USB port, and will run for 24 hours on a charge. Some riders who often ride solo in remote areas--that still have cell coverage--welcomed the announcement. Field reports will be needed to determine the ability of the crash sensor to react appropriately to real life crashes.
Helmet-mounted lights are often used for offroad riding at night. Jet Lites responded to a letter from us about snagging hazards by developing a mount that breaks away with a 5 lb force, and won't let that overhanging limb break your neck.
MEDS makes a $3 system for adding personal medical identification to your helmet. It includes a decal for the outside to alert the EMS crew that it's there, and a flat orange plastic sleeve that you stick inside with a folded medical info sheet inside that you fill out. Don't lend your helmet to anyone. The helmet has to be removed to see the info inside, and instructions to first responders vary in different communities about whether or not to remove the helmet if neck trauma is suspected. And in some cases the helmet is removed by bystanders trying to make the cyclist comfortable.
O-Tus makes small near-ear speakers that attach to the helmet near your ears. We have not heard the sound quality. Would still inevitably affect your hearing what happens around you, a sense that we think is critical to safe bicycling. Not recommended, though, because their mounting video recommends shaving some foam off the edge of your helmet so the adhesive on the mount will stick. To our shock, the technician actually takes a knife and shaves off some foam to make a more level mount, and to remove dirty foam that will not give a good adhesive surface. Since our message is "never modify your helmet liner" and nobody knows how much foam a user might take off, we would avoid this product.
Plum Enterprises makes protective headgear for anyone from babies to adults in need of head protection around the house after head injury, surgery, during epileptic seizures, etc. These are protective caps not designed for the heavy impacts seen in bicycling.
Sandmarc Industries makes the SandySack, a locking nylon bag that holds a helmet while the rider is off the bike.
An interesting accessory to add to a hard shell helmet that registers g's above a certain level by turning a spot red. We took some samples to an ASTM helmet standards committee meeting and got mixed feebackve feedback from the assembled experts. Some felt that even assuming it functioned correctly, the spot might not change in some crashes that would damage the helmet. Most believe that visual inspection and measuring for foam crush after a crash is the best way to determine if a helmet has been damaged. But since many consumers are not experienced in looking at damaged helmets and may not recognize damage under a shell, there is probably still a place for this product if you wear a stiff hard shell helmet. Our samples were $25 plus shipping, from a supplier we found with Google. With the increased concern about concussions in many sports, there are numerous competitors now producing similar products.
This South African company has ear covers that attach to helmet straps. They can be used for protecting ears against wind, but they can also be used to mount ear buds to listen to music or whatever. That can be a dangerous way to ride, since it deprives the rider of essential feedback about vehicles approaching from the rear. Slipstreamz says their product places the earbud outside the ear canal and retains some ambient feedback, but we do not recommend using it that way. As a wind protector it compares to the Buschman Technologies product above. Whatever you do, don't emulate the Slip-Streamz Web site photo with the eyeglasses under the helmet strap. That presses the glasses into the side of your head, and creates a gap between strap and head that may have caused the rider to look for a wind spoiler in the first place.
Streetglo has reflective stickers and vinyl decals in at least nine colors and a large variety of designs, mostly intended for motorcycle helmets. The larger ones cover a full helmet. There is one warning bystanders not to remove the helmet after a crash. Some of their reflective materials come from 3m. Others come from Nippon Carbide Industries (USA), who certify that the material will not damage motorcycle helmet shells made of PET, Lexan and other plastics. They have now added bicycle kits, and their Web page has some good photos of the results. That much material tends to be expensive.
Helmet Covers and Add-ons
Helmet covers and other add-ons are a special category. The lycra covers that are held on with elastic bands around the bottom are probably ok, since research years ago showed that they just slip off in a crash, and are actually beneficial for sliding for the first inch or so. But we have never seen any lab tests of the ones with horns or other projections, so we would not use one, and you are on you own with those. We have a page up on helmet covers.
Helmetskinz has colorful and creative lycra helmet covers, with cartoon characters like Dora The Explorer and Spongebob. The Company is King Cat Productions, of Canada.
HelmetZoo has colorful and creative covers for kids' helmets. They have ears, tails, horns and other projections. We don't like adding projections of any kind to a helmet.
Tail Wags makes colorful and creative covers for kids' helmets. They have ears, tails, horns and other projections. As noted, we don't like adding any kind of projection to the outside of a helmet.
Helmtops are soft patches that you stick on your helmet by running a rubber tether through a vent. Again, we don't like adding that kind of thing to the outside of a helmet, when you have no idea how much of a snagging hazard it could be. The rubber tether might pop out in a crash, but it might also be held in the vent by the pressure of the pavement you are hitting, and interfere with the sliding of the helmet. Helmtops come as butterflies, flowers, stars, skull-and-crossbones and more.
Helmet covers, with reflective trim.
This page was last revised on: December 14, 2013.