Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Consumer-funded, volunteer staff

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Summary: This page tells you who we are and how we got here.

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) is a helmet advocacy program that grew out of the Helmet Committee of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. The committee began testing helmets in 1974, and was set up as a separate program, still under WABA, in 1989. In 2016 we are completing the transition from a WABA-sponsored program to a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

BHSI is a small, active non-profit that serves as a consumer advocacy program and a technical resource for bicycle helmet information. Its volunteers serve on the ASTM bicycle helmet standard committee and are active in commenting on standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. BHSI provides an email newsletter, and sends out many copies of its Toolkit for Helmet Promotion Programs to anyone who is organizing a helmet effort, and to anyone needing materials for teaching. We are staffed by a few volunteers and funded entirely by consumer donations. We do not accept funding from the helmet industry or retailers.

On the Internet, BHSI's domain name is helmets.org. We also continue to use our older domain name, bhsi.org. Our web page makes BHSI materials available to anyone at any time, and we reached almost 600,000 visitors by 2005. We are over 900,000 per year now. That's nothing for a big site, but huge for us! Our page runs on a secure server with an SSL certificate from Comodo, verifying our identity and encrypting all connections.

BHSI's web master, Randy Swart, is a full-time volunteer and is the author of most of the pages on our site that are not identified as having been written by someone else. We sometimes ask others to review a new page, mostly members of the ASTM F08.53 Helmet and Headgear standards subcommittee. A number of other volunteers have also reviewed pages for both editorial changes and content. We take comments from anybody and respond with changes where warranted. We never request pre-publication review of any page by manufacturers, but do respond to comments from them, particularly if they relate to our page on Helmets for the Current Season and are factual rather than judgmental in nature. Where possible we refer readers to primary sources or identify through links other sources with different points of view.

Here is a chronological view of our history:

Before 1974,there were no bicycle helmet standards in use and there was lots of junk product on the market. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, recognizing the need for helmet information, began investigating helmets, with these events over 25 years time:
  • 1974 - WABA Helmet Committee forms, collects helmets for riding tests.
  • 1976 - Helmet Committee runs out of steam.
  • 1978 - Steam regained, Committee resumes testing. Safety Committee also promotes helmet use.
  • 1979 - Committee produces Bicycling magazine article on helmet wearability. Bicycling check covers all testing costs.
  • 1981 - Snell Foundation agrees to provide lab testing for another article.
  • 1983 - Second Bicycling article published with Snell's crash lab data, the first time impact protection ratings were ever made available to the public. WABA joins ANSI helmet standards committee.
  • 1984 - ANSI standard adopted after battle, sweeps junk off market. WABA article had helped to build pressure.
  • 1989 - BHSI established as a WABA entity, hoping to set up a lab to post results on new helmets immediately. Funded by consumer donations, not a drain on WABA!
  • 1990 - BHSI joins ASTM committee taking up where ANSI left off. Consumer Reports publishes their first helmet article, covering few helmets.
  • 1991 - BHSI concludes that funding will not be available for test lab.
  • 1995 - BHSI puts up web page (this one), and a page for WABA too at www.waba.org. BHSI's Randy Swart was appointed 2nd Vice Chairman of the ASTM F8.53 headgear committee.
  • 1997 - BHSI web page receives 50,000 visitors. Swart becomes 1st VP of F8.53.
  • 1998 - Web page visitor rate over 60,000 for the year.
  • 1999 - Web page visitor rate over 90,000 for the year.
  • 2000 - Web page visitor rate over 120,000. New DSL connection speeds web page. Annual budget still at about $12,000.
  • 2001 - We moved our web server to Pair Networks to provide better service and reduce costs.
  • 2002 - website visitors top 200,000.
  • 2003 - website visitors top 320,000.
  • 2004 - website visitors top 439,000, headed for a half million.
  • 2005 - website visitors reach almost 600,000.
  • 2006 - website visitors top 850,000.
  • 2007 - BHSI's Randy Swart receives ASTM's William F. Hulse Memorial Award
  • 2007 - Consumer Reports blog names "Randy Swart: bike-safety crusader"
  • 2014 - ASTM awards founder Randy Swart its Award of Merit
  • 2015 - Web visitors in the same range: numbers on our hits page.
  • 2016 - Transition to a 501(c)(3) non-profit
  • 2017 - Converted our site to a secure server with a Comodo SSL certificate.
  • 2018 - Stopped keeping stats on our website visitors.
  • 2019 - Added Comodo/Sectigo high-level extended validation security verification.

We also have up a page with a description of our current program.

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This page was revised on: October 21, 2020. BHSI logo