Helmet Use Among Personal Bicycle Riders and Bike Share Users in Vancouver, BC

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Zanotto, M., & Winters, M. L. (2017). Helmet use among personal bicycle riders and bike share users in Vancouver, BC. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(4), 465-472.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2017.04.013

Date created: 
DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.04.013
Helmet use
Bike share

Introduction: Public bike share users have low prevalence of helmet use, and few public bike share systems make helmets available. In summer 2016, a public bike share system launched in Vancouver, BC. Each bicycle is equipped with a free helmet, in response to BC's all-ages compulsory helmet law. This study assessed the prevalence of helmet use among adult cyclists on personal and public bicycles in Vancouver.

Methods: A survey of adult cyclists (age estimated at ≥16 years) at five screen line sites and at 15 public bike share docking stations was conducted. Observations were made on fair weather days in 2016. Observers recorded the gender of the rider, bicycle type, helmet use, and helmet type. In 2016, multivariable logistic regression was used to calculate the odds of helmet use by personal and trip characteristics.

Results: Observers conducted 87.5 hours of observation and recorded 11,101 cyclists. They observed 10,704 (96.4%) cyclists on personal bicycles and 397 (3.6%) public bicycle users. Overall, the prevalence of helmet use was 78.1% (n=8,670/11,101), higher for personal bicycle riders (78.6%, n=8,416/10,704) than bike share users (64.0%, n=254/397). Helmet use was associated with gender, bicycle facility type, and day and time of travel.

Conclusions: In a city with all-ages helmet legislation, helmet use is high but differs across infrastructure types and cyclist characteristics. Bike share systems could increase helmet use by providing complementary helmets coupled with supportive measures.


The accepted manuscript of this paper will become available in Summit in October 2018 due to the embargo periods of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Please contact summit@sfu.ca if you require access to this paper prior to October 2018.

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Rights remain with the authors.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)