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Old October 9th 03, 08:36 PM
Garry Jones
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Default Reports from Sweden

Hi Guys.

I'm back again, this time with more info from Sweden. (Elders of this
group may remember myself presenting some of the earlier Swedish claims
in 1997).

We have a current discussion ongoing in the newsgroup swnet.sport.cykel

I have been pointed to some new Swedish reports. These are fresh out of
Sweden. The mandatory helmet law argument is up again and this time
people in high places are listening to these campaigners. A mandatory
helmet law may well be passed in Sweden within two years. If it is then
the decision is likely to be based on this report from "VTI", aka "The
Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute"

__________________________________________________ _________
Report 1.

At 95 PDF pages and one appendix, this is most prolific I have ever

This is it's English summary...

************************************************** **
Effects of measures for increased bicycle helmet use
Review of research
************************************************** **

The aim of this review study is to compile and analyse the state of
knowledge regarding the effects of measures, both legislative and
noncompulsory, taken to increase the use of cycle helmets. The results
are based mainly on studies from 1990-2002 found in literature

The overall conclusion is that a considerable increase in helmet use by
cyclists could be achieved by noncompulsory measures, but the use levels
are not as high as those achieved by legislation. Most of the positive
effects of noncompulsory measures are due to multistrategy programmes at
municipal and regional level, where the programmes mostly comprise
informative and educational activities in combination with discounts on
helmets or reward systems.

There is, however, great variation in the level of helmet use that has
been achieved; the observed helmet use which most of the measures achive
seldom exceeds 50 per cent for children and young people or circa 25–30
per cent for adult cyclists. However, cycle helmet laws in combination
with informative and educational activities lead to significantly higher
helmet use compared to noncompulsory measures alone. Helmet use often
reaches 80–90 per cent on average.

Several studies show that helmet laws reduce head injuries among
bicyclists. In Australia, for instance, the number of fatalities among
cyclists decreased by 45 per cent in average two years after their
helmet laws compared to two years before.

The effect of cycle helmet laws on cycling is much debated, but results
from studies are not unambiguous. Several studies, however, indicate
that a cycle helmet law may result in a reduction in cycling by young
people and in certain, but temporary, reduction in cycling by younger
children. On the other hand, cycling by adults is probably no

VTI rapport 487

Effects of measures for increased bicycle helmet use. Review of research
by Sixten Nolén, VTI, and Kent Lindqvist, University of Linköping

Sponsor: Swedish National Road Administration

Published: 2003

Link Source
__________________________________________________ _______
Report Two

************************************************** *******
Experiences from a "bicycle helmet law" in Motala, Sweden
Same authors as above
************************************************** *******

A political (not legal) bicycle helmet resolution in Motala attracted
great interest by the mass media, especially in the first six months
after the law was introduced. The name "helmet law" presumably played an
important part in this context.

A local “bicycle helmet law” must be firmly rooted among the relevant
target groups. It is important to have committed individuals who can
initiate and promote the work, but the work must not become dependent on
any one single person. The way all issues concerning bicycle helmets are
handled in the municipality should be co-ordinated with the “bicycle
helmet law”. Continuous political engagement is needed. A plan should be
drawn up for political follow-up of the "bicycle helmet law".

If the intention of a local "bicycle helmet law" is to increase the use
of bicycle helmets among all cyclists in the municipality, then work
must right from the beginning be addressed to adult cyclists also.

In order to increase bicycle helmet use in Sweden on a voluntary basis,
more knowledge is needed of how such an increase can be achieved. One
way of acquiring such knowledge is to evaluate different types of local
initiative and, hopefully, in this way disseminate good experiences to
the rest of the country. Such a local bicycle helmet initiative was
taken in Motala Municipality. Motala was designated a WHO Safe Community
in 1990. Work within a Safe Community has the aim of preventing injuries
in a number of different areas, for instance among vulnerable road
users. As part of this work, Motala introduced a "local bicycle helmet
law" on May 1, 1996.

However, the Motala "bicycle helmet law" is not a law in the legal
sense, since Swedish municipalities cannot enact their own laws. It is a
political recommendation that must be supplemented with other measures;
however, the political resolution forms a basis to which information and
educational measures for increased bicycle helmet use can be added. But
the Motala "helmet law" should have greater impact than an ordinary
helmet campaign, since it is based on a municipal political resolution
which makes it possible to use political instruments and to exert
different kinds of pressure in the work.

Formally, the "helmet law" applies only to younger school children (ages
6–12) in Motala when they bicycle to and from school and during their
leisure hours. The primary objective is that helmet use should increase
among children up to 12 years of age, their parents and teachers. The
ultimate objective, however, is that the activities, which occur within
the framework of the "helmet law", will influence all cyclists in Motala
and will thus in the longterm result in a general increase in the use of

Evaluation of the local "bicycle helmet law" in Motala consists of a
qualitative and quantitative part. The quantitative part relates to e.g.
the effects of the "law" on the use of helmets by cyclists, but this is
presented not in this report but in other documents. This study
describes the qualitative part of the evaluation that has the form of a
retrospective process study of the Motala "helmet law". The overriding
objective is to describe how work on the "law" was carried out and to
present the experiences of the persons involved. Two sub studies were
performed in which both data collection and analysis are based on
qualitative methodology. Sub study 1 is an "Analysis of Activities and
people involved" based on mainly written material. Sub study 2 is an
"Interview Study" based on eight in-depth interviews with people who had
had the greatest involvement with the Motala "helmet law".

The results are briefly described below.

Sub study 1 – Analysis of activities and people involved
The initiative for the Motala local "bicycle helmet law" and its
political endorsement was mainly taken by one person, who in 1995 was
municipal commissioner and chairman of Motala Safe Community. The basic
idea for the "helmet law" evolved through the external contacts this
commissioner established through the Safe Community. The political
resolution to implement the "law" did not meet any major resistance,
even though four politicians made reservations in connection with the
name "local bicycle helmet law".

Issues to do with traffic safety and the use of bicycle helmets were
dealt with during the study period by different units/functions in the
Motala organisation. The main work on the "bicycle helmet law" was
performed by a separate "reference group". Other organisational units
took no major part in dealing with issues concerning the "helmet law",
apart from Motala Safe Community where there were discussions of the
"helmet law" concerning working procedures, planned measures and the
problems encountered. There were relatively few political decisions or
activities concerning the "helmet law" once the legal resolution had
been passed. One exception was a decision in the autumn of 1996 in which
schools were asked to describe what measures they had taken in
connection with the "helmet law". It is surprising that the "law" was
not dealt with more continuously by the political institutions since
work on the "law" had not been without problems. The "law" was e.g. not
firmly rooted in schools, and certain activities/measures could not be
implemented as had been intended, for instance the “bicycle helmet
contract” between the pupil-parent-school. One example of shortcomings
was that school staff did not take a more active part in planning or
discussing the measures or the problems met with in the work on the
helmet law. This is surprising since, in formal terms, the “helmet law”
directly affects school staffs. For instance, there was no school
representative in the reference group.

Many people (134) were more or less involved in the work on the Motala
"bicycle helmet law". More than half of all people involved were
municipal politicians from Motala, but almost one third were external
people who did not have Motala Municipality as their employer. Most of
the people involved had participated either in political decisions
regarding the "helmet law" or had a consultative or supportive function.
5–6 people performed the continuous operational work on planning and
implementing activities in connection with the “helmet law”. The
operational work was mainly carried out with reference to an action plan
that was divided into six phases (political preparation, planning phase,
motivational phase, working phase, introductory phase and supportive
phase). Within the framework of the action plan, six types of activities
were carried out (basic planning, political activities, information
concerning the "helmet law" and activities to increase helmet use among
children/schoolchildren, adults and the public at large). There were
also some basic activities outside the action plan, i.e. those that
occurred prior to the helmet law resolution. Examples are subsidies for
bicycle helmets for all 5-year-old children in the municipality,
information concerning helmets on visits to schools/nursery schools and
in meetings with retired people. However, for different reasons, all the
activities that had been planned were not carried out. Especially during
the spring and autumn of 1996 there were many planned activities that
were not carried out, which may be partly due to the loss of key persons
from the reference group and the political turbulence that followed the
"Motala scandal".

During the first six months after its introduction, the "bicycle helmet
law" attracted relatively great attention in the mass media, primarily
in the local press. Reporting was "favourable" in that it was
descriptive and informative instead of critical and questioning. The
Motala “helmet law” had also received attention outside the
municipality, for instance via national and international conferences
and information on the Internet.

Sub study 2 – Interviews with people involved
The interviews that were carried out provided many points of view and
sometimes also contrary opinions concerning the same issues. Most were
however positive to the basic idea of the Motala local “helmet law”, and
considered that the aims and target groups were correct. Most also think
that the law increased helmet use, in any case for certain categories of
cyclists. Many considered that certain bicycle helmet measures had not
been taken or that more work ought to have been done on the measures
that had been implemented. Most people are however positive about the
idea of the "bicycle helmet contract", but do not think that it worked
as well as planned, one of the reasons being that it was not firmly
rooted in the schools.

In most cases, the persons interviewed were pleased about the
communication between the people most involved in the work. They are
also positive about the extensive mass media reporting of the Motala
helmet law, and many believe that the law resulted in increased
involvement in the municipality in issues regarding traffic safety and
bicycle helmets. Many had however experienced difficulties in the work.
Three main problems were mentioned, poor endorsement of the "helmet law"
(mainly in the schools), lack of clarity regarding responsibilities and
roles in relation to certain issues, and the fact that certain key
persons left the municipality during the work. The majority of those
interviewed have a positive attitude towards the political resolution
concerning a local "helmet law" and also accept the name "helmet law".
Most would however prefer to see a reverse process in which the
endorsement of people involved was first obtained and the political
decision taken afterwards.

The following conclusions are drawn from this process study:

It is important to have committed individuals who can initiate and
promote the work, but if the work depend too much on any single person,
the "project" becomes vulnerable. It is essential that somebody quickly
take over if a key person leaves.

A local bicycle helmet law must be firmly rooted among the relevant
target groups. These target groups should also be represented in a
reference group.

Responsibilities and roles in the work must be clear. A project leader
should be formally appointed.

Handling of bicycle helmet issues within the whole municipality should
be co-ordinated with the work on the helmet law.

Continuous political engagement in the work is essential. A plan should
be drawn up for political follow-up of the “helmet law”, so that action
can be quickly taken if problems arise.

If the intention of a local "bicycle helmet law" is to increase the use
of bicycle helmets among all cyclists in the municipality, then work
must right from the beginning be addressed to adult cyclists also.

It would appear that the political helmet law resolution as such was
important in influencing the use of bicycle helmets. It gave rise to
great interest by the mass media, especially during the first six months
after the introduction of the law. The name "helmet law" presumably
plays a great part in this context.

In conclusion, it is positive that the idea of a "local bicycle helmet
law" could be tested under actual conditions. The experiences gained
from observation studies of the use of helmets in Motala do not suggest
that the Motala "helmet law" is a substitute for a national bicycle
helmet law (Nolén 1998c; Nolén 1999c). This process study demonstrates,
however, that the idea of a local bicycle “helmet law” should have good
potential to give a more durable effect on helmet use in a municipality,
provided that certain problems that had arisen can be avoided and
certain activities intensified. Previous research also shows that local
injury prevention program’s should have a long-term aim (preferably ten
years or longer) to be effective. This presumably also applies to the
implementation of a "local bicycle

VTI rapport 459
Local ”bicycle helmet law” in Motala. A process study
by Sixten Nolén (VTI) and Kent Lindqvist (linköping University)
Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI), SE-581 95
Linköping, Sweden

__________________________________________________ _

Another report, this time, just one of the above authors was involved,
again English summary..

What do cyclists think about using helmets?
VTI rapport 429

The aim of this literature study was to provide a summary and an
analysis of attitudes and beliefs to cycle helmet wearing among
children/adolescents and adults in Sweden and other countries. The
literature surveyed is limited to studies reporting results in Swedish,
Norwegian, Danish or English.

The results of the study show that there are certain differences in
cyclists’ reasons for not using helmets, partly between
children/adolescents and adults and partly between Nordic and non-Nordic
cyclists. However, most studies indicate greater similarities than
differences. Often, several of the following arguments are stated.

Arguments for helmet usage: increased safety, a role model for other
cyclists, obligation, and ”positive group pressure”.

Arguments against helmet usage: comfort problems, problems with
appearance, practical problems, social factors, risk factors, and other
factors such disturbed sense of freedom, etc.

One conclusion from the literature study is that we know fairly well
what reasons are given for and against helmet usage but there is a lack
of studies with a more theoretical analysis of the relationship between
different arguments, e.g. whether certain arguments are more important
than others. If we can learn more about this aspect, it should be
possible to make helmet promotion more effective.

Summary of
VTI rapport 429
What do cyclists think about using helmets?
– A literature survey
by Sixten Nolén
Language: Swedish with English summary
Sponsor: Swedish National Road Administration


__________________________________________________ ________

Well as you will see they have certainly been busy over here. I remember
the claims about the 45% fatality drop in Australia have been counter
claimed. Any facts on that one? A glance through the 95 pages will show
you many of the graphs have been taken from other reports with disputed
conclusions based on statistics that have been argued.

Our discussions on the Internet are mentioned as are many of the
arguments against a mandatory helmet law. (Page 84). But they do not
delve into the depths of these arguments and they are - in my mind -
dismissed far too easily in a 95 page report. They mention intenet
helmet wars and give links to the helmet action group and so on. I find
much of the report to be biased in favour of a helmet law at first
reading tonight. I will read it again tomorrow.

The words in my head at the moment are their classic lines "a cycle
helmet law may result in a reduction in cycling by young people and in
certain, but temporary, reduction in cycling by younger children. On the
other hand, cycling by adults is probably no influenced."

- But don't young people become adults? Will they then suddenly start
cycling? Will they own bicycles? Will they pick up the skills required
for safe riding that are usually naturally learnt in ones youth?

Anyone who wishes to contact the authors of the report(s) can try the

Sixten Nolén, VTI

Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute

Kent Lindqvist
Linkopings Universty.

If you have time glance at the diagrams and charts in the 95 page PDF


.... and see if you recognise any.

Any comments about the English summaries above?

Garry Jones
English cyclist, ResIDING in Sweden

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