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The CREAL goes to the Congress of Deputies

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

The CREAL goes to the Congress of Deputies

Last September 26 the CREAL researcher David Rojas explained to the Committee on Road Safety and Sustainable Mobility of Congreso of Deputies his reasons for not being in favor of mandatory helmet use by cyclists in urban areas. And is that even though it is estimated that helmet use could decrease by 88 % head injuries and 65% facial injuries, according to Rojas, the implementation of laws requiring helmet use in order to reduce risks health can reduce the use of bicycles as a mode of transport, with reduced benefits for public health.

Rojas discussed the proposed law on the mandatory use of helmets by cyclists in urban areas in all Spain. Rojas presented to the committee a summary of the scientific evidence on the implementation of such laws and their impact on public health.

In fact, researchers from CREAL, center of ISGlobal alliance, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, David Rojas and Tom Cole-Hunter have referred to a recent publication that evaluates the mandatory helmet-use law for cyclists in New Zealand. This assessment concluded that the law had failed in improving safety and health, preventing accidents, promoting cycling, and supporting environmental and civil liberties. Also, it was found that the law had reduced the time spent cycling within the population by 51%, and the risk of injury among cyclists had increased by 20%. Reports of other cases, such as Canada, have concluded that such mandatory helmet-use laws have not met the planned objectives. Furthermore, risk analyses developed for Europe show that some laws will not improve the health of the population.

Taking this evidence into account, the researchers state that "the use of helmets by cyclists should be a personal choice and as an individual decision may benefit and reduce the severity of injuries in cyclists, but it is a law that may also bring higher negative health impacts for the population". They add that "if cyclists are forced to wear a helmet in urban areas then probably the desired objective, which is to improve the health of the population, will not be meet… and to implement other measures, such as pacification of traffic, reduction of car use, improvement of infrastructure for cyclists, promotion of cycling and inter-modality, will more effectively achieve population health goals".

You can see his intervention clicking here.


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