DEKRA Road Safety Report 2020
Bicycle Helmet – Yes or No? Big Differences Among Europe’s Capitals
In European capitals, people’s attitudes to wearing a bicycle helmet vary considerably. This was the finding of a large-scale traffic monitoring survey conducted by DEKRA Accident Research. These results are included in the 2020 DEKRA Road Safety Report exploring two-wheeled modes of transportation. A total of over 12,000 cyclists and e-scooter riders in nine cities were monitored in the study. The monitoring teams were out and about – prior to the coronavirus pandemic – in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Ljubljana, London, Paris, Vienna, Warsaw and Zagreb.
- Helmet usage is almost zero in the “bicycle country” Netherlands
- London takes the lead: almost two thirds of cyclists wear a helmet
- E-scooter crash demonstrates the protective effect of bicycle helmets
Less surprising was the observation that children are more likely to wear a bicycle helmet than other age groups, which can be attributed above all to the fact that parents are especially concerned about the safety of their children. In addition, four of the countries in which the DEKRA monitoring teams conducted the survey impose mandatory helmet-wearing for children and, in some cases, young people: in Austria and France, up to the age of 12; in Slovenia, up to the age of 15; and in Croatia, even up to the age of 16. Another striking observation was that teenagers were the least likely to wear a helmet.
Among cyclists who own their own bicycles – the cohort that makes up the vast majority of cyclists in all the cities studied – the rate of helmet-wearing was considerably higher than among those who rent bicycles. E-scooters were especially popular in Berlin, Warsaw, Vienna and Paris. Very few e-scooter riders wore a helmet, with the figure considerably less in all cases than among cyclists. In Berlin, 173 e-scooters were recorded – and not one rider was wearing a helmet. In Paris, 30 out of 316 e-scooter riders observed were wearing a helmet (9.5 percent).
One finding that was particularly interesting for the DEKRA accident researchers was the fact that almost no one in “bicycle country” Netherlands wore a helmet. “When you look at the number of accidents as a ratio of distance traveled, the Netherlands is the second safest country after Denmark in which to ride a bicycle,” says Ancona.
“This was affirmed by our most recent e-scooter crash tests in which a dummy rode an e-scooter, once with and once without a helmet,” says Peter Rücker, Head of DEKRA Accident Research. At the DEKRA Crash Test Center in Neumünster, the e-scooter was made to crash into a curb at different angles at a speed of 20 km/h. The readings from the dummy when its head hit the ground revealed that, without a helmet, head injuries ranging from serious to fatal could be expected. With the helmet, the measured stress value (HIC36) was 97 percent lower, which means that the risk of a serious head injury was much less.
The annual DEKRA Road Safety Report, which first appeared in 2008, focuses on a different topic every year. The 2020 report covers two-wheeled modes of transportation, with DEKRA experts examining road safety in relation to bicycles, pedelecs, e-scooters and motorcycles from a variety of perspectives. The report concludes with specific demands and recommendations regarding technology, infrastructure and the human factor.