Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
The Helmet Update by Email
Vol. 17, #2e, April 21, 1999
McDonalds and CPSC Launch Major Helmet Campaign
In a joint announcement today, McDonald's and the Consumer Product
Safety Commission launched a helmet promotion campaign including
public service announcements, a new helmet website and the inclusion
of bike helmet information with every Happy Meal sold at McDonald's
for one week. Participating restaurants also will give away bike
helmets at local events.
The press release with the announcement is up
on the CPSC website.
The two sponsors also released a study of bicycle helmet usage in
the U.S. with some rather startling conclusions:
- About 50% of all bicycle riders in the U.S. regularly wear bike
helmets while riding a bike.
- Of the 50% of bikers who regularly wear a bike helmet, 43% said
they always wear a helmet and 7% said they wear a helmet more than
half the time.
- The percentage of bikers who reported regularly wearing a helmet
rose from 18% in 1991 to about 50% of all bike riders in the new survey.
- About 38% of adult bike riders regularly wear a bike helmet; about
69% of children under 16, as reported by their parents, regularly
wear a bike helmet while riding a bike.
- Bike helmet ownership among bike riders rose from 27% in 1991 to
60% in the new survey.
- Bike ridership rose 20% from an estimated 66.9 million riders in
1991 to 80.6 million riders in the new survey, or about three times
the U.S. population increase over that time period.
The study can be found at
We don't believe for a minute that half the bicycle riders in the
U.S. are wearing helmets. But if the sample is not just flawed, and
they are responding that way on the telephone, it must at least
signal an attitude change, and perhaps an acceptance that wearing a
helmet is good behavior, whether or not you do it. If a survey asked
if you were wearing clean underwear, everyone would say yes, because
they know that it represents good hygiene. But at least it shows that
respondents want to be politically correct, and recognize what
response that requires. Helmet wearing has certainly increased since
1991, but based on observation we don't think it's that high, and no
community in the US has actually measured helmet wearing and reached
anywhere near that level with the exception of Seattle, a special case where
helmet promotion has been intense for a decade.
The new website is called Cranium Canyon. It's great. If our site
seems too serious for you, this is your page! It is co-sponsored by
McDonald's and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It has
delightful graphics, and is the only helmet place on the web that may
appeal to kids. They also have a press page with photos you can
CPSC and McDonalds have put together a blockbuster campaign. We hope
it has lasting results.
The Helmet Update - Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Randy Swart, Editor
4611 Seventh Street South
Arlington, VA 22204-1419 USA
(703) 486-0100 (voice)
(703) 486-0576 (fax)