Australia has national, state and city targets to increase levels of cycling. The possible effect of repealing mandatory bicycle helmet legislation on the frequency of cycling in Sydney is examined.
Methods: A cross sectional survey by a market research company was conducted, using quota sampling, in Sydney, Australia. Participants were 600 residents aged 16 years and older. Data were collected in October 2010 using computer-assisted telephone interviews from randomly sampled households, with one respondent per household. The primary outcome measures were propensity to cycle more if a helmet was not required, how often a respondent who cycled would cycle without a helmet, and opinion on compulsory wearing of
bicycle helmets. Frequency of cycling, and demographic questions were also assessed. Multiple logistic regression models were run for each of the three main outcomes.
Results: One in five (22.6%, 95% CI 18.8-26.4%) respondents said they would cycle more if they did not have to wear a helmet, particularly occasional cyclists (40.4% of those who had cycled in the past week and 33.1% of those who had cycled in the past month). Almost half
(47.6%) of respondents said they would never ride without a helmet, 14.4% said ‘all the time’, 30.4% said ‘some of the time’ and the rest were not sure. One third (32.7%, 95% CI 28.5-37.0%) of respondents did not support mandatory helmet legislation.
Conclusions: While a hypothetical situation, if only half of the 22.6% of respondents who said they would cycle more if they did not have to wear a helmet did ride more, Sydney targets for increasing cycling would be achieved by repealing mandatory bicycle helmet
The full study: Effect of helmets on cycling participation Rissel 2011
Is also discussed here