Industrialized Cyclist Notepad

The God that failed

Pinka Chatterji and Sara Markowitz, “Effects of Bicycle Helmet Laws on Children’s Injuries.” NBER Working Paper No. 18773. February 2013. JEL No. I0,K0

Cycling is popular among children, but results in thousands of injuries annually. In recent years, many states and localities have enacted bicycle helmet laws. We examine direct and indirect effects of these laws on injuries. Using hospital-level panel data and triple difference models, we find helmet laws are associated with reductions in bicycle-related head injuries among children. However, laws also are associated with decreases in non-head cycling injuries, as well as increases in head injuries from other wheeled sports. Thus, the observed reduction in bicycle-related head injuries may be due to reductions in bicycle riding induced by the laws.

Pinka Chatterji
State University of New York at Albany Economics Department

Sara Markowitz
Department of Economics Emory University

The auto industry loves mandatory helmet laws.

Fatality risk by travel mode in England

Mindell, Lesley, Wardlaw. “Exposure-based Assessment of Modal Travel Risk in England Using Routine Health Data,” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, September 13, 2012.

Young male drivers appear to have a higher fatality risk than cyclists in England. This is latched onto as quite good news for cyclists. The results of this study depend entirely on responses given on Britain’s National Travel Survey.

Results: Fatalities per million hours’ use (f/mhu) varied little (0.15–0.45f/mhu by mode for men, 0.09–0.31f/mhu for women). Risks were similar for men aged 21–49 years for all three modes and for female pedestrians and drivers aged 21–69 years. The group most at risk for each mode were: male drivers aged 17–20 years (1.3f/mhu, 95% CI 1.2, 1.4); male cyclists aged 70 years or older (2.2 f/mhu, 1.6, 3.0) and female pedestrians aged 70 years or older (0.95 f/mhu, 0.86, 1.1). In general, fatality rates were substantially higher amongst males than females, except for drivers aged 60 years or older. Risks per hour for male drivers under 30 years were similar or higher than for male cyclists; for 17–20 year olds the risk was higher for drivers (33/Bn km, 95% CI 30, 36; 1.3f/mhu, 1.2, 1.4) than cyclists (20/Bn km, 10, 37; 0.24f/mhu, 0.12, 0.45) using distance or time.