Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Urban and rural patterns of bicycle helmet use: factors predicting usage


Objectives—To document current bicycle helmet use in Winnipeg, Manitoba and nearby rural communities, and to identify target groups for a helmet promotion campaign.

Methods—Cyclist helmet use was observed between 28 May and 20 August 1996 at a sample of urban and rural locations. Age, gender, helmet use, riding companion(s), location type, correct helmet use, and use of headphones were recorded. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed. Adjusted odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated from the final models.

Results—Altogether 2629 cyclists (70% male, 30% female) were observed: 2316 at 183 urban locations and 313 at 25 rural locations, with nearly equal numbers of children and adults observed. Overall helmet use was 21.3%, with lower use in males (18.9%) than females (26.3%), despite gender only being a significant variable on multivariate analysis for children under 8 years and adults. Urban helmet use was considerably higher (22.9%) than rural use (8.9%). Helmet use increased linearly as mean neighbourhood income increased, with a nearly fourfold difference in use between the highest and lowest income neighbourhoods. Children less than 8 years old and adults had the highest, and teenagers the lowest, use. Significant predictive variables were identified separately by age category to inform targeted programming.

Conclusions—We documented low helmet use in our region, emphasizing the need for a regional helmet promotion campaign as well as future helmet legislation. A marked urban-rural difference in helmet use that has not been previously reported was also identified. Target groups for a future campaign include adolescents, males, rural cyclists, and those in lower income neighbourhoods.

  • bicycle helmet use
  • socioeconomic status
  • rural
  • urban

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.