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The risk compensation theory and bicycle helmets
  1. J Adams1,
  2. M Hillman2
  1. 1Geography Department, University College London
  2. 2Policy Studies Institute, 100 Park Village East, London NW1 3SR, UK

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    Editor,—It has come to our attention that a number of readers have been mystified by our contribution to the debate about bicycle helmets published in the June issue (2001;7:86–91). In particular, those familiar with our previous writings on the subject were puzzled by the claim of the Thompsons and Rivara, in what appeared to be the conclusion, that we agreed with them that “bicycle helmets are effective in decreasing head injuries to cyclists”. The confusion was caused by the fact that the responses were published in the wrong order. For those wishing to clear up the mystery, we recommend returning to the published debate and reordering the contributions as follows:

    1. Risk compensation theory should be subject to systematic reviews of the scientific evidence (Thompson, Thompson, and Rivara).

    2. The risk compensation theory and bicycle helmets (Adams and Hillman).

    3. Response from Thompson, Thompson, and Rivara.

    4. Response from Adams and Hillman.

    It will then be clear that “We did not accept that bicycle helmets are effective in reducing head injuries” and, of crucial importance to the debate, why. We regret that the editor has nor seen fit to clear matters up properly by republishing the responses in their logical sequence.