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Half of Danes say cycle helmets should be mandatory, new survey finds

Government has no plans to legislate on the issue, however

Half the population of Denmark, the country that has some of the highest levels of cycling worldwide, think that it should be compulsory for people to wear a helmet when riding a bike, reports a new poll.

Opponents of mandatory helmet laws often point out that in countries with high levels of cycling such as the Netherlands and Denmark, everyday riders are seldom seen sporting a helmet.

But according to a survey carried out by Analyse Danmark on behalf of, 49 per cent of the 1,040 people polled in what is said to be a representative sample of the country’s population say that cyclists should be required by law to wear one.

A further 23 per cent said that they should be compulsory just for children and adolescents, while the remaining 28 per cent said helmets should not be mandatory at all.

While the Danish government and the country’s road safety council and national cyclists’ federation all oppose compulsion, traffic researcher Harry Lahrmann of Aalborg University is in favour.

He told “We’ve long become used to wearing a seatbelt when getting into a car, and with a little getting used to it, using a helmet would likewise become part of the cycling routine.”

Klaus Bondam, director of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation said: “We strongly recommend that you wear a helmet. But we don’t think it makes sense to make it mandatory to wear one.”

However, he added that the organisation’s own campaigning efforts were leading to an increase in the use of cycle helmets in Denmark, including among children – although a challenge remains in converting teenagers.

“But at a time when fewer and fewer children and youths are riding to school, we do not recommend making it mandatory to use helmets. At worst it will get more people to give up cycling.”

Villum Christensen, an MP for the Liberal Alliance party which forms part of Denmark’s ruling coalition and who is its spokesman for road safety, told “Citizens should have free choice over whether or not to use a helmet.”

He added: “We are not in favour of legislating every time there is a problem.”

In 2009, a bid to make it compulsory for children aged under 12 in Denmark to wear a helmet when riding a bike was defeated in the Danish Parliament.

> Danish call for helmet law thrown out

Nevertheless, as elsewhere, the issue remains a divisive one, as explained in this blog post by Mikael Colville-Andersen, CEO of the Copenhagenize Design Co., after he took part in a panel discussion for the country’s national radio station in January.

In 2014, British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman told "I think the helmet issue is a massive red herring. It’s not even in the top 10 of things you need to do to keep cycling safe or more widely, save the most lives.

“It’s a bit like saying ‘people are sniping at you going down this street, so put some body armour on.

“Once you see somebody wearing body armour, even if there’s no shooting," he added, "you think ‘Christ I’m not going down there if they’re wearing body armour to go down that street.’

"It scares people off.”


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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kitsunegari | 7 years ago
1 like

This is pretty shoddy journalism

As due diligence, you should at least post the questions asked by the poll.

beezus fufoon | 7 years ago

considering they're talking out their arses, you'd expect a figure of 50%

handlebarcam | 7 years ago
1 like

We really need to stop asking questions that half the people asked will be directly affected by, but the other half don't feel they have any stake in personally, other than a vague feeling of reassurance (that if the run over someone that a foam hat will prevent them from being a murderer, or that the shape of bananas will be preserved), and the chance to take revenge on the first half (for making them feel guilty for polluting the planet, or for being educated and cosmopolitan.)

drosco | 7 years ago

Go Denmark!

KalBoy | 7 years ago

I guess the large majority of the 1040 people polled are not bike riders or maybe the photo isn't a true representation of the poll results as only 3 of the 21 bike riders pictured are wearing a helmet

ClubSmed | 7 years ago

They do love their helmets

skull-collector... | 7 years ago

Is it one of the surveys like OnePoll when you tell them what results you want to get out of it and then they help you "tailor" the questions?

P.S. It's true.

jestriding | 7 years ago

I see helmets are useless for skiing as well as riding a bike...

The average skier death in CO is a thirty-seven years old experienced male skier wearing a helmet who loses control on an intermediate, groomed run and hits a tree.

The majority of deaths — 54 percent — occurred on blue, groomed runs, while 31 percent were on expert trails.

The increase in the number of people who wear helmets hasn’t resulted in fewer fatalities. Helmets are designed to protect riders at about 12 mph, while a skier or snowboarder who collides with a tree or another rider is typically going 25 to 40 mph.

More than 80 percent of ski deaths in Colorado are men.

39 skiers and snowboarders perished at US ski areas during the 2015-16 season. That falls inline with  the 10-year industry average of 38 fatalities per season.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins recently estimated that about 600,000 people nationally are injured each year as a result of skiing and snowboarding.

Estimates are that about two injuries occur per 1,000 skier visits  — a decrease of 50 percent since the mid-1970s.

makadu replied to jestriding | 7 years ago

jestriding wrote:

I see helmets are useless for skiing as well as riding a bike...


whilst I do not believe cycle helmets should be compulsory (although I almost always wear one) I do not think fake news about skiing helmets helps. Link to the real Johns Hopkins research is below

jestriding replied to makadu | 7 years ago
1 like

makadu wrote:

whilst I do not believe cycle helmets should be compulsory (although I almost always wear one) I do not think fake news about skiing helmets helps. Link to the real Johns Hopkins research is below


A 2012 link to the real John Hopkins research which is contradicted by this 2013 link to the real New York Times article which cites a 2012 paper from the real Western Michigan University School of Medicine and a March 2013 study by the real University of Washington.  Both of which have found head injuries have increased along with the increase in helmet use.

In fact, some studies indicate that the number of snow-sports-related head injuries has increased. A 2012 study at the Western Michigan University School of Medicine on head injuries among skiers and snowboarders in the United States found that the number of head injuries increased 60 percent in a seven-year period, from 9,308 in 2004 to 14,947 in 2010, even as helmet use increased by an almost identical percentage over the same period. A March 2013 study by the University of Washington concluded that the number of snow-sports-related head injuries among youths and adolescents increased 250 percent from 1996 to 2010.

ConcordeCX | 7 years ago

The Danes have got form for this sort of thing.

Leviathan | 7 years ago
1 like

It sounds like the Danish legislators are of a similar libertarian bent as British/English Common law. If it isn't explicitly detrimental there is no need to intervene. I wonder why these surveys and statements from local councillors  keep getting publicity when the status quo is already ideal.

burtthebike | 7 years ago

I would really love to see what the questions were on this survey.  As anyone who has done a survery knows, if you ask the right questions you get the answers you wanted. 

Did the questions say:

"This doesn't reduce risk to cyclists and has never worked anywhere it has been tried and has massive unintended consequences, so do you think we should have compulsory helmets here?" 

or was it more like:

"Hundreds of cyclists die every year and helmets can save lives, so should we have a helmet law here?"

Call me cynical, but if this really was a representative sample, how come so few Danish cyclists wear helmets?


PaulCee52 | 7 years ago

They'll be the half of Denmark's population who don't cycle then?

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