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Bicycle helmet use in Sweden 1988-2015

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Complete with results
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Transport policies
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

Since 1988 VTI has performed annual observation studies of cyclists’ helmet wearing habits in 21 towns in Sweden. 


The objective of the project is to summarize a development in the field of the cyclist's wearing habits between 1988 and 2015.


The 2015 study, in line with previous studies, focused on four main categories of cyclists

  1. children (0–10 years) who cycle in their spare time in residential areas
  2. children (6–15 years) who cycle to/from their primary or secondary school
  3. adults (≥ 16 years) who cycle to/from work
  4. adults (≥ 16 years) and children who cycle on cycle routes.

The majority of the observations were performed during the first two weeks of September. The statistics for 2015 are based on observations of a total of 65,600 cyclists in the four main categories.


Funding Source
Swedish Transport Administration


The results show that children ≤ 10 years cycling in residential areas on average wear a cycle helmet at 74 per cent. Children cycling to/from primary or secondary school (6–15 years old) wear a bicycle helmet on a lesser scale, at about 65 percent. However the rate differs greatly, nearly 44 per cent in secondary school (children 13–15 years old) and 86 per cent in primary school (children 6–12 years old).

Among adults who cycle to/from work, the usage rate is 31 per cent. The use is significantly larger in big cities (Stockholm and Gothenburg) than in the other. Most cyclists were observed on cycle routes and the results include all ages as well as adults only.

The total number of cyclists on cycle routes displayed slightly higher helmet usage (33.4 per cent) than the subset of adults (32.0 per cent). The weighted average rate of helmet use seen over all categories in 2015, soared to the highest ever. The rate increased continuously until the end of the 1990´s when stagnation occurred for some years. In 2005 legislation requiring children up to 15 years of age to wear a cycle helmet by law, was brought into effect.

Helmet use increased again between 2004/2005 and 2008, followed by a stagnation that was broken 2011. The estimated value of the average helmet use is 37.6 per cent for the year 2015, which is significantly higher than the 37.0 per cent in 2014. However, the difference is not statistically significant at risk level 1 per cent. The increase in helmet use in 2015 compared to 2014 has been most pronounced for adults who cycle to/from work. Only children (0-10 years old) who cycle around in residential areas has shown a statistically significant reduction in the rate of helmet use



Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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