BICYCLE HELMET USE - OTTAWA, ONTARIO
77% of Suburban Commuter Cyclists Wearing Helmets
Suburban cyclists are wearing helmets in greater numbers than
their urban counterparts in Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario. Based on observations
of 4,500 cyclists, 77% of commuter cyclists and 68% of recreation
cyclists in the suburbs were wearing helmets. (It has been reported by
one cyclist group that 90% of commuter cyclists were wearing helmets
at the eastern end of the Ottawa region this past summer). Helmet
wearing rates in the central area of Ottawa were 61% of commuter
cyclists and 39% of recreational cyclists. Ottawa male recreational
cyclists under 18 years old had the lowest rate of 32%.
Overall, 63.2% of commuter cyclists* and 48.5% of recreational
cyclists** were wearing helmets. Over 4700 cyclists were counted. The
counts took place during October 1994.
It was reported following a 1992 survey that helmet use among
Ottawa cyclists was 50%. In our observations 54% of all cyclists
wore helmets but this is skewed because more recreation cyclists
than commuters were counted (by a factor of almost 2 to 1). The
blended rate for all cyclists is 56% which represents a further 11%
increase since 1992.
The counts seem to demonstrate that Ottawa region cyclists are
choosing to wear bicycle helmets without the iron fist of government,
and the continuing increase in helmet use indicates that Ontario's
helmet law will be substantially redundant by the date it comes into
effect, October 1, 1995.
* commuter cyclist is defined as one riding a bicycle during
weekday rush hours
** recreational cyclist is defined as one riding a bicycle on the