03 November 2012

Australian Cycling Levels Pre/Post Helmet Law

Cycling levels in Australia. As we all know, helmet promotion followed by helmet laws were a bad thing.

Chris has gathered a fantastic detailed list of travel surveys in Australia over at his www.cycle-helmets.com website.

As though we needed more proof of the negative effect of helmet promotion and legislation, but hey. It's a great list.


TedAndCo said...

It is hard to read a causative effect of helmet legislation from this graph.
What I always tell my helmet nanny friends is the only strong correlation with helmet use is decrease in bicycling. It may not be the sole cause, but it is correlated. On the safety side, it is hard to find even a correlation with better health!
One graph pet peeve of mine is when the y axis does not start at zero. It makes the changes look bigger when you "cheat" like that. Did you all make the graph? If so, could you publish another that has the y axis start at zero?
Finally, maybe the negative effect of helmets wears off over time... If that last uptick is real.
Thanks for your good work.

Edward said...

Hi TedAndCo,
The uptick can be interpreted in various ways bearing in mind it constitutes a very small change in the percentage on the y-axis. It could just be statistical noise. Arguably numbers of cyclists have increased in the past 10 years but that is not necessarily getting used to helmet laws. Cycling is still heavily dominated by males in Australia. I think cycling could well increase a bit more if our governments actually adopt some of the measures proven to have worked, but those taking it up will in the main consist of those who would choose to wear a helmet anyway. The law was and remains a barrier to a healthy cycling culture. The figures make that abundantly clear. I can tell you that riding to and from work when it is 28 degrees and more with one of those stupid plastic things suffocating you is horrible.

Gary Mac said...

Hi TedandCo,
From the last Census data in my suburb of Australia and the 3 suburbs surrounding us only 50 people cycled to work out of 25,000 people. All I can say is that helmet laws definitely don't help!

Mikael Colville-Andersen said...

Did you click on the link and see all the graphs presented?

Nphorcer said...

Its a telling graph. But its significance has nearly nothing to do with helmets.

The difficulty with the graph is that cycling numbers were already on a decline by 1991, however, there is a slight increase in the slope of the line at 1991 - marginally significant looking at total numbers. The question I would want answered is why Australian cycling was declining at the rate it was between 1986 and 1991 and what the main causal factor was driving (no pun intended) cycling into the ground thereafter.

Nphorcer said...

And just to re-state that comment really only applied to the commuting figures. As Mikael points out the total cycling population graph shows a massive decline in 1991.

Opus the Poet said...

The interesting thing is to look at the raw numbers, There was an almost 20K loss between 1991 and '96 that didn't budge for another 10 years with a slight increase in 2006 and finally back above the 1991 figure by 2011