Greater London has one of the greatest cycle helmet wearing rates in Great Britain. From almost zero in the mid 1980s, helmet use rose to around 40% by 1996 and 50% by 2000. Most of that growth was post 1993.
Fatal injuries involving cyclists have declined over a long period of time whilst serious injuries have changed more irregularly. However, the fairest way to assess trends is to consider the severity ratio: the proportion of total cyclist injuries that are either fatal or serious. In this way, changes in the number of people who cycle do not influence the result.
The graph below shows the injury severity ratio for cyclists, and compares this with that for pedestrians. Historically, cyclist and pedestrian injuries have tracked closely over time. The inclusion of this comparison is useful in case some mitigating factor is cancelling benefits achieved through increased helmet use.
The graphs shows that the severity of injuries to cyclists has not improved since helmet use became more common. Indeed, the period of greatest take-up of helmet wearing (1994 to 1996) was accompanied by an increase in injury severity, bringing to an end nearly a decade of improvement in severity during a period when helmet use was rare.
Furthermore, since the mid 1990s, the trends for cyclists and pedestrians have diverged. Whilst pedestrian injuries have generally continued to become less serious, those for cyclists have become more serious.