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Men cycle faster with helmets?

According to research undertaken in Bordeaux, France, men who used a helmet for the first time increased the speed at which they cycled, suggesting that they took more risks because they felt better protected. The same did not apply to women.

From 2009 to 2010 free helmets were given to 1,557 cyclists in Bordeaux who did not normally wear a helmet. 58% of the volunteers were women.

Cameras were used to record how 587 of the cyclists rode before and after being given helmets. Helmet use was recorded in 99 of their movements. The average speed of the men was 19.2 km/hour when wearing a helmet and 16.8 km/hour without. The speeds for women were 16.5 km/hour and 16.1 km/hour respectively.

However, the robustness of the results is uncertain. The researchers caution that Bordeaux is a city with high cycle use and that the behaviour of the 970 other cyclists who were not captured on camera might be different. Moreover the helmeted riders comprised only 3.8% of the trips analysed, a very small sample from which to extrapolate a clear outcome.

Tue 22 May 2012

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