Which requirements should a (good) bicycle helmet meet?


Bicycle helmets sold within the European Union should comply with European directives. An approved helmet has a CE marking on the inside, followed by the number of the European standard: EN-1078 for adults and EN-1080 for children’s helmets. The difference between the two is the way the chin strap is fastened: the chin strap of children’s helmets snaps off in case the helmet snags, which prevents the child from choking [52].

In compliance with the European standard, the effectiveness of bicycle helmets is tested by having the helmet impact on a flat surface (‘flat anvil’) at a speed of approximately 20 km/hour and on a ‘curb’ surface (‘curb anvil’) at a speed of approximately 17 km/hour. In this way, the speed at which the head impacts the surface during a fall (single bicycle crash) is reproduced; a fall from a height of 1.5 metres (relating to an impact speed of 20 km/hour) and from 1 metre respectively (relating to an impact speed of 17 km/hour) [2] [53].

According to several researchers [54] [55] [56] [57] [58]the European standard for bicycle helmets, and thus the Dutch standard, is not strict enough. It is also less strict than standards in the United States and Australia, for example. Different organisations have therefore called for an improvement of the European quality standard for bicycle helmets (see [59], for example) and the Landelijk Actieplan Verkeersveiligheid 2019-2021 (National Action Plan Road Safety 2019-2021) also mentions improvement of the quality standard as one of the actions called for. Different concrete proposals for new and better bicycle helmets have already been made (e.g. [60]) (see the question How may the protection offered by bicycle helmets be improved and are there any alternatives to bicycle helmets?).

Part of fact sheet

Bicycle helmets

A bicycle helmet is intended to protect cyclists against head and brain injuries when they are involved in crashes.

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