Section III. Method Of Approach

Six jurisdictions were selected for this report to reflect the wide range of experiences that jurisdictions have had with bicycle helmet use laws. They were selected based on interviews with national bicycle safety experts, including National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials. The profiles include state and local laws, all-ages laws as well as minors-only laws, laws with different approaches to enforcement, jurisdictions that have used education and/or awareness efforts as a part of a law’s implementation, and even jurisdictions with laws that were not successfully implemented in their communities. For a chart of the jurisdictions and the major provisions of their laws, see Section IV, “Chart Summarizing Jurisdictions Profiled.”

For each profile, we sought to gather information from those knowledgeable about the law’s passage, its enforcement, and the area’s overall bicycle safety effort. We asked key individuals involved in the law’s passage and implementation to describe their experiences and provide insight. These profiles reflect the personal observations and opinions of the individuals interviewed. See Section VII for the profiles and Section VIII for the statutory or ordinance legislative language considered and adopted in each jurisdiction.

For every jurisdiction, specific areas were explored to provide additional insight into these basic questions:

  • What leads a jurisdiction to consider adopting a bicycle helmet use law?

  • How did the specific provisions of the law emerge?

  • How did the law move through the legislative process?

  • What were the most persuasive arguments for and against the proposal?

  • How was it implemented and enforced?

  • Who are the key community actors and what were their roles?

  • What was the relationship between the law and other bicycle safety efforts in the state or community?

  • Is the law or ordinance effective?

  • Was it evaluated?

  • If it was not evaluated, what changes might lead to its evaluation?

Section IX C, “Matrix Used for Information Collection,” lists the topics investigated for each jurisdiction.

It is hoped that the views of these knowledgeable observers will prove enlightening to others.

For additional information about bicycle helmet use laws, bicycle helmet promotion programs, and bicycle safety, see Section IX M , “Information Resources.”

Author’s Note/Clarification:

This report is based on the experiences of observers and participants who were identified as knowledgeable and credible. The author is indebted to the dozens of individuals who gave of their time and provided the insights that made this report possible. Their contributions are greatly appreciated.

The greatest challenge of this assignment was securing relevant and accurate information. Another major challenge arose in determining how and what to include in the report in the rare instances when information or memories conflicted.

Where possible, confirmation was sought from more than one observer or participant or from a reference source. In situations where differences could not be reconciled and were closer to opinion, perception, or other similarly unverifiable quality, the report attempts to make clear that conflicting opinions existed among those interviewed.

Obviously, limited resources did not permit the participation of every individual who could have made a contribution in these six communities. Therefore, readers are urged to recognize that truth, as with beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder, and these profiles are built on the contributions of a finite number of individuals with varying perspectives.

It is hoped that this report, even with these limitations, can serve as a useful tool to decrease bicycle-related head and brain injuries.