News / Calgary

Calgarians slowly ditching bike helmets, 2016 count finds

Trend could be tied to confidence in City of Calgary infrastructure improvements

Fewer Calgarians are wearing helmets while biking, according to the city's latest cycle survey.

Helen Pike / Metro Order this photo

Fewer Calgarians are wearing helmets while biking, according to the city's latest cycle survey.

Confident Calgarians are taking to the streets on bikes, but increasingly without helmets as the city continues to publish a yearly snapshot of the cycling community's demographics.

In 2016, 80 per cent of cyclists counted over a six hour period, weekdays in May, June, July and September, donned helmets. And although the number is impressive, that's down steadily from 84 per cent in 2015 and 86 per cent in 2013 when the count was first conducted.

"When we talk with Calgarians we hear they want more on-street infrastructure that's protected and separated from traffic," said active transportation planner Katherine Glowacz. "More pathways, more places where people feel comfortable riding – that's our focus."

Bike Calgary president Agustin Louro said although the tie is only anecdotal, a slow downward trend in bike helmet use lines up with confidence in the local infrastructure – like in Europe or Asian cities with developed infrastructure.

"People wear helmets less and perhaps Calgary is following the same trend as they get good quality infrastructure," he said.

Louro said one of the most exciting figures in the count included the rise in women cyclists – up to 25 per cent from 21 per cent in 2013 in proportion to male cyclists.

Coun. Sean Chu is hoping education can nip the dip in helmet use, as it's a concern.

"I hope people riding bicycles, the number wearing helmets, or actually the percentage, will go up instead of down – that would be nice," Chu said. "Safety, especially once you get a brain injury, it can change people's lives. It's a personal safety issue."

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