If worn properly and if well fitted, the bike helmet can reduce the chance of head and brain injuries, as noted by the SWOV on the basis of international research. Moreover, the researchers claim, a bike helmet would be more effective for children than for adults since a child’s head has a shorter falling distance to the ground than an adult’s, thereby enhancing the helmet’s protective effect.
Head and brain injuries occur relatively more often among children and young people. Over 60% of the young cyclists aged from 0 to 17 seriously injured in a collision with a motor vehicle have head or brain injuries. This percentage is high compared to the 47% average for all ages. As a result of accidents not involving a motor vehicle, the percentage of young people suffering head and brain injuries is between 33 and 56% (compare the 29% for all ages). Among small children (0-5 years), nine out of ten head or brain injuries result from cycling accidents where no collision occurred. These accidents are often simple falls involving no other vehicle or obstacle.
Yet many cyclists in the Netherlands – and this includes the Dutch Cyclists' Union – strongly oppose the introduction of a compulsory helmet. The Dutch Cyclists' Union fears that this will discourage use of the bicycle. They also have doubts about helmet effectiveness at low collision speeds.