Great majority in favour of compulsory helmets for cyclists

71 percent of German citizens are in favour of compulsory helmets for cyclists. A little more than one in two people regularly ride a bicycle. To increase safety, the bicycle infrastructure needs to be expanded.

©Sebastian Herrmann via Unsplash

Berlin, 14 July 2021 - 71 percent of German citizens are in favour of making helmets compulsory, while only 28 percent are against it. That is the result of a representative Forsa survey among 1,004 people aged 16 and over. "Bicycle helmets protect against serious head injuries in case of a fall," says Richard Goebelt, Head of Vehicle and Mobility at the TÜV Association. "That is why we recommend all cyclists to wear helmeta." According to the survey, approval is somewhat lower among younger people. In the age group of 16 to 29-year-olds, 57 percent of respondents are in favour of compulsory helmets. In the 60-plus generation, 80 per cent are in favour of compulsory helmets. According to the Federal Statistical Office, 426 cyclists died in Germany in the Corona year 2020, 19 fewer than in the previous year. In the previous year, a total of 91,826 cyclists were involved in road traffic accidents (plus 4,924). Based on the proportion of seriously injured cyclists from 2019, for which detailed figures are available, around 16,000 people were so seriously injured in a cycling accident in 2020 that they had to be hospitalised, according to calculations by the TÜV Association.  

According to the results of the survey, 54 percent of German citizens are regular cyclists who use their bike at least once a month. The proportion of regular cyclists is highest among younger people (16 to 29 years) with 62 percent, followed by 30 to 59 year-olds with 59 percent. Among older people aged 60 and over, 47 percent still cycle regularly. "Even among cyclists, there is broad support for compulsory helmets," says Goebelt. Almost two out of three cyclists (65 percent) are in favour of compulsory helmets. "Given the high approval ratings among the population, compulsory helmets for cyclists should be discussed more intensively," says Goebelt. Opponents of compulsory helmets fear that many people will give up environmentally and climate-friendly cycling and use other means of transport instead. However, in the view of the TÜV association, self-protection is not nearly enough to make cycling safer in general. Goebelt: "The traffic infrastructure for cycling must be consistently expanded with wider and structurally separated cycle paths, cycle fast lanes and cycle-friendly intersections."


Bicycle helmets must comply with the EN 1078 standard in the European Union. With the CE mark, manufacturers themselves can declare that they comply with the specified safety standards. Additional orientation is provided by the GS mark and the TÜV test mark. Helmets with these test marks have been tested by an independent body. This way, consumers can be sure that the helmets actually meet the requirements. Among other things, the testing organisations test the damping capacity and the function of the chin strap and fastener. In addition, the helmets must be able to withstand falls from a height of 1.50 metres onto a flat surface and from 1.05 metres onto a saddle-roof-shaped edge without damage. 
A decisive factor for the effectiveness of a bicycle helmet is the correct fit. In the event of a fall, the helmet must not slip. Therefore, the helmet should fit the size and shape of the head as well as possible and be adjusted very precisely before the first ride. Consumers can find out for themselves whether the helmet fits properly with a simple test: Adjust the fit of the helmet as precisely as possible with a knob or slider. Then shake your head and bend it forward. If the helmet does not slip or fall off when bending forward, the head protection fits. 

Methodological note: The data is based on a representative survey of 1,004 people aged 16 and over conducted by the market research institute Forsa on behalf of the TÜV Association. The survey took place in May 2021. The questions were: "There is always a discussion about compulsory helmets in road traffic. For the following road users, are you fully in favour, rather in favour, rather against or fully against making helmets compulsory?" "Do you cycle regularly, i.e. at least once a month, with a normal bicycle, with an electric bicycle (e-bike, pedelec), with both or do you not cycle regularly?"