Open Access Research article

Personal and trip characteristics associated with safety equipment use by injured adult bicyclists: a cross-sectional study

Kay Teschke1*, Jeff R Brubacher2, Steven M Friedman3, Peter A Cripton4, M Anne Harris5, Conor CO Reynolds6, Hui Shen1, Melody Monro1, Garth Hunte2, Mary Chipman7, Michael D Cusimano7, Nancy Smith Lea8, Shelina Babul9 and Meghan Winters10

Author Affiliations

1 School of Population and Public Health, 2206 East Mall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2 Department of Emergency Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

3 Emergency Medicine, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada

4 Department of Mechanical Engineering, ICORD and the Brain Research Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

5 Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada

6 Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

7 School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

8 Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, Toronto, ON, Canada

9 British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit, Vancouver, BC, Canada

10 Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:765  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-765

Published: 11 September 2012



The aim of this study was to estimate use of helmets, lights, and visible clothing among cyclists and to examine trip and personal characteristics associated with their use.


Using data from a study of transportation infrastructure and injuries to 690 adult cyclists in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, we examined the proportion who used bike lights, conspicuous clothing on the torso, and helmets on their injury trip. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine associations between personal and trip characteristics and each type of safety equipment.


Bike lights were the least frequently used (20% of all trips) although they were used on 77% of trips at night. Conspicuous clothing (white, yellow, orange, red) was worn on 33% of trips. Helmets were used on 69% of trips, 76% in Vancouver where adult helmet use is required by law and 59% in Toronto where it is not. Factors positively associated with bike light use included night, dawn and dusk trips, poor weather conditions, weekday trips, male sex, and helmet use. Factors positively associated with conspicuous clothing use included good weather conditions, older age, and more frequent cycling. Factors positively associated with helmet use included bike light use, longer trip distances, hybrid bike type, not using alcohol in the 6 hours prior to the trip, female sex, older age, higher income, and higher education.


In two of Canada’s largest cities, helmets were the most widely used safety equipment. Measures to increase use of visibility aids on both daytime and night-time cycling trips may help prevent crashes.

Active transport; Bicycle safety; Visibility; Bicycle helmet