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A local bicycle helmet ‘law' in a Swedish municipality – the structure and process of initiation and implementation

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On May 1, 1996, the Municipality of Motala in Sweden introduced a local bicycle helmet ‘law.' It is, however, not an official law in a legal sense, but a municipally endorsed recommendation supported by promotional activities. This ‘law' applies to children (ages 6–12), although the objective is to increase helmet use among cyclists of all ages. The study is a qualitative evaluation of the structure and process during initiation and implementation of the Motala bicycle helmet law. The aim was to describe the activities that were carried out, which actors took part and the opinions of the most closely involved actors. The results are based on analysis of written material and on interviews with eight of the actors. The mass media focused much attention on the bicycle helmet law, especially during the first six months after its introduction. The name helmet law was presumably of significance in this context. It is essential that relevant target groups provide sufficient support and that committed individuals initiate and promote the work, which, however, must not become dependent on a single individual. All issues concerning bicycle helmets should be coordinated with the law. Also, continuous engagement of the municipal government and a strategy for the control and follow-up of the law are needed. Local bicycle helmet laws of this type have a potential to produce a long-lasting effect on helmet use, provided some of the problems encountered can be avoided and some of the promotional activities are intensified.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2002


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