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As Spring Brings Bicyclists To The Roads, Safety Discussions Continue

Students walk among spring flowers on Utah State's Campus.


As the weather warms, more people are riding their bikes, and based on data gathered by Utah’s Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health, the majority won’t be wearing helmets.

Utah is unique when it comes to bicycle helmets. There are no laws requiring them, but helmet usage is significantly more common here than it is nationally. Thirty-six percent of Utahns wear helmets while biking, about 10 percent more than the national average.

Phil Sarnoff, executive director of Bike Utah, said that in some ways, it’s a good thing that Utah doesn’t have helmet laws for bicyclists.

“Having a law like that is just one additional barrier to getting more people out riding bicycles,” Sarnoff said. “There’s a lot of research that shows the more people are out there riding bicycles, the safer it is for bicyclists, because drivers are more accustomed to seeing bicycles, they know how to interact with bicycles.”

According to Sarnoff, getting out and riding your bike shows that biking is a part of the community, and that there’s a need for bike lanes and even shared-use paths. Helmets do make a real difference in preventing injuries in collisions, but good infrastructure prevents collisions.

“Having that infrastructure is the most important thing that any community can do to increase safety,” Sarnoff said. “not only for people who are on bicycles, but for people who are walking and people who are driving as well.”

According Sarnoff, these aren’t the only reasons to get out and ride.

“As the summer’s getting nicer, now’s a great time for people to get out and if they have a bicycle in the garage that’s getting rusty, take it out of the garage. Go get a tuneup. Get on your bicycle. It’s a great activity, and I think people forget how much they love it,” Sarnoff said. “A lot of people ride when they’re kids, then they get their driver's license and become adults and they don’t ride their bikes as much. But it’s just a great activity, that anyone can do regardless of age or ability.”