Bicycle Helmet Wearing Is Not Associated with Close Motor Vehicle Passing: A Re-Analysis of Walker, 2007


Objectives:To re-analyse bicycle overtaking data collected by Walker (2007) with a view to assess factors associated with close passing (<1 m), to adjust for other observed factors in a multivariable analysis, and to assess the extent to which the sample size in the original analysis may have contributed to spurious results.Method:A re-analysis of 2,355 motor vehicle passing events recorded by Walker that includes information on cyclist’s distance to the kerb, vehicle size and colour, city of observation, time of day, whether the event occurred while in a bikelane and helmet wearing. Each variable was considered for a final, multivariable model using purposeful selection of variables. The analysis was repeated using multiple logistic regression with passing distance dichotomised by the one metre rule. Bootstrap p-values were computed using sample sizes computed from conventional values of power and effect size.Results:The previously observed significant association between passing distance and helmet wearing was not found when dichotomised by the one metre rule. Other factors were found to be significantly associated with close passing including cyclists’ distance to the kerb, vehicle size and city of observation (Salisbury or Bristol, UK). P-values from bootstrap samples indicate the significance of helmet wearing resulted from an overly large sample size.Conclusions:After re-analysis of Walker’s data, helmet wearing is not associated with close motor vehicle passing. The results, however, highlight other more important factors that may inform effective bicycle safety strategies. © 2013 Olivier, Walter.