Aim: To determine if helmet laws and safety campaigns have had an impact on bicycle injuries in children.
Methods: A comparison of the number of bicycle injuries presented to Whakatane Hospital’s Emergency Department in the period 1982–1986 to the period July 1998–December 2005.
Results: In the first period there were 597 per 100 000 presentations per annum which increased to 890 per 100 000 per annum in the later period (P < 0.01). Fractures increased from 115 to 234 per 100 000 per annum respectively (P = 0.02). Injuries from a collision with a moving motor vehicle decreased from 72 to 30 per 100 000 per year and of those the proportion of serious head injuries dropped from 65% to 33%. There were four deaths in the earlier period but none in recent years.
Conclusions: Injuries from bicycle use have increased but there has been a marked reduction in collisions with motor vehicles. This is a result of the changing use of bicycles by children.