The Hierarchy of Controls is a “system used in industry to minimize or eliminate exposure to hazards“.
Bicycle helmets come at the bottom, or least effective end of the pyramid, as they are “personal protective equipment”.
What would this diagram translate to if applied to safety for cyclists?
How can we eliminate cars? Actually it’s already been done, in certain places. Think, pedestrian malls, off-road bike paths, parks and gardens. No deaths due to motor vehicles where they are eliminated. Expanding such areas is therefore the most effective way of improving safety for cyclists (and pedestrians). More car-free areas in our cities, for example. Banning cars from outside schools would help get more children walking and cycling to school.
More use of walking, cycling and public transport substitutes for car use. How is this achieved? By making these modes more attractive than driving a car.
For bicycles, this covers physical separation, e.g. by a kerb or a barrier. Also underpasses or bridges that avoid crossing roads at grade. In other words, what we call “infrastructure”.
For bicycles, this covers white lines painted on the road, speed limits, bicycle symbols painted on the road and all rules such as “a meter matters“.
Advertising campaigns and education efforts, such as those promoted by the Amy Gillett Foundation.
Personal Protective Equipment
The least effective measure. Helmets.
Thanks to @QAGreenways for permission to publish the graphic below: