Background Bicycle injuries are of concern in Canada. Since helmet use was mandated in 1996 in the province of British Columbia, Canada, use has increased and head injuries have decreased. Despite the law, many cyclists do not wear a helmet. Health action process approach (HAPA) model explains intention and behaviour with self-efficacy, risk perception, outcome expectancies and planning constructs. The present study examines the impact of a social marketing campaign on HAPA constructs in the context of bicycle helmet use.Method A questionnaire was administered to identify factors determining helmet use. Intention to obey the law, and perceived risk of being caught if not obeying the law were included as additional constructs. Path analysis was used to extract the strongest influences on intention and behaviour. The social marketing campaign was evaluated through t-test comparisons after propensity score matching and generalised linear modelling (GLM) were applied to adjust for the same covariates.Results 400 cyclists aged 25-54 years completed the questionnaire. Self-efficacy and Intention were most predictive of intention to wear a helmet, which, moderated by planning, strongly predicted behaviour. Perceived risk and outcome expectancies had no significant impact on intention. GLM showed that exposure to the campaign was significantly associated with higher values in self-efficacy, intention and bicycle helmet use.Conclusion Self-efficacy and planning are important points of action for promoting helmet use. Social marketing campaigns that remind people of appropriate preventive action have an impact on behaviour.