Helmets Mandatory for All Bicycle Riders at California

Since 1994, it has been required by law that all cyclists under the age of 18 years wear helmets in California. However, going forward the law will be applicable for adult cyclists as well.

On February 11, 2015, state senator Carol Liu introduced a bill in the California legislature that seeks to mandate all bicycle riders to wear helmet and reflective clothing during night time. Interestingly, this bill would make California the first state to make helmets mandatory for adult cyclists, by its Senate Bill 192.

Carol Liu pressing on her statement at the National Conference of State Legislatures said that- “any responsible bicycle rider should wear a helmet, and this law will help protect more people and make sure all riders benefit from the head protection that a helmet provides.” This bill proposes to impose $25 as fine on disobeying the said law. The intentions of state senator are good as she intends to promote active and safe transportation by bringing this bill, however, the new law has brought more of disharmony among people.

There are varied opinions being aired about the bill that requires wearing helmet and reflective clothing during dark hours, as to cite in a statement Dave Snyder (the executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition) suggests that – Protected bike lanes will protect far more riders than helmets ever will. Additionally, he says that “Although, it’s a good idea to have a tail light when riding, the evidence is that properly installed reflectors are sufficient for visibility.”

However, most of the conflict revolves around the fact that this bill may rather go opposite and instead of encouraging people to cycle rides, it may insist them to continue commuting with their cars. A strong argument which floats on the issue is that a compulsory bike helmet law is that it does not address the actual dangers people on bikes face in our streets, like distracted driving and speeding.

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