Bicycle Crossing Road On A Green Light

Bicycles can be a great mode of transportation for California residents. From the stunning views of wine country to shopping on Rodeo Drive or riding along the Mad River on the gorgeous Hammond Trail, a bicycle allows riders to enjoy many parts of this beautiful state.

Safety is important when riding in California, and bicycle helmets can save lives. However, many people opt out of wearing a bicycle helmet when they go riding. Doing so can be a deadly decision for any rider. 

The National Safety Council approximates that one-third of the non-fatal injuries sustained from bicycles are head injuries. This study also shows that emergency rooms experience 80,000 head injuries from bicycle accidents which resulted in brain injuries. The following discusses California’s bicycle helmet laws.

California Bicycle Helmet Laws

California has fairly straightforward bicycle helmet laws:

  • Any bicyclist aged 18 years or older is not required to wear a safety helmet when on a bicycle.
  • Any bicyclist aged 18 years or under is required to wear a safety helmet when on a bicycle. 

California fines riders who do not wear a safety helmet when legally required to do so. The current fee is $25 plus court fees.

Statistically, when bicycle helmets are worn, they prevent injuries and save lives. This fact cannot be denied. However, there is debate amongst the cycling community about whether wearing a bicycle helmet should be mandated in California. Many bicyclists feel they should be free to choose whether or not they wear a safety helmet.

In California, as long as the cyclist is 18 years or older, they have the right to choose.

For riders who are under 18 years of age, the law clearly states they must wear a properly fitted and approved bicycle helmet. This law includes individuals who are operating the bicycle and any passenger who is under the age of 18. The helmet laws apply to those riding on streets, bike paths, or any other public path or bicycle trail. The helmet laws do not pertain to bicyclists under 18 years of age riding on private property.

Cyclist Raising Hand For Contact With Light Vehicle

How To Choose the Right Bicycle Helmet

Whether or not you are the legal age to wear a helmet, we strongly suggest anyone riding a bicycle purchase and wear a safety helmet anytime they ride their bicycle. The type of helmet you choose is important. You should purchase a safety helmet that has been tested and approved by experts.

According to information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bicyclists should purchase helmets that state they are “U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) certified.” Other bicycle helmets that are acceptable are those labeled as certified by ANSI, Snell, or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

When you choose a safety helmet, you must ensure it fits your head properly. According to the CDC, helmets should fit snugly around the head and have no gaps between the foam padding and the rider’s head. Most helmets have additional foam padding to help riders get the perfect fit. A helmet should never be wobbly when the head is shaken from side to side. The fit is especially important for young children, and a larger helmet should never be purchased thinking that the child will “grow into it.” As children grow, their helmets should be adjusted using the foam padding or a larger size should be purchased.

The side straps on a safety helmet should create a “V” shape slightly in front of and under the bicycle rider’s ears. The helmet’s chinstrap should fit snugly and be centered under the rider’s chin and allow no more than one or two fingers space between the strap and the chin when correctly strapped into place. 

When a helmet fits properly, the rider’s vision should never be obstructed. If you are unable to see side to side or straight forward, the helmet is not a good fit.

Remember that helmet sizes will vary from one brand to another. You should always check the helmet’s fit in the available sizing chart to determine which helmet will fit your head size best.
No matter your age, wearing an approved safety helmet can keep you safe on California roads. If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact Maho Prentice, LLP, to discuss your case with one of our bicycle accident lawyers today.

By otmseo on January 3, 2024