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What Are the California Bicycle Helmet Laws?

close up helmet bike

The nation’s most populated state also happens to be the state with some of the strictest bicycle helmet laws around. When it comes to bicycle safety, there are no federal laws regarding bicycle helmets. Instead, states and smaller localities are left to decide what laws should govern their residents.

When it comes to the Golden State, what exactly are California’s bicycle helmet laws and how do they apply to you as a resident?

Who Needs to Wear a Bicycle Helmet?

Bicycle riders who are age 18 and under are required by California law to wear a bicycle helmet. If you have a passenger who is age five or under, they are also required to wear a bicycle helmet.

It’s not just cyclists who are required by law to wear a bicycle helmet. Any person under the age of 18 who is operating a non-motorized scooter, skateboard, inline skates, or rollerblades is required to wear a helmet when they ride on a street, bikeway, or some other public bicycle path. (Riders of motorized bikes and scooters have their own laws they need to adhere to.)

The bicycle helmet a rider uses has to be properly fitted and fastened while they ride, and the helmet must meet the safety standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

In some parts of the state, there are required bicycle helmet laws despite a rider’s age. For example, adults are legally required to wear a bicycle helmet at Birdwell Park in Chico, California.

Fines and Penalties

If an individual is found in violation of the state’s bicycle helmet laws, they could be given a citation or fine. The parents or guardians of the child can face a fine ranging from $25 to $200.

For individuals who do receive a fine, they can take advantage of the state’s new “fix-It ticket” provision. Under the new bicycle helmet law, an individual can have their fee waived if they show local law enforcement that they have acquired a properly fitted bicycle helmet and have taken a bicycle safety course. The state gives violators 120 days to complete the course and show proof that they have fixed the problem.

Beyond the Fines: Why Wear a Bicycle Helmet?

With sunny skies and beautiful bike-friendly coasts, it’s no surprise why cycling is a popular sport in the state. California even ranks third in the nation as the best bike-friendly state. Because cycling is so revered, it’s important to wear a bicycle helmet even if you are above the age limit of California’s bike helmet laws.

Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration details that a bulk of cyclist-related injuries and deaths occur in California (along with Florida and Texas.) Wearing a properly fitted bicycle helmet can keep you from sustaining traumatic head injuries in the event that you do get into an accident.

If you have been injured due to a bicycle accident, you might have some legal options available to you, especially if the accident occurred because of a motor vehicle, as this is a common threat for cyclists. At Halpern Law Firm, our experienced attorneys can help you explore your options if you’re dealing with a bicycle-related injury. Reach out today to speak with a member of our dedicated team.

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