Biking is a great way to get around town, but it’s important to be aware of the laws in your state. For example, some states make it illegal to ride a bike without a helmet, while others are more relaxed about the issue. Even if helmet laws in your state aren’t strictly enforced, it’s still important to wear one when you’re out biking. But is it mandatory to ride a bike without a helmet?
This article covers bicycle helmet laws in the United States so you can make an informed decision. We also provide safety tips to help keep you safe when biking without a helmet.
There is no federal legislation in the U.S. requiring bicycle helmets. However, In most states, adults age 18 and older are not required to wear bicycle helmets. Children and teenagers 17 and under must wear helmets when riding on public streets, bike paths, or trails. However, wearing a helmet is essential for personal safety regardless of age.
Are bicycle helmets mandatory?
In most states, anyone under 18, regardless of religious belief or practice, is required by law to wear a helmet. It’s vital to understand that the kid helmet requirement only applies to bicycling on a street, bikeway, sidewalk, or public bike path. It is legally permissible for a young person to ride a bike without a helmet on private property (except on sidewalks).
Bicycle helmet laws by state
A combination of 22 states, including the District of Columbia, and around 202 municipalities compel riders to wear helmets: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
These states do not require bike helmets: Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming.
State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061
State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061
How are laws enforced?
You can expect a traffic penalty if you violate a common, state, or city-specific bicycle ordinance where you live or travel. This is frequently issued by local law enforcement, much like a ticket. As with driving, you may receive a warning or be fined the first time.
For example, a stop sign violation in California costs $35, while riding a bicycle through a red light costs $100. In addition, depending on where you committed the offense, county-based fines may apply, adding several hundred dollars to the initial fine.
Why should you wear a bike helmet?
There are many reasons why you should wear a bike helmet, and here are just a few:
1. To protect your brain
Research has shown that bike helmets can help reduce the risk of brain injuries in the event of a collision. So, by wearing a helmet, you’re reducing your chances of suffering a serious head injury.
2. To protect your neck
Wearing a bike helmet can also help protect your neck in a collision. Keeping your head and neck protected makes you less likely to suffer spinal cord injuries or other serious head or neck injuries.
3. To protect your eyes
Wearing a bike helmet can help protect your eyes in a collision. Not only will this reduce the risk of losing your eyesight, but it will also help to prevent any injuries to your face or eyes.
4. To protect your teeth
Helmets can also help protect your teeth if you’re involved in a collision. By preventing your teeth from being knocked out or broken, you’re reducing the chance of needing dental treatment later on down the line.
So there are plenty of reasons why you should wear a bike helmet—and there is no reason not to!
How do helmets work?
Adults are not generally required to wear helmets when biking, but doing so is still the best way to prevent head and neck injuries. Cycling may be a risky activity with several unpredictable incidents. For example, you can never predict when the automobile in front of you will lane change or open its door. In addition, every vehicle has a blind zone for the driver, which is hazardous for bikers. Helmets are made to decrease the force of hitting your head on concrete and may even save your life.
Helmets include a sturdy shell and a strap that snugly fits under your chin. In addition, a material that may be crushed serves as the internal lining of the helmet. Usually, there will be a layer of crushable foam within 30 millimeters.
This foam must compress to cradle the bicyclist’s head in the event of an accident, while the outside must withstand contact from asphalt or dirt. Because it would be useless to wear the helmet if the chin strap blew off on impact, it must be firmly fastened.
How to make sure your bike helmet meets the legal standard
According to the California Vehicle Code, bicycle helmets must meet particular standards in terms of structure, manufacturer, safety, and fit. These standards may be set by the CPSC or the ASTM, which have specific criteria to ensure the safety and quality of authorized helmets.
In addition to these requirements, bicycle helmets must meet the Snell or American National Specifications Institute standards (ANSI).
The ASTM standards require helmets to pass impact attenuation tests, testing for the strength and stability of the retention system (straps) and its attachment to the helmet, and special tests for specific headgear. ANSI standards are the same as ASTM standards.
According to the CPSC, helmets must not obstruct riders’ vision, must not fall off when the rider falls, and must significantly lessen the impact on the rider’s head in a collision with a hard surface.
These bicycle helmet regulations are the most stringent in the world. Snell-certified helmets must pass impact management, positioning stability, retention system strength, and over-the-head protection testing.
Although all standards are identical, each organization employs its testing procedures. Look for approval stickers to ensure you wear a helmet that satisfies regulatory requirements. Otherwise, you may expose yourself to personal injury and legal liability. In the perspective of the law, wearing an unapproved helmet is the same as not wearing one. However, in terms of safety, it may not be as effective as a decent helmet.
All bicycle helmets must have conspicuous labels promoting the manufacturer’s certification to satisfy the required criteria. According to the California Vehicle Code, selling a helmet that does not meet the specifications is illegal.
If you want even more tips and insights, check out this video called What are the risks of riding a bike without a helmet? from the WWLP-22News YouTube Channel.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about bicycle helmer laws.
Can you ride a bike without a helmet?
Children and teenagers 17 and under are only required to wear helmets when riding on public streets, bike routes, or trails. In California, adults 18 and older are not required to wear bicycle helmets anytime. However, wearing a helmet is critical for personal safety regardless of age.
If bicycle helmets are not required in my area, should you wear one?
Ye! Head injuries are common in bicyclists who do not use helmets. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all bike riders, regardless of age, wear helmets on all rides to reduce the risk of head and brain injuries. According to the CDC, over 1,000 bike riders died in the United States in 2015. In addition, almost half a million bikers were injured.
Do you have to wear a helmet in New York City?
Adults do not need to wear a helmet in New York State. However, head injuries are common in bicyclists who do not use helmets.
Do you have to wear a helmet in Ohio?
Surprisingly, despite the effectiveness of bicycle helmets being a well-known norm, the state of Ohio has no cycling helmet laws. Therefore, they are not essential for bikers of any age. Several localities, however, have ordinances requiring minors under 18 to wear one.
Overall, riding a bicycle without a helmet can be dangerous. Therefore, wear one if you intend to bike around the city.
This article covered bicycle helmet laws, how laws are enforced, and why you should wear a bike helmet. Here are some key takeaways:
- There is no federal legislation in the U.S. requiring bicycle helmets.
- A combination of 22 states, including the District of Columbia, have laws around bike helmets.
- Helmets have a hard exterior and a tight-fitting strap that runs under your chin.
- The helmet’s interior is lined with a crushable foam substance. The interior will typically have a 30-millimeter thick layer of crushable foam.
- According to the California Vehicle Code, bicycle helmets must meet particular structural, manufacturer, safety, and fit standards.
- Helmet laws do not only prevent fatalities but also reduce the number of cyclists who are injured.
- According to the CDC, helmet use can prevent death.
So, do you ride with a helmet? Or are you a YOLO type? Did I cover everything you wanted to know? And what do you think of my list? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on fixed gear and single-speed bikes. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.