CA State Senator Proposes Mandatory Bike Helmet Law

Obama Bike (Jacqueline Martin / Associated Press)
Obama Bike (Jacqueline Martin / Associated Press)

California state senator Carol Liu (D- La Cañada Flintridge) introduced legislation this week that would require anyone riding a bicycle to wear a helmet or face a $25 fine.

SB 192, introduced Tuesday, would also require bicycle riders to wear reflective clothing while riding at night.

The language of the bill, from the legislative counsel’s summary, reads:

This bill would require every person, regardless of age, to wear a bicycle helmet when operating a bicycle, riding on a bicycle as a passenger, or riding in a trailer towed by a bicycle. The bill would also require a person engaged in these activities in the darkness to wear retroreflective high-visibility safety apparel, as specified. Because a violation of this requirement would be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

“Any responsible bicycle rider should wear a helmet,” Liu said in a statement announcing the legislation. “This law will help protect more people and make sure all riders benefit from the head protection that a helmet provides.”

California law already stipulates that anyone under the age of 18 must wear a bicycle helmet while riding.

Dave Snyder, head of the California Bicycle Coalition, told the Sacramento Bee that while Liu’s bill sounds like the right thing to do, it may not accomplish its intended goal.

“We think she has good intentions,” Snyder told the Bee. “We know that the most important thing to protect people who ride bikes is to get more people out there riding bikes. Forcing people to wear crash helmets when they ride is counterproductive to that goal.”

If the legislation passes, California would become the first state in the nation to mandate bicycle helmet use.