Though California is one of the more progressive states in the country and has access to bike paths and bike lanes in most urban and suburban areas, there was a call earlier this year for legislation to be passed to make it mandatory for all adults riding bicycles to wear helmets.
While it’s a good idea for anyone to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, it is not mandatory in the state of California if you are over the age of 18. By law, all minors must wear helmets when cycling, but once you reach adulthood in the eyes of the state, you are then allowed to make your own decision. In February of this year, though, Senator Carol Liu wanted to change that, stating, according to the Huffington Post, that, “Any responsible bicycle rider should wear a helmet… This law will protect more people and make sure all riders benefit from the head protection that a helmet provides.”
Because nearly any accident involving a bicycle and a car is likely to cause injury to the cyclist, you might at first think that cyclists would accept this kind of legislation with open arms. You would especially expect this because it is impossible for cyclists and cars not to share the road in some areas in California. However, many cyclists are actually claiming that a helmet law would make bicycling in California more dangerous.
The cyclists’ argument is simple. If a helmet law is enacted, then fewer people will want to ride their bicycles to work, school, or to run errands. Having fewer cyclists on the roads will lead to less driver awareness of cyclists. When drivers stop looking for cyclists sharing the road with them, more accidents occur. While the cyclists on the road would be more likely to have protection when hit by a car, the likelihood of getting in an accident would be increased. Therefore, the overall safety of cycling in California could actually decrease.
From a legal perspective, this legislation – which has not yet passed – is interesting. From a cyclists’ perspective it may actually be terrifying. If you use a bicycle to commute to work or school, you should know your rights and how to behave consistently with California bicycle laws. You should also keep the contact information for the Los Angeles bicycle attorney with you whenever you hit the road. With or without a helmet law, if you’re in an accident, a personal injury attorney can give you the representation you need.