Photo courtesy Shaun Tai, 2014. Source: instagram.com/shaun_tai
In the spring of 2015, we defeated a proposed helmet mandate for adults (California law already requires children 16 and under to wear helmets). The bicycle community spoke up clearly that we did not want a mandatory helmet law. We submitted the following petition to Senator Carol Liu, with more than 4,200 signatures.
A Mandatory Helmet Law Will Make California’s Streets Less Safe
Petition to California State Senator Carol Liu
CC: Senator Jim Beall, CA Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Chair
Scrap the Mandatory Helmet Law!
We oppose SB 192, mandating that everyone wear helmets and reflective gear when riding a bicycle. A mandatory helmet law would make California’s streets less safe by discouraging bicycling. We urge you to withdraw the mandatory helmet law and focus on measures that will protect people who ride bicycles.
On February 11th, 2015, State Senator Carol Liu introduced a bill (SB 192) that will require everybody to wear helmets when they ride a bicycle. This mandate sends the wrong message about bicycling and will produce the wrong result: it will discourage bicycling, making our streets less safe and Californians less healthy.
The California Bicycle Coalition's mission is to enable more people to bicycle for the health, safety, and prosperity of all Californians.
Sign our petition today to oppose this bill. The evidence shows that mandatory helmet laws make the streets less safe for people on bicycles -- and for everyone -- by discouraging bicycling. Similar laws elsewhere have been demonstrated to decrease levels of bicycling. And we know that having more bicyclists and pedestrians on the streets makes them safer for everyone.
Just as importantly, bicycling is a healthy activity, whose benefits far outweigh its risks. Promoting bicycling saves lives by reducing risk of death from the diseases of our sedentary culture. And it’s also a safe activity that is getting safer. Since 2000, the risk of bicycling injury in California has dropped 42%.
We’re not against helmets. They are mandated in many competitive races, and amateur racers should follow that example. But there are proven ways to make our streets safer while encouraging bicycling -- reducing speed limits on key streets, building protected bike lanes and bike paths, and educating motorists and bicyclists on how to drive or ride safely, to name a few. A mandatory helmet law is not one of them.
Senator Liu was a leader in the “safe routes to school” movement that helped to increase bicycling and walking to schools through education and infrastructure improvements. School children are healthier and safer as a result. Please join us in asking the Senator to take the next step: scrap the helmet mandate, and instead focus on measures that protect bicyclists and promote bicycling.
Read more about the effects of mandatory helmet laws at calbike.org/sb192quickfacts