It is important to always be as safe as possible when engaging in recreational activities. Bicycling can be a fun outdoor activity, a great way to stay in shape, and an effective method of transportation. However, if you fail to take the proper safety precautions while bicycling, you could seriously injure yourself or worse. The California bicycle helmet laws are unique, and you should be aware of them before you start riding your bicycle on busy streets.

California Bicycle Helmet Laws

What Are the California Bicycle Helmet Laws?

Although wearing a helmet while bicycling is good advice and a solid safety tip to take with you, the helmet laws in California do not enforce helmets for adults. Under California state law, adults are not required to wear helmets while riding a non-motorized bicycle. However, minors under the age of 18 must, by law, wear helmets while riding a non-motorized bicycle. More so, they have to wear a helmet that is approved by the United States Department of Transportation.

Helmet laws are not enforceable for adult cyclists under California state law. They are only enforced for minors in an effort to protect children from danger. While it is certainly your right as a grown adult to not wear a helmet while you are riding your bicycle, it is far more dangerous to do so. These are the common arguments that some cyclists use when explaining why they don’t wear bicycle helmets:

  • Wearing a helmet actually makes some people want to take more risks and thus leads to more accidents.
  • Helmets can be uncomfortable to wear.
  • Helmets make their hair look weird when they take them off.
  • Helmets don’t look cool.

A 2022 study by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute showed that the two main reasons why children refuse to wear a bicycle helmet are:

  • How the helmet looks
  • The way the helmet fits

Helmets have been proven to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries for kids by up to 85%, but the majority of kids still don’t want to wear them because they think it will injure their popularity. If you or your children are involved in a bike accident, you may want to discuss things with an experienced lawyer to see if you have grounds to seek damages.

Finding a Proper Helmet

If you do make the decision to wear a bicycle helmet while you are riding your bike, you should not just grab a helmet off the shelf and carry on with your day. You have to choose a helmet that works well for you. Here are some factors you should consider when choosing a helmet.

  • Size: The size of a helmet can greatly influence its impact on your head if an accident should occur. The helmet should fit your head snugly. There should not be a lot of wiggle room, and it should not rest on top of your head like a beanie.
  • Straps: The strap of the helmet should fit snugly under your chin and remain in place when you turn your head. When the helmet is buckled into place, it should not jostle around.
  • Expiration: Believe it or not, bicycle helmets have an expiration date. The materials that make up the helmet lose their potency over time, especially when the helmet is in active use. Be sure to learn the expiration date of your helmet and replace it as needed.


Q: Do Adults Need Bicycle Helmets in California?

A: Legally, adults do not need to wear bicycle helmets in California. However, if you are planning to ride a bicycle, you should put on a helmet. It can only protect you, should you suffer a bad accident. It would be better to scratch your helmet than to suffer a traumatic brain injury. Then again, it is ultimately your decision to make regarding your own safety. If you do decide to wear a helmet, make sure it is an approved helmet.

Q: How Much Is a “No-Helmet” Ticket in California?

A: A “no-helmet” ticket in California can be a minor inconvenience or a steep charge, depending on the infraction and how serious it is. However, since minors are the only ones in the state who are legally required to wear a bicycle helmet, it is usually the parents of the offenders who end up paying the ticket in question. If you allow your children to ride their bikes outside of your private property, you need to make them wear a helmet.

Q: Is It Legal to Not Wear a Helmet in California?

A: Yes, it is legal to not wear a helmet in California but only if you are an adult who is riding a non-motorized bicycle. If you are riding a motorcycle or a motorized scooter, you do have to wear a helmet under California state law. Only minors under 18 years old are required to wear a bicycle helmet. If they are caught without one, the fine can be considerably high.

Q: How Do I Choose the Right Helmet?

A: The right helmet will be one that fits your head almost perfectly, with zero room to wiggle and a strap that locks everything in place. It should be a helmet that has been approved by the United States Department of Transportation. More so, you have to make sure that the helmet has not expired. Helmets have an expiration date, which is usually the assumed date that the materials in the helmet will have broken down and are no longer able to protect you very well.

If You Need One, Talk to a Bicycle Accident Lawyer

California has bicycle helmet laws that largely support personal accountability and individual freedoms. It is your choice to wear or not wear a bicycle helmet. Regardless of whether you wore a helmet, if you were involved in a bicycle accident and would like to seek a claim for compensatory damages, reach out to a bicycle accident lawyer today.

At Easton & Easton, we can help you build your case, work out if you have a valid claim, and advocate for you in court if it comes to that. Contact us to schedule a consultation about your bicycle accident.