Proposed bill would require all bicyclists to wear helmets

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SACRAMENTO -- If a newly proposed bill goes through, people of all ages would be required to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle in California.

Since 1994, the state has required all minors under the age of 18 to wear a bike helmet. This new bill would require everyone – regardless of age -- to wear head protection or face a fine.

The bill was introduced Wednesday by Democratic Senator Carol Liu.

“This law will help protect more people and make sure all riders benefit from the head protection that a helmet provides,” Senator Liu said in a news conference.

Twenty-one states require children and teens to wear helmets while riding, but no states currently have laws impacting adult riders. The helmets would have to meet the requirements of either the American Society for Testing and Materials or the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

If the law is passed, the violation fine would be $25. The law would also require riders to wear reflective clothing at night.

Some bike enthusiasts say helmet legislation is not enough.

The California Bicycle Coalition hopes to encourage the senator to improve road infrastructure, create harsher laws for drunk and distracted driving in order to truly improve cycling safety.

In a phone interview with FOX 5, Charles Gandy, Vice President of the California Bicycle Coalition, said helmets create a false sense of safety.

“We applaud her efforts to support better bicycling conditions overall. Mandating helmet use in our opinion though is not the best approach to achieve those ends,” said Gandy. “Helmets work in a narrow set of circumstances, but they’re placebos or in fact they’re not very effective at all in these crashes that we’re talking about that kill lots of people in California and elsewhere. They’re in the right place and paying attention then that drunk driver mows them down.”

Elizabeth Davis and her kids were visiting San Diego from Connecticut. Davis says riding a bike is a fun way to spend the afternoon.

“My son is an avid mountain biker and my daughter likes going around the neighborhood.” Davis said.

However, Davis says there is one drawback with the family’s rental bikes -- they did not come with helmets.

“I’ve noticed in San Diego and in our travels today you’re in the road, and I think that makes my daughter a little bit uneasy,” Davis said. “So I think having a helmet on would ease my concerns of her concerns.”

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