Is it Illegal to Ride a Bike Without a Helmet?

Bike helmets are without a doubt the most important piece of safety gear to include in your kit. Wearing a helmet while riding a bike is akin to wearing a seat belt while driving a car. It has been estimated that bicycle helmets lower the risk of head injuries by 85 percent among riders involved in crashes.

However, is it illegal to ride a bike without a helmet, or is it an optional accessory? Are there any federal laws specifying that operators and passengers both need to wear helmets? 

If you’ve ever wondered about these topics, this article gives some answers and leads you in the right direction.

Bike helmet laws in the U.S.

The legality of not wearing a helmet while biking depends on where you live. As far as bicycle helmet laws in the U.S. are concerned, they have been very confusing from the beginning. It can be challenging to keep up with them because they’re so scattered.

Bicycle helmets are not required by federal law in the US, but several states mandate them. Numerous municipalities and cities have passed laws requiring cyclists to wear helmets, regardless of their age.

Despite this, 13 states do not have laws requiring bike helmet use by children or adults at all, and their names are listed below:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Nebraska
  3. Idaho
  4. South Carolina
  5. South Dakota
  6. Wyoming
  7. Vermont
  8. Iowa
  9. Colorado
  10. North Dakota
  11. South Dakota
  12. Minnesota
  13. Indiana

Helmet laws differ by state

 If you live in a state that has helmet laws, you probably have to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Some states, like California and Florida, have helmet laws state-wide, while others, like Alaska, and Kansas, do not. Under California law, riders and passengers who are under 18 must wear helmets while operating or riding a bike.

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports that 21 states require minors to wear helmets when cycling, but no state requires adults to wear helmets.

Local Laws

In addition, local laws may also dictate whether you need to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Although no state-wide law requires bike helmets for adults, some cities have laws mandating their use for all riders.

At present, 16 states don’t have statewide legislation requiring bikers to wear helmets, however, some localities have laws — including some municipalities and cities — requiring children to wear helmets or requiring both children and adults to wear helmets. So check with your local authority to find out if a fine can be issued if you don’t wear a helmet on your bike.

All-ages helmet laws

bike helmet

We know that local and state laws about bike helmets mainly pertain to children, but some laws affect all bikers. Currently, there are 49 all-ages helmet laws in the United States. Keep in mind that these are not state laws, but only local ordinances.

Bottom line

In conclusion, it is not illegal to ride a bike without a helmet as an adult. Though, that doesn’t mean you won’t get in trouble; therefore, we still recommend wearing a helmet. Getting injured or dying in an accident without a helmet is tragic, and it can be easily avoided.

With a variety of stylish, comfortable, and fashionable bike helmets on the market these days, staying safe is much easier. So, keep yourself safe out there by wearing a helmet. By doing so, you can both have fun and stay healthy for years to come.

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